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November 27, 2009


Leinster Leader 20th September 1929






One of the tragedies of the Civil War period was recalled on Monday last when Mr. E. J. Conroy, M.R.C.V.S., Leix Co. Coroner, held an inquest at Maryborough Prison touching the death of a prisoner named James Murray, an ex-Captain of the Free State National Army. 

The deceased was at the Central Criminal Court, Dublin , on 12th June, 1925, convicted of the murder at Kildare on 13th December 1923, of a military policeman named James Bergin, a native of Mountrath.  He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

At the inquest the following jury was sworn – Francis J. Cahill, foreman; Nicholas Fortune, John Parneil, John Tyrrell, Thomas F. Maher, Jos. Fox, Patrick Murphy, Bartholomew Shanahan.

The Governor of the Prison (Mr. L. J. Blake) identified the body, and gave evidence of the convictions and sentence in the case.  The deceased, he further stated was received into his custody on the 27th July, 1925.  Since the 1st November, 1928, he had been a patient in the Prison isolation hospital.  He was attended throughout his illness by the medical officer and hospital staff, and frequently visited by the Chaplain.  He died at 6.55 p.m. on Saturday last.

Dr. T. J. Duane, Medical Officer of the Prison, said that the health of the deceased was fair on committal, but he had a history of pulmonary tuberculosis, and had been in a sanatorium.  The cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis.

Sergeant Patrick Burke, G.S., Maryborough, deposed that he was informed by the Prison Governor of the death of James Murray.  He (witness) viewed the remains and saw no external marks of violence, and there was no suspicion of foul play.

The jury found a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.

Relatives of the deceased were at the Prison on Monday, and in the afternoon they brought the remains by motor hearse to St. Michael’s Church, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin .  The funeral took place at Dean’s Grange Cemetery on Tuesday. 





One of the tragedies of the Civil War period was recalled in the Leinster Leader of September 1929 concerning  an inquest held at Maryborough Prison touching the death of a an ex-Captain of the Free State National Army.

November 26, 2009


Leinster Express June 3rd 1871
Melancholy Death From Drowning
On Wednesday last R.S. Hayes Esq., coroner, held an inquest at the Hare Park, Curragh Camp, on the body of Henry C. Andrews, Curragh Camp, a private in the 97th Regiment, who was accidentally drowned while out bathing in the River Liffey, near Athgarvan, on the day previous. On the body being taken out of the water it was at once removed by his comrades to the military hospital of the Curragh Camp.
A respectable jury having been sworn, the following facts were deposed to by the witnesses examined on the inquiry:-
Corporal William Benham sworn and examined – I knew the deceased; he was a private in the 97th Regiment, 21 years of age, and unmarried; the deceased, myself, and some others went to bathe in the River Liffey, on yesterday, at the wire wall, below Athgarvan; only three of us could swim; and the deceased, with others, stripped, and went in; I and two others swam across the Liffey, and got out on the bank; when about sixty yards away, I heard an alarm given that a man was drowning; I called on the men that could swim to give assistance; Private Henshard, with Corporals Gledden and Bennett, attempted to save him, but the drowning man having caught one of them by the arm while he was attempting to hold deceased by the hair of the head, he was obliged to let go; after that the man sunk; we could see the body at the bottom; it remained in the water for an hour and a half, when Thomas Stanley and Dr. Johnson, of the 1st Dragoon Guards, dived for him, and got out the body.
Joseph S. Johnson, Esq., Assistant Surgeon, 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, deposed – I was informed on yesterday by Corporal Benham, of the 97th Regiment, that a soldier belonging to his corps had been drowned in the river Liffey; I rode over to the place, and found a number of soldiers sitting on the bank; there were also a couple of civilians present; I could see the body lying in the centre of the river; the parties on the bank told me that they had tried to get out the body of deceased, but had failed to do so; I took off my clothes, and swam out, and one of the civilians came after me; while I was swimming about looking for the body, the civilian dived down, and brought him up.
The Coroner, in charging the jury, said there was no doubt that death was accidental; still it was extraordinary that in the presence of sixteen men such an occurrence should take place. He should have expected some greater exertion would have been made to save the man; but it appeared that once he sunk they gave him up as lost.
The jury, after a brief deliberation, returned the following verdict: “We find that Henry C. Andrews was accidentally drowned in the River Liffey, near Athgarvan, while bathing, on Tuesday, the 30th instant.

The Leinster Express on June 3rd 1871, reports on the accidental death, by drowning, of a young soldier from the Curragh Camp.

November 25, 2009


Leinster Leader May 17th 1952
Shortly after 2 p.m. on May 7th 1915, the great British liner, the “Lusitania” was sunk about 200 miles off the south coast of Ireland. The ship was loaded with passengers and many lives were lost.
One of the survivors is Mr. Thos. McCormack, Killina, Robertstown, who gave a vivid account of the sinking of the vessel to our Edenderry representative last week.
Mr. McCormack, who is in his 70th year, was returning from the U.S.A., where he had worked for three years. He began life as a boatman on the Grand Canal at 17/6 a week. He was standing on the port side of the ship when she was struck and holed by two torpedoes from a German submarine. A deafening explosion shook the ship from stem to stern and terrified passengers were thrown in all directions. Tom McCormack was knocked off his feet by a surge of people; and when he tried to rise - his ears singing and his mind a blank – he was knocked down again. Lying prone on the deck he watched a boat load of women and children lowered over the side.
The ship lurched and the boat dropped like a stone into the sea. To his ears came the screams of its occupants as they -struggled in the water.
Making his way along the sloping deck he reached the ship’s stern, now rising high above the water from the vessel’s list. He watched the propeller revolving uselessly in the air and the wreckage strewn water 90 feet below – and to this day he does not know whether he jumped or fell off the ship. He struck the water a few feet from another survivor. Swimming madly he got a safe distance from the sinking vessel.
He has never forgotten what he saw when he turned to look back. The liner reared up in the water for her last plunge, and as she went down she left a long “tunnel” behind her.
“It was like a tunnel of green glass, going down into the depths of the ocean. Around its sides I could see bodies and wreckage, all whirling about and going deeper into that horrible void. Then the boilers exploded and a column of water shot high in the air. I was sucked back about forty feet.”
Then began his long ordeal in the water. He swam past women on lifebelts, some of then carrying dead babies strapped to their backs. He came on a young boy and girl who were sobbing with fright, having lost their parents on the ship he stayed with them for two hours comforting them, and swam around until he collected two deck chairs for them to cling to.
Another vivid memory he has is of a crowd of men singing hymns in a strange tongue their hands joined together as they floated around in the sea.
He was picked up by a tug boat and arrived in Cobh Harbour at ten o’clock that night. He had lost everything he possessed except his shirt and trousers.
Looking back on it all he wonders if the boy and girl he helped are still alive. He also wonders if it is true that Dr. Kennedy, who was a passenger, vowed to become a priest if he was saved and that today he is Father Kennedy, S.J., a Missioner in China. He was told this by Very Rev. Father Phelan, P.P., Abbeyleix  (he was then C.C. in Naas); and by Dr. Doran, Robertstown who were students in Clongoweswood with Father Kennedy.
To-day, Thomas McCormack’s greatest wish is to meet a survivor from the “Luistania”
The following article appeared in a subsequent edition of the Leinster Leader:
Another “Lusitania” survivor located
A recent issue of the Leinster Leader contained the story of Thomas McCormack, Killinn, Robertstown, a survivor from the ill-fated “Lusitania”, which was torpedoed on May 7th 1915.
The report mentioned that McCormack had never met another survivor of the disaster, and his dearest wish in life (he is now in his 70th year) was to “swop yarns” with someone who had shared in his terrible experience and lived to tell the story.
Now, through and unusual coincidence, he is likely to have his wish. In far away Rosse’s Point, Co. Sligo, another survivor is alive and well, and how he learned of McCormack’s existence – and his wish – makes strange reading.
The chain of events which led to this happy sequel to our story began in Rathangan with Mr. Patrick McGoldrick, a Bord na Mona official. Mr McGoldrick is a native of Sligo, and when he got a few days leave recently he decided to visit his home. Before he left Rathangan he bought a copy of the Leinster Leader containing the Lusitania story. He put the paper in his pocket and it accompanied him to Sligo. A day or so later Mr. McGoldrick was in Rosse’s Point and while there he called on his friend. Mr. J. McLoughlin, proprietor of the “Tatch Bar”. He was seated in the shop when he pulled the paper out of his pocked and began to read it. After a while he left it beside him and when Mr. McLoughlin joined him the heading on the front page – it contained the word “Lusitania” – attracted his attention.
And thus the two survivors, so far apart in distance but linked by a terrible experience, learned of each other’s existence. Mr. McLouhglin has promised to write to Mr. McCormack and it is possible that they may arrange a meeting.

Some very vivid memories of the sinking of the Lusitania are recalled by Kildare man Thomas McCormack in the Leinster Leader. The Leader also recounts, in a subsequent article, how another survivor of the Lusitania was located in Sligo.

November 18, 2009


Kildare Observer, February 15th 1919
A young soldier who was in the “Pals” Battalion, R.D.F. – a brother of Mr. P.J. Ginnane the Observer representative at Athy – has just arrived home from Russia where he was a prisoner of war with the Germans for the past nine months. Like thousands of other British prisoners, he was sent out to work in all weathers and although registered by the Huns as being interned in a German camp, he never saw the place, and consequently, never got a line or a parcel from home. The party traversed France, Alsace-Lorraine, Warsaw, and Russia, and large numbers of the stronger men succumbed for want of food and care. Relating some of his experience this youth writes home:-
“It may interest your readers to know how I fared after being captured last March. On the 21st March, about 6a.m. the German guns opened fire, sending over all kinds of shells, including gas shells. As this lasted for some hours, I had to take off my gas mask now and then in order to get some air. Of course, the attack was expected for some days before that, but as I had already done several days in the line without a change of clothes, etc., I was not altogether in a fit condition to stand much “strafing”.
However, I looked about for shelter but the best I could do was to get down where there were six or seven of my comrades lying behind a lump of rock. While I was there, there were two or three very badly wounded, but they had to remain as they were until the bombardment ceased, as the shrapnel was flying in all directions, and of course, it meant taking off the gas masks in order to move about, otherwise there was a danger of walking on some poor fellow who had been wounded or knocked out. Anyway, the Germans did not get into the trench where I was till about 6 p.m., and as I was not in touch then with the rest of my party, I had no option but to surrender. Of course, I was asked for information, but had none to give. I then went across “No Man’s Land” to the trenches occupied by the Germans and gave a hand with one or two of the wounded, who included a captain belonging to the Dublins. The next day my first job as a prisoner of war was to help to carry the wounded to the dressing station. After that I was attached to a big party, consisting of about three or four hundred other prisoners, and as the German sentries did not know the road, we were marching all day and night without food. Eventually we reached the cage, which consisted of a big field wired all round, and several sentries posted. We were left there for two days and nights, and as it was freezing very hard we had to keep moving all the time, having neither overcoats nor blankets. After two days we were brought to billets at Le Quesnoy, where we stayed for three or four weeks. This was a big sorting camp for making up working parties. The next place we went to was Fins. Here there was plenty of work, but very little food; in fact, the menu consisted chiefly of cabbage water and a small piece of bread, for the day, so that we were very glad to be able to get some horse flesh occasionally, also nettles, dandelion, etc., This lasted about three months after which time we went to Schumick, around Alsace Lorraine. We stopped here about two months, doing all kinds of work, such as sweeping roads etc. After that we went to Russia by train, and had doubts whether the old engine would stick together or not, but fortunately it did. I say “fortunately” , because three of four days is a long time to be in a horse box, and as there were about 40 of us in each box it meant standing up most of the time. After being in Russia for some time my health broke down, so that I had to go to the (Lazarette) hospital. Here I had to live on elderberry soup and cabbage water, but of course, most of the patients being Englishmen and accustomed to plenty of solid food, they were dying in large numbers for the want of decent food. It may interest your readers to know that I never had occasion to raise a fork while a prisoner of war, and of course, such things as knife, spoon, soap, tea, cocoa, coffee, white bread, milk or sugar were all things of the past, and I received no letters or parcels during my captivity. However, thanks to the Red Cross Societies and the Returned Prisoners of War Committee, Dublin, I am now home again, safe and sound, and hope soon to be in civvies again. On the way home I was detained for about a week at Copenhagen (Denmark), during which time several inquiries were put to me about Ireland and Home Rule, but having been out of the country for a long time, I was not able to say much on the subject”.

A young soldier from the "Pals" Battlion, R.D.F. recalls his experiences as a prisoner of war to the Kildare Observer of February 15th 1919.

November 13, 2009


Leinster Leader 15/2/1919
Shooting Tragedy At The Curragh
The particulars of a sad tragedy were unfolded at an inquest held on Tuesday evening at Kildare. When an inquest was held touching the death of Patrick Gavin a respectable and popular workman aged about 45., who was shot dead near the Tully Springs in the early morning by, it was alleged, a sentry who was on guard there. It appeared Patrick Gavin, who had been in the employment of Mr. Moore at Tully for the past 15 years, left there in the early morning to drive a bullock to the Newbridge fair and was afterwards found dead by the roadside.
Dr. Jeremiah O’Neill Deputy Coroner for South Kildare, held an inquest on Tuesday evening at Michael Nolan’s public house Kildare , into the circumstances of the death of Patrick Gavin, - a workman in the employment of Mr. Moore, Tully, who was found at Tully pumping station near Kildare in the early morning. It was stated the poor man was engaged in driving a bullock, the property of Mr. Moore, from his master’s farm at Tully and was on his way to the fair of Newbridge when he was killed. The deceased was a hardworking, respectable man aged about 45 years and was in the employment of Mr. Moore for the last 15 years. He is spoken of as a decent man who was very popular in the neighbourhood and much regret is expressed by his employer and the people of the neighbourhood at his untimely death.
The following jury was sworn – Messrs. Jas. Bergin (foreman), Patrick McLoughlin, Chras. Heffernan, George Grahan, Edmund Burke, Laurence Ryan, Thomas O’Grady, Wm. Hayden, Jos. Fleming Thomas Fitzpatrick, P.J. Connolly, Denis Carberry and Hugh Mearns. D.I. Madden represented the R.I.C.
Mr Joseph Moore deposed in reply to D.I. Madden he lived at Tully East. The deceased was a workman of theirs. He was about 45 years and unmarried. He came to him that morning to take a cow to the fair at Newbridge. He saw him at twenty past four, and at a quarter to five he left his yard with a black bullock. He next saw his dead body that afternoon. There was no one with him driving the cow. He met the cow about 7.30 on the French Furze road about half a mile from the house. This would be a mile and a half from the pumping station.
Sergeant Arthur Jones stated he was of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He was a sergeant of the guard the previous night at the pumping station and “mounted” at Rath Camp. The other members of the guard were Privates Gay, J. Snowden and Priest. He mounted Private Gay as sentry at four a.m. All went quiet until a quarter to six. After that he heard the sentry shout guard turn out, and on immediately turning out and on getting the guard to the door, heard the sound of rifle fire.
D.I : Was it one shot your heard?
Witness: One shot, sir.
 Was that close at hand?
 Close at hand, sir and I at once questioned the sentry.
D.I.: What did you find?
Witness: In consequence of what he told me I found the body of the deceased man on the other side of the road about 8 yards away.
How was he placed? His face was sideways, and he was crumpled up, lying on the side of the road.
D.I.: You had him removed?
Witness: I had him removed to the Guardroom.
D.I.: We will come back to that. What did the sentry say to you?
Witness: He said this man attacked him.
D.I.: How did he say he attacked him?
Witness: With his stick. He said he had his stick raised as if to strike him.
D.I. : And that he did not answer the challenge?
Witness: He said he took no notice of his challenge and on the third time he shot him.
Mr. Bergin (Foreman): Would you not consider it was a very drastic thing when there were three of you?
Coroner to witness: The question is do you consider the action drastic?
Witness: That would depend on how you look at it. If the man was going to attack the sentry.
Coroner: The Foreman asks do you not think it a very drastic action?
Witness: If the man were going to attack it would not be.
To the D.I. : I found it hard to see him.
Mr. Bergin (Foreman): At a quarter past six or quarter to seven there was no haze.
Witness: Down there, there are hedges on each side and that makes it very dark.
A Juror: Was the man dead when you found him?
Witness: Yes
To Mr. Burke: It was not bright at the time.
To Mr Graham: I was quite close
To Mr. O’ Grady: I was quite close. I went to the door, and before I could say “Jack Robinson” I heard the fire of the rifle.
To Mr. Graham: The sentry called the guard out.
D.I.: Before he fired?
Witness: Yes sir.
D.I: Tell me sergeant, when Pte. Gay was unloading his rifle what happened?
Witness: Another round went off. He accidentally fired another shot.
To Mr. Heffernan: That was afterwards but it would not be an hour.
Mr. Fleming: When a man would be going along the road and until he would pass, would he see a soldier? Is there anything to indicate to the public that a military guard is placed on the pumping station, or was there one there one there at the time?
Coroner: That is important.
Witness: No. only by the appearance of the guard or by the sentry.
To Mr. Carberry: It is on the side of the road?
Mr. Carberry: The road is very narrow there.
To D.I. Madden: It is between the fence and the public road.
In reply to Mr. Fleming he said the sentry would call out for the third time.
Mr Fleming: They don’t challenge until you leave the road.
D.I.: Oh yes, I have been challenged.
Mr. Burke: I was challenged several times and I never went near the wells
 Several other Jurors also spoke of being challenged.
Mr. Burke: Is it usual if a man is walking along the road to challenge?
If he approaches the gate or going into the well he is challenged, or if he tries to attack the sentry.
To Mr. O’Grady: My instructions are not to challenge any ordinary passers by.
Coroner: Is that correct?
Witness: That is correct, sir.
Mr. Burke: Did the deceased leave the high road?
Witness: I could not say, sir. He was on the opposite side of the road when found. My opinion is he [ruffled] to there after being shot.
To Mr. Connolly: If a man was shot he would naturally buzz round. He would jump and would not fall exactly where he had been shot.
To Mr. Grahan: In my opinion he called out from where he fired. He must have turned round towards the guard room after firing and shouted “guard turn out”. I was not asleep at the time. There is no sleep there. There is too much smoke there to sleep.
Mr Grahan; It suggests to me as extraordinary that the sentry was not heard. It was a very calm morning.
The Coroner said that was explained by saying that the man may have turned round: He is giving you the possible explanation.
D.I. Madden; He is giving the best he can.
Coroner: He is giving the explanation as far as he can make it out.
To the Foreman: There was one on his beat two in the guardroom and myself. Directly they got to the door they heard the shot.
Coroner: Don’t you think that with three of you there you might be able to defend yourselves – three to one?
Witness: You do not know what a man may have in his mind or in his pocket.
Mr. Burke: And the man knew that there were three more of you.
Witness: He might have a dozen of loaded men behind the hedge. We do not know.
Mr. O’Grady: What do the King’s regulations say?
Witness: If a sentry is attacked he must use his weapons to the best of his ability.
Mr. O’Grady: And if the person came on what would you do then?
Witness: Shoot Sir.
Mr. O’Grady: Have you to challenge more than once?
Yes, if you challenge more than once, you must give a man a chance.
Mr. O’Grady: If he does not answer the challenge?
Witness: It just depends. You turn the guard out and the man keeps at the [?] the guard is turned out. The King’s Regulations say a man must use his weapon to the best of his knowledge and if a sentry is challenged the guard must turn out.
Private Charles Snowden, Duke of Willington Regt., Curragh Camp, in reply to D.I. Madden, said he was a member of the guard at the Tully pumping station. At about a quarter to six he was in the guardroom with Sergt., Jones and Private Preston, I heard a sentry on beat shout “guard turn out”. We all rushed for our rifles. We went to the door. I got my rifle and the sergeant was at the door. I heard a sound of a rifle shot close at hand.
D.I.: When you went out where was Pte. Gay?
Witness: He was standing in front with his back to the sentry box, facing his front.
What else did you notice?
I saw the deceased man huddled up on the opposite side of the road. His head was close to the bank. The body was on the off side of the road.
What was the light like?
It was the darkest part of the night.
Was there a moon?
Was it windy or calm?
It was calm at the time.
To the Coroner: I heard a second shot when I was going towards battalion headquarters.
D.I.: That was after the man had been seen by you?
Witness: Yes Sir
To the Foreman: If people were lurching about I would challenge them.
Pte. John Robert Brest, Duke of Willington Regt., said he was stationed at the Rath Camp, Curragh. I was one of the guards at the pumping station last night under the command of Sergeant Jones. Privates Snowden and Gay were also there. At a quarter to six I heard the sentry shout “guard turn out” and the sergeant and ourselves all rushed for our rifles. As we got to the guard-room door I heard a shot fired. When we got outside the sentry was standing with his back to the sentry box, and at the opposite side of the road, about eight yards away a man was lying huddled up. As I was coming out of the guardroom door I heard one groan. It was dark at the time. I saw a dark object lying on the road but could not say clearly what lay there, only a dark object.
D.I.: Did you hear the second shot was fired?
Witness: Yes, the sentry Pte. Gay, was instructing them how the shot was fired.
Coroner: Did you see any sign of a cow?
Witness: Not until about seven o’clock when a black cow came from the back of the guardroom.
D.I. Madden: Was it in the field or on the road?
Witness: In the field sir.
To Mr. O’Grady: It was a black cow. I did not hear any challenge by the sentry before the shot was fired.
To Mr Graham: The cow went on towards French Furze.
To Mr. Bergin: I did not hear the sentry challenge him. He stood with his rifle as usual at the box.
Lient. Cecil Bancroft, Duke of Wellington Regt. Deposed in reply to D.I. Madden:
I got a message this morning in consequence of which I went to the pumping station at Tully. I reached the guardroom at Tully well at five minutes past seven. I saw the deceased man lying there. I saw the sentry Gay who had been relieved at six. I examined his rifle and in the magazine I found three live rounds which I extracted and the bayonet on the rifle.
D.I.: How many rounds are the usual?
Witness: It is usual to have five live rounds to a clip. I did not see any cow on the road.
To the Foreman: The sergeant of the guard explained to me that the sentry expended one round when emptying his breech.
Mr. Carberry: That was when taking out the empty cartridge?
Witness: Yes
Mr. Connolly: Did the bayonet look as if it was used?
`Witness: No: perfectly clean.
Mr. Grahan: Did you inquire what happened the other round?
Witness: I was informed he was shot with the one round.
To the Foreman: The body was in the guardroom when I went there.
To Mr. Burke: The sentries duties are to guard all Government properties within sight.
Mr. Bergin: Is it difficult to aim at a close object?
Witness: It all depends; night firing is very difficult to take accurate fire.
Mr. Bergin: Take the other round that went off, would it not be very dangerous if that went off while on the road?
Witness: No, because all soldiers are taught to hold the rifle at an angle when extracting cartridges.
Mr. O’Grady: Is it sufficient for a military sentry to suspect a man having a deadly weapon – the mere suspicion or a chance of his attacking? Is it sufficient to justify the sentry to shoot?
Witness: We are taught by the military that he is justified if the challenge is not answered.
To the Coroner: He is justified in shooting an officer if he does not answer the challenge.
Sergt. Hugh Muldoon, R.I.C. Kildare in reply to the D.L. said that a report was made by Sergt. Jones, Duke of Wellington Regt., at about a quarter past six this morning, and in consequence of that report I went down to Dr. Rowan and asked him to go to the pumping station at Tully, and I also sent a constable for a clergyman. I reached the pumping station at ten minutes to seven and the deceased whom I knew, Patrick Gavin, I found on the floor of the pumping station. He was dead and the body was warm. I saw a wound on the left side of the chest. There was a quantity of blood about the wound and on his clothes. The stick, which I produce, I got in the guardroom from Sergt. Jones, as having belonged to the deceased. I saw Sergeant Jones pick up the cartridge produced from the sentry box and handed to Head Constable Dufficey. There was fresh blood on the road like a pool of blood. There were drops of blood also on the road towards the sentry box and about five yards from it. I saw a black cow afterwards. I passed out by the guardroom and on to the road. It went in the direction of French Furze. It was a black polly cow apparently in calf.
To Mr. Burke: A cow could stray in off the road at the spot.
In reply to Mr. Carberry, Mr. Moore said the stick (produced) was not like any of the sticks belonging to the deceased.
D.I.: Did he not have a stick of some kind?
Mr. Moore: Yes but if I saw him going to the fair with that stick I would not let him go with a springing cow while having it.
In answer to the Coroner, Sergeant Muldoon said – I inferred from the blood on the road and near the sentry box that the man had been struck nearer the sentry box than where the pool of blood was on the road.
Dr. L.F. Rowan deposed that assisted by Doctors Coady and Kelly he mad a post-mortem examination and on the right upper arm and about two inches from the top of the shoulder he found three small wounds close together. The aorta and main artery and heart were severed. There was a wound two inches long in the chest. The cause of death was haemorrhage and shock resulting from two pieces of metal entering close inside the right arm.
Coroner: How do you make out these wounds from the tip of the shoulder? Three small ones.
Dr. Rowan: In my opinion death was due to haemorrhage [sic] One of the wounds was circular and one oval. They found a wound in the chest wall about the size of a four shilling piece. On the left side the ribs were fractured.
After further evidence;
Coroner: What do you think the wounds were caused by?
Dr. Rowan: I have not heard the evidence Mr. Coroner.
Mr O’Grady junior: Could you say that it was possible that the two main wounds could be caused by the same bullet? Yes.
Dr. E. Coady said he assisted Dr. Rowan at the post-mortem. He corroborated his evidence.
On completion of the evidence which was gone into at length, The Coroner pointed out to the jury the more important portions of the evidence which had been given and after a very long consideration the following verdict was found;-
“That Patrick Gavin died of haemorrhage caused by a bullet which severed the main artery of the heart, fired by Private Gay and all of us are of opinion that Private Gay did not exercise sufficient discretion on this occasion and that before firing he should have consulted an older head in the person of the sergeant of the guard and we are of opinion that for the safety of the public in such places more experienced men should be placed on sentry duty.  Some light should be shown at night time as a warning to the public of the presence of a military guard.
Considering the circumstances of Patrick Gavin’s death we will draw the attention of the military authorities to the relatives of the deceased.
After the inquest the Very Rev. Father Campion, P.P. and Very Rev. Father O’Reilly attended and when the remains were removed there was a very large gathering of sympathisers from the town and district where the deceased was well known as a hard working and decent man. The utmost sympathy is expressed.

The Leinster Leader of February 15th 1919 reports the particulars of a sad tragedy which were unfolded at an inquest at Kildare.

November 10, 2009


A Bridge, A Town, A People. Social Housing in Newbridge
James Durney
Newbridge is a relatively new town, having sprung up around the British Army barracks built between 1813 and 1819. At the dawn of the twentieth century many inhabitants of the town lived in privately-owned, poorly built cottages, with no running water or toilets.
The provision of social housing in Newbridge by the Town Commission, Board of Health and Kildare County Council improved the living conditions of the people of Newbridge and brought it from a sleepy market town to the thriving metropolis it is today. The goal of the local authorities to eradicate substandard dwellings and provide alternative housing to the working classes of the town was achieved in a remarkable short time.
In 1900 the population of Newbridge was around 2,900. Most of the population lived in substandard, which comprised one room, a kitchen and an outside toilet. Some of these houses accommodated up to ten persons. In 1902 the Town Commission built the first social houses, Rowan Terrace. In the following years, through the Troubles, World Wars, and economic turmoil, the local authorities did their utmost to improve the situation of the working classes and rid the town of its teeming side streets once and for all.
This book is peopled with the rich characters of Newbridge – Pom Moran, Pop White and Yonkie McCormack – and prominent families – Dempseys, Duanes, Durneys, Murphys and O’Briens. A Bridge, A Town, A People is a lively tale of their long march from the crumbling cottages of the back streets and lanes to the properly planned and pristine new schemes of Piercetown, Pairc Mhuire, Highfield and Lakeside.
Launch of
A Bridge, A Town, A People. Social Housing in Newbridge 1900-1996.
James Durney
Councillor Paddy Kennedy will launch
‘A Bridge, A Town, A People. Social Housing in Newbridge 1900-1996,’
the latest book by James Durney
in the Riverbank Arts Centre,
at 6.00 on 12 November
All Are Welcome
Book available on the night; from Farrell’s, Newbridge; jamesdurney.com

November 07, 2009


Leinster Leader 29th December 1951
Saw Phoenix Park Murders
There died recently in Newbridge a person who witnessed the Park murders in 1881, and who during his long life had always been a staunch Irishman.  Like all young boys, he was fond of rambling, and his favourite place of ramble was in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.  About 14 years of age, he had arranged to start work, and a few days before, he spent the evening in the Park.  Some distance from him he noticed two men walking with their umbrellas. This was opposite the Viceregal Lodge.  Being young he took little notice, but immediately afterwards he saw the two men being attacked by a group of other men and he saw the two men defending themselves with their umbrellas.  He saw one of the men fall and, afraid that he would be embroiled in the dispute took to his heels, his residence not being far from the Park.
He told his mother when he got home what he had seen, but she, like him, thought it was an ordinary row and dismissed it from her mind.  But soon the great activity of police and soldiers attracted her attention and she found that the row was indeed more serious, for both Lord Cavendish and Burke had been assassinated and the perpetrators of the deed had got away unnoticed.  The following morning the Press gave great headlines to the matter and a reward was offered for any information that would lead to the arrest of the culprits.  Fearing that her son might be drawn into this affair, and might give some particulars that might brand him as an informer, she immediately packed him off to Newbridge, to his grandmother, who resided there.
The deceased man was John O’ Toole, and he never returned to his native Dublin to work.  He had a strong constitution and was never known to be a day sick.  He was well known by all the residents of Newbridge as a quiet, respectable man.
He was a cousin of the late Capt. J. J. Fitzgerald and M. Fitzgerald, famous Kildare footballers, and was always a good follower of the All Whites.  His passing has removed an historic figure from the area.  He rarely spoke of the Park affair, but some time before he died he gave a vivid account of the whole episode to the writer.
Peace to his ashes
                     “FEAR CEALL.”

The Leinster Leader of December 1951 reports the passing of Mr. John O'Toole, a well known resident of Newbridge, who witnessed The Phoenix Park murders in 1881.

November 06, 2009


Journal of the Medal Society of Ireland
No. 81, May 2008
Crimean and Mutiny Veteran Died in Natal
Kildare Man
Liam Dodd
The gallantry of our soldiers participating in the tense European conflict of today should make us hold in renewed and lasting honour the brave warriors of past campaigns, campaigns which have built up, as on a sure, concrete foundation the glorious traditions of the British Army. One of these heroes, Mr. John Joseph Flood, who fought in the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, passed away at Durban Natal South Africa , on Sunday, December 27th, at the rare old age of 90 years. He long outlived the rigours of the Crimean winter and the no less trying experiences of campaigning under a blazing Indian sun. Mr. Flood was born in Ireland in 1824 and when 22 years of age enlisted in the 48th Foot (now the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment) at Newbridge, Co. Kildare. After being stationed in Dublin, Belfast, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Brecon, Flood embarked with his regiment for Corfu, Ionian Islands. There they remained from 1853 to 1855, when they were ordered to the Crimea, where they took part in the famous campaign of sixty years ago. During the Russian sortie from Sebastapol, Sergeant Flood was struck on the top of his head with a bullet, which came near to shortening his days very considerably a and made him feel glad he was not a taller man.
In 1858 Colour-Sergeant Flood and his regiment proceeded to India and took part in the suppression of the Mutiny, during which they engaged the rebels at Lahore and other places. At Jelung the “City of Palaces” in Central India, the Colour-Sergeant was for three months in charge of a fort and his small garrison had to be continually on the alert, as the enemy, like the angles, were hovering around. The regiment after being stationed at Lucknow and Calcutta embarked for home and landed at Dover in April 1865. Colour-Sergeant Flood was appointed to the staff of the Queen’s Co. Militia as musketry instructor in the following year and he held this position on the militia permanent staff for ten years.
Going out to Natal South Africa in 1879, Mr. Flood was for many years in the Durban Corporation and was also for a considerable time drill instructor to the youth of that seaport.
Mr. Flood held three medals, the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the Crimean War medal with clasps for Sebastapol, and the Turkish medal. Singularly enough, he did not get an Indian Mutiny medal, the antiquated reason for this being that a General was not in command of the forces in which he served, nor did his part in a general engagement. In a press interview a few years ago the veteran said that “the Crimean War had a great levelling influence upon its officers. Prior to that time the officer was an arrogant aristocrat, but he had to share the hardships of the common soldier, which had a salutary effect upon him.”
The funeral took place at Durban on Monday December 28th and it was attended by a large and representative gathering of town people. There were many beautiful wreaths. The coffin was carried from the house by four veterans, over the coffin was the Union Jack. Three medals hung attached to the deceased’s cot and a few veterans and a squad of the Durban Garrison Artillery followed. By a regrettable omission, however, there were no military honours accorded by the authorities and there was a consequent absence of gun carriage firing party and band. The Rev. Father Viellard, O.M.I. conducted the service at the Catholic Cathedral and also at the graveside.
Kildare Observer 30th January 1915


The Journal of the Medal Society of Ireland of May 2008 reports on the death in South Africa of Mr. John Joseph Flood, a brave hero who fought in the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny. Our thanks to Roy O'Brien

November 05, 2009


Leinster Leader December 7th 1963
The sudden death of Mr. William Norton, T.D. at his home in Dublin on Wednesday night, has shocked County Kildare where he headed the poll at the last General Election in 1961. He was 63, and had been a Deputy for Kildare since 1932.
Mr. Norton was a distinguished politician, a great parliamentarian. He was one of the most astute and ablest of deputies and his passing will be a profound loss to Irish politics, the Labour Party, of which he was a life-long member and long-time leader, and the constituency he served so long and so well.
For a man who played so important a role in the Irish Parliament he never neglected the people whom he represented and he travelled widely throughout the county to Labour Party Branch meetings. He rarely missed a meeting of Kildare County Council and was present at Monday’s meeting.
Felt Unwell
He had been attending to his parliamentary duties with his usual vigour up to last weekend. Then he felt unwell and decided to rest at his home in Merlyn Park, Ballsbridge. Although his health had not been too good for some time, his unexpected death on Wednesday night came as a big blow to his family and friends. R. Norton was born in Dublin in 1900, the eldest of a family of eight. He left the national school in Rathmines before he was thirteen years old and took a job as a telegraph messenger at 3s 6d a week. He progressed, by self-education, through examination to sorting clerk and telegraphist. He had long realised the importance of trade union work and after holding several positions at branch level in the Post Office Worker’s Union, became General Secretary of the union at the age of 23.
On Council
He led his union with great success and within a few years became an executive member of the Irish Trade Union congress. He began to take an active interest in politics and was elected a member of Rathmines Urban Council. In 1926, at the age of 26, he was elected a T.D. for Dublin, in a bye-election, but lost the seat later.
In 1932, the year he was elected first for Co. Kildare, he became Leader of the Labour Party, a position he was to hold until 1960. Mr. Norton was one of those responsible for the participation of the post office staffs, then under British administration, in the two day strike in April, 1920, as a protest against the executions of I.R.A. men in Mountjoy prison, and also in a further strike in 1921 in sympathy with those on hunger strike in Mountjoy.
He served on several Government Commissions and was a member of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Committee of Procedures and Privileges of the Dail. He was given credit in many quarters as the principal planner of the first Inter-Party Government in 1948, when under Mr. John A. Costello he was appointed Tanaiste and Minister for Social Welfare. He later became Minister for Local Government temporarily, on the death of Mr. T. J. Murphy, and served for a short time as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs during the illness of Mr. Everett. Earlier Mr. Norton was made a member of the Postal Telegraph Telephone International and represented Ireland at many international conferences. He was President for two years of the International Letter Carriers Association and in this capacity travelled to many parts of the world, including Australia. While serving as Tanaiste he headed the Irish delegation to the Council of Europe at Strasbourg and was a member of the permanent executive. In an early session of the Council he delivered a most eloquent plea for the unity of Ireland. He spoke against Mr. Churchill’s proposal to set up a European army “to defend peaceful peoples against aggression,” and declared that the proposal would be sincere if Britain ended her aggression against Ireland.
Party Crisis
During the war a crisis came for the Labour Party. At a trade union conference in Britain, Irish delegates adopted a line which some people at home regarded as not strictly neutral. The result brought a split in the Labour Party. This was spotlighted in the Dail when four in the party broke away from Mr. Norton’s leadership and formed the National Labour Party. Further set-backs to Labour came in the 1944 General Election when the Party suffered heavy losses.
Social Security
But under Mr. Norton’s dynamic leadership Labour made a fairly strong comeback in 1948 and became the second largest party in the country’s first Inter-Party Government under Mr. John A. Costello, Fine Gael. One of his greatest ambitions was to implement his White Paper on Social Security, an ambitious plan for the Welfare State in Ireland, but he was unable to do so either in the first or second Inter-Party Government. The introduction of the Social Welfare Bill of 1948 had reached the Committee Stage when the General Election of 1951 intervened. The Bill was then shelved and was replaced by Dr. Ryan’s Social Welfare Act, which came into force the following year. Mr. Norton was also prominently involved in the repeal of the External Relations Act and the institution of the Republic of Ireland. During this time he did not lose contact with the trade union movement and when the first Inter-Party Government was defeated he resumed as General Secretary of his union and returned as leader of the re-united Labour party in the Dail.
Tanaiste Again
With the defeat of Fianna Fail, the formation of a new Inter-Party Government was undertaken in 1954. Fine Gael and Labour were supported by Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and Independents. In June of that year Mr. Norton was again appointed Tanaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce. He was keenly interested in the development of industry and in 1956 made a month long tour of the United States. He carried on negotiations with Canadian mine experts on the Avoca Mines and persuaded them to work the mines. In 1959 he was receive in private audience by Pope John XXIII. Earlier he had become the first Irishman to be elected President of Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International, and he presided at the Triennial Congress of the organisation in Vienna.
It was in February, 1960 that Mr. Norton resigned from leadership of the Labour Party. Earlier he had intimated his desire to relinquish the post but he had been prevailed upon to stay on. In 1959 he was appointed a director of the General Electric Company of Ireland. Mr. Norton is survived by his wife, four sons, Messrs Patrick, William, Brendan and Kevin Norton, and his daughter, Mrs Eileen McCarthy, Glenview, Wicklow. He is also survived by his mother, by his brother Kevin and by sisters, Mrs Margaret Roche, England, and Miss Nellie Norton, Dublin. Removal of remains to the Star of the Sea Church, Sandymount, Dublin, was on Thursday evening, and the funeral takes place this (Friday) morning, after Requiem Mass at 10 o’clock, to Deans Grange Cemetery.

The Leinster Leader of December 7th 1963 reports on the long and successful political career of William Norton on the occasion of his sudden death.

November 04, 2009


Leinster Leader Supplement, April 27th 1907
The Greatest of the Geraldines
Sketch of his Career
Lord Edward’s connections with Co. Kildare
By Fred V. Devers
“True Geraldines! Brave Geraldines! As torrents mould the earth,
You channelled deep old Ireland’s hearts by constancy and worth;
When Ginckle ‘leaguered Limerick, the Irish soldiers gazed
To see if in the setting sun dead Desmond’s banner blazed.
And still it is the peasant’s hope upon the Cuirreach’s mere
They live, who’ll see ten thousand men with good Lord Edward here –
So let them dream till brighter days,
When, not by Edward’s shade,
But by some leader true as he their lines shall be arrayed.”
So wrote one of Ireland’s true geniuses – Thomas Davis, of that proud race who first came amongst the Irish as adventurers and afterwards became “more Irish than the Irish themselves.” There is one, however, of the family whose name is cherished beyond all others in the hearts of the Irish people for his services to his country. That one is Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the very mention of whose name must bring before their minds as if it were but an event of yesterday the harrowing incidents connected with the times in which he lived and the tragic circumstances under which he died. Over a century has passed since the life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald was immolated in the cause of Freedom, but his patriotism, his self-sacrificing nature his trials and subsequent tragic death as a result of wounds inflicted in his struggle with Sirr and his satellites, must ever remain green in the memory of Irishmen the world over. He was a patriot when, to evince patriotic feelings was criminal, but his was indeed a noble spirit, and if the bullet of the assassin had not put an end to his life, in all probability the cause for which he died would have soon be achieved – at least the struggle which ensued would have had a different issue.
His noble characteristics, his talents, his chivalrous nature, his indomitable courage command respect and evoke sympathy even from those in opposition to the cause in which his life was sacrificed. He belonged to a proud race, was born to a high position, and might have achieved fame in other directions, but he preferred to die the patriot’s death and laid down his life in seeking “to free his land from thrall of stranger.”
According to the records of the family, the progenitor of the Geraldines was “Dominus Otho,” who in 1057 was an honorary baron of England. History tells us that the family first became planted in Ireland in 1169. In May of that year, Robert Fitzstephen disembarked at Bagaubun or Bannow, County Wexford with 30 knights all his own kinsmen, 60 men-at-arms, and 300 skilful archers. Dermot MacMurrough, king of Leinster, persuaded Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, surnamed, Strongbow, to help him in recovering his kingdom from which he had been driven by Roderic O’Connor, King of Ireland. After having secured Strongbow’s aid he was returning to Ireland and having reached St. David’s, paid a visit to the Bishop, whose name was David Fitzgerald. This David had a brother named Maurice, and a half-brother Robert Fitzstephen, and as they had nothing to do and had ample means and numerous followers, the Bishop suggested to Dermot that he should avail himself of their services until Strongbow’s arrival. Dermot at once closed with the offer, and the two young warriors, seeing in this excursion a rich field for adventure, agreed to go to Ireland.
In May, 1169, as has already been pointed out, Fitzstephen arrived. He was shortly afterwards followed by Maurice Fitzgerald, who also brought a small company of knights and archers. Dermot had a beautiful daughter, Eva, whom he offered in marriage to either Fitzgerald or Fitzstephen if they would bring over a sufficient force to conquer the island. The offer was, however, declined, as they were already married. Strongbow soon arrived and took Waterford by assault, and a few days later his marriage with Dermot’s beautiful daughter was celebrated in that city.
In April, 1172, Henry II, on his departure to England appointed Maurice and Fitzstephen Wardens of Dublin under Hugh De Lacy, Chief Sovereign of Ireland. In the same year a conference took place between DeLacy and Tieran O’Rourke, Prince of Breffney and husband of the faithless Devorgilla, whose flight with the traitor MacMurrough was the cause of the invasion. The conference was held at Flahta, now Hill of Ward, near Athboy, County Meath. A cessation of hostilities did not however result.
In 1173, on the recall of DeLacy, Maurice returned to Wales in consequence of the manner in which Strongbow had acted towards him. Strongbow soon realised how valuable his assistance had been and accordingly recalled him and granted him the barony of Offaly, in which Rathangan was included, but Kildare was excepted, and also the territory of Offellan, in which were Maynooth and Naas.
Thus the Geraldines were first planted in Ireland, and have since continued to figure largely in the country’s history. Perhaps no member of the family occupied a more prominent position in the history of Ireland than Lord Edward Fitzgerald, certainly not, at all events, in the hearts of the Irish people. An abhorrence of wrong and his experience of the oppression under which Ireland had been suffering inflamed within his heart that patriotism which is reflected in his every action through life. 
Lord Edward
Lord Edward was born on the 15th October, 1763, and was one of nineteen children- nine sons and ten daughters, He was the fifth son and twelfth child of James, the 20th Earl of Kildare and first Duke of Leinster. Lord Edward’s father married in 1747, Lady Emily Mary Lennox, second daughter of the second Duke of Richmond. They were a noble family in every sense of the word, but the noblest Geraldine of them all was the man who surrendered all, even life itself, for Ireland’s sake. There were few positions under the English Crown to which he could not have attained had he so desired, but he preferred to risk his life in seeking to throw off the yoke under which his country suffered and against which his very nature revolted. For his effort, unsuccessful though it was, he will be deservedly mentioned at all times as one of Ireland’s most illustrious sons and truest patriots. The Earls of Kildare have a proud history, but around the name of Edward Fitzgerald the gratitude of Irishmen shall ever centre – a name which shed unfading lustre on the family history.
Lord Edward was only ten years of age when his father died, and his mother again married a Scotch gentleman, named Ogilvie, who was a great favourite of his step-son. Lord Edward’s studies were, under his charge, all directed towards the acquisition of such knowledge as would fit him for a military career. From his earliest boyhood he showed a marked aptitude for the calling which he afterwards embraced. In this alone did he not bear a resemblance to Napoleon the Great, who was afterwards a conqueror in many bloody fights?
After the marriage of the Duchess of Leinster with Mr. Ogilvie, they removed to Aubigny, in France, and there resided for sometime at a house given them by the Duke of Richmond. In 1779 the family again left Aubigny for England, and Lord Edward was appointed to a commission in the Sussex militia, of which his uncle the Duke of Richmond was Colonel, and a deep affection seems to have been entertained for him by the Duke.
The life of a militiaman, however, ill-fitted in with Lord Edward’s temperament and he determined to enter the “line” and accordingly in the autumn of the year 1780 we find him in a marching regiment, the 96th. In 1787 he sailed with his regiment from Cork, for America, where the power of England was crumbling under the swords of the patriots, Green, Washington and Lee. Lord Edward was then young and that excitement necessary to his nature being forthcoming, he considered not whether the cause for which he was fighting was a just or unjust one. He had not been long in America when he showed himself not only a brave but also an able and intelligent officer. About the beginning of September in an engagement with the Americans he fell fighting in the foremost ranks of the British Army, and was carried off the field dangerously injured.
He seems to have been a general favourite, his frank and open manner, his chivalry, and above all his unassuming disposition endearing him to all with whom he had any intercourse. In 1783 he found himself in the West Indies, where the fortunes of the British army suffered much. Towards the middle of that year he returned to Ireland. He was, as we have seen, fighting the battles of England in America whilst the revolution of ’82 was taking place at home. In 1783 – almost immediately after his return- he was elected Member for the Borough of Athy.
In the Irish Parliamentary Register, amongst the Irish members, occurs the names of – Right Hon. Lord Charles Fitzgerald, Kildare Street, and Carton, Maynooth; Right Hon. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Kildare Street, and Carton; right Hon. Lord Henry Fitzgerald, Kildare Street, and Carton. His Parliamentary career, however, is perhaps the least interesting period of his life. Curran entered Parliament the same year, and they always voted together against the Government.
Lord Edward was only twenty-one years when he became a member of the Irish House of Commons. He did not speak often, but when he did speak it was always on the right side. The first time he seems to have spoken in Parliament was in moving an amendment to the motion that an address should be presented to the King thanking him for his great solicitude about Ireland. The amendment was, however, lost. During the years 1784-5 Lord Edward spent the greater part of his time with his mother and Mr. Ogilvie at Frescati. He was not fond of Parliamentary life, being a man of deeds and not words. Compared with the splendid orators who sat on the same benches with him he could hope to make but a poor figure. He could, however, express his views well on any subject he took up, and obtained a reputation for good sense and judgment. In the years 1784-5 he formed a deep attachment for Lady Catherine Mead. His love, however, seems to have been unrequited for four or five years later this lady married Lord Powerscourt. In 1787, while in Gibraltar, Lord Edward formed the acquaintance of Major Sirr, by whom, he was afterwards assassinated. Lady Catherine seems to have been supplanted in Lord Edward’s affections by a Miss G ---, whom he met at Goodwood, and the Duke of Richmond endeavoured to arrange a match between the lovers, but the young lady’s father offered such a determined opposition to the alliance that he forbade him even to enter his house. This refusal seems to have seriously affected him, and in order to rid himself of the despondency which had take possession of his spirits, he left Ireland again for America in May, 1788. In 1789, while in New Orleans, he heard of the marriage of Miss G---.
On his return to England a proposal made to him that he should be placed in charge of the expedition against Cadiz was accepted. A short time afterwards, however, he paid a visit to his mother and discovered that the Duke of Leinster had returned him for Co. Kildare. His intention to abandon politics was thus frustrated, and he at once withdrew a promise he had made on accepting the appointment to the charge of the expedition, that he would no longer appear in opposition. As the Irish Parliament had already expired he considered he could make this promise without violation of principle. The Duke of Richmond accused him of a breach of faith in withdrawing the promise, and an altercation ensued. The command was as a result relinquished, and Lord Edward was again thrown back into the political arena. He attended to his Parliamentary duties up to 1792, when he went to Paris. An announcement appeared in the papers in Paris and London to the effect that at a festival to celebrate the triumph of the armies of France over their late invaders, “Sir Robert Smith and Lord Edward Fitzgerald renounced their titles and a toast proposed by the former was drunk, “The speedy abolition of all hereditary titles and feudal distinctions.” Lord Edward and some other English officers who were present at this festival were dismissed the service without notice.
In December, 1792, Lord Edward married the beautiful Pamela Sims, said to be the daughter of Madame de Geulis and Philip Egalite, Duke of Orleans. Pamela was a Catholic, and the probability is that her marriage with Lord Edward was celebrated in a Catholic Church, but of this there appears to be no record. In the official contracts Pamela is described as the “daughter of William de Brixey and Mary Simms,” and Lord Edward as “residing ordinarily in Dublin, in Ireland; born at White Hall, London.” During the summer of 1794 we find Lord Edward and his beautiful wife living at Kildare “in Mr. Connolly’s cottage.” Both he and his wife seem to have been charmed with the place. It was in this year that their first child was born. Up to 1796, Lord Edward was not a member of the United Irishmen, but in this year joined their ranks. As also did M Nevin, Emmet, and Arthur O’Connor. Once Lord Edward became a member of the Society, the successful execution of their plans was always foremost in his thoughts. During the greater part of the year in which he joined them (1796) he lived in County Kildare. Here his friends came frequently to visit him, and here many of their plans, which seemed then so sure of success, were discussed. Perhaps I might here mention an anecdote told of Lord Edward and an encounter with some dragoon officers. Lord Edward and his friend O’Connor, were riding home across the Curragh from races, when a party of from ten to a dozen dragoon officers galloped out before them and intercepted their progress. Lord Edward was wearing a green cravat and the officers demanded that he should remove it as it was offensive to them as English officers. “As to that,” Lord Edward Replied, “all I can say is – here I stand, and let any man amongst you who dares come forward and take it off!” No member of the gallant party was; however, bold enough to attempt to comply. O’Connor suggested that if they would appoint two of their number, he and his friend would be happy to meet them with the pistols and give them satisfaction for the “wearing of the green.” This challenge was not accepted either, the bullies sneaking off, and as a result we are told that at a county ball held in Kildare a short time afterwards, all the ladies in the room refused to accept any member of gallant dozen as a partner.
We next find Lord Edward with his friend Arthur O’Connor selected to act as agent of the Irish revolutionary party to the French Government. In the end of May, 1796, he left with Pamela and O’Connor for France. Wolfe Tone was all this time striving to persuade the French Government to undertake the expedition, though it would appear he was unaware of the efforts being made by the United Irishmen or of Lord Edward’s mission. With the failure of this expedition, which set out from Brest on the 13th December, 1796, we are all familiar. Once more hopes which had run so high were dashed to the ground.
The conduct of the Irish Government in 1796 and 1797 left no hope of amelioration. Grattan withdrew from the House in disgust, and refused afterwards to be put in nomination at the General Election. So did Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Lord Henry Fitzgerald. In his address to the electors of Co. Kildare, on July 14th, 1797, Lord Edward says he felt there could be no free election in Ireland. He would not offer himself at present as a candidate. He hoped his fellow citizens in the County Kildare would not look upon this as an abandonment of their interests. “I trust” he concluded, “to see the day when I shall offer myself to represent them in a Parliament that will be freely and fairly elected, and can be venerated by all honest men.” He had served 14 years in the House of Commons, and now turned to the other means on which all his thoughts were centred.
About this time, it was that a deputation of sergeants from the Clare, Kilkenny, and Kildare militia regiments, stationed in Dublin, waited upon the provincial committee of the United Irishmen with an offer to seize the Royal Barracks and the Castle without requiring the assistance of the people. The acceptance of this proposition was strongly urged by Lord Edward, but the majority were in favour of declining it, considering their preparations were not sufficiently advanced. The Government then got wind of the narrow escape they had had, and Lowry, Teeling, and Tennant, had to fly the country.
On the 12th March, 1798, in consequence of information given by Thomas Reynolds, of infamous memory, Major Swan proceeded to the house of Mr. Oliver Bond, 13 Bridge Street (now 9, Lower Bridge Street) with thirteen detectives, They procured admittance to the house by telling the pass-word, which had been obtained for them by Reynolds. It was, “Where’s McCann? Is Ivers from Carlow Come?”
Oliver Bond was seized as also were Peter Ivers, Carlow; Laurence Kelly, Queen’s County; James Rose, Windy Arbour, Dublin; George Cummins, Kildare; Edward Hudson, Dublin; John Lynch, Dublin; Laurence Griffin, Carlow; Thomas Reynolds, Kilkenny; John McCann, Dublin; Patrick Devine, Dublin; Thomas Traynor, Dublin; William Michael Byrne, Park Hill, Wicklow; Christopher Martin, Dunboyne, Meath; and Peter Bannon, Portarlington. Amongst the names mentioned in the warrant were Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Emmet, Dr. McNevin, and Sampson. Lord Edward was now and outlaw. The high position which his family occupied in the country would have been sufficient to enable him to escape did he so desire, but his heart was too much with his brave followers and he loved his country too dearly to desert her even in this dark hour. Soon the bloodhounds of the Government were searching for him everywhere. Pamela, his wife, all this time lived at Leinster House. Various were the reports afloat as to where he gone. Some said he had gone to America, while others averred that he was in hiding amongst the Wicklow Hills.
An incident which is worth recording occurred one morning while Lord Edward was being sought everywhere – when there was £1,000 on his head. He had made a journey to County Kildare, where he attended a meeting of some of those true and tried ones. Lord Edward had on starting from Dublin for the Council, donned the rough garb of a peasant in order to minimise the risk of detection, which meant so much to him. It was while returning from this meeting that the incident I am about to relate occurred. He had reached the bridge of Leixlip a little before daybreak, when he discovered that it was guarded by a solitary yeoman who was pacing backwards and forwards with his musket shouldered. Lord Edward at once realised the perilous position in which he was placed, but there was now nothing for it but to face matters boldly as he had been observed by the sentry. He therefore advanced driving his sheep before him, hoping to pass the guard without his identity being discovered. In order to allay any doubts the yeoman might entertain of the bona fides of the ‘peasant’ he saluted him as he passed, inquiring at the same time if there was a field anywhere near where he might rest his sheep, as he felt somewhat fatigued. The yeoman stopped, peered into the features of Lord Edward, and the replied in a low voice; - “No, my lord, there is no field here for your sheep!” So saying he resumed his beat, allowing his lordship to proceed on his way unmolested, but convinced that an honest heart could sometimes beat even under the jacket of a yeoman. The yeoman’s name was Nicholas Dempsey, whose fame was commemorated last August – Sunday, 19th – at Confey Churchyard, Leixlip, when a numerous assemblage of Irishmen assisted at the decoration of his grave, and when an interesting and eloquent address on the dead Irishman was delivered by Mr. Jas. Collins.
On the Thursday after the arrests, Lord Edward was removed from the house in which he had at first been concealed at Harold’s Cross to that of a widow lady named Dillon – a lady who, like many of the noble hearted women of that day, was an enthusiast in the cause for which the patriot was suffering. In this house Lord Edward went under the name of Mr. Jameson. From this, about a month later, he moved to the house of a man named Murphy, a feather merchant in Thomas Street. A reward of £1,000 was offered for his arrest. From Murphy’s house he moved to that of a man named McCormick, and also spent some time at Mr. James Moore’s.
Although tracked by the bloodhounds of the Government, Lord Edward was able to keep the United Irishmen in check, waiting for assistance from France. As, however, the promised assistance had not come by the beginning of May, Lord Edward determined to commence the work without them, and the 23rd May was fixed for the rising. On the 17th May Lord Edward was on his way from Thomas Street to Moira House to visit Lady Edwards, when an attempt was made to arrest him. Sirr, who had previously been informed of Lord Edward’s intention, kept a look out and having seen him recognised him immediately. He was about to seize him when he found himself pinioned in the grasp of two powerful men, members of Lord Edward’s bodyguard, who always accompanied him, although somewhat scattered to prevent suspicion being aroused. One of the men, Gallagher, endeavoured to plunge his dagger in Sirr’s neck, but the latter made a desperate struggle and inflicted a wound on Gallagher by which he was afterward identified. While this struggle was going on Lord Edward escaped back to Murphy’s. According to another version of the affair, Lord Edward was not proceeding to Moira House, but to the house of Mr. Francis Magan, at 20 Ushers’ Island, who is said to have been the person who betrayed Lord Edward through the infamous Higgins.
On the night of the encounter with Sirr, Lord Edward stayed at the house of Mr. Moore, and the following night returned to Mr. Murphy’s. Next day a party of soldiers visited the house and searched it but Lord Edward having be apprised of their presence, escaped through a skylight and lay for some time in the valley between the roofs. Soon afterwards, thinking that all danger was past he descended to the house again and lay on his bed with his coat off. Here he was found by Murphy soon afterwards, and in the course of a conversation they were startled to hear trampling on the stairs. Immediately afterwards Major Swan appeared at the door. “You know me, my lord” he said, “and I know you, it will be vain to resist.” Lord Edward sprang from the bed, Swan put his hand into his breast pocket and perceiving the action, Lord Edward struck at him with a dagger, which he drew from under the pillow, and pinioned his hand to his breast. Swan lost three fingers by this but in the struggle which followed he succeeded in firing his pistol at Lord Edward, wounding him in the shoulder and causing him to fall backward against the bed. He again recovered, and threw himself upon his adversary. A Captain Ryan now came to Swan’s assistance and thrust at Lord Edward with a sword –cane while he was engaged in the struggle with the Major. The blade bent upon his ribs without inflicting much injury. With a superhuman effort he threw Swan to the other end of the room and fell upon Ryan, whom he trampled under his feet after having wounded him with the dagger. Major Sirr, during the brief but desperate struggle, was below in command of some two or three hundred men. Hearing the report of Swan’s pistol he hurried upstairs with a body of soldiers. Coming to the door of the room he saw Lord Edward engaged in struggling with his assailants. Keeping at a safe distance, Sirr drew his pistol which was loaded with slugs, and taking deliberate aim, fired at Lord Edward wounding him in the shoulder. The gallant patriot reeled, and the dagger fell from his hand. Recovering himself, he made a last desperate effort to break through the guard of soldiers surrounding the door, but was overpowered and captured. Captain Ryan died afterwards from his wounds. After his capture, Lord Edward continued to struggle fiercely, and it required the efforts of the whole party of soldiers to hold him down, which they did by crossing their muskets on him until he could be secured. While this was being done, a drummer wounded him very severely with a sword in the back of the neck. Several papers were found upon the prisoner, one containing the line of advance from Kildare to Dublin.
After the struggle Lord Edward was placed in a sedan chair and hurried off to the Castle, whence he was removed to Newgate prison, where Lady Fitzgerald sought, but was refused admission to see him. She, however, bribed the under jailor and was permitted to see her dying husband for a short time. She hoped to be able to eventually rescue Lord Edward through the jailer. But he, having got from her a large sum of money, gave information to the authorities and this had probably something to do with the order given by the Privy Council for her immediate banishment from the country. She had at this time three children, the youngest of which was only six weeks old. A few days after his admission to Newgate, Lord Edward’s wounds had developed fatal symptoms. None of his friends would be permitted to see him until a few fours before his death, when his Aunt, Lady Louisa Connolly, and his brother, Lord Henry, obtained access to his bed side. At 2 o’clock on the morning of the 4th June, the spirit of Lord Edward passed away. Thus perished one of Ireland’s most patriotic sons, the fame of whose deeds is imperishably embedded in the minds of his country-men.
It is a curious fact that for over sixty years the name of Lord Edward’s betrayer remained a secret, and it was not until 1859 the mystery of the entry “F.H. discovery of L.E.F, £1, 000,” appearing in the secret service money accounts was cleared up and that infamy became fixed upon the right person – Francis Higgins, a well known character of that day in Dublin. He was nicknamed the “Sham Squire” and became the proprietor of the “Freeman’s Journal,” which he diverted from its advocacy of popular rights to a base organ of an unprincipled government.
The doubts which existed as to the burial place of Lord Edward have been removed through the efforts of his daughter, Lady Campbell, who went to a lot of trouble to discover the coffin within which the remains of her illustrious father had been laid. At length she met with an old man who informed her he knew the exact spot in St. Werburgh’s churchyard where the coffin lay, and she subsequently verified his story by a visit to the spot. In this same churchyard are buried the remains of Major Sirr, a bullet from whose pistol caused Lord Edward’s death

An account of the life and times of Lord Edward Fitzgerald is given by Fred V. Devers in a Leinster Leader Supplement of April 27th 1907

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