Barony of Clanmorris — Newspaper transcripts, co. Mayo, 1792–1820

Notes:

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  We, the Catholic inhabitants of the Barony of Clanmorris, understanding that endeavours are used to persuade the public of our dissenting from the Address which the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Kenmare, lately presented to Government, on behalf of the Roman Catholics of this county, think it our duty thus to declare, that our sentiments perfectly accord with those expected in said Address; and we highly applaud the truly patriotic views of the Nobleman who presented it.

[Transcriber's note: The following names were appended as signatories to this address. These names have been sorted in alphabetical order, by surname, below:]

John Cain; Timothy Carey; Daniel Casey; John Carroll; Thomas Connor; Thomas Coridan; John Daly; Owen Deady; Garret Dillon; David Dooley; Maurice Dooley; Patrick Dooling; Bryan Dowling; John Duggan; Patrick Dulug; John Elliott; Darby Feaunighey; Edmond Fitzgerald; Garret Fitzgerald; Thomas Fitzgerald; John Fitzmaurice; John Fitzmaurice, jun.; Thomas Fitzmaurice; John Flaherty; John Flaherty; Morgan Flaherty; Thomas Flaherty; Daniel Griffin; John Griffin; Michael Griffin; Edmund Hands; Timothy Harnett; John Healy; Laurence Henright; Mo. Kealiher; Daniel Langin; Michael Lawlor; Thomas Lawlor; Owen M’Carthy; Thomas M’Cartie; Timothy M’Cartie, jun.; John M’Elligott; Richard M’Elligott; Thomas M’Mahon; Thomas M’Mallowry; Garrett M’Money; Michael M’Money; Michael M’Quin; Thomas M’Quin; Denis Mchane; John Melan; Jerry Moloney; Edmond Morrarty; Edward Morrarty; Thomas Naghlin; Patrick O’Carrell; Daniel O’Connor; James O’Connor; Laurence O’Connor; Cornelius O’Donnell; Cornelius O’Keeffe; Andrew O’Kenney; Cornelius O’Leary; Jerem. O’Leary; Timothy O’Mahier; John O’Reily; Patrick O’Reily; Daniel Pierse; Maurice Pierse; William Ponse; Garret Purse; Jeremiah Quill; John Quill; Thomas Quill; Patrick Quinlan; John Ready; William Ready; Martin Realshor; Thomas Reilly; John Roche; Darby Shughrue; George Silles; Edmond Stack; James Stack; John Stack; Robert Stack; Thomas Stack; James Sullivan; Timothy Sullivan.

Source: "Declaration of the Roman Catholics of Clanmorris," in the Dublin Evening Post, 10 January 1792. The British Newspaper Archive, online at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk (BNA) (accessed 2015-05-09, by subscription); transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

  Mr. Browne, son to the present Member, and cousin to Lord Sligo, and Mr. Dominick Browne, somewhat distantly connected with the Sligo Family, are the Castle Candidates for the County at the ensuing Election. Mr. Kirwan, the spirited and zealous Candidate of 1812, again offers himself, and with great expectations of success, notwithstanding the combination of some and the defection of other great interests. Mayo, which is a very large County,——the third, in point of extent, in the Kingdom, is what has been called highly Aristocratic, though it comprises a considerable proportion of independent votes. The great interests are those of Lord Sligo, Lord Dillon, Lord Lucan, Lord Clanmorris, Lord Clonbrock, Lord Tyrawly, Mr. Kirwan, (the Independent Candidate) Sir Neal O'Donel, and Sir S. O'Malley. We shall have occasion, hereafter, to put the Public in possession of some facts and arguments connected with this County——not only of a strong local interest, as it regards the West of Ireland, and the Independence of a great County——but of considerable general interest, as it bears upon the present exercise of the Elective Franchise.

Source: "General Election. County Mayo," in the Dublin Evening Post, 22 April 1817. BNA, op. cit. (accessed 2015-05-09). Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

  A few days ago, as a Mr. Murphy, a Revenue Officer, of Clare Morris, in Mayo, was returning home, his horse took fright and became ungovernable, when he was thrown from his seat and killed on the spot.

Source: Public Ledger, 30 July 1819. BNA, op. cit. (accessed 2015-11-04). Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

  Posting-bills have been put up in the disturbed district, offering a reward from the Right Hon. D. Browne, of 50l. for the apprehension of J. [John] Burke, of Musickfield, in the county of Galway, who stands charged with "coming into the Barony of Clanmorris in this county, at noon, on the 23d ult. at the head of an armed body of rebels, with a view of rescuing prisoners, and with feloniously tendering illegal oaths to several persons at Ballindangan, and also with taking fire-arms from several houses."

Source: Public Ledger, 10 March 1820; and, the Chester Courant, 14 March 1820. BNA, op. cit. (accessed 2015-11-04). Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

Source: Extract from "History of the Connaught Circuit," which appeared in The Dublin University Magazine, Vol. LXXXVI, July 1875, (Dublin: George Herbert, London: Hurst & Blackett, Melbourne: George Robertson), pp. 93-5. Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

  The case we shall first select is remarkable for the singular plan struck out by the murderer to escape suspicion. His name was M'Guinness. He was a peculiarly powerful-looking man, standing upwards of six feet, strongly proportioned and of great muscular strength. His countenance, however, was by no means good, his face being colourless, his brow heavy, and the whole cast of countenance stern and forbidding. He was a farmer residing at a village nearly in a line between the little town of Claremorris, and the smaller but more ancient one of Ballyhamnis, near the borders of the county of Mayo.* With him lived his mother and wife, a young woman to whom he had not been long married at the time of which we speak, and with whom he had never any altercation such as to attract the observation or interference of the neighbours.
  It was on a market evening of Claremorris, in the year 1820 (M'Guinness had gone to the market), when his mother, a withered hag, bent with age, hobbled with great apparent terror into the cabin nearest to her own, and alarmed the occupants by stating that she had heard a noise in an inner room, and that she feared her daughter-in-law was doing some harm to herself. Two or three of the neighbours returned speedily with her, and entering the chamber saw the lifeless body of the unfortunate young woman lying on the ground. There was no blood nor mark of violence on any part of the body except on the face and throat, round which a neck-handkerchief was suffocatingly tied. She had evidently been strangled, and both face and neck were blackened and swollen.
  Who, then, had perpetrated the deed? was the question whispered by all the neighbours as they came and went. M'Guinness, according to his mother's account, had not yet returned from the market: the old woman herself would not have had strength to accomplish the murder, even if bloody-minded enough to attempt it; and it was next to an impossibility that the young woman herself could have committed self-destruction in such a manner.
  While the callous old woman was thus so skilfully supporting her part in the murderous drama, the chief performer, who had not as yet been seen to have returned from the market since the commission of the horrid deed, crossed a neighbouring river, and on the opposite side chanced to meet a country tailor, who was proceeding from one village to another to exercise his craft. And here the murderer, as murderers generally do, lost his judgment; for a plan suggested itself to him on the spur of the moment, on which he acted, and which was afterwards to recoil with destruction on his head. He forced the tailor to take on his knees the most fearful oaths that he would never divulge what should then be revealed to him, and that he would act in strict conformity with the directions he should receive, threatening, at the same time, if he should refuse compliance, to beat out his brains and fling him into the river.
  The affrighted tailor having taken the required oaths, M'Guinness confessed to him the murder of his wife, using at the same time horrible imprecations, that if ever a word on the subject escaped the tailor's lips he would, dead or alive, take deadly vengeance upon him. He then proceeded to cut and dinge his hat in several places, and inflicted various scratches on his head and face, directing the tailor to assert that he had found him attacked by four men on the road on his return from Clanmorris; and, to give more appearance of probability to the tale, he obliged his involuntary accessory, after the fact, to bear him on his back to a cabin at some distance, as if the murderer were too weak to proceed thither himself after the violent assault committed upon him.
  On reaching the cabin with this troublesome man on his shoulders, the tailor told the story as directed; while M'Guinness himself, showing his scratches and detailing in a weak voice the assault on him by men whom he did not know, affected such faintness as to fall from the chair on which he had been placed. A farrier was then procured at his request, and to such lengths did he proceed with the plan he had struck out, that he got himself blooded, though the farrier shrewedly observed at the same time (according to the evidence given by him subseqently) that there seemed to be no weakness whatever about him, except in his voice, and that his pulse was strong and regular.
  Overcome with terror, the tailor on the following day disappeared from this part of the country, and did not return, though M'Guinness and his mother were at once committed on suspicion, till the approach of the ensuing assizes, when he came forward, probably as much induced by the large reward for the murderer's conviction as by the desire of disburdening himself of the fearful secret that weighed upon him.
  There was much interest excited at the spring assizes of 1820 by the trial of the two accused; they were arraigned together before Mr Justice Vandeleur, Mr. George French, Mr. Crampton, and Mr. Kelly, appearing for the crown, while Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Daniel defended the prisoners.
  Mr. French said that he never in his experience came across so extraordinary a murder as this. It reminded him of the stories in the "Arabian Nights," both the murder and the detection. He then stated the case, and called the tailor, whose evidence was to the effect already mentioned.
  His testimony, bearing strongly the impress of truth, singular though it was, was strengthened by that of the brother of the deceased, who seemed greatly affected while deposing that he had met M'Guinness in Claremorris on the day of the murder, and that the handkerchief afterwards found round his sister's neck had been worn by the murderer on that occasion.
  There was not an iota of evidence for the prisoners, and accordingly a verdict against the son was handed in, though his vile accomplice was acquitted for want of evidence, much to the regret of a crowded court.
  Mr. Justice Vandeleur then passed sentence, condemning the prisoner to death; but that sentence was never carried into execution, for on the day following the conviction he was found hanged in his cell by the same handerchief with which he had murdered his unfortunate wife. How that handkerchief got back into his possession no man could tell.

* Transcriber's note—The following may yield a clue as to the identity of this family: The distance between Claremorris and Ballyhaunis is about 18km, the village of Brickens lying about halfway between the two towns. The records for Griffith's Valuation, conducted in the county of Mayo in 1856/7, lists a household in Cuilmore townland, distant from Brickens by just 2km, under the name of Peter McGuinness.

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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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