Coercion Prosecution at Blarney Part 1 by Brian Gabriel

At the Blarney Petty Sessions yesterday (Monday 18th July 1892) before Messrs J.B. Irwin R.M. (in the chair), and T. Butler, R.M. a case came on for hearing under the Crimes Act.

The prosecution was brought at the suit of District-Inspector St. George and the names of the defendants, who were composed of four or five young men and a number of boys were as follows:- Wm. Ambrose, Florence Coleman, Denis Crowley, Daniel Honchoing, Timothy Dooly, Joseph Ambrose, Timothy Sullivan, John Murphy, Timothy Keeffe, Denis Walsh, John Honchoing and John Callaghan.

The charge in the summons was worded as follows:-“That the defendants, on the 26th day of May 1892 at Coolflough, Tower Village together with divers other ill-disposed persons, to the number of ten or more, who are at present unknown, did unlawfully and riotously assemble and gather together to disturb the peace of Our Sovereign Lady the Queen, and to injure and damage the dwelling-house of one Jeremiah Twomey, to the great disturbance and terror of the liege subjects of Our Lady the Queen then and there being.”

The summons was signed by Mr Hutchinson, R.M.

Mr H.T. Wright, S.P.C. prosecuted on behalf of the Crown. Mr H.A. Wynne, L.L.D, appeared for the defendants Coleman, Crowley, Walsh and Keeffe. Mr W.J. Dunlea appeared for the other defendants.

Before the case was gone into, a discussion took place as to the mode of procedure. Summons had been issued by some of the defendants against Twomey for an offence alleged to be committed previous to the offence with which they were charged, and the professional gentlemen representing the defendants applied to have those cases heard first. Mr Wright objected and said the defendants would not be deprived of any right by the case against them being first heard. The Bench decided to hear the Crimes Act case first and the others afterwards.

Mr Wright in stating the case said that a man named Jeremiah Twomey lived with his family at Tower. His son, John Twomey, occupied a position on the Muskerry Railway, and it became necessary for him to summon some persons for trespassing on that railway, and, in consequence, a good deal of angry feeling was aroused against him. There was also another disturbing element that was the cause on considerable hostility to another member of the family, a man named Downey, a son-in-law of Twomey’s, because he thought fit to take, as tenant, six cottages in the village of Tower, which the former tenant had surrendered, because he could not get a reduction in his rent, and accordingly, to use a phrase which was now in vogue, Downey was designated as a ‘house-grabber’, and as a ‘house-grabber’ he was summoned to answer for his conduct to the local branch of the Federation.

Dr Wynne – Really, what has this to do with the case? We have nothing to do with the Federation.                                                                                                                                Mr Wright – We don’t say at the present you have, but we want to explain the motive why this attack was made.

Dr Wynne – I hope this case will be conducted under the ordinary rules.

Mr Wright – That’s what I am going to do. I must prove the motive.

Dr Wynne – What I want to prove is that any-thing that has been done by outside bodies has nothing to do with my clients. On the part of my clients I disavow any connection with this body.

Mr Wright – If Mr Wynne will allow me to continue my statement and to support that statement by evidence, I venture to say the connection will be very clear.

Mr Wright, continuing, said he had explained the position of the parties up to the 26th of May. Reference had been made to transactions of the previous Sunday. He (Mr Wright) would not make any reference, except to say that a crowd, consisting of nearly all the defendants, assembled outside Twomey’s house and indulged in cries that would be given in evidence. On the night of the 26th May, which was a holiday, a number of persons assembled outside the house again. Mrs Twomey went to a public house to bring her son, Thomas Twomey, home. The Bench would be satisfied that the crowd that attacked the house was an organised crowd. Mr Wright then detailed the circumstances of the case as given in evidence by the witnesses below, and said that the ringleaders of the attack appeared to be Joseph Ambrose, Denis Crowley, Florence Coleman and Daniel Henchion. He asked the Bench to teach the defendants that if they took it upon themselves the breaking of the law, they should accept the consequences. Evidence was the called.

Thomas Twomey was the first witness examined. He deposed he was a factory worker. He remembered the evening of the 26th May last. It was a holiday. Witness was in Mrs Byrne’s public house at Tower that night. He recollected his mother coming down to the house that night. Witness and his mother, and a man Eugene McCarthy left together, to go home, about 10 o’clock. There was a crowd standing outside the public-house and witness, his mother and McCarthy passed them to go home. After they had gone about twenty yards beyond the crowd, the crowd followed them. When the crowd began to follow them, stones were thrown from the crowd. Witness was struck by one of the stones on the back. Witness and those with him then moved into the hollow of the road and the crowd passed on. In the crowd as they passed, he recognised Daniel Henchion, Joseph Ambrose and Florence Coleman. After going to the top of the hill, beyond the hollow, the crowd again stopped. Witness and those with him again moved on in the direction of home and again had to pass the crowd who were standing on the road. Stones were thrown again and witness was again struck on the back with a stone. After witness was hit there were no more stones thrown. On reaching home they shut the door and the crowd passed by the house. They threw some stones at the door and window, and broke a few panes of glass.  The crowd stopped about 10 yards from the house and remained standing there for about five minutes and some stones were thrown in the direction of the house. The crowd came up again opposite the door. Witness’s brother spoke from the window and mentioned the defendant’s names and said he knew the whole of them. Witness then saw Ambrose, Crowley and others, whom he could not identify, throw off their coats and they asked witness’s brother out to fight. After that the door of the house was opened and witness’s mother and brother, John, were standing at the door. The crowd was still outside and witness identified Timothy Looney there. Florence Coleman came forward from the crowd and he had a switch in his hand, with which he struck witness on the arm. His mother was struck on the head by a stone thrown from the crowd, the stone cut her. There were a few more stones thrown from the crowd at the door and the windows. The door was split and there were four panes of glass broken altogether. After this the crowd moved away about 100 yards from the house and after a lapse of about 15 minutes some of them returned. The only person he identified was Denis Crowley, who took off his coat and made some remark about witness’s brother summoning his (Crowley’s) sister for trespassing on the tramway line. As Crowley said that, some other person came up, a stone was fired which broke a window. The person who threw it then ran away. Witness’s brother Denis Twomey and his brother-in-law, Thomas Downey, had some time before this gone for the police by the back way. There were about 20 persons in the crowd that night.

Cross-examined by Dr Dunlea – Witness went into a public-house on that day about 1 o’clock and remained there until 10 o’clock. He had plenty of drink taken that day. Eugene McCarthy was with him for the nine hours. He passed the defendants on the road home and he was not a bit frightened of them. After the crowd passed the door was opened. Witness, or his relatives, did not retaliate in the least on the crowd. Witness was not hurt by the crowd.

Cross examined by Dr Wynne – He often saw Crowley at the corner before.

Mary Twomey, wife of Jeremiah Twomey, was the next witness examined and in the course of her evidence, which was corroborative of the previous witness, deposed to seeing the defendants in the crowd outside the public-house; she subsequently saw Dan Hinchion, Timothy Looney, Daniel Coleman, Clarence Coleman and James Ambrose stripped, and the others were also there when stones were thrown at the door; she heard Crowley calling on her son as an informer to come out. She saw Coleman draw a stick on her son, Thomas, and as she was shutting the door she was struck on the head with a stone. She heard Denis Crowley shouting and recognised several of the crowd as among those who assembled outside the dwelling-house on the previous Sunday night about the same hour when some stones were thrown. On that night they were also shouting for the best man to come out and fight them. Witness’s son-in-law had taken six cottages which a man named Barry had before. It was since then the ill-will sprang up against them.


The above item was taken from a much larger article which was printed in the Cork Examiner of Tuesday 19th July 1892. Part two will be printed in the February issue of the Muskerry News.


The illustrated lecture for Thursday 6th February 2014 at 8 pm in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal (Blarney Secondary School) is titled; ‘The Wreck of the Neva’. The true story of the loss of a Female Convict Ship, on a voyage, from Cork to Botany Bay. The speaker is author and lecturer, Mr Cal McCarthy. Everyone is welcome to attend and listen as Cal details the tragic loss of so many lives