News from Times Past with Brian Gabriel, Blarney & District Historical Society

Coercion Prosecution at Blarney – Part 2 Continuation from Part 1 published January 2014

Cross-examined by Dr Wynne – It was about three months since her son-in-law took the cottages. She could not swear that her son threatened to throw one of the defendants over Tower Bridge. Before witness opened the door no stone was thrown. The deposition of John Twomey was next read, in which he stated that on the night mentioned the crowd passed the house singing ‘The Boys of Wexford’. He saw Denis Crowley, who lived next door, stripped. He called witness’s brother an informer. He also saw Joseph Ambrose. Florence Coleman rushed at the door three times to strike witness, but the blow missed and he struck witness’s brother with a stick. He also saw Daniel Hinchion, Timothy Looney, John Murphy, Daniel Keeffe, John Hinchion Daniel Sullivan, Denis Walsh, John Callaghan and William Ambrose there. Cross-examined by Dr Wynne – On the Sunday week previous to the 26th May there was a fight between witness’s brother and Daniel Hinchion. Denis Twomey and Downey were summoned fir that and no cross-summons were issued. Re-examined by Mr Wright – The cross-summons referred to were not taken out until the 15th June for offences alleged to be committed on the Sunday referred to previous to the 26th May. Acting-sergeant Collins deposed to visiting the house on the Thursday night mentioned. There were four panes of glass broken and he subsequently found several stone marks on the door and the door was split and the stones (produced) he found in the house. He found a painful wound on Mrs Twomey’s head. He found about 50 stones lying about the house. Constable Keating, who accompanied the previous witness, deposed to the arrest of some of the prisoners. District-Inspector St. George formally proved the proclamation of the county. To Dr Wynne – All of the defendants, so far as he knew, were of good character. Dr Wynne – We have the pleasure of knowing, at any rate, that the defendants in the last case under the Act are persons of good character. Mr Wright said there were other members of the Twomey’s household capable of being examined, but he did not think it necessary to examine them. Dr Dunlea then opened the case for the defence and considered that it was an extraordinary thing for the Crown to institute a prosecution in this case under the Act which, they all thought was dying a natural death. Mr Irwin – We don’t anticipate what the course of legislation may be. Our duty, as magistrates is to administer the law as it is, and when it is the law we’ll administer it, and when it’s not the law we will not. Continuing, Dr Dunlea said he could not understand why the Crown went so far as to bring this case under the Crimes Act at all. What occurred on this night was that Twomey and his companions met the defendants on the road this night and acted defiantly towards them. When the boys passed Twomey’s house stones were thrown from the house and Joseph Ambrose, who had some drink taken took off his coat on an invitation from one of the Twomey’s. The affair was simply a row originated by the Twomeys on the Sunday previous to the date in the summons and at an ordinary Petty Sessions Court, the defendants would be left off as first offenders. It would be proved that all the defendants were of respectable character. Sergeant O’Hanlon deposed that he knew that all the defendants were of respectable character, as were their parents. Ellen Hayes, Tower, deposed that on the Thursday night mentioned she saw some boys pass by Twomey’s and she saw stones thrown from Twomey’s house. She heard Tom Twomey saying he would fight the two best men in the crowd. Minnie Murphy gave corroborative evidence as to the row commenced by the Twomey’s. Daniel Foley was the next witness. He was about to be examined by Dr Wynne as to what occurred on Sunday night, but the evidence was not admitted. Dr Wynne then addressed the Court for the defence, and said it had been sought to be made out that case had a political tinge, but no such thing could be proved. It was a paltry row originated by the Twomeys, and he asked the Bench not to brand those boys by sending them to gaol. By binding them to the peace or postponing the case it would conduce more to the peace of the locality. Mr Wright replied on behalf of the Crown and said it was a merciful course to the defendants to bring this charge of riot and unlawful assembly under the Crimes Act, as it saved them from the anxiety, expense and annoyance of having sent before a jury. There were people behind the scenes in this transaction, and, as he said before, if the defendants choose to break the law they should take the consequences. The Court was then cleared, and after consultation the decision of the Bench was delivered by Mr Irwin, who said that they had heard this case very carefully. The evidence as to riot in the case was that his was no sudden ebullition of feeling on the part of the defendants, because nothing had at the time occurred to provoke an attack or retaliation by the defendants. If the Twomeys had however, brought about this quarrel owing to any violence on their part at the time, the charge would be reduced to a mere fray; but they had no evidence they did anything before was made upon them.. Under these circumstances, the Bench were irresistibly forced to the conclusion that this assemblage were gathered together for the express purpose of attacking the Twomeys on their way home to their house, and then attacking the house, and having therefore, carried out that intention by actual violence a charge of riot was constituted and established. The case had been complicated to a certain extent by evidence as to a previous quarrel, but anything that occurred a week before could not for a moment be admitted as evidence of provocation. If any stones were thrown by the Twomeys it was only natural after being attacked. It appeared that an ill-feeling existed against the Twomeys, an ill-feeling of the most inexcusable and unreasonable character. They had it in evidence that one of the family was called an informer and a land-grabber, and it appeared these Twomeys had done nothing to incur public odium except that the son-in-law had exercised his legal right in taking some cottages, and the son of Jeremiah Twomey, who was employed in the railway, merely performed his duty, as he was bound to do, in summoning some persons in the locality for trespass. They were sorry to say the existence of such a feeling from such causes denoted a very disorganised state of society. If the country was in a perfectly healthy condition, they should rather expect the Twomeys would have risen in popular estimation for what they had done. They found the two most prominent parties in the attack were Florence Coleman and Denis Crowley and the magistrates felt they would not be discharging their duty if they did not impose some sentence on these two defendants. They had taken fully into consideration the previous good character of these men, and the sentence on each of them would be fourteen days imprisonment with hard labour, and at expiration of that time they should find sureties themselves in £20 and two of £10 each, to keep the peace for twelve months, in default of which they would be imprisoned for a further term of one calendar month. With regard to Timothy Looney, Joseph Ambrose, Timothy Sullivan and John Hinchion they were to be kept in custody until the rising of the Court, and then they were to give the same security as the others for their good behaviour. As regards the other defendants – Wm. Ambrose, John Murphy, Timothy Keeffe, Denis Walsh, John Callaghan and John Murphy – who were very young boys, they were allowed to stand out as first offenders on acknowledging themselves bound in the sum of £5, to come up for sentence when called upon. Mr Irwin said he would attend to-day (Tuesday) at one o’clock to take the necessary sureties. The Court rose at half past six, having sat since 11 a.m. The above item was taken from a much larger article which was printed in the Cork Examiner of Tuesday 19th July 1892. The illustrated lecture for Thursday 6th March 2014 at 8 p.m. in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal (Blarney Secondary School) is titled; ‘The Battle of Crossbarry – March 1921’. The speaker is author and lecturer, Mr Donal O’Flynn. Everyone is welcome to attend and listen as Donal details this historic battle between British forces and General Tom Barry’s Guerrillas. For further details contact Brian Gabriel 0872153216 or