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Daniel O'Connell And The Doneraile Conspiracy: Page 2

Judges Address.

Baron Pennefather then charged the Grand Jury, and was fair enough. He mentioned the evidence of informers, and advised that it should be recieved with the greatest caution, and corroborating evidence must be produced. Witnesses for the prosecution would be produced before the Grand Jury, but not those for the defence.If the statement of these witnesses established a strong presum-tion of guilt, the Grand Jury would be bound to find Bills of Indictment against them. The government desired that the law would be speedy in the execution of justice, freeing the innocent and punishing the guilty.

Prisoners Charged.

Twenty two persons were put on trial, so presumably, replacements had been found for John Magner and Charles Daly. Ten had been on bail, but Bills were found by the Grand Jury against all twenty two, for conspiring to murder George Bond Lowe, Michael Creagh and Henry Evans. The twenty two people charged were: James Barrett, Michael Barrett, Timothy Barrett, John Barry, Denis O'Shea, William Heaphy, William Flynn, Charles Murphy, Maurice Regan, Owen Hickey, Edmund Walsh, Edmund Coughlan, John Burke, Thomas Daly, John Leary, James McGrath, William Shine, James Roche, Edmond Connors, Michael Wallace, Patrick Lynch and John Shine. A man named Daniel O'Keeffe was arrested during the trial, bringing the total to twenty three.

Mr. Fitzgerald, attorney for the prisoners, complained that his clients had no Counsel. The Solicitor- General called on him to name any two barristers he pleased, undertaking on behalf of the government to pay them. Messre. Francis McCarthy and David R. Pigott, barristers, were then assigned for the defence. Mr. McCarthy complained that a material witness for the defence, named Heireen had been allowed to escape by the police.John Doherty replied that this man was a witness for the prosecution, and the police were not warranted in detaining him, as there was no charge against him. He was only placed with the police for protection, and had unaccountably withdrawn himself three weeks previously.

The Court then adjourned until nine o'clock on the following (Friday) morning October 23rd.

First Trial.

The court resumed at nine o'clock on Friday, and the following Petty Jury was sworn in: W.S. Bernard, foreman, Sir J.L. Cotter, Bart., Denis O'Callaghan, Simon Denis Cooke, Robert Warren, Bernard R. S. Shaw, Michael Allen Becher, Jasper Lucas, Herbert Gillman, John Popham, Joseph Haines and Henry O'Callaghan. All were Protestants.

John Doherty, Solr.- General, then requested that John Leary, James Roche, James McGrath and William Shine should be put to the bar. These four prisoners were then given, in charge, to the jury for having conspired in January 1829, to kill and murder George Bond Lowe, Michael creagh and Henry Evans.

Prosecution Address.

The Solicitor - General then commenced his prosecution speech. The reporter, Thomas Sheahan, who was an eye witness at the trial, studied Doherty closely, and concluded that he seemed to be " a very theatrical sort of gentleman", with a very pompous manner.But he admitted he liked" his tall and well made figure, and his sad but not unpleasant face". He also had a fine eye, though some thought it cold and with no heart.

Sheahan also considered that, though the speech was fine and clever, it was not as cool and as dispassionate as it should be. Doherty should have remembered that he was addressing a not very congenial jury, who had scarcely anything in common with those they were about to try. According to Sheahan, the Solicitor - General's statement was a " lordly harangue, the tendancy of which was to confirm the Irish magistrate, landlord and gentleman, in the ultraism of his pretensions, and to render him still more hostile to the serf, that it should have disputed his assumptions". Doherty used his imagination freely, so that one would imagine from his speech that the district of Doneraile was half the south of Ireland, and that another great rebellion was around the corner.

The meetings, swearings and plottings to kill the three named persons commenced as early as last Novenber (1828), and the plans were layed in Doneraile, Mallow fair, Rathclare fair, Kildorrery fair and elsewhere. The overt acts were the shooting at Dr. Norcott's carriage, and the attack on George Bond lowe at Johnsgrove. Doherty told the jury that amongst the witnesses he would call, would be a man named Patrick Daly. He admitted that Daly was employed by Col. Richard Hill as a spy, but he would corrorborate his testimony by that of another witness of absolute integrity. When Doherty finished, he had been speaking for four hours.

The examination of witnesses for the prosecution then commenced. There were five informer or approver witnesses: David Sheehan, William Nowlan, Patrick Daly,(the spy), Thomas Daly and Owen (Clampar) Daly, cousin of Patrick.

David Sheehan's Evidence.

The informer David Sheehan said he lived near Ballyvonare. He knew John Leary of Rossagh, the prisoner at the bar. Before Dr. Norcott's carriage was fired at, he met Leary at Ned Roche's public house in Doneraile. Also present on that occasion were William Shine, Owen Hickey, Michael Wallace,Charles Daly, John Magner, Timothy O'Connor and William Nowlan. Leary spoke to him first and gave him a tumbler of porter. He then asked "the boys" if they were ready to do what they had promised, and they said they were. Leary then produced a piece of paper and signed his name and then asked them to do the same. He then produced a book, and swore them: the words were to " shoot Mr. Lowe" which they all agreed to do. Witness was sworn at the same time by Leary, but never went out with any of the party to shoot Mr. Lowe, Captain Creagh or Admiral Evans. William Shine was the first person who took the book, and said he would be the first person to shoot Capt. Creagh, who had transported his brother. They all then swore to kill Bond Lowe, Capt. Creagh and Admiral Evans.

Sheehan went on to testify that after Mr. Bond Lowe was fired on at Johnsgrove, he met James Roche near Mr. Nagles at Wallstown, where they talked about the attack on Mr. Lowe. Roche said that it was unfortunate that they had missed him, but that in a short time they would be more successful in killing him. James McGrath was with Roche at this meeting on the road, and said he would kill the man that had his brother hanged after the Johnsgrove attack, to which Roche added that he would assist him. David Sheehan admitted that he had been engaged in Whiteboy attacks on houses. His motive for coming forward was that he did not like to hear of murder. He had no hope of reward, but he would not refuse one if he got it. If not he would continue to work for sixpence a day, as he did before.

William Nowlan Examined.

William Nowlan was the next informer to be examined. he said he knew all the prisoners at the bar. He lived about two miles from John Leary's house. He remembered speaking to Leary and James Roche before Dr. Norcott's carriage was attacked. He also saw them at Ned Roche's and Duane's public house in Doneraile. At Heireen's house in Doneraile he met James Roche, James McGrath, Pat Lynch, Michael Wallace, Thomas Daly and Nicholas Griffin.

A committee was formed, and Leary was one of them. The reason he knew he was on the committee was, that he (Leary) used them to do things out of the way. On the day at Ned Roche's, Leary took a book out of his pocket and swore the men to kill Admiral Evans, Capt. Creagh and Mr. Lowe.The reason they gave for wanting to kill these men were that Mr. Lowe was a leading man in the county, that Admiral Evans, when in Parliament, was against the Roman Catholics, while Captain Creagh was severe on his tenants. They appointed a time to kill Capt. Creagh when he was to dine at Admiral Evan's. There were other meetings in Doneraile before this one which Leary attended. He knew a man named John Magner, who was killed. He saw Patrick McGrath at a meeting on one occasion, before the carriage was fired on. Witness was not at the attack on the carriage. Shine called on him to go, but he had a sore leg, as a result of stones falling on it when he was fencing a gap. Next morning at, about nine o'clock, he met Roche in his own field. Roche accused him for not attending, and told him they had fired at Dr. Norcott's carriage, mistaking it for Capt. Creagh's.

The day after Mr. Lowe was fired at, Roche came to witnesses house, and told him that he (Roche) had never got such a fright as he did when Mr. Lowe pulled up and Pat McGrath fired. He (Roche) did not like to fire,as there was a woman close after Mr. Lowe,and he was afraid he would shoot her.Pat McGrath was wounded and bleeding, and he tried to help him, but then left him , otherwise the two of them would have been caught.

Nowlan stated that he heard that that Patrick McGrath had been hanged for shooting at Mr. Lowe. A fortnight after Patrick McGrath was hanged, he met Leary on the road from Buttevant, and he told witness that " he would make up a party of good boys" to kill Mr. Lowe. He met James Roche, James McGrath, Charles Daly and Pat Lynch at Kildorrery fair on May 1st.,1829.They talked about killing Mr. Lowe, on their way home from the fair.

The prisoner Shine lived near Carker and James McGrath at Wallstown. Witness had 25 acres of land for which he paid £2 an acre. Nowlan also admitted he had been a Whiteboy for six or seven years. He gave his evidence because he thought he would be hanged, which he often deserved.

Dr. Norcott's Testimony.

Dr. John Norcott, M.D., in his evidence told of an invitation he had to dine with Admiral Henry Evans, of Oldtown, Shanballymore, on the 20th. of January, 1829. Mr. Michael Creagh was also at the dinner party. They left Admiral Evan's that night at about 10.00.p.m. Mr. Creagh left in his carriage first, and witness followed in his own carriage, with his two servants on the box. The colour of his carriage was yellow, the same as Mr. Creagh's. On the road near Ballinamona Bridge he heard a shout or call, and afterwards a shot, and then another. His daughter was with him in the carriage. Three balls entered the carriage, three wounded the servants, and three struck the carriage without entering.The coachman, though wounded continued to drive, but had to give up after some distance. He (Dr. Norcott) then took the reins, and brought the carriage home. He extracted a ball out of his footman's shoulder.

Patrick Daly's Evidence.

Patrick Daly the spy, was then examined by the Solicitor - General. He had been sworn in as a Whiteboy in the year 1821, but had recently been telling Col. Hill anything he might hear against the government.

The night William Shine's mother was dead, there was a meeting in an outhouse at which Edmond Coughlan, Maurice Regan, Owen Hickey, Timothy Connors, WilliaM Shine and he (witness) were present. Shine proposed to these men, as well as to witness, to kill Mr. Lowe, Admiral Evans and Capt. Creagh. There was another meeting held in Carker, where it was proposed to kill these gentlemen, but it was deferred until an order had been obtained from the head Committee.

The Head Committee was composed of John Leary, Charles Murphy, John Burke and Edmond Connors, who met at the fair of Rathclare on April 27th. Present in Duane's tent that day were, John Leary of Rossagh, Edmond Connors of Ballinguile, John Burke of Ballyhoura,Charles Murphy of Imphrick, Denis O'Shea of Streamhill and Ednond Connors of Kingstown ( Ballinree).

Charles Murphy and Edmond Connors said the night was far too short for their men to come, and get back after shooting the three men, and Leary said they had enough boys in Kildorrery to do it. The four committee men , Charles Murphy, John Leary, Edmond Connors and John Burke signed a paper in Daly's presence. Charles Murphy wrote first on the paper. This paper was to be sent to the committee that was to meet on the 1st. of May at Kildorrery fair, and the purpose of which was that the Kildorrery men should kill the three named people. He (Daly) went to Kildorrery fair and warned Mr. Hovenden (Col. Hill's Steward) of the danger to the three men.

Evidence of Cornelius Garvan.

The evidence of the next witness, Cornelius Garvan, appeared to favour the defence, as it seemed to throw some light on the signing of the paper in the tent.He said he was in Duane's tent at Rathclare fair, and saw there Leary, Connors, Murphy and Patrick Daly. He saw Leary engaged about security for a cow. A man named Mahony, Leary's son and the man who sold the cow were there. Leary was going security for the animal, and giving a guarantee that the cow would give six bottles of milk. They had a pen and ink before them. There were other people in the tent as well as Leary and Daly.

Owen (Clampar) Daly Examined.

Owen 'Clampar' Daly, cousin of Patrick was then examined.He said he was about 21 or 22 years of age. He was at the fair of Rathclare. He knew John Leary, and saw him at the fair in Duane's tent, where there were four, five or six people about him: the tent was crowded and Leary was at the back part of it. Barrett, Connors, Murphy and Burke were also there. He saw Barrett and Connors writing and handing papers to one another. He saw some of the men write on it. He also saw the paper in Leary's hand but did not see him write.

Michael Creagh's Evidence.

Michael Creagh of Kilbrack Cottage, Doneraile, then gave evidence. He stated he was a magistrate of the county, and was High Sherriff the previous year. He also knew Admiral Evans. When he dined with Admiral Evans in January 1829, Dr. Norcott was there. He also knew William Shine. Shine's father and brother were tenants of his, and he had lately served ejectments on them. He had a deposit of William Shine's which was left to him by his father, a sum of 20 guineas. William Shine withdrew it on the 2nd. or 3rd. of May, 1829, after ejectment notices were served.

Thomas Murphy Examined.

Thomas Murphy, another informer, who spoke Irish, was then questioned. He was at the fair in Mallow on March 2nd. 1829. he knew James Roche, James McGrath and Mr. Lowe. He met Roche and McGrath at the fair with Pat Lynch. He joined them for a drink. He heard McGrath say he would be on the road before Mr. Lowe; he had a pistol and, Roche had a double-barrelled shotgun. They said they would go on to Mr. Grover's plantation and wait for him. McGrath then administered an oath to him not to divulge the secret. he remained at the fair until night, and saw no more of them after that.

Testimony of George Bond Lowe.

Mr. George Bond Lowe then gave evidence.He said he had been a magistrate since 1821. He remembered being fired at coming from Mallow fair on the 2nd. of March last. His mare was shot in the neck. This took place at a screen of trees or plantation of Mr. Glover's. He pursued the men who fired, and apprehended one of them, Patrick McGrath, who was subsequently hanged. He knew the prisoner, James Roche, but never looked for him. He saw him in the custody of the police the day he was taken. When he (Lowe) asked why he fired at him, he pretended not to know him, and said he never saw him before. He searched repeatedly for James McGrath, but could not find him; he was afterwards taken in Co. Limerick.
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