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Daniel O'Connell And The Doneraile Conspiracy: Page 3

Mrs. Glover's Evidence.

Mrs. Eliza Glover of Johnsgrove then gave evidence. She said she saw one of the prisoners in the dock, James McGrath, at Johnsgrove on the day that Mr. Bond Lowe was shot at. They were face to face and most decidedly he was the same man. She did not see from whence he came, but she saw him on the road.

Evidence of Thomas Roberts.

Thomas Roberts was the next witness, He lived with Quale Welstead at Ballywalter. He was coming from Mallow fair the previous March, and he saw Mr. Bond Lowe and his servant on the road. Shortly after they passed him, he heard the report of a gun, and saw three men running off. On entering the field he saw Mr. Lowe in full gallop and also, a man running into the plantation. He identified James McGrath as that man. He entered the plantation, and in a dyke he found Patrick McGrath, on his face and hands. He secured him and gave him over to Mr. Lowe, as magistrate.

Local Woman's Evidence.

A woman fron the area was then examined. her husband's house was about 2 miles from Johnsgrove, but it was nearer to Roche's house, who was known as " Cold Morning". She heard of Mr. Lowe being fired at, and saw James Roche, the prisoner, pass by her house. She greeted him. He had no arms at that time.She believed it to be about two hours after the shooting that she saw him. They did not speak to one another. She identified him in the dock.

The case for the defence then opened, and the first witness called was John Harold-Barry of Ballyvonare, Doneraile.

Harold-Barry's Evidence.

Mr. Harold-Barry gave a very poor opinion of the the characters of David Sheehan and Patrick Daly. Both had been employed by him, but he discharged them, such was his impression of their conduct and their character. They had been employed against his wishes by his land steward. He had employed Whiteboys from time to time through necessity, in order to get the work done.It was part of the system.

Harold-Barry was rudely handled by the Solicitor - General. Apparently he had refused to entrap a Whiteboy by "promising him protection". Witness replied that no honourable man would act as the police would have him act with regard to the Whiteboys.

Evidence of Dr. William O'Brien.

Very Rev. William O'Brien, Parish Priest of Doneraile, in his evidence gave a similarly poor opinion of the character of Sheehan and Daly. He had been P.P. of Doneraile for thirteen years, but generally passed the winters on the continent for health raesons. He did not know that a conspiracy existed in Doneraile until it became public, but admitted that the town was far from quiet. He would be happy that the Catholic and Protestant clergy and the gentry would unite to quell the spirit of insubordination which existed among the people.

John Daly's Evidence.

John Daly, a brother of Patrick, told how Patrick had been tempting him to join in plotting against the prisoners. Patrick asked him if he liked his master, and added that he could be independant of his master if he would follow Patrick's advice by going to Capt. Creagh, and saying what he (Patrick) would desire him to say about some of the men who were in gaol. For this he would get a reward, which would establish him in a town, or send him to America.

Evidence of James ( Cold Morning ) Roche.

James Roche, (a namesake of one of the accused ), then testified. He said he was the man known as 'Cold Morning'. He had no knowledge of a meeting at his house before the fair at Mallow. The accused, Roche, had lived with him but had left his house at the end of April or the beginning of May. He was called 'Cold Morning' because he had once kept a public house and it was usual in the country for a publican to have a nickname.

Other Witnesses.

James Stawell told the court he knew the prisoner, Leary, " who was an honest man, no man's enemy but his own, being partial to drink" His habits were peaceful and he was an unlikely person to be engaged in disturbances.

Arthur Gethin Creagh, father of Michael Creagh, said he knew John Leary for many years to be as peaceful a man as any in the country. For twenty years he had paid him £220 a year in rent, peacefully, honestly and with propriety. He was, unfortunately, given to drinking punch. If he thought he was of bad character he would not come to Court to give him a good one, especially as he was charged with trying to kill his son.

The Verdict.

The defence closed, and Baron Pennefather addressed the jury. He spoke with great force on the nature of the crime with which the prisoners had been charged, the peculiarity of the law relating to conspiracy, and the quality of the evidence necessary to sustain it.

The jury retired for about twenty minutes, and returned with a " Guilty " verdict against all four accused - John Leary, James McGrath, James Roche and William Shine. Judge Torrens then addressed the prisoners, donned his black cap, and passed the sentence of death by hanging on all four accused.

After this verdict, the relatives of the prisoners were very distressed, as they thought that when the rest of the prisoners were put to trial, it would only be a matter of form before they were also sentenced to death.

On the second day four more prisoners were put forward for trial. They were Edmond Connors, Michael Wallace, Patrick Lynch and Timothy Barrett.

Mission To Daniel O'Connell.

As the second day of the trial was a Saturday, it was decided to postpone it until the Monday, lest the hearing should encroach on the Sunday rest. This delay was just what the relatives of the prisoners needed. They had no advocate equal to John Doherty. Only one man could match him - the greatest criminal lawyer in the country - Daniel O'Connell. The collected together a sum of 100 guineas and resolved to to make an effort to obtain the aid of Daniel O'Connell's powerful talents. William Burke of Ballyhea, brother of one of the prisoners, John Burke, left Cork on Saturday evening October 24th. 1829, and travelling throughout the night, rode one horse to O'Connell's residence in Derrynane, Co. Kerry, a distance of ninety miles. He arrived at Derrynane at 8.30.a.m. on Sunday.. Having listened to him, O'Connell agreed to come to Cork to defend the accused. Burke rested his horse, and remounted him and returned to Cork, reaching the Courthouse about 8 a.m. Monday morning, having completed the journey of 180 miles in thirty-eight hours.

Daniel O'Connell arrived in his coach shortly after Burke. He caused a huge sensation in the vicinity of the Courthouse. The ordinary people, both within and outside the courthouse, though they were not many, when they saw the 'Great Dan ' amongst them felt as though they were a multitude.

The Second Trial.

The following Jury was chosen for the second trial: Horatio Townsend, Nicholas Kirby, Henry Hewitt O'Brien, John Lewis, Daniel O'Callaghan, Daniel F. Leahy, Robert Hartnett, Thomas Burke,Thomas Hare, Jr.. Edward Morrogh, John Henry Allen and John Molony.

This was considered to be a much more satisfactory jury than the first one, containing as it did, Catholics, Protestants, merchants and landowners, people from the towns as well as the country.It included one Catholic, Edward Morrogh, whose role in it would prove to be crucial.

Daniel O'Connell was given permission to breakfast in court, as John Doherty gave another long oration. This time, however, according to Sheahan, " he lessened his canvas a good deal" and allowed that the conspiracy might now be limited to the Doneraile area, and not allover Munster, as he implied in the first trial. However he castigated Harold-Barry, stating that the law could compel any man, no matter what his rank, under pain of imprisonment, to declare the number of Whiteboys who might have been employed in his haggard or stable. Daniel O'Connell, his mouth half full of bread or milk, interrupted Doherty, correcting him by saying "That's not law " or "that Act has expired" In particular O'Connell objected to Doherty's innuendo against Harold-Barry, and he complained of the law that wouldn't allow him to address the jury on behalf of the prisoners. He requested the Solicitor-General not to go into evidence given at other trials but to confine his remarks to the case now before the Court. This interruption stopped Doherty in his tracks, and the remainder of his speech was uncontroversial.

Daniel O'Connell was masterly in his cross-examination of the various witnesses for the prosecution.Thomas Sheahan, in his account of the trial says: "I never beheld him greater" His tactics were to confound the prosecution, and to show that they had no case. The Crown had tried to show that Sheehan and Nowlan had repented of their former misdeeds. O'Connell showed off the 'repentant sinners' as he called them. John Doherty had discounted the the notion of concert among the witnesses, but O'Connell found out that Sheehan and Daly had been repeatedly together in Dublin before the trial.

Under cross-examination Patrick Daly exclaimed " it's little I thought, Mr. O'Connell, I'd be facing you today" Daly also said that he had never asked his brother to become a witness.

Owen ( Clampar ) Daly got special attention. Doherty spoke of him as a boy of sixteen or seventeen ,who was not anxious to be a witness. He turned out to be twenty-four years of age, and a regular informer under the Game Act.During the examination of Owen Daly, O'Connell stated that " he had never seen such drilling of witnesses in his life"

A man named William Twiss came on next to discredit the testimony of Owen Daly. Doherty ordered Twiss off the table in no uncertain manner. "You may go down off that table sir" said the Solr.-General. "New daunt go dawn sir" said O'Connell mimicking Doherty's Anglicised accent, much to the annoyance of that gentleman. The result of this burlesqueing of Doherty's voice was an instantaneous burst of laughter, in which, according to Sheahan "even the well-dressed savages joined ".

The Forty Hour Jury.

At the conclusion of the evidence , Judge Torrens addressed the jury, and they retired to consider their verdict. Then commenced the marathon saga of what became known as the "Forty Hour Jury". They were deliberating up to Tuesday morning, when they decided to acquit Timothy Barrett. They could not come to an agreement on the other three prisoners.

The gentry complained about the stupidity and doggedness of some jurors. These people had begun to see the serious consequences of the disagreemen: if the jury, after such a long time, could not agree to a verdict, with the same witnesses and evidence as resulted in such a quick decision by the first jury, then something was wrong with one of the juries.

A Catholic member of the jury, Mr. Edward Morrogh, was the chief obstacle to reaching agreement: he was against convicting any of the prisoners. On Tuesday evening, some of the jurors began to complain about the strict confinement, and one of the jurors, who suffered from gout, was said to be so ill, that a physician had to be called. John Henry Allen was the man in question.

Finally, late on Tuesday evening, after forty hours deliberation, the jury was discharges without reaching a verdict. Nine were for acquitting Connors, Lynch and Barrett, three against. Edward Morrogh was for acquitting all, eleven against. The three jurors who were against the nine agreed to forego their opinion, if Morrogh agreed to give up his, which he declined to do.Had this been agreed, Connors, Lynch and Barrett would have been acquitted and Wallace found guilty, but with a strong recommendation to mercy. Barrett was acquitted, as there was no evidene against him.

Legal Arguments.

Just as the weary jurors were leaving the Court, Daniel O'Connell entered. The Solicitor - General told the judges that it was his intention to put Connors, Lynch and Wallace on trial for the second time in the morning. Mr. O'Connell replied that they could not be tried for the second time; or if they could, not at this Commission: and if if at this Commission, not until they were ready, and they would not be ready in a day.

The O'Keeffe and Heireen Episodes.

The next day, Wednesday, was a day for legal argument, but was also a day on which occurred two curious incidents.The first of these was the arrest of a man named Daniel O'Keeffe, who claimed to have important evidence for the defence, but who, on his arrival from the country, was arrested on Wednesday morning, and charged as a newly captured conspirator. The second concerned the missing witness Denis Heireen. An application was made on behalf of Edmond Connors, Michael Wallace and and Patrick Lynch for a postponement of their second trial. This affidavit stated that Denis Heireen was a material witness for the defence, but had been taken from the office of the prisoner's attorney by Chief Constable Kiely of Carrigtwohill, who promised that Heireen would be forthcoming at the trial of John Leary, but he never showed. Baron Pennefather told the defence counsel that they had misconducted Leary's case, if knowing that Heireen was a marerial witness, they had not applied for the delay or postponement of the trial.

After the Heireen arguments had ended, the Solr.- General said it would be as well if the Counsel for the defence should now justify their case that Connors, Lynch and Wallace should not be tried again, or tried a second time, or tried at this Commission. Daniel O'Connell immediately accepted the challenge, and adjusting his wig, went on to argue why his point of view should be accepted. The entire bar listened to him from the moment he opened his lips," with heads raised and eyes showing attention and a little fear" A compromise was was finally reached, and John Doherty said he would not press for the second trial of the three men at this Commission, and it was agreed that the re-trial be held over until the Spring Assizes of the following year 1830.

The Third Trial.

On Thursday morning, Oct. 29th., two more prisoners were put forward for trial, John Burke and John Shine. Shine's brother, William, had been condemned to death at the first trial before the Commission, while Burke's brother was the man who had ridden to Derrynane for Daniel O'Connell.

This time an exclusively protestant Jury was empanelled. They had had enough of the Morrogh type juror, and as the names on the panel were called, every Catholic was challenged by the Crown. The names on this exclusive jury were: William M. O'Boy, John V. Anderson, Thomas J. Biggs, William Busteed, Thomas Gollock, Hewitt Pole Baldwin, John Smith, John Deane Freeman, Thomas Knowles, Phillip Somerville, Henry Baldwin and Henry Wigmore.

The evidence to support the prosecution was the same as in the former cases. Patrick Daly again narrated the scene in the tent at Rathclare fair; how the prisoner Burke was there as a committee man; how he - Daly - told it all to Col. Hill immediately after the fair; all much as he had sworn on previous days.

Daly's Affidavit.

It was at this point that the most dramatic moment of the trial came. Baron Pennefather called Daniel O'Connell to the bench and handed him a document; O'Connell returned to the bar seat and read the document. While he was thus engaged, the business of the court was suspended, and public curiosity was greatly aroused as to the nature and import of this document. O'Connell, having perused the document, continued to cross-examine Daly. He asked Daly if he had told everything about the tent scene to the magistrates the day after it had occurred, told them of the assassination order, of the committee order and of the committee men who had signed the order. To these questions Daly answered "Yes".

O'Connell then handed the witness the document which he had been reading and asked him if it bore his signature. According to Thgomas Sheahan " Patrick eyed it and eyed it and eyed it again, but for the life of him he could discover nothing but the likeness of his 'scratch' on it - he would not undertake to swear that it was the fist of Patrick Daly".

It turned out that the document shown by O'Connell to Patrick Daly was nothing more or less than " the informations" which had been deposed by Daly following the Rathclare fair -- information drawn up by Col. Hill on that day and countersigned by Michael Creagh on the following day. And the extraordinary thing was that the informations were silent about the assassination order, although Mr. Creagh, the very gentleman by whom they were countersigned, was one of the three, whose assassination on the 1st. May, had been signed and forwarded on the 27th. April, according to Daly's sworn evidence in Court. It has to be asked why these informations were not produced in Court at the first trial, whether they had been known to the Crown lawyers before the calling of the Special Commission, did Col. Hill or Mr. Creagh forget them altogether, and if they had not forgotten them why they had not offered them to the prisoners. It was understood that these informations had not been returned to the Clerk of the Court, and that Baron Pennefather had to send to Doneraile for them.

On this day , too, the two Daly's contradicted each other in their evidence. Patrick said Owen was not in the tent but at the entrance. Owen said he was in the tent and had been nudged by Patrick to note the signing of the paper. Patrick declared that they were both outside the door of the tent; Owen testified that they were both enjoying themselves at the bottom of the tent. Patrick said that Owen and himself had only one pint at the fair, while Owen said they had two each.. Because of these discrepancies, and after a long address by Baron Pennefather to the jury, within 20 minutes they brought in a verdict of "not guilty" The people were overjoyed, and the gentry mortified by this verdict of an exclusively Protestant jury. O'Connell thanked God earnestly, and the prayers of the people could be heard for him, whom they regarded as their saviour.

End of Special Commission.

John Doherty, Solicitor - General, then announced that he had decided not to bring at this Commission, the trials of any of the other prisoners against whom indictments had been found for conspiracy. The Crown would have no objection to allowing the untried prisoners home, on condition that they should give bail for their appearance to stand trial at the next Assizes, in the Spring of the following year, 1830.

Costs of the Special Commission.

'The Cork Constitution' newspaper of March 20th. 1830, gave the following details of the expenses incurred by the Doneraile Conspiracy Commission:

Crown Solicitor £331 - 15 - 3.
Crown Counsel £1386 - 15 - 0.

Witnesse, Postage, etc. £556 - 4 0 9.

Judges £738 - 9 - 2.

As usual, in a big trial, the chief beneficiaries were the legal luminaries.

Death Sentences Commuted.

The execution of Leary, Shine, Roche and McGrath, were fixed for 14th. November 1829, but the death sentences were commuted to transportation for life to New South Wales, Australia.

Final Trial.

At the end of March, 1830,the three men Lynch, Connors and Wallace, about whom the jury disagreed at the Special Commission, were again tried at the Spring Assizes. On this occasion Daniel O'Connell was not present but the accused were represented by a very able lawyer, William Deane Freeman.

The Jury at this trial consisted of eleven Protestants and one Catholic. They were : Mathew Hendly, Robert Travers, Michael Roberts, John Isaac Heard, Richard Smyth, William Lander, Thomas Hungerford, John Thomas Cramer, Norman Uniacke, Isaac Biggs, William Sheehy and William Newman.

Connors and Wallace were acquitted, and Lynch was found guilty for his own sake as he would have been found guilty of an alternative capital charge of highway robbery. In Lynch's case, the jury added a recommendation of mercy, and his sentence was commuted to transportation to New South Wales, with Leary, Shine, Roche and McGrath.

This was the last of the Doneraile Conspiracy trials. The Crown decided not to proceed further, and the remaining prisoners were allowed out on their own bails of £100 to appear at the next Assizes, when, it was understood that they would be discharged if the Crown decided not to proceed against them. No further trials were held. The Doneraile Conspiracy, which began in a blaze of publicity, in the end simply fizzled out.

There probably was a conspiracy of some kind. Obviously the attack on Dr. Norcott's carriage (in mistake) for Michael Creagh's and the attacks on George Bond Lowe had to be organised by somebody. However, these incidents were confined to Doneraile and concerned local grievances.There was never a conspiracy on the scale outlined by John Doherty in his opening address to the Commission.

The landlords and the magistrates had become nervous, and wished to have a big show trial.The Special Commission was organised by Bond Lowe and other magistrates to frighten the hotheads in the Whiteboys ; it was intended to set an example, and to strike terror into the hearts of all would be assassins. Some of those on trial may have been active Whiteboys, but it is likely that others charged were not involved. Indeed, William Nowlan, one of the informers, stated twice in Court " there are many in for this trial that are innocent".

Transportation of Prisoners.

On the 23rd. of April 1830, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the five convicted men, the old man John Leary, James McGrath, James Roche, William Shine and Patrick Lynch were taken with other convicts from the County Gaol in Cork, and were escorted by a small party of the Scots Greys Regiment to the steamer Waterloo, lying at Merchant's Quay, to be conveyed to the hulk Surprise at Cobh, for transportation to New South Wales.

They were in prison dress, grey jackets and trousers and leather caps. John Leary had fur cap on, and, before he went below in the vessel he took farewell of his daughter and one of his son, during which he wept bitterly. His family were given permission to go with him to the convict ship at Cobh, which gave him some satisfaction.

The other men didn't say anything, except Shine, who made some protestations about his innocence, at the end of which he looked around and bid farewll to Ireland forever, and then went below. Shortly afterwards the vessel proceeded down river with its human cargo, on the first stage of their long journey to the other side of the world, amidst the lamentations of their families and friends.

House of Commons Moves.

In the House of Commons, in London, on the 12th. of May 1830, Daniel O'Connell moved for the depositions of Patrick Daly, and the notes of the judges who presided over the Special Commission to be made available. The object of this motion was to indict the Solicitor-General for having evidence of the discrepancies between Patrick Daly's written and oral testimonies, which were not produced at the first trial. However the motion was defeated by seventy votes to twelve.

Letter from Michael Creagh.

Arising from the House of Commons discussion, Michael Creagh wrote the following letter to the 'Cork Constitution' newspaper on 25th. May 1830.


I shall feel obliged by your contradicting the newspaper report of a speech said to have been delivered by my friend, Mr. Jephson, in the House of Commons. He is made to say that he had a strong impression on his mind that I told him I was coming in a post chaise for Daly's informations. I told him no such thing, for the paper I came here for had nothing to do with Daly's informations. His informations were in the hands of government very long indeed before that period. I am quite sure Mr. Jephson thought what he said; but were it to remain uncontradicted, the public might suppose Daly's informations were (as stated) kept back by the magistrate, when the real fact was otherwise.

I am, sir, yours, etc.,

Michael Creagh

Doneraile, May 20th., 1830.

And so the reason for the absence of Patrick Daly's informations at the first trial remains a mystery.

Case of John (O') Leary.

The case of seventy tear old John Leary remained in Daniel O'Connell's mind. On the 9th. of October 1833, he wrote a letter to Richard J. Littleton, recently appointed Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in which he gave an account of the Doneraile Conspiracy trials, and made a strong case for a pardon and a free passage home for John Leary. The appeal was not granted, but Leary was included in an amnesty on the occasion of Queen Victoria's coronation -- 28th. of June 1838. He was then too old to travel home; but at the end of his life he was not without company as two of his sons joined him in New South Wales. He died in Sydney General Hospital on the 23rd of June 1839.

James McGrath, on his release, became quite comfortable in Australia, and brought out some of his relatives. Nothing is known , presently, of the subsequent history of James Roche,William Shine or Patrick Lynch.

Willian Burke, who rode to Derrynane for Daniel O'Connell, died on April 7th. 1876, and was buried in Shandrum Cemetary, near Charleville.

Owen 'Clampar' Daly. lived on for many years around Ballyhoura without being harmed. When he finally died,his body was found on the old coach road, south of Castlewrixon. By his side was his faithful companion of his latter years - his shotgun.
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