Irish Catholic Chronicle And People's News of the Week
Saturday, 2 November 1867
THE MANCHESTER SPECIAL COMMISSION
The Special Commission for the trial of the twenty-six Fenian prisoners
charged with being concerned in the murder of Police Sergeant Brett, was
formally opened on Saturday by Mr. Justice Blackburn and Mr. Justice Mellor.
All Manchester and Salford and the surrounding towns fell the strangeness
of the circumstances which have led to the Commission, and hardly know what to
really think of Fenians. Now that the first shock of the think has been got
over, they are beginning to recognize in the Fenian organization something
beyond mere desire to commit outrages. I was speaking on Thursday to Mr.
Ridgway, one of the principal witnesses of the rescue on Hyde-road, and he said,
"I believe Allen and his party had no desire to commit murder, if they could
have rescued Kelly or Deasy without sacrificing life. They might have shot
several of us if they were intent on committing outrages." This feeling is now
growing up here, and for the sake of Irish character in general, it is better
that this should be so. It is, after all, preferable to have it understood as an
incident in a political offence, than to have it set forth as the mere murderous
propensities of "the Irish." On Saturday evening the discussion in the
Manchester Anthenaeum was upon the following:- "What is the cause of Fenianism?"
many crude and ill-considered notions were put forth on the matter, but one
member, the son of Irish parents, tried in a very fair and reasonable speech to
correct many erroneous notions held of the Irish. Thus the Fenian question crops
up every where in this great business city at present.
The Fenian prisoners are held in custody in the New Baily prison in
Salford, and a guard of over 200 soldiers is quartered in the gaol, and armed
police move up and down outside of it. If they had guarded Kelly and Deasy half
as well, they would have had no necessity to guard Allen and his associates, and
the Commission in Green-street, Dublin, would now be trying the former instead
of a Special Commission in Manchester trying the latter. The Manchester Examiner
advocates a postponement of the trials, in order to give longer time to the
accused to prepare their defense. The Crown has hitherto refused any punishment.
The principal prisoner is William O'Meara Allen. he is twenty years of age
only, and about five feet ten inches high. H is long-featured, pale, fleshless,
high cheek-bones, beardless, but with a great head of black curly hair. He is
entirely a Celt in every feature. He has very small eyes, deeply set, with next
to no eyebrows. He is a joiner by trade and has worked in many leading shops in
this city and in Salford. He is an excellent billiard player, and was well known
at most of the many billiard rooms here. William Gould, his companion, is about
thirty years of age, five feet nine and a half inches high, a clerk, and well
educated. He is very handsome looking. His features are round and full just the
reverse of Allen's. He is also perfectly beardless, with a good head of
yellowish fair hair. Michael Larkin is a tailor, thirty-two years of age, five
feet six inches high, with as the Americans say, "a goatee" on the point of his
There are many hundred or rather thousands of workers now idle in
Manchester, with mills stopped, owing to bad trade and crowds of these assemble
at the New Bailey, to try and catch a glimpse of the prisoners whenever they are
being moved about. The want of employment here at present will cause great
crowds about the courts in Salford where the judges sit.
...to be continued...
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News