THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL
Galway, Thursday, October 7, 1824
MURDER-THE MEATH POLICE
Mr. Ford presented the following report to the Committee:- I arrived at
Rathmollon, on the 28th at twelve o'clock, although I did not receive any
communication until eight o'clock in the morning of that day, respecting the
necessity of my attendance. On my arrival, I was informed that on the
morning preceding, the Coroner went to the house of the father of the
deceased, accompanied by Captain Despard, Chief Peace Officer of the
District, and Mr. Wilkins, who attended on behalf of the Police, together
with the medical men, and several others who had been summoned to attend as
Jurors. After having inspected the body, the Coroner adjourned to the
village of Rathmollon and proceeded to examine several witnesses, who were
examined by Mr. Wilkins, on behalf of the Police. The Court had just
commenced the examination of the first witness on the second day, when I
arrived and having stated that I attended on behalf of the next of kin of
the deceased, the Coroner, at my request, read the deposition that had been
taken on the previous day.
The report here states the names of the Jury, and the several witnesses
who were examined. - The following is the substance of the most material
portions of the evidence:-
John Duffy saw Police striking the deceased, and heard them cry
out,"murder the bloody Papists."
Mary Reilly deposed, that she did not hear any riot in the town; there
was a noise in her house, but no fighting; there was loud talk in a closet;
prevented Delapp, the Peeler, from firing towards the stairs; Delapp said he
would have his aim, pointing his gun out to the hall, and witness said he
should not, and pushed the gun down, upon which he hit her on the arm-did
not see any of the constables beaten; there were no arms with the country
people, not even a stick; she did not see deceased in her house that day;
heard firing immediately after the police left her house; police drank
spirits in her house that day at twelve o'clock; it was their lairing; they
did not pay for it; two of them came into her house with Mrs. Lantry, wife
of Serjeant Lantry, and two of the police followed; she had no license;
police desired her to sell, and that nothing would happen to her. (Here
Captain Despard asked her, did not the gauger also permit her to sell
spirits, and she replied that he did not;) did not hear or see any persons
attempting to take the arms from the police.
Lieutenant Ellis, of Summer-hill, (is not of the Police establishment);
saw rioting between the police and country people; saw country people coming
out of Mrs. Reilly's house without their hats; asked witness to pick them
up; saw a policeman knocked down by a countryman; heard a shot, and saw
deceased fall; saw several countrymen run away alarmed at the shot; saw
deceased taken up about half an hour afterwards; called to the country
people to go for the Doctor, and they objected for a long time to come near
the window where the witness was.
Upon being cross-examined, witness stated that he knew of no riot
before the police went into the house; there were no arms in the hands of
the country people, but saw one man take something from under his coat, and
it was he who struck the serjeant; believe it was a policeman fired the
shot; knows him only by his white trowsers; none of the police came to the
assistance of the man; the policeman nearest the deceased was the person who
fired the shot; heard a woman's voice in favour of the police, and assisting
them, and calling on the people to keep off; the people were running away in
all directions; the woman's voice was certainly encouraging the police.
Patt Kirwan corroborated the testimony of Moran as the to conversation
of Delapp at Trim.
Peter Fitzsimmons saw Cosgrave, the deceased knocked down by the blow
of a gun, given by constable, with his two hands on it; one policeman
advanced from between two others, and he was the person who gave the blow;
there had been a scrimmage at Reilly's house, and it had all ceased at the
time the blow was given; deceased was walking towards the police when the
blow was given.
After this witness was examined, I stated that on the part of the
deceased's friends, I would not call any witnesses; that after the
particularly insolent manner in which I was spoken to, the day before, by
one of the Jury, I would not offer any observations on the evidence. But I
was not now admonished at the Juryman's warmth, as I had since learned that
he was the firs cousin of Delapp, the constable. I could not, however, omit
observing to the Coroner-that where one of his Majesty's subjects had lost
his life within a few yards of those who were called the preservers of the
peace, not one of them had come forward to give any explanation of the
Mr. Wilkins, in reply, said, that he had directed the police to be in
attendance, and they were accordingly there, and if I wished I might examine
them, but they were already asked, and they said they knew nothing about the
I said that was very extraordinary, and I hoped that they would present
themselves for examination.
The CORONER proceeded to charge the Jury.- He stated that he was no
party man, no Orangeman, nor never had been one, and he laboured throughout
to shew that the words "Papists," &c. were not used, contrasting the
evidence of those witnesses who said they were, with the evidence of Lieut.
Ellis, and also with the silence of others.- As in that, I begged leave to
observe, that those who were silent to it, were not asked the questions and
as for Lieutenant Ellis, he did not hear the expression made use of by Mr.
Matthews, ast his own window.
The CORONER recapitulated all the evidence, and on the deposition of
James Cosgrave, the father of the deceased, observed that if they believed
the evidence, and that from the observation made by his father the deceased
believed he was dying, and was in possession of his senses at the time he
made the declaration, they should find a verdict against the two constables
named by the deceased.
The Jury retired for a short time, and returned their verdict, "that
the deceased, John Cosgrave, otherwise Coskenny, came by his death by means
of a wound on his forehead, inflicted by one of the police constables, as
yet unknown, by a gun, or some other weapon, at Summerhill, on the night of
the 22d of September, of which wound he languished and died on Sunday, the
26th of September, at Isaacstown."
I cannot but remark, that the deceased was left from Wednesday to
Sunday without any Magistrate calling upon him for the purpose of
ascertaining whether he hand any declaration to make. Mr. Mockler, who came
to the town with Captain Despard about an hour after the affair occurred,
was aware that the man was badly wounded; so was Captain Despard acquainted
with the fact. In the early part of the investigation it was sought to prove
the man was drunk.
Surgeon Trotter, in his evidence, said, his appearance of drunkenness
might have proceeded from the effects of the blow. As evidence, how
peaceable that Country must have been, I cannot but state that I was
informed that serjeant Lantry, who was stationed at Summerhill, passed a
fortnight or three weeks at Mr. Mockler's, superintending his harvest
labourers. I have been informed of this fact by respectable persons, who
stated, that they could prove it, and that it was notorious in the country.
If it is not so, and that Mr. Mockler, and Captain Despard should agree with
me, that it was not a proper disposal of the man's time, who was paid by the
public, they will disprove it.
Mr. Ford, after giving in the report, said , there was a circumstance
attending this occurrence, which, as expressive of the feelings of the
peasantry upon the occasion, he considered it of importance to mention. In
the country it is the custom amongst the people to affix to the head of the
bed in which a corpse is waked, a cross of ribbon; it is white upon an
unmarried person ,and black for a married one, but upon the present
occasion, the deceased, who was unmarried, had a red cross attached to his
bed, and placed upon the coffin in its progress to the place of interment,
and to any one acquainted with the sensitive character of the Irish, it
would be unnecessary to observe the effect of such a significant emblem. It
was also, he said, a remarkable fact, that the only Catholic policeman in
the squad at Summerhill, was removed to another station the day previous to
the fair.-(Hear, hear.)
He had also to state, that almost the whole of the party of police
engaged in this affair, had been tried at various times for acts of violence
to the country people.
It was resolved, that, at its rising, the meeting should adjourn to
Counsellor Bric having been called to the Chair, and thanks returned to
the Chairman, the meeting adjourned to Tuesday next.
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News