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Ballina Chronicle; August 14, 1850; Murder in King's Co.

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  • Cathy Joynt Labath
    BALLINA CHRONICLE Ballina, Co. Mayo Wednesday, August 14, 1850 DREADFUL MURDER IN KING S COUNTY Birr, Tuesday, 6th August - In yesterday s publication an
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2006
      Ballina, Co. Mayo
      Wednesday, August 14, 1850


      Birr, Tuesday, 6th August - In yesterday's publication an announcement
      was made that Robert Pike, Esq., agent for Robert Cassidy, Esq., of
      Monasterevan, had been murdered on Saturday last near Parsonstown, the place
      of residence of Lord Rosse. The statement was unhappily too accurate, and
      since the assassination of the late Lord Norbury, thee has not been a murder
      so deliberate, audacious and revolting.
      Mr. Pike was agent for Mr. Robert Cassidy, of Monasterevan. He had been
      acting as such for more than two years, and the cause of his being sent to
      the King's County particularly was, that the tenants of Mr. Cassidy had for
      several years past entered into a combination against paying any rent. Mr.
      Pike, as Mr. Cassidy's agent, was compelled to bring ejectments against
      several of the tenants, and evict them from the holdings, in consequence of
      which he became obnoxious to the people, his only fault being his zeal and
      activity in carrying out the wishes of his employer. On last Monday morning
      seven or eight families were to be evicted off the lands of Killyon, and the
      assassins, by whom the valuable life of Mr. Pike had been taken, of course
      conceived that the evictions would be prevented if he were destroyed. Mr.
      Pike had been for some time past, apprehensive of being assassinated. Some
      months ago he was fired at and had a very narrow escape from death; he was
      sitting in his room taking tea when a shot was fired at him through the
      window, and several slugs lodged at a short distance from his head. He had
      been frequently advised by members of his family to give up the agency, as
      he was marked out for destruction; but he was a brave resolute man in the
      discharge of his duty; and would not be prevailed upon to abandon his post.
      On Saturday morning a man named John Holligan, a farmer, came into the
      market, which was held in the town of Birr, and when he arrived at the
      residence of Mr. Pike, he saw him in "the bawn," outside the door. Mr. Pike
      asked him if he was going to Birr? He replied in the affirmative.- "Well,
      then," said Mr. Pike, "wait a moment and I will go with you." Holligan
      waited for and accompanied him along the road to Birr, and when they had
      reached within two miles or so of the town a man passed them by. Mr. Pike
      was then on the right hand side of Holligan. Immediately after the man
      passed, Holligan heard a shot, and on turning around he saw the smoke from
      the pistol, and when the smoke cleared away he saw the ruffian who had
      previously passed them letting the pistol fall out of his hand to the
      ground, and then run in the direction of Killyon. Holligan afterwards saw a
      pistol in the hand of each of the parties- the murderer and the victim-
      observing each present it at the other. He next heard a shot, but could not
      tell from whence it came- believed it was from the pistol of Mr. Pike. The
      man then left the road and went into the bog. Mr .Pike again presented a
      pistol at him but it missed fire. Mr. Pike then returned and passed Holligan
      along the road; he had not gone more than 25 or 30 yards when Holligan, who
      had in the meantime kept his eye upon the second assailant, who went into
      the bog, heard another shot, turned round and saw Mr. Pike and that man in
      conflict. Holligan went up and separated them, and took from the villain the
      cane sword which he had snatched from Mr. Pike. By this time the other man
      had returned from the bog, and he presented a pistol at Holligan, telling
      him to be off or he would shoot him. Holligan then ran along the road and
      had gone a short distance only when he saw the man by whom Mr. Pike had been
      first attacked, beating him on the head while on the ground. Holligan
      escaped in terror and dismay to Birr, and communicated the facts to the
      police, who proceeded to the scene of the murder and found Mr. Pike lying
      dead upon the road, his pistols upon the person, and the pistol of one of
      the assassins near him. The police made every search in their power to
      apprehend the miscreants, but without effect and as yet neither of the men
      nor one of their accomplices has been discovered.
      The body of the deceased gentleman was removed into the hospital of
      Birr, and on Saturday evening an inquest was held by B.T. Midgely, Esq;
      coroner for the district.
      This fearful transaction occurred in the broad day light, upon an open,
      public road, where travellers and vehicles daily pass- in no glen, no lane,
      no mountain fastness, no ravine, no jungle, but on the common thoroughfare,
      with the full sunshine of Heaven beaming upon it- numbers of the peasantry
      going to market - several habited houses within a short distance of the
      spot, and nearly fifty people working in the bog; men they cannot be called,
      for they saw Mr. Pike murdered- they beheld the assassins running away after
      they had committed the diabolical crime, and not one persons followed to
      arrest them - not one of them came forward to give evidence before the
      The witness who deposed to the nature of the wounds inflicted upon the
      deceased was Dr. Baker. That gentleman stated that the deceased had several
      gun shot wounds in the back, chest and abdomen; the frontal bone of his
      skull was fractured; the fractures were both compound and comminuted. - The
      body presented a ghastly appearance. The inquiry was brief. The jury, after
      a short consultation, found a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person
      or persons unknown."
      This is a plain, unvarnished tale- a Protestant Irish agent is shot in
      the open day, upon a public road, because he dares to discharge his duty to
      his employer in endeavouring to confer on the payment of rent from a
      defaulting tenantry.
      One circumstance connected with this murder adds an item to the many
      which prove the absurdity, inconvenience, and inhumanity of the recent
      postal alterations, namely, that the brother of the deceased, - Mr. W. Pike,
      of Gardiner-street, Dublin- did not know till three o'clock on Monday that
      his brother had been shot, and was totally ignorant that an inquest had been
      held and a verdict found.-- Saunders.
      The King's County Chronicle of Wednesday says - "Just as we were
      preparing for press, we learned that two men have been marched in by the
      police, charged with being the persons who committed the murder." The same
      Journal informs us that although respectable persons in the neighbourhood
      were shocked at the horrible deed, a question generally asked by the humbler
      classes at Saturday's market in Birr, was - "Had they heard of the Pike,
      twelve stone weight, which had that morning been killed?" Such is the
      demoralization of, we fear, no inconsiderable portion of the peasantry on
      the confines of the county of Tipperary.

      Cathy Joynt Labath
      Ireland Old News
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