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!! Connaught Journal; Aug 26, 1824 "Burning of the Sheas" Part 2

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  • Cathy Joynt Labath
    continued... THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL Galway, Thursday, August 26, 1824 TIPPERARY ASSIZES BURNING OF THE SHEAS John Kelly, son to the last witness, sworn and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2005

      Galway, Thursday, August 26, 1824



      John Kelly, son to the last witness, sworn and examined by Mr. Fox.
      Witness is a son to Mary Kelly; knows William and Darby Maher right well;
      remembers the time, but not the night, on which the house was burned; saw
      William Maher on the Saturday night week before the burnings took place, at his
      mother's house; Maher came there about night fall; he came there in order to
      make some slugs he (Maher) went into the room and witness along with him; Maher
      told witness that he would to make some slugs, as he intended to go to the hill
      on the next Monday, to attack Shea's house for fire arms along with a party;
      Maher desired witness to work in his place at Philip Burke's, digging potatoes,
      on the ensuing Monday, and, if asked where he (Maher) was, to say that he was
      courting; witness split two balls for Maher and slugs were made out of the
      handle of a spoon; there was nobody in the room but Maher, and witness; Maher
      took the spoon from his pocket; the particular conversation which occurred was
      about going to make an attack upon the hill; witness did not tell any body, but
      he went to Paddy Mullally, at Shea's, to caution him to take care of himself;
      the next Monday the Sheas brought out the fire-arms, and hid them in the garden,
      and the party, in consequence, did not go there; witness knows Catherine
      Mullally, who is his second cousin; saw Catherine and Maher at his mother's
      house, on the Sunday before the attack; witness slept at his father's house the
      night of the burning at Sheas; he and his father went to bed, but his mother did
      not; in the morning, was informed by his mother of the burning, and ran towards
      the ruins with several others. At the funeral of the burnt bodies he did not see
      Darby or Billy Maher, but saw William Maher at his mother's house; she was
      sitting at the fire when William Maher came to; she said "You villain, now you
      have the fire-arms; he said "We could not help it- we were calling and bawling
      to them - I went and broke the window, and them to throw out the arms, and
      nothing should happen; but they did not, so we could not help it, and they were
      all burnt and destroyed!" Witness said that his mother was then crying; witness
      went to the funeral but his mother did not; he did not know the reason; witness
      is about twenty years of age; is six or seven months in the army; enlisted,
      being in dread of his life of the fellows in the country; after the burning,
      Darby Maher came to witness's house with a warning; he came outside the door,
      and said, if we did not hold our tongues we should be treated like the Sheas.
      After that, witness often slept out in the ditches, for fear of being murdered
      in the house. He identified the prisoners.
      On his cross-examination by Mr. Hamilton, it appeared that witness's father
      was a carpenter, and his mother carried on a little business in selling spirits
      and beer. It also appeared that witness and his mother had been in Dublin, from
      whence they had come a couple of days back to this prosecution; witness had been
      brought back to Dublin from his regiment at Limerick, by Captain Drought, who
      also brought witness 's mother in the same coach. Witness had enlisted in
      Clonmel; after being some time in Limerick, witness was examined by Captain
      Drought twice, and was soon after his second examination sent to Dublin, where
      he was again examined, as well as his mother, who had gone after him to
      Limerick, when his joined the regiment.

      Philip Kelly examined by Mr. Lloyd.
      Is husband to Mary, and father of last witness; he corroborated the threats
      used by Maher to his wife, in presence of himself and his son.

      John Butler sworn.
      Lived with Philip Dillon when Shea's house was burnt; brother of witness's
      was burnt in it; witness lived within 300 yards of the house of Ned Shea; knew
      where Mary Kelly's house was; it was opposite to Shea's; Dillon's at the other
      side; witness saw the house on fire, and people going towards it, among whom was
      Philip Dillon, Richard Phelan, William Williams and himself; witness then
      advanced within ten or fifteen yards of his house; witness knows a man of the
      name of Darby Maher; saw him about 50 yards distant from himself (witness)
      behind Shea's house when it was burning; could positively swear it; Maher had a
      blunderbuss in his hand; witness heard shot fired; it was fired by Philip
      Dillon, who at the same called out in a loud voice, "Oh, you rascals!," a shot
      was fired from Shea's yard, another from behind the house, saw two blunderbusses
      pointed towards where himself stood; when Dillon fired the shots, and cried out,
      "Oh, you rascals," a man answered from the yard and said, "Come forward if you
      dare!" witness then went back to the ditch and staid there about ten minutes,
      and when he saw no more of his party he went back to Dillon's; got a horse, and
      rode off for the brother and father of Shea, and went with him as far as
      Dillon's; did not tell Nicholas Shea that he was Darby Maher at the burning; nor
      did he tell any other person of it but his mother; and he assigned as his reason
      for not telling it that his mother and his brother told him that he would
      certainly be murdered if he said any thing about it; he told it next day to his
      brother; these were the reasons he did not tell any Magistrate till about three
      months back; when witness told his brother of it, he did not mention the name of
      the persons- but his brother told him whoever the offender was, to say nothing
      about it. Witness was now told to look about and after great hesitation, he put
      the rod on Darby Maher's head, and said he was the man.
      On his cross-examination by Mr. Hatchell, said, that on the night of the
      burning, witness and other friend had gone to assist the Sheas. Witness lost a
      brother in the house. Knows John Mullally; he had a son destroyed in that house;
      witness told Mullally about a fortnight before he told Mr. Despard; it was not
      Mullally who desired him to go to Mr. Despard; Mr. Despard sent for witness
      afterwards. Witness had been examined on oath at Cloneen, after the burning, by
      a bench of Magistrates, and did not tell what he knew, because he was afraid of
      his life. Witness told Mullally, because he believed Mullally would keep it

      Philip Dillon sworn.
      Remembered the night Shea's house was burnt and saw it; he had been called
      out by William Williams, and he sent Williams to call R. Phelan and other
      neighbours, which he did; they all got up and dressed; witness went out, and
      Dick Phelan and his son, and Dan Butler, and they went up when the house was
      burning, within about eleven paces of it; being then with his friends, he fired
      a shot out of his gun and cried out, "What's this for, you rascals?" A shot was
      discharged from near the house and "Come on, if you dare!" was cried out;
      witness heard another shot when he was coming down the hill with Butler, Phelan,
      On his cross-examination by Mr. Hatchell, witness said J. Butler did not
      tell him he knew any of the people concerned in the burning; Butler was his

      Junior Phelan corroborated like evidence regarding the firing and words
      between Philip Dillon, and the people on the hill; and D. Butler, brother of
      John, corroborated the same; this witness and he had given informations before a
      Magistrate six or seven weeks ago, and had not given them before, because he was
      afraid of being murdered, and because, also, he had been told not to it by his
      brother and mother.

      Richard Phelan next deposed to the firing and expressions used near the
      burning house.

      Alice Butler sworn. - Lived within two or three miles of Sheas; the night
      of the fire, her son John came and told her the house was burned, and that Darby
      Maher was concerned; on which she cautioned them not to tell that to any one, or
      he would be destroyed. In about an hour after the fire, her son asked her if her
      brother, Mick, was within; when she told him he was out, he said she never would
      not see any more than his burnt bones! She had another son, Edward.

      Captain Draught of the Police, examined - Said that he had a conversation
      with prisoner in gaol; that he cautioned the prisoner, that whatever he said
      should be entirely optional, as he (Captain Draught) would feel it necessary to
      give it in evidence; no hopes were held out or threats to the prisoner; the
      prisoner then said to Captain Drought, that he had a blunderbuss and gave it
      away to the Priest.

      Francis Despard, Esq. was examined touching the investigation at Clooneen,
      immediately after the burning; none of the persons there examined, among them
      were Mary Kelly and John Butler, said they knew any one concerned; the only
      questions put to Mary Kelly were relative to the persons who had been drinking
      at her house.

      The case of the prosecution closed here- when Philip Ryan, a tailor, came
      up and swore that he slept at Darby Maher's the whole of the night of the
      burning, and in the same bed with him; and that Maher could not go out without
      his knowledge; the evidence of this witness was very far from sufficient to
      produce a favourable effect on the jury.

      Philip Burke was next sworn. He was a man of fair repute; for William Maher
      he deposed that one the night of burning, William Maher left his house to go
      sleep in an adjoining barn; witness locked the door after Maher went out to the
      barn. Next to prove that Maher did not leave the barn during the night.

      John Welsh, in the employ of Mr. Burke, was sworn, but his evidence was
      much like that of the tailor; and between both the alibi was badly sustained.
      Several other witnesses were examined when

      The LONE CHIEF JUSTICE, at eight o'clock proceeded to charge the Jury. His
      Lordship dwelt with much force on the enormity of the crime, and was occupied
      for upwards of two hours in laying the evidence before the Jury, who retired
      before ten.
      About a quarter past ten o'clock, the CHIEF JUSTICE inquired whether it was
      likely they would soon agree, as he evidently seemed to be exhausted- his
      Lordship intimated, that they should not by any means hasten their
      deliberations- he would come down before twelve o'clock, if they were of opinion
      that that hour would answer. Should they exceed twelve, in not agreeing, he
      would delay receiving the verdict until morning.
      The Foreman said it was likely they would agree very soon. - The Jury,
      retired and in about a quarter of an hour returned. The names being called, the
      Foreman asked with respect to the distinction of the finding in the two
      His LORDSHIP said, that the finding in one would establish both - The
      verdict of Guilty was then announced. William Maher bent his head and covered
      his face with his hands. Darby's demeanour undertook no alteration.
      His Lordship put on the black cap, and proceeded to pass sentence of death,
      which he did in the most awful manner. When he had concluded his Lordship turned
      to the Jury, and observed, Gentlemen of the Jury, I concur, in the most
      unqualified manner, in the verdict you have returned, If I had a voice capable
      of communicating to all those who are around, I would tell them what I hope will
      be remembered by many, that the prisoners at the bar had not a murderous view on
      their attack on Shea's house. That it was barely in the pursuit of arms. How
      long will the common people continue to hold a passion for this plunder of arms?
      So long as they continue to do so, it is impossible to restore tranquility. They
      stray themselves against laws of their country. They act under vile agitators,
      who encourage them to crime, and make them their dupes. In the morning of that
      fated day, you, William and Darby Maher, had no greater crime in view than
      attacking a house for arms; but, before the rising of the morning sun of the
      succeeding day, you had committed murder! you had indiscriminately sacrificed so
      many of your fellow creatures.
      Shortly after sentence the prisoners burst into sobs and tears, in which
      they indulged for some time. They are both rather well-looking men, very clearly
      in their appearance, and are cousins. They were removed to gaol under a very
      strong guard.

      Cathy Joynt Labath
      Ireland Old News
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