!! Ballina Chronicle; March 27, 1850; The Burial of Constable Greer
- BALLINA CHRONICLE
Ballina, Mayo, Ireland
Wednesday, March 27, 1850
Father O'Neill of fighting notoriety is once more before the public in
another though no less creditable phase of character. His holy oil, more
harmless than his "skull-cracker," has lately been in requisition to secure
a safe transit form this world for a poor deluded heretic. The reverend
minister, however, is not an exception among his brethren. The desire to
gain converts is deeply and universally inculcated in the Romish church. The
edict has gone forth. By every means and at every point those who have
protested against the errors of that church must be assailed; every
advantage must be taken and exulted over as a victory achieved. An end is to
be accomplished and that end justifies the means and the means are regulated
by the circumstances of the times and the country. Nothing is deemed too
trifling to gain and therefore we find the priest hastening whenever he can
to the unconscious dying Protestant to perform an useless and unscriptural
rite, that he may glory over what he considers to be a successful thrust at
the Protestant cause. Frequently have instances come before our notice of
emissaries from Rome obtaining access through a servant or other friendly
person to the bed side of a Protestant in a dying state unconscious of what
was going on, and there use the "holy oil" and then claim the dead as a true
convert to the Roman Catholic faith; but never have we heard of a more
barefaced and unchristian transaction than that recorded by a correspondent
of the Sligo Guardian which we here give as an additional instance of
Priestly intolerance and as a cautionary example:-
A Police Constable named Greer, a native of Antrim, and a Protestant,
was attacked by paralysis during the assizes and placed under Dr. Homan's
care, until the night of the 18th inst. when a sudden fit of convulsions
deprived him of life.
The Rev. Samuel Shone, curate of this parish accompanied the police to
the cemetery, and when about performing the burial service, was strangely
interrupted by the celebrated fighting priest O'Neill, who followed by a
large assemblage of pickpockets and low ruffians, insisted on his right of
burying the constable, because, forsooth, on the evening of his death, when
inward agony had deprived him of all consciousness, he gave him some holy
oil! as a passport to another world, at the instigation of some country girl
to whom the deceased had been clandestinely married some time previous.
The scene that followed baffles all description. The police officer was
asked by the priest with that calm dignity and angelic expression of
countenance peculiar to the son of the church, "would he dare to stop him,"
and the motley group shouted out a savage negative-stones were flung, and a
constable had to be sent for Capt. Whelan.
During the interim the light-fingered gentry had a rich harvest from
the pockets of the few respectable persons present, and the search for
handkerchiefs, shouts of "O'Neill for ever," "save the poor peeler from the
devil," only equalled the similar scenes now and then enacted in Dingle.
While the presiding genius of the affray, "grinned horribly a ghastly
smile," as he awaited the decision of the authorities.
I cannot tell how it occurred, but brute force was triumphant - a
Northern Protestant was consigned to a popish grave, without a single
relative near him, and the feeling of his comrades may be learned from the
words of one to whom I spoke on the matter. - "Poor Greer, when I was in
church with him at the assizes I little thought a priest would bury him." -
Further comment is useless.
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News