Manchester Tragedy - Part 2
- Irish Catholic Chronicle And People's News of the Week
Saturday, 30 November 1867
THE MANCHESTER TRAGEDY
The earnest and persevering efforts made to save the lives of the
Fenian prisoners at Manchester having unfortunately failed of success, the
last sentence of the law was carried out on Saturday morning at eight
o'clock on the three prisoners Allen, Gould and Larkin. the crowd was very
much smaller than was anticipated and all was quiet. Extensive arrangements
had been made by the authorities to insure the peace being preserved. No
attempt, however, was made to disturb it, and the number of those who
assembled to witness the sad scene was much fewer than was expected. The
mayors both of Manchester and the adjoining borough of Salford issued
notices urging the people to abstain from being present on the occasion and
all the Catholic clergy impressed similar advice on their flocks. We give
the following details which will be read with melancholy interest.
THE CONDEMNED MEN
The boat and train which brought me here yesterday morning also
conveyed the sister and cousin of Allen, and two sisters-in-law of Larkin.
When I got to the prison at ten o'clock I found these poor women seeking
admission for the last time to those ill-fated and unhappy men. Inside the
iron gate set Larkin's wife and children - mere babes. They were soon joined
by his affected mother and a more heart-tearing scene I never witnessed.
Words have no power to convey the blank despair - the wild but speechless
mercy of these poor women. They were possessed by that dumb, hopeless grief,
whose expression was the big unhidden tear that rolled down the wan and
emaciated face. But the eloquent and ominous silence twas broken by the
presence of young Allen's almost distracted affianced whose low piteous cry
and frequent bursting sob compelled the sympathy of all, and made even
strangers turn swag. For reasons I daresay unknown, and certainly never to
be explained, this miserable band were refused even the hope of admission,
and after clinging to those iron bars for hours, they were sent away by
authority. Subsequently a message was sent to Allen's mother that she would
be allowed in, and his sister, cousins and his youthful betrothed were
denied that last interview for which they had come so far. Of Larkin's
relatives, his mother, his wife and baby child were permitted to see him.
Larkin's mother was greatly excited in the corridors and she approached the
cell in which lay her unfortunate son; but she and her companions in misery
were soothed by the Rev. McGadd, who had been in continual and immediate
attendance on the men since their conviction. He told them to allay their
fears, and quiet the expression of their sorrow- that their unfortunate
relatives had received in meek submission the never-failing consolations of
religion. The reverend father administered the Holy Communion to his charges
every alternate morning for the past ten days.
LETTER OF THE MARCHIONESS OF QUEENSBURY
I happened to meet at the jail, yesterday morning, a young gentleman
who was the bearer of good news to these unhappy men and their afflicted
relatives. He came from the Dowager Marchioness of Queensbury, of ancient
Catholic lineage. he was the bearer of a letter to Father Gadd, in which
the noble lady enclosed £100 to be distributed as his reverence should deem
proper. Subjoined is the letter, which is certainly one of the most
beautiful ever written-
"My Dear Friends - It may be that these few lines may minister some
consolation to you on your approaching departure from this world. I send you
by the hands of a faithful messenger some help for your wife, or wives and
children in their approaching irreparable loss, and with the assurance that
as long as I live they shall be cared for to the utmost of my power. Mr.
M'Donnell, the bearer of this for me, will bring me their address and the
address of the priest that attended you.
"It will also be a comfort for your precious souls to know that we
remember you here at the altar of God, where the daily remembrance of that
all-glorious sacrifice on Calvary for you all is not neglected.
"We have daily Mass for you here, and if it be so that it pleases the
good God to permit you thus to be called to himself on Saturday morning, the
precious body and blood of our Lord and Saviour, and our Friend, will be
presented for your before God at eight o'clock on that day, that blood as
precious which cleanses from all sin. May your last words and thoughts be
Jesus. Rest on Him who is faithful and willing and all powerful to save;
rest on Him and on his sacrifice on that Cross for you, instead of you, and
her him say - 'To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.' Yet will we
remember your souls constantly at the altar of God after your departure, as
well as those whom you leave in life.
"Farewell, and may Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners, save us all,
and give you His last blessing upon earth, and an eternal continuance of it
"Ventnor, Isle of Wight."
Father Gadd immediately communicated the contents of the letter to the
condemned and their families. They were deeply grateful. The Dowager
Marchioness of Queensbury, is a daughter of the present Sir William Clayton,
Bart. Her mother was heiress of Colonel O'Donel, eldest son of Sir Neil
O'Donel, Bart. of the county of Mayo. Her husband, while still a young man,
killed himself in 1858, by accident, when out shooting. One of her sons lost
his life two years ago when ascending Mount Blanc.
...to be continued...
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News