O'Connell and the Doneraile Conspiracy
names of Rapparees, Whiteboys, Defenders,Ribbonmen, etc., the
Confederation of Kilkenny was carried on through the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries until the nineteenth. At various times the duties
of these organizations were subject to local conditions. Thus the
Defenders were occupied protecting themselves and their priests against
the hostility of the Penal Laws, engaging in armed conflict with the
Orangemen in the north, while the Whiteboys were waging war against the
atrocities of landlordism in the south. Between these two organizations
there was a secret code, which operated until they were combined, under
the name of Ribbonmen, in the early nineteenth century. The contentions
of the Whiteboys regarding Irish landlordism have since been
acknowledged to be just, and have been enacted into statutes. The
Defenders joined with Wolf Tone in the formation of the United
1825 the Ribbonmen changed their name to St. Patrick's Fraternal
Society, and branches were established in England and Scotland under the
name of the Hibernian Funeral Society. In 1836 a charter was received by
members in New York City, and in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The
headquarters were for some years in Pennsylvania, but in 1851, a charter
was granted to the New York Divisions under the name of "The Ancient
Order of Hibernians."
1823 Daniel O'Connell, Richard Lalor Sheil and Thomas Wyse formed the
Catholic Association. O'Connell turned it into a mass organization by
inviting the poor to become associate members for a shilling a year.
Catholic priests were encouraged to advertise the Catholic Association
and were employed as recruiting agents.
The Catholic Association campaigned for the repeal of the Act of Union,
the end of the Irish tithe system, universal suffrage and a secret
ballot for parliamentary elections
"The Doneraile Conspiracy of 1829 had its
origins in the Whiteboy movement, a secret oath-bound society, which for
about seventy years had plagued the authorities with intractable
problems in rural Ireland.
The Whiteboy disturbances first broke out
in Clogheen in Co. Tipperary, in the year 1761, when groups of men
assembled by night to level ditches which landlords and graziers had
erected around the common land on which, until then, the people had
enjoyed free grazing rights. At first they were called Levellers,
but soon additional grievances with regard to rent and tithes were
added. As the movement spread they began wearing white shirts, and soon
became known in the Irish language as Buachailli Bana or
Whiteboys. The purpose of the white shirt was so that they could
recognise one another in the dark.
Whiteboys in North Cork.
The Whiteboy movement quickly spread over
parish and county bounds, and soon reached the neighboring counties of
Waterford, Limerick and Cork. In the 1820's, during the economic slump
following the Napoleons wars, the Whiteboys were very active in North
Cork. One of the most disturbed areas in Ireland was that from
Shanballymore to Buttevant in an east west direction, and from the
Ballyhoura Mts. to the Blackwater River to the south, and this includes
almost the entire parish of Doneraile. Within this area nocturnal
marauders struck again and again.
In 1822 the police station at Churchtown
was burned. In the same year there were attacks on big houses at
Ballyellis, Ballyhoura, Clenor, Clogheen, Lough Eagle and Wallstown. In
1823 disturbances spread to other areas. Glenosheen Barracks, just over
the border in Co. Limerick, was attacked and burned. The Whiteboys also
raided houses at Graigue, Flowerhill, Kilclousha, Kildorrery and Oldtown.
Carker Lodge was burned. In 1824 there were attacks at Grange and
Quartertown. In 1825 a mill at Ballygriggan, Castletownroche, was
burned, and there was also a raid at Springfield near Buttevant.
Intelligence reports to the authorities
indicated that the principal places where the " insurgents " assembled
to the east of Mallow, were Killavullen, Torpey's Cross near Clenor,
Grandy near Annakissa, Ballyvorisheen near Lissaniskey, Ballygriffin,
Carrig on the banks of the Blackwater and Drumroe Commons. Frequent
meetings of armed "insurgents" were alleged to take place in these
areas, and nearly the whole population of the "lower class", including a
great number of Cottier Farmers from Monanimy, Clenor, Carrig and
Annakissa, were said to have been sworn Whiteboys.
So it was not surprising that as this
troubled decade drew to a close, the large ascendancy landowners in the
Doneraile area had every reason to be fearful for their property and
In the year 1829 the Whiteboy movement
around Doneraile had come to a peak, and there was said to be a
conspiracy among them to assassinate three important local members of
the Establishment. One of these was George Bond Lowe, a magistrate who
lived at Clogher House, Shanballymore; the second was Michael Creagh, a
landlord who resided at Kilbrack Cottage, Doneraile; The third was
Rear-Admiral Henry Evans whose abode was at Oldtown, Shanballymore. Bond
Lowe was unpopular because of his activities as a magistrate, and seems
to have been particularly hated by the Whiteboys. While reading in his
house at Clogher, his lamp had been broken by a bullet through a window,
giving rise to the popular contemporary ballad with the lines:
cheers for the man gave the blow
That broke the
pate of George Bond Lowe"
was unpopular because he was severe on his tenants. The reason for the
animosity to Admiral Evans was that he had spoken against Catholic
Emancipation in the House of Commons.
Start of Conspiracy.
The first shots in what was to develop into
the Doneraile Conspiracy were fired on the 20th. of January, 1829. On
that evening Dr. John Norcott, M.D., of Newpark Cottage in the townland
of Park North, Doneraile, and his neighbour Michael Creagh, of Kilbrack
Cottage, were invited to a dinner party at the home of Admiral Evans in
Oldtown. On the way home later that evening, near Ballinamona Bridge,
shots were fired at Dr. Norcott's carriage. The gunfire, however, was
not intended for Dr. Norcott, but for Michael Creagh for whom he was
mistaken. The footman and coachman were wounded but Dr. Norcott and his
daughter were not harmed. Shortly after the attack, Michael Creagh , who
was also High Sherrif of the County, presided at a meeting of
magistrates in Doneraile. At this meeting a large reward of £732 was
offered for any information about the people who shot at Dr. Norcott's
Later, on the 2nd. of March,1829, at
Johnsgrove near Skenakilla, shots were fired at George Bond Lowe, as he
returned from Mallow Shrove fair with his servant. Bond Lowe's attackers
missed the man himself, but wounded his horse. Lowe, with great
difficulty brought his horse under control, got local assistance to
follow his attackers, and captured one of them, Patrick McGrath of
Wallstown. McGrath was taken to Cork gaol, tried and hanged on the 11th.
of April 1829.
Fair at Rathclare.
The capture and execution of Patrick
McGrath fomented further action by the Whiteboys, and it was at this
point that the Doneraile Conspiracy started to take shape and gather
momentum. The plot was said to have been hatched at the fair of
Rathclare, between Buttevant and Ballyhea, on the 27th. of April 1829.
Rathclare fair was one of those rural fairs, which were quite common in
Ireland at that time. It was held four times a year, - on April 26th.,
July 1st., November 1st. and December 17th. As April 26th. fell on a
Sunday the fair was transferred to the following Monday the 27th. A man
named Patrick Daly attended the fair that day, but had other things on
his mind besides the selling and buying of animals He was a spy for Col.
Richard Hill, who lived at Clogheen, between Doneraile and Buttevant.
Daly gave two depositions before Col. Hill and Michael Creagh. The first
was about a meeting held in Duane's pub in Doneraile, at which there was
said to have been talk about shooting George Bond Lowe. The second
document described a meeting in a tent at Rathclare fair, where,
according to Daly's later oral testimony, a paper was produced for
signature by all who were willing to shoot George Bond Lowe, Michael
Creagh and Admiral Evans.
From his Georgian mansion, Doneraile Court,
on the banks of the Awbeg river, Lord Doneraile, the 3rd. Viscount, told
the government of his unease about the local situation. In a letter
dated 5th. June 1829, to William Gregory in Dublin Castle, he said it
was his intention to apply for authority to send the principal informer
(Patrick Daly ) to Dublin where he could be examined. The Viscount hoped
that, as a result, a good case against John Leary of Rossagh, could be
established. In a second letter to Gregory, dated June 8th., he said he
feared that the conspiracy had taken deep roots in the area, but that he
hoped he would be able to get to the bottom of it.
to the Lord Lieutenant, on June 14th., Lord Doneraile referred to the
excitement which the recent arrests had caused in the whole country, and
the difficulties of seeing informers, without suspicions being focused
on them. The magistrates had asked him to state that the principal
informer, Patrick Daly, might either be killed, or otherwise interfered
with to stop him giving evidence. Doneraile went on to ask for authority
to send Patrick Daly to Dublin, under the charge of Chief Constable
Crossley, so that he could be examined by Crown lawyers, and could be
kept safely, where no other influences could be used to stop him coming
forward as a witness.
Over in Mitchelstown, George the 3rd. Earl
of Kingston, also expressed his anxiety in a letter to Wm. Gregory. In
this he stated that there could be no doubt that the conspiracy existed,
and added that the state of the country about Doneraile had been very
bad for some years past, and was getting worse. He also stated that if
stronger measures were not taken, he feared that many would be
assassinated in the neighbourhood. It was a matter for the government to
get to the bottom of the conspiracy, "as the whole country around
Doneraile was demoralised". He recommended only one of the informers
(Patrick Daly ) as he was most explicit in his informations.
Mitchelstown was not the place for the investigation, but Doneraile was.
In all his experience he had never known anything so bad, and he could
recall the rebellion of 1798.
The informations of Patrick Daly were
enough to move the magistrates, and in the summer of 1829 twenty one
so-called 'conspirators' were arrested. In May 1829, when one batch of
prisoners were being transferred from Mallow to Cork, four of them,
Timothy Barrett, Michael Wallace, John Magner and Charles Daly escaped
from their police escort at a public house called the " Six Mile House"
on the old Mallow to Cork road.
and Wallace were subsequently recaptured, but not in time for the Summer
Assizes, where only 17 prisoners appeared. As not enough jurors were
available, the judge, Chief Baron O'Grady, postponed the cases to the
following Assizes. This, however did not allay the fears of the
Doneraile gentry, so they applied to the government for a Special
Commission to try the accused. The government agreed to this request,
and the trial by the Commission was fixed to commence in Cork, on
Thursday, Oct. 22nd., 1829. Baron Pennefather and Judge Torrens were
nominated as judges and Mr. John Doherty, Solicitor - General was
directed to conduct the prosecution.
In the interval between the two trials,
John Magner and Charles Daly were still at large, but George Bond Lowe,
as a zealous magistrate, had not forgotten about them. He heard that the
two of them were hiding at the farm John Blake of Ardleagh, near
Ballywalter, Shanballymore. So early on Saturday morning, August the
8th. 1829, he left his residence at Clogher, with a large force of
police, and went to Ballywalter to search the house of John Blake and
arrest Magner and Daly.
When he arrived a shot was fired, then a
second shot, and then he saw Magner and Daly, both armed, running across
a field. He called on them to surrender. They said "No" and pointed guns
at him. Then they leaped off of the ditch and ran away. He came on them
again after running through three fields. Again they refused to
surrender and disappeared across the river. Next Daly and Magner got out
through a plantation and onto the road. Magner fired at Police Constable
Woodley, while Daly fired and wounded Police Con. Delmere. They ran off
again, pursued by the police. They fired again. Bond Lowe dismounted and
fired at Magner, who fell and died, at Ballyhinnock. In an extraordinary
chase that ranged through Kilquane, Monanimy and Ballygriffin, Charles
Daly eluded his pursuers, and eventually escaped to America.Dr. James
Blackhall Wall, M.D. examined John Magner's body, and found that he had
died from a gunshot wound in his left shoulder, which went through his
to Bond Lowe.
As a result of this exploit, and his
earlier one of capturing Patrick McGrath at Johnsgrove, Bond Lowe became
something of a hero amongst his own class. A special meeting of
noblemen, magistrates and gentlemen of the area was held in the Sessions
House, Doneraile, on Aug. 16th. 1829. Viscount Doneraile was in the
chair. A very laudatory motion to Bond Lowe was passed by the meeting
for the intrepid discharge of his duties as magistrate. To this
flattering address Bond Lowe suitably replied, saying he placed a firm
reliance "on that mysterious Providence which had protected him up to
On Wednesday October 21st., 1829, the Cork
city Sherriffs, accompanied by a number of gentlemen, left Cork to meet
the judges of the Special Commission, who were on their way to the city
via Fermoy. At about half past seven in the evening the cavalcade
returned, escorted by a troop of the Scots Greys regiment, and numerous
police. The whole exercise was probably expressly designed to impress
the public with the power and majesty of the law.
their next day, Thurs. Oct. 22nd., the County Courthouse at Cork was
packed for the trial. In the body of the court, along the galleries, in
the Grand Jury box, and in all the aisles, country gentlemen clustered,
thick as bees in a hive. As Thomas Sheahan of Clonakilty, one of the
reporters at the trial said: "There was as great a gathering of
aristocrats, as if the country was in a state of rebellion" But the
ordinary people were noticeable by their absence; not a friezw coat to
Commission opened in the morning, when Baron Pennefather and Mr. Justice
Torrens entered the court, accompanied by the High Sheriff. They were
followed shortly afterwards by Mr. John Doherty, Solicitor General, and
by the usual Crown Prosecutors on the Munster circuit, Sergt. Gould and
Mr. Bennet K.C., who were associated with Doherty in the case.
The writ for the Special Commission was
read, and the following Grand Jury was called and sworn:
Sir Augustus Warren, Bart., Warrenscourt,
Charles D. O. Jephson, Mallow Castle,
Major General Sir Robert Travers,
William Wrixon-Becher, Ballygiblin, Mallow,
John Smith-Barry, Fota, Carrigtwohill,
Savage French, Cusquinny, Cobh,
Wm. Henry worth-Newenham, Coolmore
Major General H.G. Barry Ballyclough,
George Courtney, Ballyedmond, Midleton,
John Travers, Garrycloyne Castle,
Simon Dring, Ringrove,
William H. Cooke-Collis, Castlecooke,
John Pyne, Cottage,
Charles Colthurst, Clonmoyle,
William Henry Moore Hodder, Hoddersfield,
William Coppinger, Barryscourt,
Garret Standish Barry, Leamlara Midleton,
Henry Braddle Mallow,
Alexander O'Driscoll, Clover Hill.
Grand |Jury is to be distinguished from the Petty Jury. The Petty Jury
considers the evidence at a trial, and decides on the guilt or innocence
of the accused. The Grand Jury was a system of local administration,
controlled by landlords and the legal profession.
Baron Pennefather then charged the Grand
Jury, and was fair enough. He mentioned the evidence of informers, and
advised that it should be received with the greatest caution, and
corroborating evidence must be produced. Witnesses for the prosecution
would be produced before the Grand Jury, but not those for the defense.
If the statement of these witnesses established a strong presumption of
guilt, the Grand Jury would be bound to find Bills of Indictment against
them. The government desired that the law would be speedy in the
execution of justice, freeing the innocent and punishing the guilty.
Twenty two persons were put on trial, so
presumably, replacements had been found for John Magner and Charles
Daly. Ten had been on bail, but Bills were found by the Grand Jury
against all twenty two, for conspiring to murder George Bond Lowe,
Michael Creagh and Henry Evans. The twenty two people charged were:
James Barrett, Michael Barrett, Timothy Barrett, John Barry, Denis
O'Shea, William Heaphy, William Flynn, Charles Murphy, Maurice Regan,
Owen Hickey, Edmund Walsh, Edmund Coughlan, John Burke, Thomas Daly,
John Leary, James McGrath, William Shine, James Roche, Edmond Connors,
Michael Wallace, Patrick Lynch and John Shine. A man named Daniel
O'Keeffe was arrested during the trial, bringing the total to
Fitzgerald, attorney for the prisoners, complained that his clients had
no Counsel. The Solicitor- General called on him to name any two
barristers he pleased, undertaking on behalf of the government to pay
them. Messre. Francis McCarthy and David R. Pigott, barristers, were
then assigned for the defense. Mr. McCarthy complained that a material
witness for the defense, named Heireen had been allowed to escape by the
police. John Doherty replied that this man was a witness for the
prosecution, and the police were not warranted in detaining him, as
there was no charge against him. He was only placed with the police for
protection, and had unaccountably withdrawn himself three weeks
The Court then adjourned until nine o'clock
on the following (Friday) morning October 23rd.
The court resumed at nine o'clock on
Friday, and the following Petty Jury was sworn in: W.S. Bernard,
foreman, Sir J.L. Cotter, Bart., Denis O'Callaghan, Simon Denis Cooke,
Robert Warren, Bernard R. S. Shaw, Michael Allen Becher, Jasper Lucas,
Herbert Gillman, John Popham, Joseph Haines and Henry O'Callaghan. All
Doherty, Solr.- General, then requested that John Leary, James Roche,
James McGrath and William Shine should be put to the bar. These four
prisoners were then given, in charge, to the jury for having conspired
in January 1829, to kill and murder George Bond Lowe, Michael Creagh and
The Solicitor - General then commenced his
prosecution speech. The reporter, Thomas Sheahan, who was an eye witness
at the trial, studied Doherty closely, and concluded that he seemed to
be " a very theatrical sort of gentleman", with a very pompous manner.
But he admitted he liked" his tall and well made figure, and his sad but
not unpleasant face". He also had a fine eye, though some thought it
cold and with no heart.
Sheahan also considered that, though the
speech was fine and clever, it was not as cool and as dispassionate as
it should be. Doherty should have remembered that he was addressing a
not very congenial jury, who had scarcely anything in common with those
they were about to try. According to Sheahan, the Solicitor - General's
statement was a " lordly harangue, the tendency of which was to confirm
the Irish magistrate, landlord and gentleman, in the ultraism of his
pretensions, and to render him still more hostile to the serf, that it
should have disputed his assumptions". Doherty used his imagination
freely, so that one would imagine from his speech that the district of
Doneraile was half the south of Ireland, and that another great
rebellion was around the corner.
The meetings, swearing and plowings to kill
the three named persons commenced as early as last November (1828), and
the plans were laid in Doneraile, Mallow fair, Rathclare fair,
Kildorrery fair and elsewhere. The overt acts were the shooting at Dr.
Norcott's carriage, and the attack on George Bond Lowe at Johnsgrove.
Doherty told the jury that amongst the witnesses he would call, would be
a man named Patrick Daly. He admitted that Daly was employed by Col.
Richard Hill as a spy, but he would corroborate his testimony by that of
another witness of absolute integrity. When Doherty finished, he had
been speaking for four hours.
examination of witnesses for the prosecution then commenced. There were
five informer or approver witnesses: David Sheehan, William Nowlan,
Patrick Daly,(the spy), Thomas Daly and Owen (Clampar) Daly,
cousin of Patrick.
The informer David Sheehan said he lived
near Ballyvonare. He knew John Leary of Rossagh, the prisoner at the
bar. Before Dr. Norcott's carriage was fired at, he met Leary at Ned
Roche's public house in Doneraile. Also present on that occasion were
William Shine, Owen Hickey, Michael Wallace, Charles Daly, John
Magner, Timothy O'Connor and William Nowlan. Leary spoke to him
first and gave him a tumbler of porter. He then asked "the boys" if they
were ready to do what they had promised, and they said they were. Leary
then produced a piece of paper and signed his name and then asked them
to do the same. He then produced a book, and swore them: the words were
to " shoot Mr. Lowe" which they all agreed to do. Witness was sworn at
the same time by Leary, but never went out with any of the party to
shoot Mr. Lowe, Captain Creagh or Admiral Evans. William Shine was the
first person who took the book, and said he would be the first person to
shoot Capt. Creagh, who had transported his brother. They all then swore
to kill Bond Lowe, Capt. Creagh and Admiral Evans.
went on to testify that after Mr. Bond Lowe was fired on at Johnsgrove,
he met James Roche near Mr. Nagles at Wallstown, where they talked about
the attack on Mr. Lowe. Roche said that it was unfortunate that they had
missed him, but that in a short time they would be more successful in
killing him. James McGrath was with Roche at this meeting on the road,
and said he would kill the man that had his brother hanged after the
Johnsgrove attack, to which Roche added that he would assist him. David
Sheehan admitted that he had been engaged in Whiteboy attacks on houses.
His motive for coming forward was that he did not like to hear of
murder. He had no hope of reward, but he would not refuse one if he got
it. If not he would continue to work for sixpence a day, as he did
William Nowlan was the next informer to be
examined. he said he knew all the prisoners at the bar. He lived about
two miles from John Leary's house. He remembered speaking to Leary and
James Roche before Dr. Norcott's carriage was attacked. He also saw them
at Ned Roche's and Duane's public house in Doneraile. At Heireen's house
in Doneraile he met James Roche, James McGrath, Pat Lynch, Michael
Wallace, Thomas Daly and Nicholas Griffin.
committee was formed, and Leary was one of them. The reason he knew he
was on the committee was, that he (Leary) used them to do things out of
the way. On the day at Ned Roche's, Leary took a book out of his pocket
and swore the men to kill Admiral Evans, Capt. Creagh and Mr. Lowe. The
reason they gave for wanting to kill these men were that Mr. Lowe was a
leading man in the county, that Admiral Evans, when in Parliament, was
against the Roman Catholics, while Captain Creagh was severe on his
tenants. They appointed a time to kill Capt. Creagh when he was to dine
at Admiral Evan's. There were other meetings in Doneraile before this
one which Leary attended. He knew a man named John Magner, who was
killed. He saw Patrick McGrath at a meeting on one occasion, before the
carriage was fired on. Witness was not at the attack on the carriage.
Shine called on him to go, but he had a sore leg, as a result of stones
falling on it when he was fencing a gap. Next morning at, about nine
o'clock, he met Roche in his own field. Roche accused him for not
attending, and told him they had fired at Dr. Norcott's carriage,
mistaking it for Capt. Creagh's.
day after Mr. Lowe was fired at, Roche came to witnesses house, and told
him that he (Roche) had never got such a fright as he did when Mr. Lowe
pulled up and Pat McGrath fired. He (Roche) did not like to fire, as
there was a woman close after Mr. Lowe, and he was afraid he would shoot
her. Pat McGrath was wounded and bleeding, and he tried to help him, but
then left him, otherwise the two of them would have been caught.
stated that he heard that that Patrick McGrath had been hanged for
shooting at Mr. Lowe. A fortnight after Patrick McGrath was hanged, he
met Leary on the road from Buttevant, and he told witness that " he
would make up a party of good boys" to kill Mr. Lowe. He met James
Roche, James McGrath, Charles Daly and Pat Lynch at Kildorrery fair on
May 1st. 1829. They talked about killing Mr. Lowe, on their way home
from the Fair.
prisoner Shine lived near Carker and James McGrath at Wallstown. Witness
had 25 acres of land for which he paid £2 an acre. Nowlan also admitted
he had been a Whiteboy for six or seven years. He gave his evidence
because he thought he would be hanged, which he often deserved.
Dr. John Norcott, M.D., in his evidence
told of an invitation he had to dine with Admiral Henry Evans, of
Oldtown, Shanballymore, on the 20th. of January 1829. Mr. Michael Creagh
was also at the dinner party. They left Admiral Evan's that night at
about 10.00 p.m. Mr. Creagh left in his carriage first, and witness
followed in his own carriage, with his two servants on the box. The
colour of his carriage was yellow, the same as Mr. Creagh's. On the road
near Ballinamona Bridge he heard a shout or call, and afterwards a shot,
and then another. His daughter was with him in the carriage. Three balls
entered the carriage, three wounded the servants, and three struck the
carriage without entering. The coachman, though wounded continued to
drive, but had to give up after some distance. He (Dr. Norcott) then
took the reins, and brought the carriage home. He extracted a ball out
of his footman's shoulder.
Patrick Daly the spy, was then examined by
the Solicitor - General. He had been sworn in as a Whiteboy in the year
1821, but had recently been telling Col. Hill anything he might hear
against the government.
The night William Shine's mother was dead,
there was a meeting in an outhouse at which Edmond Coughlan, Maurice
Regan, Owen Hickey, Timothy Connors, William Shine and he (witness) were
present. Shine proposed to these men, as well as to witness, to kill Mr.
Lowe, Admiral Evans and Capt. Creagh. There was another meeting held in
Carker, where it was proposed to kill these gentlemen, but it was
deferred until an order had been obtained from the head Committee.
Head Committee was composed of John Leary, Charles Murphy, John Burke
and Edmond Connors, who met at the fair of Rathclare on April 27th.
Present in Duane's tent that day were, John Leary of Rossagh, Edmond
Connors of Ballinguile, John Burke of Ballyhoura, Charles Murphy of
Imphrick, Denis O'Shea of Streamhill and Ednond Connors of Kingstown (
Murphy and Edmond Connors said the night was far too short for their men
to come, and get back after shooting the three men, and Leary said they
had enough boys in Kildorrery to do it. The four committeemen, Charles
Murphy, John Leary, Edmond Connors and John Burke signed a paper in
Daly's presence. Charles Murphy wrote first on the paper. This paper was
to be sent to the committee that was to meet on the 1st. of May at
Kildorrery fair, and the purpose of which was that the Kildorrery men
should kill the three named people. He (Daly) went to Kildorrery fair
and warned Mr. Hovenden (Col. Hill's Steward) of the danger to the three
of Cornelius Garvan.
The evidence of the next witness, Cornelius
Garvan, appeared to favour the defence, as it seemed to throw some light
on the signing of the paper in the tent. He said he was in Duane's tent
at Rathclare fair, and saw there Leary, Connors, Murphy and Patrick
Daly. He saw Leary engaged about security for a cow. A man named Mahony,
Leary's son and the man who sold the cow were there. Leary was going
security for the animal, and giving a guarantee that the cow would give
six bottles of milk. They had a pen and ink before them. There were
other people in the tent as well as Leary and Daly.
(Clampar) Daly Examined.
Owen 'Clampar' Daly, cousin of Patrick was
then examined. He said he was about 21 or 22 years of age. He was at the
fair of Rathclare. He knew John Leary, and saw him at the fair in
Duane's tent, where there were four, five or six people about him: the
tent was crowded and Leary was at the back part of it. Barrett, Connors,
Murphy and Burke were also there. He saw Barrett and Connors writing and
handing papers to one another. He saw some of the men write on it. He
also saw the paper in Leary's hand but did not see him write.
Michael Creagh of Kilbrack Cottage,
Doneraile, then gave evidence. He stated he was a magistrate of the
county, and was High Sheriff the previous year. He also knew Admiral
Evans. When he dined with Admiral Evans in January 1829, Dr. Norcott was
there. He also knew William Shine. Shine's father and brother were
tenants of his, and he had lately served ejectments on them. He had a
deposit of William Shine's which was left to him by his father, a sum of
20 guineas. William Shine withdrew it on the 2nd. or 3rd. of May, 1829,
after ejectment notices were served.
Thomas Murphy, another informer, who spoke
Irish, was then questioned. He was at the fair in Mallow on March 2nd.
1829. he knew James Roche, James McGrath and Mr. Lowe. He met Roche and
McGrath at the fair with Pat Lynch. He joined them for a drink. He heard
McGrath say he would be on the road before Mr. Lowe; he had a pistol
and, Roche had a double-barrelled shotgun. They said they would go on to
Mr. Grover's plantation and wait for him. McGrath then administered an
oath to him not to divulge the secret. he remained at the fair until
night, and saw no more of them after that.
of George Bond Lowe.
Mr. George Bond Lowe then gave evidence. He
said he had been a magistrate since 1821. He remembered being fired at
coming from Mallow fair on the 2nd. of March last. His mare was shot in
the neck. This took place at a screen of trees or plantation of Mr.
Glover's. He pursued the men who fired, and apprehended one of them,
Patrick McGrath, who was subsequently hanged. He knew the prisoner,
James Roche, but never looked for him. He saw him in the custody of the
police the day he was taken. When he (Lowe) asked why he fired at him,
he pretended not to know him, and said he never saw him before. He
searched repeatedly for James McGrath, but could not find him; he was
afterwards taken in Co. Limerick.
Mrs. Eliza Glover of Johnsgrove then gave
evidence. She said she saw one of the prisoners in the dock, James
McGrath, at Johnsgrove on the day that Mr. Bond Lowe was shot at. They
were face to face and most decidedly he was the same man. She did not
see from whence he came, but she saw him on the road.
Evidence of Thomas Roberts.
Thomas Roberts was the next witness, He
lived with Quale Welstead at Ballywalter. He was coming from Mallow fair
the previous March, and he saw Mr. Bond Lowe and his servant on the
road. Shortly after they passed him, he heard the report of a gun, and
saw three men running off. On entering the field he saw Mr. Lowe in full
gallop and also, a man running into the plantation. He identified James
McGrath as that man. He entered the plantation, and in a dyke he found
Patrick McGrath, on his face and hands. He secured him and gave him over
to Mr. Lowe, as magistrate.
A woman from the area was then examined.
her husband's house was about 2 miles from Johnsgrove, but it was nearer
to Roche's house, who was known as " Cold Morning". She heard of Mr.
Lowe being fired at, and saw James Roche, the prisoner, pass by her
house. She greeted him. He had no arms at that time. She believed it to
be about two hours after the shooting that she saw him. They did not
speak to one another. She identified him in the dock.
case for the defense then opened, and the first witness called was John
Harold-Barry of Ballyvonare, Doneraile.
Mr. Harold-Barry gave a very poor opinion
of the characters of David Sheehan and Patrick Daly. Both had been
employed by him, but he discharged them, such was his impression of
their conduct and their character. They had been employed against his
wishes by his land steward. He had employed Whiteboys from time to time
through necessity, in order to get the work done, and it was part of the
Harold-Barry was rudely handled by the
Solicitor - General. Apparently he had refused to entrap a Whiteboy by
"promising him protection". Witness replied that no honorable man would
act, as the police would have him act with regard to the Whiteboys.
of Dr. William O'Brien.
Very Rev. William O'Brien, Parish Priest of
Doneraile, in his evidence gave a similarly poor opinion of the
character of Sheehan and Daly. He had been P.P. of Doneraile for
thirteen years, but generally passed the winters on the continent for
health reasons. He did not know that a conspiracy existed in Doneraile
until it became public, but admitted that the town was far from quiet.
He would be happy that the Catholic and Protestant clergy and the gentry
would unite to quell the spirit of insubordination, which existed among
John Daly, a brother of Patrick, told how
Patrick had been tempting him to join in plotting against the prisoners.
Patrick asked him if he liked his master, and added that he could be
independent of his master if he would follow Patrick's advice by going
to Capt. Creagh, and saying what he (Patrick) would desire him to say
about some of the men who were in Gaol. For this he would get a reward,
which would establish him in a town, or send him to America.
of James (Cold Morning ) Roche.
James Roche, (a namesake of one of the
accused), then testified. He said he was the man known as 'Cold
Morning'. He had no knowledge of a meeting at his house before the fair
at Mallow. The accused, Roche, had lived with him but had left his house
at the end of April or the beginning of May. He was called 'Cold
Morning' because he had once kept a public house and it was usual in the
country for a publican to have a nickname.
James Stawell told the court he knew the
prisoner, Leary, " who was an honest man, no man's enemy but his own,
being partial to drink" His habits were peaceful and he was an unlikely
person to be engaged in disturbances.
Gethin Creagh, father of Michael Creagh, said he knew John Leary for
many years to be as peaceful a man as any in the country. For twenty
years he had paid him £220 a year in rent, peacefully, honestly and with
propriety. He was, unfortunately, given to drinking punch. If he thought
he was of bad character he would not come to Court to give him a good
one, especially as he was charged with trying to kill his son.
The defense closed, and Baron Pennefather
addressed the jury. He spoke with great force on the nature of the crime
with which the prisoners had been charged, the peculiarity of the law
relating to conspiracy, and the quality of the evidence necessary to
jury retired for about twenty minutes, and returned with a " Guilty "
verdict against all four accused - John Leary, James McGrath, James
Roche and William Shine. Judge Torrens then addressed the prisoners,
donned his black cap, and passed the sentence of death by hanging on all
this verdict, the relatives of the prisoners were very distressed, as
they thought that when the rest of the prisoners were put to trial, it
would only be a matter of form before they were also sentenced to death.
On the second day four more prisoners were
put forward for trial. They were Edmond Connors, Michael Wallace,
Patrick Lynch and Timothy Barrett.
Mission To Daniel O'Connell.
As the second day of the trial was a
Saturday, it was decided to postpone it until the Monday, lest the
hearing should encroach on the Sunday rest. This delay was just what the
relatives of the prisoners needed. They had no advocate equal to John
Doherty. Only one man could match him - the greatest criminal lawyer in
the country - Daniel O'Connell. The collected together a sum of 100
guineas and resolved to make an effort to obtain the aid of Daniel
O'Connell's powerful talents. William Burke of Ballyhea, brother of one
of the prisoners, John Burke, left Cork on Saturday evening October
24th. 1829, and travelling throughout the night, rode one horse to
O'Connell's residence in Derrynane, Co. Kerry, a distance of ninety
miles. He arrived at Derrynane at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday.. Having listened
to him, O'Connell agreed to come to Cork to defend the accused. Burke
rested his horse, and remounted him and returned to Cork, reaching the
Courthouse about 8 a.m. Monday morning, having completed the journey of
180 miles in thirty-eight hours.
Daniel O'Connell arrived in his coach
shortly after Burke. He caused a huge sensation in the vicinity of the
Courthouse. The ordinary people, both within and outside the courthouse,
though they were not many, when they saw the 'Great Dan ' amongst them
felt as though they were a multitude.
The Second Trial:
The following Jury was chosen for the
second trial: Horatio Townsend, Nicholas Kirby, Henry Hewitt O'Brien,
John Lewis, Daniel O'Callaghan, Daniel F. Leahy, Robert Hartnett, Thomas
Burke, Thomas Hare, Jr. Edward Morrogh, John Henry Allen and John
was considered to be a much more satisfactory jury than the first one,
containing as it did, Catholics, Protestants, merchants and landowners,
people from the towns as well as the country. It included one Catholic,
Edward Morrogh, whose role in it would prove to be crucial.
Daniel O'Connell was given permission to
breakfast in court, as John Doherty gave another long oration. This
time, however, according to Sheahan, " he lessened his canvas a good
deal" and allowed that the conspiracy might now be limited to the
Doneraile area, and not allover Munster, as he implied in the first
trial. However he castigated Harold-Barry, stating that the law could
compel any man, no matter what his rank, under pain of imprisonment, to
declare the number of Whiteboys who might have been employed in his
haggard or stable. Daniel O'Connell, his mouth half full of bread or
milk, interrupted Doherty, correcting him by saying "That's not law " or
"that Act has expired" In particular O'Connell objected to Doherty's
innuendo against Harold-Barry, and he complained of the law that
wouldn't allow him to address the jury on behalf of the prisoners. He
requested the Solicitor-General not to go into evidence given at other
trials but to confine his remarks to the case now before the Court. This
interruption stopped Doherty in his tracks, and the remainder of his
speech was uncontroversial.
O'Connell was masterly in his cross-examination of the various witnesses
for the prosecution. Thomas Sheahan, in his account of the trial says:
"I never beheld him greater" His tactics were to confound the
prosecution, and to show that they had no case. The Crown had tried to
show that Sheehan and Nowlan had repented of their former misdeeds.
O'Connell showed off the 'repentant sinners' as he called them. John
Doherty had discounted the notion of concert among the witnesses, but
O'Connell found out that Sheehan and Daly had been repeatedly together
in Dublin before the trial.
cross-examination Patrick Daly exclaimed " it's little I thought, Mr.
O'Connell, I'd be facing you today" Daly also said that he had never
asked his brother to become a witness.
(Clampar ) Daly got special attention. Doherty spoke of him as a boy of
sixteen or seventeen , who was not anxious to be a witness. He turned
out to be twenty-four years of age, and a regular informer under the
Game Act. During the examination of Owen Daly, O'Connell stated that "
he had never seen such drilling of witnesses in his life"
man named William Twiss came on next to discredit the testimony of Owen
Daly. Doherty ordered Twiss off the table in no uncertain manner. "You
may go down off that table sir" said the Solr.-General. "New daunt go
dawn sir" said O'Connell mimicking Doherty's Anglicised accent, much to
the annoyance of that gentleman. The result of this burlesqueing of
Doherty's voice was an instantaneous burst of laughter, in which,
according to Sheahan "even the well-dressed savages joined ".
Forty Hour Jury:
At the conclusion of the evidence, Judge
Torrens addressed the jury, and they retired to consider their verdict.
Then commenced the marathon saga of what became known as the "Forty Hour
Jury". They were deliberating up to Tuesday morning, when they decided
to acquit Timothy Barrett. They could not come to an agreement on the
other three prisoners.
gentry complained about the stupidity and doggedness of some jurors.
These people had begun to see the serious consequences of the
disagreement: if the jury, after such a long time, could not agree to a
verdict, with the same witnesses and evidence as resulted in such a
quick decision by the first jury, then something was wrong with one of
Catholic member of the jury, Mr. Edward Morrogh, was the chief obstacle
to reaching agreement: he was against convicting any of the prisoners.
On Tuesday evening, some of the jurors began to complain about the
strict confinement, and one of the jurors, who suffered from gout, was
said to be so ill, that a physician had to be called. John Henry Allen
was the man in question.
late on Tuesday evening, after forty hours deliberation, the jury was
discharges without reaching a verdict. Nine were for acquitting Connors,
Lynch and Barrett, three against. Edward Morrogh was for acquitting all,
eleven against. The three jurors who were against the nine agreed to
forego their opinion, if Morrogh agreed to give up his, which he
declined to do. Had this been agreed, Connors, Lynch and Barrett would
have been acquitted and Wallace found guilty, but with a strong
recommendation to mercy. Barrett was acquitted, as there was no evidence
Just as the weary jurors were leaving the
Court, Daniel O'Connell entered. The Solicitor - General told the judges
that it was his intention to put Connors, Lynch and Wallace on trial for
the second time in the morning. Mr. O'Connell replied that they could
not be tried for the second time; or if they could, not at this
Commission: and if if at this Commission, not until they were ready, and
they would not be ready in a day.
O'Keeffe and Heireen Episodes:
The next day, Wednesday, was a day for
legal argument, but was also a day on which occurred two curious
incidents. The first of these was the arrest of a man named Daniel
O'Keeffe, who claimed to have important evidence for the defense, but
who, on his arrival from the country, was arrested on Wednesday morning,
and charged as a newly captured conspirator. The second concerned the
missing witness Denis Heireen. An application was made on behalf of
Edmond Connors, Michael Wallace and and Patrick Lynch for a postponement
of their second trial. This affidavit stated that Denis Heireen was a
material witness for the defense, but had been taken from the office of
the prisoner's attorney by Chief Constable Kiely of Carrigtwohill, who
promised that Heireen would be forthcoming at the trial of John Leary,
but he never showed. Baron Pennefather told the Defense Counsel that
they had misconducted Leary's case, if knowing that Heireen was a
material witness, they had not applied for the delay or postponement of
After the Heireen arguments had ended, the
Solr.- General said it would be as well if the Counsel for the defense
should now justify their case that Connors, Lynch and Wallace should not
be tried again, or tried a second time, or tried at this Commission.
Daniel O'Connell immediately accepted the challenge, and adjusting his
wig, went on to argue why his point of view should be accepted. The
entire bar listened to him from the moment he opened his lips: " with
heads raised and eyes showing attention and a little fear". A compromise
was finally reached, and John Doherty said he would not press for the
second trial of the three men at this Commission, and it was agreed that
the re-trial be held over until the Spring Assizes of the following year
On Thursday morning, Oct. 29th., two more
prisoners were put forward for trial, John Burke and John Shine. Shine's
brother, William, had been condemned to death at the first trial before
the Commission, while Burke's brother was the man who had ridden to
Derrynane for Daniel O'Connell.
This time an exclusively Protestant Jury
was empanelled. They had had enough of the Morrogh type juror, and as
the names on the panel were called, every Catholic was challenged by the
Crown. The names on this exclusive jury were: William M. O'Boy, John V.
Anderson, Thomas J. Biggs, William Busteed, Thomas Gollock, Hewitt Pole
Baldwin, John Smith, John Deane Freeman, Thomas Knowles, Phillip
Somerville, Henry Baldwin and Henry Wigmore.
evidence to support the prosecution was the same as in the former cases.
Patrick Daly again narrated the scene in the tent at Rathclare Fair; how
the prisoner Burke was there as a committee man; how he - Daly - told it
all to Col. Hill immediately after the fair; all much as he had sworn on
It was at this point that the most dramatic
moment of the trial came. Baron Pennefather called Daniel O'Connell to
the bench and handed him a document; O'Connell returned to the bar seat
and read the document. While he was thus engaged, the business of the
court was suspended, and public curiosity was greatly aroused as to the
nature and import of this document. O'Connell, having perused the
document, continued to cross-examine Daly. He asked Daly if he had told
everything about the tent scene to the magistrates the day after it had
occurred, told them of the assassination order, of the committee order
and of the committee men who had signed the order. To these questions
Daly answered "Yes".
then handed the witness the document, which he had been reading and
asked him if it bore his signature. According to Thomas Sheahan "
Patrick eyed it and eyed it and eyed it again, but for the life of him
he could discover nothing but the likeness of his 'scratch' on it - he
would not undertake to swear that it was the fist of Patrick Daly".
turned out that the document shown by O'Connell to Patrick Daly was
nothing more or less than " the informations" which had been deposed by
Daly following the Rathclare fair -- information drawn up by Col. Hill
on that day and countersigned by Michael Creagh on the following day.
And the extraordinary thing was that the informations were silent about
the assassination order, although Mr. Creagh, the very gentleman by whom
they were countersigned, was one of the three, whose assassination on
the 1st. May, had been signed and forwarded on the 27th. April,
according to Daly's sworn evidence in Court. It has to be asked why
these informations were not produced in Court at the first trial,
whether they had been known to the Crown lawyers before the calling of
the Special Commission. Did Col. Hill or Mr. Creagh forget them
altogether, and if they had not forgotten them why they had not offered
them to the prisoners. It was understood that these informations had
not been returned to the Clerk of the Court, and that Baron Pennefather
had to send to Doneraile for them.
this day, too, the two Daly's contradicted each other in their evidence.
Patrick said Owen was not in the tent but at the entrance. Owen said he
was in the tent and had been nudged by Patrick to note the signing of
the paper. Patrick declared that they were both outside the door of the
tent; Owen testified that they were both enjoying themselves at the
bottom of the tent. Patrick said that Owen and himself had only one pint
at the fair, while Owen said they had two each.. Because of these
discrepancies, and after a long address by Baron Pennefather to the
jury, within 20 minutes they brought in a verdict of "not guilty" The
people were overjoyed, and the gentry mortified by this verdict of an
exclusively Protestant jury. O'Connell thanked God earnestly, and the
prayers of the people could be heard for him, whom they regarded as
of Special Commission:
John Doherty, Solicitor - General, then
announced that he had decided not to bring at this Commission, the
trials of any of the other prisoners against whom indictments had been
found for conspiracy. The Crown would have no objection to allowing the
untried prisoners home, on condition that they should give bail for
their appearance to stand trial at the next Assizes, in the Spring of
the following year, 1830.
of the Special Commission:
'The Cork Constitution' newspaper of March
20th. 1830, gave the following details of the expenses incurred by the
Doneraile Conspiracy Commission:
£331 - 15 - 3.
£1386 - 15 - 0.
Postage, etc. £556 - 4 0 9.
Judges £738 - 9
As usual, in a big trial, the chief
beneficiaries were the legal luminaries.
Death Sentences Commuted.
The execution of Leary, Shine, Roche and
McGrath, were fixed for 14th. November 1829, but the death sentences
were commuted to transportation for life to New South Wales, Australia.
At the end of March 1830, the three men
Lynch, Connors and Wallace, about whom the jury disagreed at the Special
Commission, were again tried at the Spring Assizes. On this occasion
Daniel O'Connell was not present but the accused were represented by a
very able lawyer, William Deane Freeman.
The Jury at this trial consisted of eleven
Protestants and one Catholic.
They were: Mathew Hendly, Robert Travers,
Michael Roberts, John Isaac Heard, Richard Smyth, William Lander, Thomas
Hungerford, John Thomas Cramer, Norman Uniacke, Isaac Biggs, William
Sheehy and William Newman.
and Wallace were acquitted, and Lynch was found guilty for his own sake
as he would have been found guilty of an alternative capital charge of
highway robbery. In Lynch's case, the jury added a recommendation of
mercy, and his sentence was commuted to transportation to New South
Wales, with Leary, Shine, Roche and McGrath.
was the last of the Doneraile Conspiracy trials. The Crown decided not
to proceed further, and the remaining prisoners were allowed out on
their own bails of £100 to appear at the next Assizes, when, it was
understood that they would be discharged if the Crown decided not to
proceed against them. No further trials were held. The Doneraile
Conspiracy, which began in a blaze of publicity, in the end simply
probably was a conspiracy of some kind. Obviously the attack on Dr.
Norcott's carriage (in mistake) for Michael Creagh's and the attacks on
George Bond Lowe had to be organized by somebody. However, these
incidents were confined to Doneraile and concerned local grievances.
here was never a conspiracy on the scale outlined by John Doherty in his
opening address to the Commission.
The landlords and the magistrates had
become nervous, and wished to have a big show trial. The Special
Commission was organized by Bond Lowe and other magistrates to frighten
the hotheads in the Whiteboys; it was intended to set an example, and to
strike terror into the hearts of all would be assassins. Some of those
on trial may have been active Whiteboys, but it is likely that others
charged were not involved. Indeed, William Nowlan, one of the informers,
stated twice in Court " there are many in for this trial that are
On the 23rd. of April 1830, at four o'clock
in the afternoon, the five convicted men, the old man John Leary, James
McGrath, James Roche, William Shine and Patrick Lynch were taken with
other convicts from the County Gaol in Cork, and were escorted by a
small party of the Scots Greys Regiment to the steamer Waterloo,
lying at Merchant's Quay, to be conveyed to the hulk Surprise at
Cobh, for transportation to New South Wales.
were in prison dress, grey jackets and trousers and leather caps. John
Leary had fur cap on, and, before he went below in the vessel he took
farewell of his daughter and one of his son, during which he wept
bitterly. His family were given permission to go with him to the convict
ship at Cobh, which gave him some satisfaction.
other men didn't say anything, except Shine, who made some protestations
about his innocence, at the end of which he looked around and bid
farewell to Ireland forever, and then went below. Shortly afterwards the
vessel proceeded down river with its human cargo, on the first stage of
their long journey to the other side of the world, amidst the
lamentations of their families and friends.
of Commons Moves.
In the House of Commons, in London, on the
12th. of May 1830, Daniel O'Connell moved for the depositions of Patrick
Daly, and the notes of the judges who presided over the Special
Commission to be made available. The object of this motion was to indict
the Solicitor-General for having evidence of the discrepancies between
Patrick Daly's written and oral testimonies, which were not produced at
the first trial. However the motion was defeated by seventy votes to
from Michael Creagh:
Arising from the House of Commons
discussion, Michael Creagh wrote the following letter to the 'Cork
Constitution' newspaper on 25th. May 1830.
I shall feel obliged by your contradicting
the newspaper report of a speech said to have been delivered by my
friend, Mr. Jephson, in the House of Commons. He is made to say that he
had a strong impression on his mind that I told him I was coming in a
post chaise for Daly's informations. I told him no such thing, for the
paper I came here for had nothing to do with Daly's informations. His
informations were in the hands of government very long indeed before
that period. I am quite sure Mr. Jephson thought what he said; but were
it to remain uncontradicted, the public might suppose Daly's
informations were (as stated) kept back by the magistrate, when the real
fact was otherwise.
I am, sir, yours, etc.,
Doneraile, May 20th., 1830.
so the reason for the absence of Patrick Daly's informations at the
first trial remains a mystery.
of John (O') Leary.
The case of seventy year old John Leary
remained in Daniel O'Connell's mind. On the 9th. of October 1833, he
wrote a letter to Richard J. Littleton, recently appointed Chief
Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in which he gave an account
of the Doneraile Conspiracy trials, and made a strong case for a pardon
and a free passage home for John Leary. The appeal was not granted, but
Leary was included in an amnesty on the occasion of Queen Victoria's
coronation -- 28th. of June 1838. He was then too old to travel home;
but at the end of his life he was not without company as two of his sons
joined him in New South Wales. He died in Sydney General Hospital on the
23rd of June 1839.
McGrath, on his release, became quite comfortable in Australia, and
brought out some of his relatives. Nothing is known, presently, of the
subsequent history of James Roche, William Shine or Patrick Lynch.
Willian Burke, who rode to Derrynane for
Daniel O'Connell, died on April 7th. 1876, and was buried in Shandrum
Cemetary, near Charleville.
Owen 'Clampar' Daly lived on for many years
around Ballyhoura without being harmed. When he finally died, his body
was found on the old coach road, south of Castlewrixon. By his side was
his faithful companion of his latter years - his shotgun.
I am indebted to Michael Shine, of
Doneraile, local historian, who gave me permission to take this article
from a much more detailed account of the historical differences between
the actual Doneraile Conspiracy and the account contained in Canon
Sheehans novel Glenanaar. Also I must declare a personal agenda
in publishing this account as the John (O') Leary involved in the above
is an antecedent of mine.
Neill O'Donnell, Doneraile, 4th. July 1997