Weekly Series on Centenary of Events of 1919 - 1921.
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Mysterious Shooting Outrage. There was something mysterious about the shooting outrage which resulted in the death of Francis Murphy, the Fianna Boy Scout, at the residence of his father, Mr John Murphy. Glan. The boy was a hardware assistant in Ennistymon, and was reading in the kitchen of his father's house between 12 and 1 o'clock when the shots rang out. The shots appear to have been fired from rifles from the road. The deceased's family are most popular in the district, and there is great indignation over the occurrence.
Mr John Murphy, the boy's father, who is a prominent Gaelic Leaguer and an ex-member of the R.D.C, explained to a press representative that the deceased came home about ten minutes past nine. The family recited the Rosary shortly after, and about 10.30 p.m all except the deceased retired to bed. The latter sat at the fire reading. At about 12.30 a.m they heard the report of shots, and on going to the kitchen they found the young lad lying in a pool of blood on the floor. No movement was heard outside, but a car passed about 12 o'clock. Mr Murphy at once notified his neighbours, and a priest was sent for to Ennistymon.
On the mystery of the shooting of the Fianna scout, Francis Murphy, aged 15. at his home at Glan, Ennistymon, on Wednesday night, no light was thrown at the inquest yesterday. Evidence of identification was given. Dy the boy's father, Mr John Murphy, and the inquest was adjourned to next Thursday.
The father is emphatic in his belief that no one in the district perpetrated the outrage. At least 12 shots were fired. A sister of the deceased on hearing the first shots rushed to the open window of her bedroom, when she saw three bareheaded figures behind the wall on the road. She shouted, and immediately two shots passed through the open window behind her.
Her mother, who was Retting out of bed, had a narrow escape, a bullet passing over her head. All the occupants threw themselves on the floor by direction of the father, to escape death, and for a time they were in a pitiable plight. Later, near the scene of the tragedy, a railway night watchman was halted by three men on the road, one firing a shot over his head. He explained his business and was told to pass on.
The funeral of the deceased to the family burial ground at Ennistymon took place yesterday evening. There was an immense gathering of people, the procession, comprised of pedestrians, men on horseback, and cars, was over a mile in length. Nearly all the boys in Ennistymon were wearing mourning badges.
A Coroner's jury in Clare returned a verdict that Constable Michael James Murphy, R.I.C, " was murdered at Ballyvraneen (4 miles from Ennistymon) on the night of Aug, 4, 1919, by rifle shots fired by some person or persons unknown. The jury also found that Sergeant John Riordan died at Ennistymon hospital on August 5, according to the medical evidence, from the effects of bullet wounds inflicted by some person or persons unknown.
Constable Denis Sullivan, Ennistymon, said he accompanied Sergeant Riordan from the scene of the shooting to the hospital. In searching the clothes a prayer book was found. Witness put the prayer book near his bed in a press. After some time, said witness, "I was looking over the prayer book, and he seeing me, said he had been trying to write something on it. Witness found written across the prayers : "Shot by three assailants ; wounded them." "On another page was written, ' A repeater did us.'"
The District Inspector Ennistymon, stated Sergeant Riordan made the following dying declaration
"When myself and Constable Murphy got near Eighty-one Cross cycling abreast, three fellows jumped cut from behind the bushes at the cross on the right-hand side. They shouted, ' hands up.' at the same time firing at us. One fellow had what I thought was a Winchester repeating rifle. I don't know what, the others had. Myself and the young fellow (Constable Murphy) fired. They all fell. I hit my man twice. They ran out then and fired at us. I was shot first, and then I saw the young fellow full. I tired the five rounds of the revolver. The fellow who fired and hit me, and who also .shot the young fellow was about 25 years, had a small black moustache brown clothes, and was about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches;. I don't know the others' descriptions. It was dark at the time. The fellow who shot me said he would shoot me if I did not put up my hands, and I then threw the revolver to him, as I was shot and lying on the ground. He then took Constable Murphy's bicycle and went away."
A proclamation prohibiting and suppressing in Co. Clare the Sinn Fein organisation, Sinn Fein Clubs, the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, and the Gaelic League was published in the Dublin Gazette on Thursday. In justification of the proclamation an official memorandum has been issued from Dublin Castle stating that in 1917 "a state of open lawlessness developed" through Clare, resulting in attacks on the police. Clare was declared a special military area on February 26th, 1918, "open lawlessness became impossible," and matters improving the restrictions were withdrawn in August, 1918. "For some time afterwards the county continued to be fairly peaceable, but since January there has been a recrudescence of crime," the memorandum continues; "These attacks on the police, etc., are in furtherance of the avowed policy of the Sinn Fein organisation to overthrow constitutional government in Ireland,".
In August 1919, I visited Ennistymon to report an inquest on a policeman. Calling at the Courthouse, I asked the caretaker the time of the inquest.
"On the boy who was shot last night?" he inquired. I had no knowledge of the shooting and, on hearing the news, I went at once to Glen, a short distance from Ennistymon, where I was informed that Francis Murphy, a Fianna boy scout, had been shot the previous night while reading in the kitchen of his father's house. I gave the matter some publicity and, on returning to Dublin, I went to Sinn Féin Headquarters and informed Mr. Griffith that I had no doubt that young Murphy had been shot by Crown Forces. Mr. Griffith attached considerable importance to the matter and appeared to think that it would be a serious blow to British rule in Ireland if it could be proved that their forces had resorted to such measures. He engaged Mr. Patrick Lynch, K.C., to attend the inquest on behalf of the Murphy family.
I attended the inquest as a reporter and gave what assistance I could to elucidate the facts. A verdict of murder against British Crown forces was returned. Mr. Griffith certainly did not think that, before many months had passed, organised murder by the British forces would be a daily occurrence throughout the country and that all inquests would be suppressed; but his judgment was sound in view of the harvest the British Government reaped from these methods. An efficient Irish publicity service gave the matter world-wide publicity, causing alarm in British Government circles. "Never since the Middle Ages has such savage brutality been recorded", a French newspaper reported; while the 'Daily News' exposed the police methods in such strong terms that the life of Mr. Martin, the paper's special representative in Ireland, was threatened. "In all our annals there has been nothing to parallel this record of organised and senseless savagery" the paper stated in October 1920
A gruesome tragedy occurred in North Leitrim, involving the deaths of a whole family of four – the facts of which came to light on Tuesday last when the police entered the house of Martin McMorrow, of Tullinamoyle, found the owner and two children, aged 1 and 2 years, respectively, lying dead on a bed and on the floor, also dead, with her head badly battered in was McMorrow’s wife. All the deceased were fully dressed and the shildren had the appearance of being suffocated.
The tragic death of McMorrow and wife has created a painful shock in the district which is one of the quietest in Leitrim. The general presumption of the neighbours is that the husband murdered his family and afterewards committed suicide. The first intimation of the tragedy was given on Tuesday to Constables Marron and Gallagher on their way to Manorhamilton fair. The were informed that McMorrow’s house was closed from Sunday, and accompanied by Sergeant Culhane, the dwelling house was searched. The bodies were found in various positions and no doubt is entertained as to the intention of the father to destroy himself after the destruction of his family.
Mr. W. J. Larkin, Secretary Dublin Tenant’s Association, was forcibly ejected from the Southern Police Court today during the hearing of the ejectments before Mr. M. B. Cooper K.C, which were for non-payment of rent.
The ejectments were sought by Helena Plunkett, Oliver Plunkett, and A.H Hodges, executors of Patrick J. Plunkett, against several occupants of tenement houses in Hanover St., Hanover Square and Lime Streeet. There were about thirty cases in all.
Mr. Matthews, solicitor appeared for the plaintiff. He said that in the cases of the Plunkett estate the cases were proved on Friday, and his worship suggested that it might be advisable to serve notice on each of the tenants that on payment of rent they would be allowed to remain in the premises and would not be troubled.
He sent them notice pointing out these matters and stating that if the rent was paid yesterday he would have summonses dismissed. One or two of the tenants informed the agent that they would consider the mmater, but that they now stated that they were not going to be able to pay any of the rent. Consuquently, he would ask for orders in four of the cases and ask the rest to be adjourned.
Mr. Cooper – Why do you want orders on only four of the cases?
Mr. Matthews – I think it would be inadvisable to take orders on all of the cases as it would be impossible to execute distresses in the whole of the cases in one day. …
Mr. W. J. Larkin, Secretary Dublin Tenants’ Association, who had been in court during proceedings at this stage said he (Mr. Cooper) seemed to forget that there was a Public Health Act.
Mr. Matthews said he would take a decree in the first four cases.
Mr. Cooper said he would let the other cases stand until Friday morning, and unless the tenants came to a more reasonable stat of mind, orders would be made against them.
Mr. Larkin - Let us finish the cases today. We want decrees in the whole lot of the cases. We won’t come in on Monday. We will refuse to recognise the court.
Mr. Cooper – Who are you?
Mr. Larkin – I am the man who advised the people to pay no rent.
Mr. Cooper – You have no locus standi here!
Mr. Larkin – We will refuse to go out. You may give ejectment orders. We will refuse to go.
Mr. Cooper – Will you be kind enough to leave the court at least?
Mr. Larkin – We will refuse to go.
Mr. Cooper – I will not listen to you anymore.
Mr. Larkin – I refuse to go out of court. I don’t want to show any disrespect to anyone, but we want fair play. We want sanitation for the people.
Mr. Cooper ordered the police to remove Mr. Larkin. When a police man approached the latter he told him not to be rough with him. He could walk, he had two legs.
Mr. Cooper – I will commit you for contempt of court.
Mr. Larkin – You can do that!
The latter still protesting and referring to the autocrats of Merrion Square was forcibly ejected from the court. In the courtyard there was a pony cart containing such notices as ‘Our fight – Better Homes’. An American and a Sinn Féin flag flew from the cart.
The vehicle accompanied by Mr. Larking and about thirty people soon after left.