THE INQUEST AND FUNERAL
| Yesterday at one o'clock an inquest was opened by Mr. Coroner Rice, in the courthouse at Midleton, on the body of Patrick Ahern, who died on Friday night last, from the effects of a bayonet wound, inflicted the previous evening by the police under District-Inspector Creaghe. The circumstances surrounding the affair are already too well known to need recapitulation. Not one bit, apparently, has the bitter feeling amongst the people, engendered by the action of the police, abated. On the contrary it seems to increase so far as the great masses of the people are concerned. Yet, notwithstanding this, the fact remains that in the town of Midletona town of many thousands of populationit took close on two hours yesterday before a coroner's jury of fourteen could be got together. It was stated on the one hand that several shopkeepers entitled to act as jurors, and professing Nationalist opinions, had incontinently left the town that morning rather than take part in what was and is likely to be a protracted inquiry. This, as been observed, might, on the one side, account to some extent for the difficulty encountered in selecting the jury, but, on the other hand, the allegation was made, and perhaps with some foundation, that the police, in whose hands the summoning of jurors lay, had passed over many of those who could and would act as such, while they inclined to those whose pressing business pursuits, illness, or other matters was likely to prevent them from attending. In proof of this it was pointed out that summonses had been served on two gentlemen both of whom the police were aware were suffering from more or less serious indisposition. Further, it was manifest that the police had gone out of their way to go to Ballinacurra for jurors while numerous respectable shopkeepers in Midleton were overlooked. Under the circumstances perhaps it was not after all so surprising that material for a jury was not as promptly forthcoming as in other places. But be that as it may comments on the apathetic action of certain people coupled with remarks on what, to say the least of it, was looked on as somewhat doubtful conduct on the part of the police, were numerous and outspoken. The town all day long presented the appearance of the deepest mourning. In the morning the various establishments were heavily shuttered, and after two o'clock, every house in the town was closed. The authorities, not content with the very substantial addition of thirty men to the local force made on Sunday, further increased the number yesterday, and drafted twenty men more into the town. It goes without saying, that from the first to last, though labouring under great excitement, the people behaved themselves in a wonderfully cool manner, and afforded not the slightest pretext for another onslaught on them. Generally speaking, the police were again confined to barracks, and but a few appeared in the streets, the ordinary town patrol, as on the last two days, being entirely neglected.
The Coroner arrived shortly before one o'clock, and immediately proceeded to the courthouse, where
|was opened. Despite the terrible inclemency of the weather hundreds of people were present, and when the court was opened entirely filled the building. The attendance, including the Rev D Lynch, P P, Lisgoold ; the Rev Fr O'Brien, C C, Midleton, the Rev Fr O'Donoghue, C C, do ; the Rev Fr Moreton, C C, do ; the Rev Fr O'Connell, P P, Dungourney ; the Rev Fr M'Donnell, C C, Dungourney ; Dr Lawton, Dr O'Brien, Dr Ross, Rev Dr Moore, Rev G Fairbrother, E O'Brien, P L G, Garranejames ; R Walsh, P L G ; E O'Mahony, M H Walsh, J O'Brien, Killeagh ; E Higgins, Maurice Doyle, Inchiquin ; W Green, P J Moore, R Smyth, M Buckley, R Moloney, T Bolton, J Lawton, P Quirke, T Twomey, M Day, M Riordan, chairman Board of Guardians ; John M'Carthy, &c., &c. The proceedings were watched with the greatest interest.
The Coroner occupied a seat on the bench, and on either side of him in the seats reserved for professional gentlemen were :
Mr H B Julian, solicitor, Cork, representing the police.
Mr Seymour, District-Inspector, Mitchelstown, who appeared on behalf of the Crown, and
Mr J P Leary, solicitor, Midleton, representing the next-of-kin of the deceased, instructed by him during the inquiry will be Mr Redmond Barry, B L, Cork, and probably Mr John Deasy, M P, B L.
District-Inspector Creaghe was also in court.
At the sitting of the court, Mr Leahy announced that he represented the next of kin.
The Coroner asked Head-Constable Higgins for the precept, which was handed to him. He then inquired how many persons had been summoned.
The Head-Constable said twenty-four.
Mr Edward O'Mahoney, who had been summoned on the jury, asked to be excused. His wife was ill, and there was no one to look after his business.
Mr John H Bennett, Ballinacurra, also applied to be excused on the account of severe pressure of business.
The Coroner said there was no man more pressed than he was himself ; he would do all he possibly could.
The Coroner then called the names of the jurors. The following answered to their namesJames O'Halloran, John H Bennett, Michael H Walsh, Thomas Aherne, Henry Forde, Patrick Barry, Richard Smith, Daniel Buckley, William Crotty, Cornelius Hyde, Edward O'Mahony, and Thomas Hyde.
The following did not answerJohn Hayes, Robert Parker, John T Brett, William Dalton, Patrick Shea, John J Bransfield, Maurice Ronayne, Joseph W Tarr, William Sheehan, Eugene Aherne, James Moore, and Joseph Tattan Bransfield.
Dr Lawton said that Mr Bransfield was very ill.
Mr Brett sent in a medical certificate to say that he was suffering from a cold.
The CoronerThey are all sick or laid up. (To Mr Julian)What do you say about the number of the jury? We can have 23, as you are aware.
Mr JulianYou have more experience of inquests than I have.
Mr LeahyI would like to know for whom Mr Julian appears?
Mr JulianIt is rather too soon to be asking questions yet. When the time comes I will not be ashamed to answer, but if it is any satisfaction for you to know, I appear for the police in the town of Midleton.
Mr LeahyThank you.
Mr Bennett said any of the gentlemen who had been summoned could attend as well as he. He applied very seriously to the coroner to allow him off as he was present at very great inconvenience.
Mr O'Mahony said it would be a terrible hardship to him to be obliged to attend.
The Coroner said it was an extraordinary thing that in the populous town of Midleton they could not get a sufficient number of jurors.
Mr Leahy said it was. He mentioned that the body had now been lying over since Friday evening.
The Coroner said, strictly speaking, though the law was rendered impracticable, the body should remain disinterred during the whole of the inquiry. If it happened that there was a disagreement there should be a second view of the body.
Mr Leahy said the body was rapidly becoming decomposed.
The CoronerDoes it not appear extraordinary to find the people not attending here. Don't you think there ought to be a stronger local feeling of sympathy with the family of the deceased, and still here I am without a jury.
Mr Leahy said it was very strange on the part of the jurors who did not attend. They seemed to forget that they had a great public duty to perform, and it was gross neglect on their part not to turn up. He would suggest that further summonses be issued.
Mr Julian thought it would be well to inform those gentlemen summoned that the court was open ; perhaps they were not aware of the fact.
Mr LeahyFifteen jurors will do very well.
Head-Constable HigginsWhat about calling those jurors under a fine?
The Coroner said he did not believe that even that would cause them to attend. What was the use of a compulsion of that kind?
Mr Leahy suggested that the police proceed to the residences of those parties who had been summoned, and inform them that if they did not attend they would be fined.
The Coroner directed that this should be done, and while awaiting the result a discussion took place as to the most suitable day on which to resume the inquiry, it being understood that a postponement would take place after the jury had viewed the body.
The Coroner said with respect to the arrangements for continuing the inquiry, his intention was to adjourn for the post-mortem examination, and then further adjourn until Monday next. He would be professionally engaged on several days during the week, and everything considered he thought it would be best not to resume the inquiry before Monday.
Mr Julian said that of course they were all bound to meet the coroner's views as much as possible, but if it was at all suitable to his convenience he would prefer that the investigation should be disposed of as rapidly and with as little delay as possible.
The Coroner said he would be happy to meet Mr Julian's convenience, but he was afraid it would be absolutely impossible for him to be there. The week would be broken up, and he had some very pressing engagements, which he could not overlook. Besides, there was a near relative of his ill.
Mr Julian said he was very sorry to hear that.
Mr Leahy said he had intended also to make an application for adjournment, and his reasons for so doing were very strong. At present he had a certain number of witnesses who would give important evidence in the inquiry. There were a great deal more whose evidence he had not yet time to take down, and, besides this, he had employed counsel in the case whom he had not yet instructed, and under those circumstances it would be perfectly impossible for him to proceed that day.
Mr Julian said he had come there instructed to oppose strenuously an application, such as Mr Leahy spoke of, if it was for the purpose of locking up witnesses. He might say, on the part of the police, that they were anxious that the inquiry should take place as quickly as possible, and they would give every possible assistance, but they saw no reason why witnesses who knew anything about the transaction, could not be communicated with in half-an-hour, all being residents of the town. Besides, he had been instructed that there was an amount of excitement in the town, which was anything at all but satisfactory while the investigation was pending. That was one of the strongest reasons why he and the public were anxious that the matter should be disposed of at once.
The Coroner said it was a curious thing that that was one of the reasons which induced him to adjourn the inquest, for it was better that a calm and dispassionate investigation should be made. The only information he had at present was the official report of the matter, which had been laid before him, and in connection with this matter, he might mention that he did not think the comments in the Press were at all fair. Of course, though the jury would divest their minds of anything but legal evidence, yet, at the same time, such comments were unfair, and might produce an impression.
District-Inspector Seymour said that, on the part of the Crown, he was very anxious that the case should go on, but, of course, it was entirely in the coroner's discretion to act as he thought best. The Crown were very anxious to give every assistance in the investigation of the case.
Mr Julian said the coroner was always most obliging, and, as he had said, it would be impossible for him to attend before the time he had named. He did not think he could offer any objections.
The Coroner said that an inquest had been held at Fermoy immediately after a certain occurrence had taken place, and it never satisfied any of them.
Mr Julian said there was a great deal in that ; and so far as the parties he represented were concerned, they were entirely in the coroner's hands. Their anxiety was to have the thing disposed of as soon as possible. Under the circumstances stated by the coroner, he would not object to an adjournment for a week.
Mr Leahy said he was most anxious, on behalf of the next of kin, that the inquest should be proceeded with as quickly as was consistent with the ends of justice.
All having agreed to an adjournment, some discussion took place as to the more suitable day to resume the inquiry. Ultimately Tuesday next, at twelve o'clock, was decided on.
Mr Julian said with regard to the incidental allusion which the coroner had made touching the comments in the Press, that the police felt aggrieved by the one taken and the comments made by a couple of papers published in the district. He asked the coroner to express his opinion on the matter, and if he did so it would, perhaps, restrain the writings of these papers until the facts were brought out in proper shape in the solemnity of a court of justice. It would be very hard to have an occurrence of the present kind take place in which there would not be various rumours and accounts. All of them could not be true, and some of them consequently must be false. In this case the police complained that rumours which were unquestionably false had been seized upon to give a colouring to these articles.
The Coroner again expressed himself to the effect that such comments were unfair.
Mr Leahy entirely agreed with Mr Julian, but he would be a little more particular, for he would be obliged to bring under the notice of the coroner articles that had appeared in the Cork Constitution.
The CoronerI am putting them all in globo.
Mr Leahy said that some of the comments in that paper were most unfair. In Saturday's issue an article appeared in connection with what took place, and he regarded it as simply shocking and as a gross outrage on professional decency.
The Coroner said he had expressed himself universally with regard to the newspaper comments.
Mr Julian said he had not singled out and paper and he had tried to be as general as possible. If he were to single out papers for complaint, it would not be the Constitution, for on the present occasion he found the comments in that paper were far less blameable than those in other papers.
Mr Leahy asked for a moment to be allowed to reply to Mr Julian.
Mr Julian expressed dissent.
District-Inspector Seymour said that no evidence should be allowed at that stage of the inquiry with regard to the newspaper publications.
The Coroner said he would allow nothing of the kind to be gone into.
Mr Leahy said a political tinge had been sought to be put upon the matter ; that he denied.
After an interval, the Coroner again inquired how many jurors were present, and was informed that a sufficient number had not yet been procured.
Mr Julian said there was not a town in Ireland, or at all events in the county Cork, where a more respectable class of jurors could be found than in the town of Midleton.
Mr Leahy said he was glad to hear Mr Julian say that, and he hoped that the verdict of the jury would be subsequently appreciated.
Some further conversation took place with reference to the jurors.
The Coroner said there was one amongst those who answered from OhioMr Crotty
Mr Crotty said he belonged to the State of Missouri ; he had been twelve months in Ireland.
The Coroner said Mr Crotty had now a residence in that district, and though he was a citizen of the united States, that did not disqualify him from acting as a juror.
After a further interval, Mr O'Mahony again asked to be allowed off ; he had called in the morning to Mr Leahy to tell him that he could not possibly attend.
Mr LeahyI could not see you on the matter ; you had a right to go to Mr Creaghe, who is a very communicative gentleman.
Mr CreagheThe less you say to Mr Creaghe the better.
Mr LeahyYes, and the less I say to Mr Creaghe the better I like it.
The Coroner asked what did Mr Leahy say to taking some jurors from the court. It was not a desirable thing to do, but under the present circumstances he thought there was some necessity for it.
Head-Constable Higgins suggested that they should wait for a little while until the man who had been sent out with the additional summonses should return.
Mr Leahy asked that the jurors should be called on fines.
The Coroner said he was not a harsh judge. He could only impose a fine of 40s. on any juror who absented himself. He had certain reasons for not fining them, because he believed they would pay the fine rather than remain in court for a week. He liked to see a gentleman perform a work of humanity voluntarily and act willingly in the service of his country.
Mr Julian suggested that some additional summonses should be issued.
The Coroner thought it would be well to do so, and he had summonses there for that purpose.
Some further time having elapsed, Mr R. Moloney appeared in court, and the coroner having observed that he would make a good juror, asked him if he had been summoned.
Mr Moloney said he had not, and even if he had he would object to it, as he did not see why he should be summoned while there was plenty material in Midleton to form a jury.
After another pause, Mr Leahy said it took a long time to summon jurors.
The Coroner said it fixed apathy on someone.
Head-Constable Higgins said he had served all the summonses.
The Coroner said he never before had any difficulty in collecting a jury.
Mr LeahyIt doesn't speak well for the public spirit of the people of Midleton.
Head-Constable Higgins said he had done all he could in the case. He had now got thirty summonses served.
Mr Edward O'Mahony again asked the coroner to excuse him. He would have to shut up his shop if he was detained there, and the head-constable knew that what he stated was correct.
Head-Constable Higgins said that he was aware of it.
The CoronerThen why did you summon himwas it because of his inability to attend?
Head-Constable HigginsNo, but because he is a very suitable juror.
Some more time having passed without any advancement being made, the Coroner remarked that he thought it was the wish of the townspeople to facilitate the relatives of the deceased.
Mr Leahy said he had been under that impression. The constabulary, he thought, had got hold of all the black sheep this time.
The Coroner excused Mr Mahony. In the meantime several jurors arrived in court, and a sufficient number having put in an appearance their names were called over.
The following fourteen gentlemen were swornMessrs M H Walsh (foreman), James O'Halloran, J H Bennett, Thomas Ahern, Henry Forde, Patrick Barry, Richard Smith, Daniel Buckley, William Crotty, Cornelius Hyde, Thomas Hyde, John Carroll, Joseph M'Namara, and James Flynn.
They were then directed to view the body, which they did.
On returning to the Courthouse they were formally bound over to appear on Tuesday next.
A post mortem examination was then made by Dr Lawton and Dr O'Brien, and after this
|took place. All through the morning and afternoon the rain had been coming down in torrents ; as the funeral was about to start it came down with redoubled force, and long after the remains had been lowered into the grave it continued one steady downpour. This notwithstanding, the display was on a scale creditable alike to the town and neighbourhood. Under the management of the Young Ireland Society the arrangements were admirably carried out. A magnificent wreath of lilies was placed on the coffin by the members, and the local branch of the National League paid a similar tribute to the dead. Private friends also sent wreaths. From long distances people attended, and when the terrible nature of the weather is taken into account the gathering was extremely large and representative. Those present included the gentlemen whose names have already been mentioned, the members of the Young Ireland Society and G A A, the latter represented by D Collins, J Power, W Keane, M Kelleher, J Leahy, J O'Leary, R Stack, W Colbert, P Moore, W Barry, M Dalton, J Kennedy, P Donovan, P Cotter, and the former by R Fitzgerald, V P ; John Lawton, treasurer ; W Walsh, hon sec ; J O'Callaghan, A Collins, J J Coffey, A Bolton, T Murray, J Ronayne, J G Mayne, M Fitzgerald, D Moore, M Cuddigan. Lisgoold sent M Murnane, W Spillane, E Barry, E Riordan, and R Molony, while the Aghada representatives were Denis Kelly, Jas O'Callaghan, P L G ; Marcus Henchy, J Sheehan, P O'Callaghan, W Higgins, E Higgins, E Rohan, C M'Donnell. Contingents came from all the surrounding districtsCastlemartyr, Killeagh, Mogeely, Carrigtwohill, Dungourney, Cloyne, &c.
The clergymen present wereThe Rev. T O'Connell, P P, Castlemartyr, and Rev. Father M'Donald, Dungourney ; Rev. Fr. Morton, C C, Midleton ; Rev. Fr. O'Brien, do., and the Rev. Fr. O'Donoghue.
The general public includedMartin Riordan, chairman. Midleton Board of Guardians ; R Walsh P L G ; M H Walsh, J P Leahy, solicitor ; Patrick Leahy, T Murray, Edward Barry, T C ; P O'Shea, T C ; James Flynn, P Barry. Thomas Murnane, M Fitzgerald, N B Walsh, P Ahern, M Donovan, John Donovan, Thomas Gorman, John O'Brien, Michael Smithwick, P L G ; P J Tattan, Michael Buckley, Thomas Hyde, J Lawton, J Hodnett, Cork ; John Moore, P Kelleher, W Cogan, T C ; P Knolles, P Molony, Michael Barry, E Stack, P L G ; P Hickey, G Fitzmahony, &c., &c. The cortege started shortly after three o'clock, and the coffin was borne to the grave on the shoulders of the deceased [sic], the bier preceding them, the people marching in regular order after. The Midleton brass band, under the leadership of their teacher, Mr Kelly, headed the funeral, and played the Adeste Fidelis to the churchyard at Churchtown, two miles outside of Midleton to the east. The performance of the band was remarkably good. As night fell the remains were laid to rest, the funeral services being performed by the three Midleton priests already named. The town was quiet last night, and no policemen were seen on the streets.
The tragic occurrence was made the subject of a resolution by the Lisgoold branch of the national League at their meeting on Sunday. The Rev D Lynch, P P, presided, and amongst those present wereMessrs. R Moloney, hon sec ; F Stack, P L G ; P Sarsfield, D O'Meara, P Buckley, P L G ; W Leahy, M Murnane, P Ahern, A Twomey, W Cullinane, &c. The following resolution was, on the motion of Mr Moloney, passed unanimously :That we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly and wanton manner by which an innocent life was sacrificed by a brutal policeman, led on by the brave, big bully policeman, Creagh.
It is stated that summonses will be issued against persons for alleged assaults on the police on the night of the occurrence.
| The Cork Examiner 6 November 1888|