Crime in Kildare

A list of the convictions at Naas Assizes was published in the Leinster Express of 30th March 1839.
It recorded 29 sentences: two of death, 18 of transportation, and 9 of imprisonment.

Eight women, all convicted of larceny, were included in the list, four of who were to be transported, the others were jailed.

Those destined for Van Diemens Land were Mary Grant, Margaret Fox, Eliza Reyvell and Mary Kilfoyle.

The men sentenced to death were Patrick Cummins and Edward Farrell for the murder of Mary Flynn at Moyvalley in the previous November; they were to be executed on 25th April.

After midnight on 1st November 1838 Moyvalley shopkepper James Flynn and his wife were awoken by noise outside the house; they thought that it might be jobbers looking for lodgings, and Mrs. Flynn looked out. As she withdrew a shot was fired, hitting her on the head.

The raiders moved to another window and fired again, hitting the dresser inside. Then the door was smashed in, and five men entered the house. They followed James Flynn into the kitchen and beat him around the head with a pistol and forced him into the back room where three of the men with their faces muffled, watched him.

The other two, who were not muffled, went into the shop by candlelight; they went to a bed that was there and took out of it £47, and a web of linen. The rolls of butter that were in the shop they trampled under their feet. During the quarter of an hour that the thieves were in the house Mrs. Flynn was lying on the floor, moaning dreadfully.

Subsequently, in the statement to the police, Flynn said that he had known two of the prisoners for the last twenty years; he had seen them the previous day. They lived about a half mile away from his house.

When the robbers had left the house Flynn ran to the neighbours for help only to find that their doors had been secured on the outside to prevent them from rendering any assistance. He forced one door, that of James Ennis, an having told him what happened they returned to the house where his wife was still alive.

They saw that her head had been dreadfully shattered, and she was lying on the ground, quite insensible and apparently dying.

A neighbour went for Mr.O’Reilly, the priest who soon came, and when Flynn told him he knew two of the culprits, but if he had another sight of them he would know them better; his mind at the time was so much distracted, that he did not know what he was saying or doing.

Sub-Constable Edward Coyne told the court that he had arrested the prisoners, Farrell and Cummins, on the morning of 2nd November.

They asked him what they were being arrested for, and said that they were not guilty. In evidence, Thomas White, a turnkey at Naas gaol, said it was usual when prisoners were admitted that they changed their dress. He saw what he thought were spots of blood on the prisoner’s underwear, but prisoner said they were soot drops.

The Governor of the gaol, Mr. Clarke, said that the prisoner Cummins could not account for the spots on his small-clothes in any other way than from having cut himself when shaving. Mr. R. M. O’Ferrall, of Balyna gave evidence that on the morning of the occurrence he went to Flynns, and into the room where Flynn had been forced.

O’Ferrall said that he could see clearly in the shop, as Flynn had claimed. Though Mr. Walker, Counsel, spoke at length on behalf of the prisoners, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

His lordship “addressed the prisoners at considerable length in a very impressive manner” and then he proceeded to pass the death sentence on both Patrick Cummins and Edward Farrell for the murder of Mary Flynn. They were to be executed on 25th April.

The Leinster Express journalist noted that Farrell seemed to be much effected, but Cummins remained unmoved, and after he was sentenced said: “It is a hard sentence, my Lord, upon men who are innocent, before God and the world; but I am ready to die for it, I forgive everyone in the world but Mr. O’Ferrall.”

On 27 April the newspaper reported: Patrick Cummins, convicted at last Assizes, in Naas, for the murder of Mary Flynn, at Moyvalley, was executed in front of Naas gaol, on Thursday last. He persisted in declaring his innocence up to the last moment.