16 year old jailed for throwing a pebble during 1907 eviction
In his evidence at the trial of 16 year old Michael Murphy,
of Gowlane, Sergeant Kelly, R.I.C. Drimoleague, described
the occurrence as told by previous witness. "We followed
Murphy and brought him back, and Murphy was placed under
Mr. Wolfe - "I submit this is not a case for punishment
of any sort. This little boy, sixteen years of age, stood
by quietly and saw his father's traps removed and the household
effects thrown outside. He remained quiet until the emergency
man was going to enter the old homestead where his mother
lay feeble and ill. He shied this pebble, and the emergency
man had been scratched.
He has been in jail since the 21st May - nine days. I do
not argue that he had a legal right to throw the stone,
but I would ask you to consider the circumstances. The little
boy was labouring under intense excitement. Imagine all
the pomp attending a Government force of 400 policemen with
a County Inspector and six or seven District Inspectors,
and one or two Resident Magistrates, marching up to the
home of his father and grandfather, and belonging to those
who come before him for generations.
Under the circumstances he gave way to very natural excitement,
and flung this pebble at the emergency man. Under the section
of the Act you have power to say he has been punished sufficiently
already, and I ask you, with every confidence, to say he
had been sufficiently punished."
District Inspector - "I'd like to say with reference
to Mr. Wolfe's statement that he had been quiet up to the
time, he threw a stone about half an hour previously."
Mr. Wolfe - "I am confining myself to the evidence."
After a consultation; The Chairman (Mr. Purdon, R.M.) announced
that the majority of the bench had arrived at a decision
with which he did not agree. The majority of the magistrates
considered the defendant sufficiently punished by the nine
days he has undergone in prison, and by binding him to the
peace for twelve months, himself in £10 surety, and
two sureties of £5 each. This decision was received
with satisfaction by the crowd of Murphy's friends and sympathiers
who were present to hear the result.
Another well known family that of Timothy Harrington, M.P.
and three times Lord Mayor of Dublin, were evicted from
their home at Filane, Castletownbere and had to move to
a small house just east of the town. Evictions in Ireland
from 1845 to 1847 numbered 3,000; from 1847 to 1849 there
were 25,700; from 1849 to 1852 there were 58,423, affecting
306,120 individuals. Unfortunately, at the time of the evictions
here in Beara, there were locals who were willing to move
into the farms evicted, as caretakers for the landlord.
At a meeting at Ennis on September 19th, 1880, Parnell explained
the state of affairs and his advice to the tenants was "it
will be the measure of your determination to keep a firm
grip on your homesteads; it will be the measure of your
determination not to bid for farms from which others have
been evicted, the Land Question must be settled, and settled
in a way that will be satisfactory to you".
He followed up these remarks by words which have remained
in vogue since. "Now what are you to do with a tenant
who bids for a farm which another tenant has been evicted?"
Several voices shouted, "Shoot him" I wish to
point out a very much better way - a more Christian and
charitable way, which will give the lost man an opportunity
When a man takes a farm from which another has been unjustly
evicted, you must show him on the roadside when you meet
him; you must show him in the streets of the town; you must
show him in the press; you must show him in the fair green
and in the market place, and even in the place of worship
- leaving him alone; by putting him into a moral Coventry;
by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were
a leper of old - you must show him your detestation of the
crime he has committed."
It was from this speech by Parnell that the word 'Boycott'
was added to the dictionary. The present generation of Berehaveners
cannot realise the appaling conditions that prevailed there
at the time following the Great Famine. The people had no
voice in public affairs they were treated like serfs with
the shadow of eviction always darkening their doors. The
landlord and 'gombeen' shopkeeper exacted their pound of
flesh, and had all the weapons at their disposal to bleed
the victims. It is a good thing that scenes like these are
things of the past.
Courtesy of The Southern Star