Gowlane 16 year old jailed for throwing a pebble during 1907 eviction incident

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 arrest."

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 of repenting.

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