postmaster who was transported for life
Looking through the file of Ireland-Australia database recently
we found the name Eugene OSullivan, who was aged 25
years and was tried on 19/ 3/ 1844. His trial took place
in Cork and he was sentenced to transportation to Australia
for life. The prisoner had been postmaster at Castletown
On following up this story, we did some further research
which unearthed the following fascinating story.. Eugenes
trial took place in Cork Spring Assizes County Criminal
Court on the March 25th, 1844. Eugene OSullivan was
given in charge for feloniously embezzling letters deposited
in the post office, he being postmaster of the Castletown
Mr. Bennett stated the cases in brief terms to the jury:
The charge, he said, was preferred against a person employed
in the post office, the postmaster of Castletown. The letters
were conveyed by the Bantry district, and that he did embezzle
letters which contained valuable securities. It was the
duty of the postmaster when he received letters not to open
them, but to forward them to their destination and the charge
of opening the letters formed another count in the indictment;
for the indictment charged him with doing so, and with appropriating
the money to his own use.
To prove that the letters were sent to the post office,
evidence would be given which should satisfy the jury of
the truth of the allegation; and further, to prove that
the prisoner was the party who abstracted them. A person
by the name of Coffey, who was the clerk of a Mr. OSullivan,
a butter-merchant in the city, remitted a sum of £78,
and Coffey, by way of security in forwarding the money,
cut every note into halves, put them into separate letters,
and directed one parcel to Daniel OSullivan,
whilst the others he directed to Eugene OSullivan,
who was the part who expected to get the remittance, and
he accordingly went to the post office in Castletown and
made enquiry after the letter, but the prisoner told him
that there was no letter for him; neither did the other
gentleman receive the letter directed to him.
Enquiries were accordingly made, and things put into a train
for the purpose of discovery. The result was that the Crown
was enabled to trace the matter to the prisoner, on whose
person several of the notes were seen, and as persons were
to be produced who would distinctly prove that he offered
them to be changed in various places.
That was the general nature of the case; and he felt bound
to state it to them, that they might be fully enabled to
understand the evidence which he was about tog o into mail
which left Cork at nine oclock in the morning and
arrived in Bantry at five in the evening, whence they were
forwarded by a mail car from Bantry to Castletown.
The charge against the prisoner was that he, being postmaster
of Castletown Berehaven, embezzled the money. Patrick Coffey,
who was examined by Mr. Keane, stated that the was in the
employment of Mr. Morty OSullivan, that he knew Mr.
OSullivan of Castletown, and he recollected getting
directions from Mr. OSullivan to remit £78 to
Castletown, which he did. He said that he entered the dates,
numbers and amounts of the notes forwarded, and he directed
half of them to Mr. Dan OSullivan, and the other half
to Mr. Eugene OSullivan.
He cut the notes in halves, and he sealed the letters, put
post office stamps on them and gave them to the porter,
Con Donovan, to have them placed in the post office. (The
notes here were then handed to the witness, who identified
several of them, their numbers and amounts coinciding with
those entered on his list.) He stated that he was in the
habit, for nearly a year, of transmitting sums of money
in a similar way.
Philip Shanahan was next witness sworn, and stated that
he was in the employment of Mr. Michael OSullivan
and that he saw Mr. Coffey write two letters on the 5th
of October. He gave them to Mr. Shanahan to put in the post
office; and that he took them to Corneliius Donovan.
Cornelius Donovan was next sworn and said that he remembered
getting two letters from the last witness on the 7th of
October; put them in the post office; and he told him one
was was for Mr. OSullivan.
Daniel OSullivan was then sworn and then examined
by Mr. Keane. He stated that he lives in Castletown and
he was related to Mortimer OSullivan. He sends him
butter and he in turn sends him money; he had previously
sent him butter but he could not say exactly how much. On
Monday the 9th he expected the remittance; a letter posted
on the 7th should reach castletown on the 9th.
Another witness, John Cahill was next to be
sworn, and stated that he is uncle to Mr Daniel OSullivan.
He was sent to the post office to see if there were any
more letters than those received; the prisoner told him
that all the letters received he put into the letter-carriers
bag. Witness was cross-examined, but nothing contradictory
Robert OCallaghan was then examined by Mr. Keane and
he said that these are provincial notes; and the bank does
not issue duplicates of them. When Daniel OSullivan
sworn, he identified one of the notes the prisoner sent
him to get it changed; the person that changed it should
put his name on the back. After production of a host of
evidence clearly establishing the prisoners guilt, James
Kennick was sworn, and said that it was his business to
visit post offices; and he put the prisoner in the appointment
and he saw him acting in it. Mr. ORea, then addressed
the jury for the defence.
After deliberating for about a half an hour, the jury entered
the court with a verdict of guilty.
His Lordship the Judge said, the law left him no discretion,
and he sentenced of the prisoner to be transported for the
period of his natural life.
In reply to Mr. ORea, his Lordship said the postmistress
in Castletown Berehaven must
The following notice appeared in the Cork Examiner of May
17th, 1848. Important to the public: Hotel, Castletownbere,
Mrs. Harrington respectfully invites the particular attention
to her friends and to the public to her establishment, which
has been fitted up in superior style for the accommodation
of those who may be pleased to favour her with her patronage.
She wishes to draw special notice to her sitting rooms,
as well as her large and thoroughly aired bedrooms; the
accommodation in this respect is not surpassed if equalled
in any Hotel in the south of Ireland.
To those who wish to avail of the sea bathing the situation
is most inviting within a few perches of the open to the
magnificent harbour of Berehaven, and on the verge of this
lovely basin, where every facility is afforded to those
wishing to avail of water excursions.
A well-appointed pinnace, a side-car and covered car are
always in readiness, with ponies if required, for those
who wish to witness the grand and sublime scenery of the
Mrs. Harrington finds it her duty to caution the public
against the malignant and sinister reports which have been
for some time industriously put forward against her establishment.
This has been the work of a few malicious and interested
individuals, as appears from the following remarks made
in her book of visitors, and unsolicited by her, by J.Redmond
Barry . Esq., Inspector of Fisheries: Under strong
but unfounded prejudice against the house, produced by causes
unjust and unreasonable, I arrived here quite unexpected,
and accompanied by two friends. I have seldom been more
comfortable or satisfactorily accommodated, never more kindly
or more attentively. I pronounce it to be a right excellent
house. J.Redmond Barry. Since writing the above I paid my
bill nothing could be more reasonable - J. R. B. Mrs.
Harrington begs leave to add that she has three cottages
to let for those wishing to avail of them during the bathing
season, one at the present in a finished state, the others
can be fitted up a few days notice; every article
of furniture, etc., can be supplied, combining comfort with
economy. A trial is merely required to secure approbation.
This would appear to have been what was afterwards known
as the coastguard Station and, later still, The Berehaven
Hotel. Who the Harringtons were we could not find out, but
we had heard that at one time the hotel was owned by Harrington
from the mines who had a public house. It was later sold
to become the Coastguard Station with a terrace of houses
which were separate to where the coastguards lived.
The big house, which is the high house near the gate of
St Peters Church, was the officers house. There was a captain
Allen there, and later on a captain Butler. This Coastguard
Station was sold when a new station was built on the site
where the present St Josephs Hospital now stands.
We understand that a Mrs. McSweeney, who was a daughter
of these Harringtons, married a doctor who died as a young
man. This doctor was a student with Dr. John Lynes
great-grandfather. It would be interesting to find out more
about this family.
Readers may be interested to note who were subscribers to
Cusacks The History of Cork, 1875, Castletownbere
and district: Downing, Mortimor, Castletownbere, OSullivan,
Mrs. Cathrine, Castletown Bere, Hanley, Richard, Castle
Bere. OSullivan, Rev. M,PP, Allihies, The mines, Allihies.
Kelly P., Castletown-Berehaven. Power, Frederick, Munster
Bank, Castletown Berehaven. Lynaght, Thos., RIC, Castletown
Courtesy of the Southern Star