Around the Curragh in 1903

Under the heading Man Brutally Beaten to Death: Shocking Murder. The Leinster Leader of 29 August 1903 reported the finding of the mutilated body of a man on the Curragh, near Brownstown, earlier that week.

The story was that two labourers, Patrick Downes and Thomas Cullen, known as ‘Tom the Tailor’, who shared lodgings at Brownstown, had the previous night been drinking in Duff’s of Brownstown, and on leaving they carried three bottles of porter in a brown paper parcel. The next morning was found “A shocking and indeed gruesome spectacle, a dead man, and mingled with the debris of broken porter bottles was the battered and mutilated remnant, the terrible caricature of a human head.”

The inquest returned a verdict of murder. The Leader deplored “the fact that there had been double murder at Newbridge the previous week was a Dark Blot on the fair fame of a pacific district. Even the phlegmatic officers of the law may well be pardoned by the amazement that must have been theirs on finding the Capital Crime repeated within the same radius of three miles in the course of a brief week.”

Better news was the editorial on the visit of the king to Maynooth: “In the circumstance attending the visit to Maynooth, there were many elements highly gratifying to the Catholic feeling. His Majesty, as far as Court etiquette permitted, exhibited special consideration for Catholic sentiment and a strong desire to establish the most cordial relations with priests and people. His words paid a high compliment to the intellectual eminence and loveable qualities of the Irish race. His action in singling out Maynooth for a special visit is a clear proclamation that he is no sectary, and no partisan, and that the state of affairs which renders Royalty in Ireland a Party asset, has his profound antipathy.”

From Athy Petty Sessions came the complaint that “Mrs O’Neill, the abbey, had at the town’s Agricultural Show Ground, taken and converted to her own use, one hen, the property of Mary Cranny, Athy, and which took first place at the show.”

The case was withdrawn. Another woman in trouble was Mary Quinn, described as a Virago. Drunk and disorderly at St. John’s Lane at mid-night, she was described as “rather degraded looking,” when she appeared in court in her bare feet.

Though she assured the bench of her respectability and peaceful disposition, Sgt Brady said she was very riotous and gave a lot of trouble, and that he had to get a cart to wheel her to the barrack. Sir A.A. Weldon chairman of the court. pronounced “We will put you in a place where you will have to obstain from it”, and sentenced her to a week in jail.

A father was jailed for 14 days at Naas, after a neighbour gave evidence that on the Fair night his three children had come to her house and told her that their father was drunk in bed and gave them no supper. A policeman said he had been to the house and there was no food, nor a fire in the grate. The fact that the man’s wife “had died some time since” was not taken into account.

There was also trouble in Blessington, according to the Chairman of the Petty Sessions. His complaint was that “in view of the great increase in the number of cycles and motor bicycles, some rule should be made for the protection of people walking the footpaths in the locality, and that the constabulary should look to it.”

The Sergeant “supposed that it is only necessary to put the rule into effect where there is much traffic,” to which the Chairman quipped: “Oh,of course, it is not wanted at the Sally Gap” (laughter).

That the Leinster Leader was scrupulous about the veracity of its reporting was evident in a report headed: Painful Eviction Scene in Kilcock. We have received a typewritten report bearing the above heading. Neither the name nor address of the author is given. It is not the practice of this Journal to pay any attention to anonymous communications.

Courtesy of the Leinster Leader
By Con Costello