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Donated Material: Court Reports and Legal Records (including Evictions)

Trial of Michael Kennedy and Six Others, for carrying away arms and assaulting an habitation

Title: Trial of Michael Kennedy and Six Others, for carrying away arms and assaulting an habitation
Type of Material: Court Report: Special Commission
Dates: The trial date is not stated, the date of the outrage was given as 26 Sep 1847
Source: Special Commission, A report of trials of Co Clare, 1848, pp166-177
Source Repository: Local Studies Centre, Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland
Transcriber/Donator: Jim McNamara, 8268 Chanticleer Rd, Stanton, CA 90680-1733

Summary:- Michael Kennedy, Michael Murphy, Denis Kennedy, Thomas Hogan, Daniel M'Namara, John Slattery and John Rochford, were given in charge on an indictment that they, on the 26th of September 1847, at Ballyboy in the county of Clare, did unlawfully and maliciously assault the dwelling-house of Thomas Hennessy.
- The second count charged that they did unlawfully carry away a gun, the property of Thomas Hennessy.
Place names in report: Ballyboy, Co Clare; Cappagh, Meelick, Buncraggy, Limerick, Bunratty, Newmarket, Ennis, Commons of Clare, Broadford, Quinlivan's Store.

Names in report:
On trial: Michael Kennedy, Michael Murphy, Denis Kennedy, Thomas Hogan, Daniel McNamara, John Slattery, John Rochford
Victims: Thomas Hennessy, Michael Hennessy
Servant Boys of Victim: Barry & Pat Hennessy
Witnesses: Thomas Hennessy, Michael Hennessy, Patrick Ready (from Broadford), John Northeast, Michael Glynn, John Fitzgerald, Michael Dillon, John Barry, John Magrath, Daniel Brennan, Michael McNamara (Daniel's brother)
Contables: Creagh, Thomas Meredith, John Northeast, Captain Leyne, Michael Glynn (sub-constable)
Other people mentioned: Margaret Keshan (cousin of Thomas Hennessy), Considine's home mentioned (in Cappagh), John O'Dea (false name given by John Slattery to constable)
Legal people/positions mentioned: Mr. O'Hea, Mr. Plunket, Mr. Bennett, no names directly given for Chief Baron, Solicitor General, or Attorney General

Note: Transcriber visited Local Studies Centre 30 March 2007 and copied material for later transcription. The donator allows indefinite use of transcription for free (non-commercial) use only, on the Clare County Library Web Site at:
[Trial of M Kennedy, M Murphy, D Kennedy, T Hogan, D McNamara, J Slattery and J Rochford – 1847]

Trial of Michael Kennedy and Six Others, For carrying away arms and assaulting an habitation.

Same Jury.

Michael Kennedy, Michael Murphy, Denis Kennedy, Thomas Hogan, Daniel M'Namara, John Slattery and John Rochford, were given in charge on an indictment that they, on the 26th of September 1847, at Ballyboy in the county of Clare, did unlawfully and maliciously assault the dwelling-house of Thomas Hennessy.

The second count charged that they did unlawfully carry away a gun, the property of Thomas Hennessy.

First Witness.

Thomas Hennessy sworn. -- Examined by the Attorney-General.

I am the son of Michael Hennessy. I lived with him at Ballyboy in the county of Clare. I was in the house the night a party came to the house. It was on the 25th of September, or in the morning of the 26th. My father, a servant boy named John Barry, myself, and the family were in the house. I was in the bed at the time. I was awoke by the bolt of the kitchen door being broken. Three men came in the room. I slept in the room behind the fire-place. They made a blow at me with the butt of a gun, which struck my wife and part of the bed. They were armed with three guns and a pistol. I asked if they intended murder; they then made another stroke, and put the gun through the camp bed. I then took hold of the gun, and took the man who had it by the arm; his name was Michael Murphy. --- [Witness identified the prisoner Michael Murphy as the man who had the gun.] -- He was the first man who came into the room. ---- [Witness identified the prisoners John Slattery and Daniel M'Namara as the other two men who came into the room.] --- I took hold of that gun, and Slattery commenced beating me with the butt-end of a gun. He demanded where the gun was, and I told him I had it not, that it was at my uncle's. This occurred when I was up in the room. They remained from fifteen to twenty minutes. They beat me then. Slattery broke a piston on my head. They then brought me outside the room door. I had no clothes on, and I wanted to put some clothes on. They forced me to go with them to my uncle's. They wanted the shot-pouch and powder-horn. I did not give it to them. I told them to let some of them go to my uncle's house, and for others to remain, and that they would find me true, or to let me put on my clothes, and I would go with them. They were putting me outside the door at this time. They put me out in the street, and I stopped there four or five minutes without my clothes. There was another man in the kitchen besides those three, and one of them said "That was enough." I heard but one man in the kitchen along with the other three. He said, while they were in the act of beating me in my own room, "That was enough." I heard a noise in my father's room as if beating my father. He told me he got but two strokes, one on the jaw, another in the ribs. He is about seventy years old. When I was going out of the room I snatched up an old shift. I was forced out against my will. We remained outside the door in the street about four or five minutes. My uncle's house is about three hundred perches from my house. When I was in the yard I knew Thomas Hogan. --- [Witness identified the prisoner Thomas Hogan.] --- There was two men outside the door; one of them is not here; the other man is Rochford. --- [Witness could not identify Rochford.] --- I saw in the room Murphy, M'Namara, and Slattery. I saw Thomas Hogan in the street. As soon as I came out, Hogan made off towards his own house. I did not see any of the other men. Michael Kennedy was on the watch, about twenty or twenty-five perches from the house. He did not join the party on the way to my uncle's house. He did not join the party on the way to my uncle's house. I am certain he was on the watch while others were attacking the house. His brother was about forty perches from the house, with his head to the wall. They put me on the road; and one of the party asked him who he was, and one of them, I think it was Slattery, said, he was one of their men. Daniel Kennedy said nothing; he was about fifteen yard from us at the time. Daniel Kennedy then went inside the wall, and lay there until we passed by. On your way to your uncle's did you meet with any other person? --- Rochford came up, but I cannot identify him. They brought me to my uncle's house. They were prodding me with a gun to hasten me. Murphy, M'Namara, Slattery, and Rochford came with me. Slattery, when we were near my uncle's, said I knew him, and he desired Rochford to stand out of the way until he would shoot me. M'Namara said he would be allow no murder to be done, and put his hand on my shoulder to protect me. I told them they might as well shoot me as the punishment I was getting. When I got near the house, M'Namara and Murphy turned on one side, and Slattery and Rochford came with me to the house. Slattery threw me against some thorns. When we got to the house I called for the gun. My uncle opened the door, and I asked for the gun, and his son handed out the gun to Slattery and Rochford. I am not quite sure the prisoner Rochford is the man. Rochford lived within two miles of me. They took hold of the gun and began to fight for it. One said to the other, "You had a gun before." They took away the gun. One of them fired a shot. I went into my uncle's house. All the arms I saw was three guns and a pistol. It was Slattery gave me the entire beating. I got besides only one blow that Murphy gave me. Slattery lived within two miles of me. Their faces were not blackened. They had whiskey taken. M'Namara, Murphy, Slattery, and Rochford lived in the same village. The Kennedys and Hogan lived in the same village with myself. It was a moonlit night. I had nothing on me but the old shift I brought with me. I am quite positive of those men.

Cross-examined by Mr. O'Hea [Thomas Hennessy being cross-examined]

Are you a great pet with the magistrates and the police? --- I cannot say that I am.

Where have you been since the outrage was committed? --- I was part of the time in the infirmary, part of the time at home, and part of the time in the barrack for the protection of my life. I was eight days in the infirmary. I was but a few days at home.

Were you a week at home? --- I was in or about one fortnight. I intended to get my gun, and went to one of the prisoners, and told him I knew the party, and that if I did not get my gun, I would put him in its place. I have him eight days to get it back.

Did you put him in the place of it? --- Not at that time.

Were you afraid? --- Not at that time. I might be so from the state of the country.

Were you sure of all these men from the commencement? --- I was.

You never doubted Rochford from the commencement until this day? --- I did not. I am now certain it is he. I think it is he.

Have you any doubt of him? --- I have not a doubt.

Why did you swear you had? --- I was not altogether sure.

What cleared up the doubt? --- He is nearer to me now than he was at that time.

Why did you say you had a doubt? --- Because I did not like to do any thing I was not perfectly sure of. I know Margaret Keshan. She is a cousin of mine. She spoke to me about Rochford. She said Rochford was in the house with her until four o'clock in the morning.

Will you swear to him now? --- I will now.

Was it true when you said you were not sure of him? --- It was true.

And now you are sure? --- I am.

Was that true? --- It was not. I had a doubt on my mind.

Did you swear against Tom Kennedy? --- I put him in my information; but if I was not sure, I would not swear to him.

Mr. O'Hea here read the information made by the witness, in which he stated Thomas Kennedy was one of the party.

I told Mr. Leyne I was in doubt of one of the party. I told him I could not swear against Thomas Kennedy. I told him I was not sure of him.

Yet Captain Leyne put him in the information? --- He did. There was but two of them close to the door. Flannagan and Hogan were there.

Did you tell Mr. Leyne about the man threatening to shoot you? --- I cannot say whether I did or not. It was the case. I would have been shot only for M'Namara.

Did you say any other persons attacked you? --- I do not know whether I did or not. John Fitzgerald told me a few nights before to sell the gun for whatever I would get for it. I told Fitzgerald I heard there was other persons in it, that there was twenty-one persons out that night. I saw only nine of them.

Did you think Tom Kennedy was one of them? --- I could not say he was with them. I heard he was out that night. I thought he was one of them, but I still have a doubt on my mind.

Were you charged with any offense? --- I was not.

Was your head astray? --- No

Were you out of your mind during the last two years? --- No."

Chief Baron. --- Was your wife struck? --- She only received part of the blow; the bed received part. The second blow smashed the board of the bed.

Mr. O'Hea. --- Did you hear of a reward 50 [pounds]? --- I did.

Was that out before your information was sworn? --- It was. But I told it before. The day before I swore my information I read of the reward. I met constable Creagh, and he asked me would I follow up what I told constable Meredith. I told Meridith the next morning after the offence. I told them all to him, but the three others I did not know, and that if He took Kennedy the others would make off.

To a Juror. --- My father holds twelve acres of land.

Second Witness.

Michael Hennessy sworn. --- Examined by Mr. Bennett.

I am father to the last witness. I live in the same house with him. I was in the house the night it was attacked.. I saw two men in my own room. They beat me. When they broke in the street door, I demanded who it was and got no answer. One of them broke my door and asked me was there any fire-arms. I said I did not know. He then came and struck me a blow on the jaw and rib. I cried out "mercy," and I got no more from them. I could not tell who they were. The next day when speaking to my son, I said, "You must know who were there," and he said, "Hold your tongue, I have them caught.

Cross-examined by Mr. O'Hea.

Did not Hogan come out of his house to protect you? --- He did in a couple of hours.

Was he not sent for to protect you? --- I do not know that.

Was your daughter-in-law in the house that night? --- She was.

Who did she send for Hogan? --- She sent no person; but when she called John Fitzgerald to send for the police, he said to send for Hogan. Hogan came two hours later. A servant boy named Barry, and Pat Hennessy, was in the small room with me.

Third Witness.

Patrick Ready sworn. --- Examined by the Solicitor-General.

I know Thomas Hennessy's house. I live near it. I am a labourer. I remember the night Hennessy's house was attacked. I was outside my own house minding turnips. My house is less than a quarter of a mile from Hennessy's. I met the party going to attack the house of Considine, and I followed them, and on my way back I passed Hennessy's house. I saw one man come out of Hennessy's house and stand in the yard. That man was Tom Hogan. --- [Witness identified the prisoner Hogan.] --- That was the first man who came out of the house. This was after twelve o'clock. I was about seventeen or eighteen yards away at the time, and when he came across the field facing towards his own house. It was as bright a night as came across these twelve months. It was moonlit. Hogan lived next door to me. He passed near me on his way home. At the time I was standing inside the wall of Hennessy's field. When I was passing the house I heard a noise; I saw Tom Hennessy; he was bare naked. He had something white in his hand. They went down the road to the next cross facing his uncle's house. There was four men with Tom Hennessy. I then went home.

Had any of them arms? --- They had. Three of them I am sure had arms. They had guns. Hogan had nothing in his hand.

Cross-examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I told Mr. Leyne I saw them. Have you a case of your own? --- I have.

Where was your own case? --- In Cappagh, in Considine's house.

How far is Considine's from Hennessy's? --- It is about one and a-half or two miles.

What took you to Considine's? --- I was minding turnips, and I saw the party and followed them; and when I came back I saw Hogan come out of Hennessy's house. I did not wait until the party came out from Considine's. I remained a good distance from them. I stood behind a wall looking over it. I kept within fifty or sixty yards of them. The party had two guns.

Was it the same party came back from Considine's to Hennessy's? --- It was not, for I left the party in Considine's.

Your were three hours coming back? --- I came quietly,

How many men went to Considine's? --- Five men. I went to the front of the house. I knew them, and I am to swear against them. I told Mr. Leyne of it before the Special Commission. I am in the police barrack since the 16th of November. I told Hennessy before I told Mr. Leyne. Hennessy told me nothing.

To the Chief Baron. --- I saw four men come out of the house besides Hogan. I did not know any of them.

To Mr. O'Hea. --- I came from Broadford. I am two or three years living in my present place. I am a labourer.

Did you apply to Mr. Healy for work? --- I did.

Did you say if did not get work you would starve? ---- I did not.

To a Juror. --- I was not one of the party.

What made you follow them? --- Seeing they were going to do mischief, I followed them.

Who did you first tell you knew Hogan? --- I told Tom Hennessy.

Fourth Witness.

Constable John Northeast sworn. --- Examined by Mr. Plunket.

I was stationed in Ennis in October last. I know John Slattery's house. I searched his house for him after the attack. I searched his house but once. I did not find him at home. I searched his house in the neighbourhood of Clare.

To Mr. O'Hea. --- Slattery is a carman, and is in the habit of taking loads to Limerick.

Fifth Witness.

Sub-constable Michael Glynn sworn. --- Examined by Mr. Plunket.

I know the prisoner John Slattery. I arrested him on the 26th of October at Meelick, three miles from Limerick. I asked him his name, and he said it was John O'Dea, and supported that until he came to the barrack of Clare; his name was there recognized, and he then acknowledged to his name being John Slattery.

To Mr. O'Hea. --- He told me his mother's name was O'Dea.

To Mr. Plunket. --- I arrested him on suspicion of his being Slattery. I told him I had a suspicion he was Slattery. I asked him his name, and he said it was John O'Dea. I told him the charge I arrested him on. I told him immediately after I arrested him. I told him I arrested him on suspicion of being one of a party who made an attack on Buncraggy.

Constable Thomas Meredith sworn.

Solicitor-General. --- We tender this witness for cross-examination.

Mr. O'Hea. --- Did Hennessy tell you there were twenty persons of the party? --- No; I think he said only five. I am certain he mentioned five. he might have named six. He gave Christian-names of three, and the sirnames of three others.

To the Attorney-General. --- That part of the country was disturbed at that time.

The Case for the prosecution here closed.

Mr. O'Hea then addressed the jury.

Gentlemen of the Jury, the only question here is as to the identity of the persons who committed this outrage. Only one of the prisoners is affected by two witnesses; but the whole of the case is affected by the production of the second witness. What was Ready produced for? If Hennessy was to be relied on there could be no mistake. Ready makes no information. Is that right? You may fill the convict ship upon evidence such as that, but will that benefit the country? What is his story? Watching his turnips, he meets a party, follows them, and marks them into a house, comes back and hits upon another party. Can you rely upon such a story as that? He makes no information. We have no means of ascertaining his life or character; but he comes suddenly upon us to add what he could to the testimony of the other witness. A savage outrage is committed; and do you suppose that lad, in the custody of the police, a Special Commission coming down, that that would not encourage him to come forward? If a man was telling the truth, he should come forward at once, that the party charged might know his accuser; but if Hennessy was to be relied on, what need had they of him; and if his evidence was considered necessary, why did he not make an information?

But what is the evidence of Hennessy? The policeman tells you he named five of them, but he does not tell you who the others are; and the man who makes a mistake as to one man, is not worthy of credit in a Court of Justice. You heard what he said of Rochford, and the reason he had for not identifying. Further he tells you that the magistrate inserted a name in the information, which he directed to be taken out. Is that credible? Is it to be believed that a magistrate would insert the name of a person into an information, which the witness states he is not sure of? Can you rely on him? Again, to-day he swears against two of the Kennedys; in his information he names three. If the prosecutor had died of the injury he suffered in consequence, and Kennedy had been arrested, and he had acknowledged his information, Kennedy might lose his life. That shows you the great importance of an information. As to the prisoner M'Namara, I am instructed we will be able to prove that he brought goods from Limerick on the very night in question; so that he could not have been present at the scene of the outrage. As to Hogan, we will be able to prove that he was sent for by the wife of this man to come and protect her.

John Fitzgerald sworn. --- Examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I remember the night Hennessy's was attacked. I know Mrs. Hennessy. She called me from my bed that night. I live within two houses of her. She called me from my bed that night. I live within two houses of her. She called me to go for the police to Clare, and I refused to go. I went for Tom Hogan, and returned with him. Hogan came to the door in his shirt when I knocked at the window. I waited until he was dressed, and then we came back to Hennessy's house. Thomas Hennessy came into the house after we came there. He made no charge against Hogan. Hennessy was put to bed. Hogan helped him to bed. The servant boy Barry was there also.

Cross-examined by the Attorney-General.

My house is within a hundred perches of Hennessy's house. I was in bed when Mrs. Hennessy came to me. Hogan's house is half a mile from my house. Hogan and I were in Hennessy's house before Hennessy came back. I did not see any of the party, nor did I hear them. We were three-quarters or half and hour in the house before Hennessy came back. He said he was very much beaten. Did Hennessy say to Hogan, "I may thank you for it?" --- He did not. There was no light in Hogan's house when I went there. Hogan's was not the nearest house to me. Hogan is a second cousin of Hennessy's. Hogan and I remained in the house until it was clear day.

Michael Dillon sworn. --- Examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I am a servant to Tom Hogan. I remember Tom Hogan being called up the night Hennessy was beat. I slept with Hogan that night. His father and mother were in another bed in the house. When he was called, he got up and went to the window, and he then put on his clothes and went away. He did not leave the bed that night before. He went to bed about ten o'clock.

Cross-examined by the Solicitor-General.

I slept with Tom Hogan. His father and mother slept in another bed, and the servant girl in another. I could not tell what time he was called up. I do not know how long he was in bed. I had been asleep. I was awoke at the time he went to the window.

Were you awake before Fitzgerald came? --- I was.

How long? --- I do not know how long.

How do you know that Hogan was asleep? --- Because a man knocked at the door, and his mother asked who was there? and I called Hogan, and told him Fitzgerald was at the window. I was up when he came back.

John Barry sworn. --- Examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I remember the time Hennessy was beat. I was a servant in the house at the time. I remember Mrs. Hennessy going out, and Hogan and Fitzgerald coming to the house, and putting him to bed.

John Magrath sworn. --- Examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I keep a shop in Clare. I remember the 24th of September last. I left Clare that night between eleven and twelve o'clock. That was the night before Hennessy was attacked. I went into Limerick that night. M'Namara and Brennan, two carmen, were with me. We left Limerick the next day closing four o'clock, and we reached Clare between four and five o'clock in the morning. That was on Saturday night, the 25th of September. The cars were heavily laden.

Cross-examined by Mr. Plunket.

We stopped at Bunratty. We got there about dusk. We reached Bunratty about seven o'clock. We stopped there an hour and a-half or two hours. M'Namara was with me. We did not stop after we left Bunratty. We did not stop at Newmarket. I bought flour and meal in several places through the city that day. M'Namara was often a carman with me before. We were driving all Saturday night, and we arrived on Sunday morning. I went to bed after the load was delivered, and I got up between first and second mass, when I heard of the house being attacked. M'Namara does not live in my house. He lives on the Commons of Clare. M'Namara did not leave me after we got to Clare, until we had refreshment.

Daniel Brennan sworn. --- Examined by Mr. O'Hea.

I came from Limerick the day before Hennessy's house was attacked. I was driving a car that night. We left Limerick about four o'clock. M'Namara the prisoner was with me that night. The road was dry, but a deal of it was newly made. We stopped in Bunratty, and fed our horses there. We had a good load.

Cross-examined by the Attorney-General.

Daniel M'Namara was with me. He always goes with the horses. His brother is a carman. His name is Michael. He has a horse and car of his own. I often carried with him.

Do you recollect driving with Magrath and M'Namara any night before that? --- I do not know rightly. I often travelled with Magrath before. I often travelled with M'Namara, but I am not sure that Magrath was with us. We had two tons five hundred weight between us. We carried flour, soap, candles, and other things. All the flour was not bought in the same place. What I carried was bought at Quinlivan's store. We left Clare at twelve o'clock on Friday night, and we got into Limerick about seven o'clock the following morning. We did not put up our horses in the stable.


The Chief Justice.

Gentlemen of the Jury, the sole question in this case is, as to the identity of the prisoners. As to one of them, Rochford, he is not identified at all. The two Kennedys were not in the house, and were only seen by Hennessy after he was at some distance from his house; and when you consider the state that man was in at the time, I do not think you would be safe in relying on his identification. But then there remain Thomas Hogan, Michael Murphy, Daniel M'Namara, and John Slattery. With respect to Hogan, he was certainly sent for by Hennessy's wife. He came to the assistance of the family at once, and was at the house before Hennessy returned, and assisted in helping him to bed; but he is positively sworn to, both by Hennessy and Ready, as being one of the party. Now, there is no impossibility in Hogan's being there; and the question is, were both witnesses wilfully swearing what was not true. If you believe them, Hogan was one of the party. As to the other persons, Hennessy appears to have had a continued opportunity of identifying them. He says three had guns and one had a pistol, and he positively identifies Murphy, M'Namara, and Slattery. He, therefore, must be guilty of wilful perjury, if they be not the persons; for the mistake is out of the question. --- [His Lordship recapitulated the evidence of Hennessy.]

If the evidence given for the defence be true, all his story must be a perfect fiction: and it is for you to decide which you will give credit to.

The jury retired for a quarter of an hour, and returned with a verdict of Guilty against Murphy, Slattery and M'Namara, with a recommendation on behalf of M'Namara, and acquitting the other three.


The Chief Justice then addressed them as follows: ---

John Slattery, you have been convicted of a very serious offence; and the jury, by the discrimination which marks their verdict, have shown that it is entitled to the utmost weight and consideration which belongs to a case requiring a patient, calm and dispassionate consideration; for, perhaps, an outrage of a more barbarous character has scarcely ever occurred even in this disturbed county. Thomas Hennessy was known to be in the possession of a gun, and in order to possess themselves of that gun, a party consisting of nine persons, perhaps of twenty, all armed, attacked his house in the dead of night. They drag him from his bed in a state of perfect nudity in order to procure those fire-arms. You acted with a greater degree of violence and barbarity than the other prisoners, and the sentence of the Court is, that you be transported for fourteen years; and let those who hear your case reflect on the enormity of your guilt: and I can only add, if a severer punishment had been inflicted, it would have been well merited.

Michael Murphy, you have been convicted of the same offence, but your conduct has not been marked with the same atrocity, and the Court, therefore, will pronounce upon you a more mitigated punishment. You are to be transported for seven years.

Daniel M'Namara, the jury have recommended you to mercy; and you having shown some degree of feeling towards this unfortunate man, and having regard to that and to the recommendation of the jury, the sentence of the Court is, that you be imprisoned for twelve months, with hard labour.

The Court adjourned at seven o'clock.

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