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Court Cases in Ennis

Court cases involving major crimes were tried at the Assizes Court in Ennis. These cases aroused more interest than those tried at the petty sessions and, accordingly, received greater publicity.

In 1882 the petty sessions court sentenced a street singer to one month's imprisonment for singing a verse of a song advocating No Rent. This sentence would be regarded as very severe today, but one must bear in mind that those were Land League days, that Government rule was English rule, that the majority of the magistrates were pro-English, and of the landed classes, maintained by and owing their existence as such and their survival to the same English rule.

At the Assizes on 19 July, 1825, Connor Hogan was found not guilty of rape and released. The number of cases throughout the century which dealt with the aforementioned crime was, by present day standards, exceedingly high and remarkably, most of the accused were found not guilty. The lengthy accounts of these cases which were given in the local newspapers show that the Irishman of the nineteenth century was an avid reader of the topical piece of scandal.

At the Spring Assizes, 1826, Patrick McGuane, was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to seven years transportation; Cornelius Redden, was found guilty of burglary, was sentenced to death and Dennis Murphy, found guilty of stealing three calves, the property of a local landlord, Francis Gore, was sentenced to death. The severity of sentences were typical of that era.

In October 1825, Michael Connolly was found guilty of swimming naked in the River Fergus. The judge cautioned him as to his future behaviour. Up to the first of November 1826, 600 civil bills had been tried at Ennis Quarter Sessions. Criminal cases tried consisted mostly of faction fights at fairs. During Land League times, about 1880, crimes connected with land agitation were frequently tried at this court. The June Quarter Sessions list for 1880 consisted of 348 civil bills, 84 defences, 53 ejectments, which were mostly for non-payment of rent, five crown cases, one equity and one redemption case.

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