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Moonlighters in Lisdoonvarna

Sept. 1887.

In the affair at Lisdoonvarna, eight constables, under the command of a head-constable, Gerald Whelehan, of Ennis, were specially appointed to protect the farm-house of Thomas Sexton. The authorities had received private information that an attack would be made on the house on the Sunday night.

Thomas Sexton's House
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The Moonlighters knocked loudly at the door and demanded admission. Whelehan signalled that they were to be admitted and the door instantly closed and locked, the Moonlighters were now trapped. The police dashed at them in an attempt to arrest the entire gang. The combatants used sticks, clubbed rifles and chairs. During this terrific struggle the door was forced open and three of the moonlighters escaped, though badly wounded.

The remaining five were secured after another struggle. Head-Constable Whelehan lay dead, his skull being cloven asunder. John Connell, another constable, was found with his head terribly battered. The prisoners were lodged in jail and not one had escaped injury.

The head-constable took no part in the fight inside the house, but remained on the watch outside. Whilst so engaged, a second party of moonlighters unexpectedly came on the scene and battered in the skull of Whelehan. The murder accomplished, the second gang fled without attempting to rescue their comrades.

Thomas Sexton, the farmer who owned this house, came under the ban of the National League for letting land which he had inherited from his father, and from which the former tenant had been evicted. Sexton, therefore, received threatening letters and had been boycotted. Protection had than been arranged for him and this tragedy was the result.

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