The Shooting of Sergeant Brady
On September 2, 1919 Sergeant Brady, accompanied by Constable Foley and Constable McCormack, left Lorrha barracks at about 10.30 p.m. on a routine night patrol along the Lorrha-Carrigahorig road. Sergeant Brady was armed with a revolver and the two constables with carbines. The patrol got as far as Carrigahorig crossroads about 11.30 p.m. and turned back. On the return journey they sat down on a wall near two cottages. After the rest they continued their journey and it was uneventful until they reached trench's gate, at the bottom of a hill about half-a-mile from Lorrha. It wasn't a dark night and it was not raining or misty. Constable Foley was on the right, next the gate, Sergeant Brady in the centre and Constable McCormack on the left side. As they approached the gate Constable Foley heard a rustle and turned sharply to his right. Sergeant Brady turned immediately after him. At that instant two shots rang out from the direction of the noise and as they did Sergeant Brady shouted: 'Oh, Lord, I am shot'. A further shot followed and wounded Constable Foley. The latter dropped his rifle and left the scene. He did not reappear until six o'clock the following morning. Immediately after the shooting Constable McCormack went to the aid of Sergeant Brady and found that he was dead. He called Constable Foley's name but got no reply. He then moved the body of the sergeant from the road to the grass margin and returned to Lorrha barracks to report the matter.
A force of police from Lorrha quickly visited the scene and Rev. Fr. Gleeson, P.P. was summoned. He found Sergeant Brady lying by the roadside surrounded by armed police and not knowing whether life was extinct or not gave conditional absolution. A search was made for Constable Foley but without effect. Two policemen were left to guard the body. Two plainclothes policemen were dispatched to Borrisokane for help. Early the following morning military were poured into the district. Searches of houses were begun at six o'clock. One of the houses visited was that of Mr. Felix Cronin who was asked if he played on the Boherlahan and Toomevara hurling teams. When he answered in the affirmative the police questioned him about his movements the previous night and if he had any 'stuff' in the house. The police searched a portion of the house and went away. Another to be questioned was Denis Britt, who was taken to the barracks but released after a short time. Mr. John Dillon, The Glebe Lodge, was also accosted by the police qnd requested to go to the barracks. Mr. J.J. Madden, a native of Lackeen and a well known local hurler was arrested at Gortahaha, Portumna and brought to Lorrha by police lorry about midday.
Constable Foley returned to Lorrha barracks in a motor car on Wednesday morning and when seen there appeared to be quite cool and fairly well recovered. Afterwards he was taken to Borrisokane where he was medically treated by Dr. Quigley. He was detained at Borrisokane hospital. When Constable Foley left the scene of the shooting he was without his rifle, which he dropped when he was hit on the hand and chest. He went down Annagh lane, on the opposite side, about fifty yards from where the shooting took place: He called at the first house, owned by Hodgins, but got no reply. He continued to the next house, owned by Patrick Carroll and was admitted where he received some help. He stayed there for the remainder of the night and at break of day he returned to the scene of the murder, where he made a statement to the police. After this he was conveyed to Lorrha barracks.
Dr. F.S. Brennan, M.O., Terryglass was awakened on Wednesday morning by the police and he proceeded to the scene of the shooting. He found Sergeant Brady lying on the side of the road and pronounced him dead. He looked at the body and found five holes opened on the breast. Blood was slightly oozing from the perforations in the body. Later, that morning, he examined Constable Foley at Lorrha barracks and found his left hand shattered with pellets. He also found one small opening under the right nipple caused by a pellet from a gun. The constable was very excited or nervous at the time. Later on Wednesday the body of Sergeant Brady was conveyed to Borrisokane on a military ambulance.
Sergeant Philip Brady had arrived at Lorrha on temporary duty on the previous Saturday, August 30th. He had come from Enniskillen, where his wife and six children still remained. He was born at Redhills, Co. Cavan in 1871 and had joined the R.I.C. in 1891. His twenty-eight and a half years in the force were an unblemished record. He had come to Lorrha from Enniskillen. His wife was thirty-seven years of age and their six children ranged in age from eleven and a half down to two and a half. At the time of his death he was earning £132.12.0, exclusive of war bonus and allowance. According to his wife her husband handed over his monthly pay to her with which she defrayed her household expenses. He never required any money only the odd shilling. He did not smoke or drink. Between them both they had saved £200 with which they intended to start a drapery business in the north of Ireland. She had a joint policy taken out on their lives for £200. Constables Foley and McCormack were both about thirty years of age and unmarried. The former was a native of Bagnalstown and the latter had come on duty from Belfast. Foley had been stationed in Lorrha for two years and McCormack since July 5th.
On Thursday the 'Irish Independent', in a sub-leader, entitled 'Cold-blooded Murder', said: 'In a most cold-blooded and brutal fashion a police sergeant was shot dead and a constable dangerously wounded near Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary on Tuesday night. The sergeant had been only four days in the district. Dastardly criminals like these cannot be too strongly condemned. Repeating the words uttered by Cardinal Logue recently, we say: 'Anyone who committed crime showed himself to be a greater enemy of Ireland than even Lloyd George, Carson Bonar' Law, or the rest of them. If they committed crime they gave strength to the enemy'. We have had too many of these wicked deeds; all, or nearly all, committed with callous pre-meditation. Such violations of the law of God are shocking.'
On the same day the inquest on the remains of Sergeant Brady was opened in the boardroom of the Borrisokane Workhouse by Mr. James O'Brien, solicitor and coroner for North Tipperary. Mr. Dudgeon, District Inspector, conducted he proceedings on behalf of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The members of the jury were: George Hobbs, J.P., (foreman), T.P. Heenan, F. Dillon, Patrick Brereton, Patrick Flannery, James Cahalan, James Reade, Thomas Cleary, P. Heenan, Chairman Borrisokane Guardians, Michael Ryan, J.A. Phelan, J. Crawford, Wm. Fogarty, P.J. Donoghue.
The body was identified by Mr. Edward Brady, brother of the deceased. Constable McCormack gave evidence on the happenings of the evening of the shooting and averred that the shots were fired about 11.45 and had come through the gate. In the course of his evidence Dr. Brennan informed the jury that in his opinion death was due. to shock and hemorrhage from rupture of the auricles of the heart, caused by gunshot wounds. The shot used was in his opinion larger than that used in an ordinary shotgun.
When the evidence was heard the coroner addressed the jury and asked them to determine the cause of death and if possible to find by whom caused. The jury found in accordance with the medical evidence and that Sergeant Brady was wilfully murdered by some person or persons unknown. Sympathy with the relatives was expressed and the murder condemned in the strongest possible manner. The remains of the deceased were subsequently conveyed for interment to Kilougher, Co. Cavan. The funeral was attended by a large number of police in addition to the relatives of the deceased.
Fr. Gleeson had attended the dead man on Tuesday night. On the following day, in an interview, he expressed shock at what had happened. Lorrha was the quietest parish he knew. He knew all the people of the parish intimately and could not believe that those who fired the shots were to be numbered among his flock. Those who were responsible for the deed must have come from outside the parish. On the following Sunday, however, he made an extremely strong denunciation of the shooting. In the course of a lengthy sermon he said: 'The sin of Cain has been committed in the peaceable parish of Lorrha; the widow and children have been plunged into lifelong grief by the murder of the father. The brand of Cain lies on the assassins who, standing behind a wall, slew an innocent man, almost at our own doors, on Tuesday night, and the shadow of that crime will hang over the parish for many generations. The murderers, if they escape human justices, will not escape divine justice,and, while they live the face of the dead innocent man - the good father and good Christian will haunt their memory, and they will walk like Cain, fugitives of the earth. Their fate is worse than the fate of the man who has been murdered. I do not know who the murderers are, but I now denounce them, and God will punish them". He continued that there was no moral sanction for such murders, that the people of Ireland would never approve of bloodshed and that the freedom of martyred Ireland would never be achieved by midnight assassination. Crime would never solve anything. "The persons who commit murder are not fit to live. They should be removed from the earth. Every crime must be explained and the expiation of death is death". He concluded by stating how the parish had been changed by this heinous crime and how the future could never be the same or the dead restored to life. He prayed for the dead man and his wife and orphans and he cursed the murderers: "May the curse of Cain, the curse of the widow and orphans, the curse of the priest and the curse of God fall on those who are guilty of this murder and may God have mercy on their souls".
This sermon got national publicity but it also got an immediate response from Rev. Fr. J.L. Magee, P.P., Moate in the form of a letter that appeared in the 'Freeman's Journal', the following Wednesday. In this letter Fr. Magee said that Fr. Gleeson was justified in denouncing the murder but was wrong to make direct insinuations against the Irish character and to accuse the people of his own parish of a deed for which nobody has as yet been found guilty. He regarded much of his language as unchristian and unpatriotic. He concluded: "As regards Fr. Gleeson's invocation of curses - perhaps the less said the better. The Author of Creation has reserved such matters to himself and Fr. Gleeson might do well to respect that monopoly. I protest against the whole tone of Fr. Gleeson's letter in this, not that it denounces crime, but that it at once assumes his own fellow countrymen guilty of the crime, and without proof proceeds to denounce and blacken them. That spirit, the remnants of a slave spirit still lurking among us, is entirely out of place at present, unchristian and unpatriotic. When our own countrymen are coldly murdered by the agents of a foreign power in Ireland, we hear but little from those in a position to denounce the crimes. Why this differentiation? Is it cowardice?"
As a result of the police activity John Joe Madden, who had been arrested at Portumna, appeared at a special court at Borrisokane on Wednesday afternoon before Major Dease, R.M. and was charged with the murder of Sergeant Brady at Lorrha on 2nd or 3rd of September and with the wounding of Constable Foley. Evidence was given by the latter and Madden was remanded in custody for eight days and taken under escort to Limerick jail. On the same day a party of police visited the licensed premises of Mr. Milne, publican, Crinkle, and questioned Mrs. Milne and household. The reason was that a letter from a Miss Keegan, Mr. Milne's assistant, had been found on Madden, when he was arrested and the police were making inquiries about his movements.
On the following day, Thursday, the ordinary monthly court was held at Lorrha. The magistrates were: Col. Head, presiding, Major Dease, R.M., Capt. Stoney and Mr. J.C. Willington, B.L.. The chairman proposed a resolution condemning the murder of Sergeant Brady, which he saw as part of a general conspiracy against the police. The other magistrates agreed with the resolution and the court was adjourned. The cases listed for hearing on that day were of a very trivial nature. There were three summoneses by the School Attendance Officer against parents for not sending their children to school. Sergeant Greene (who preceded Sergeant Brady) had a summons against an Annagh man for having an unlicensed dog, and Constable Foley (the injured man) had two summonses for not having lights. One of these was against John J. Madden , Abbeville (who had been arrested) for not having a light at 10.45 p.m. on the 9th August at Lissagadda.
John Joe Madden was detained in Limerick prison until November 1 when he appeared at a special court at Nenagh before Major Bredin, R.M., Birr. He was charged with the murder of Sergeant Brady on September 2nd or 3rd and with feloniously wounding Constable Foley on the same occasion. A detachment of armed military and police took up a position outside the courthouse and admittance to the building was limited to the relatives and friends of the deceased. The prisoner looked in the best of health and appeared unconcerned throughout the proceedings, smiling to his friends in court. Mr. Michael Gleeson, C.S. prosecuted and the defendant was represented by M.J.J. Kearns, solicitor, Portumna.
Constable Foley was the first witness and he related the events of the evening of September 2nd when Sergeant Brady, Constable McCormack and himself were returning from a routine patrol along the Carrigahorig road. It was a clear night and possible to recognise a man at fifty yards. As soon as Sergeant Brady was shot Constable Foley looked in the direction of the shots and saw the form of a man with his two hands extended, shouting 'Hands Up'. He also saw the form of four other persons appearing over the wall. The man who shouted 'Hands Up' was nearest to the gate. "I identify that man as the accused, John Madden, now in custody. I am quite clear as to the identification of that man. I was about three and a half yards from him when he shouted the words. The night was clear and the moon was shining". He continued that he was then hit on the hand and chest but "when I was struck I stood on the road for a moment staring at Madden and he kept staring at me. I only kept my eyes on the one man that I knew". He left the scene and his rifle and when he was about thirty yards away he looked back and saw flashes out of a gun and seven or eight shots. He then went for refuge down Annagh lane. He added that he knew Madden well, having had contact with him on previous occasions. He could even recognise his voice.
Constable Foley was closely cross-examined by Mr. Kearns. The latter saw a discrepancy between the initial statement made by Foley and his present one. In the earlier one there was no mention of the four men and the third shot. Foley was further questioned about his activities on the day of the shooting. He admitted that he had visited public houses at Borrisokane, Portumna and Lorrha on that day but denied that he was drunk when he went on patrol. Mr. Kearns also commented on the fact that Constable McCormack, who was also on the scene, did not see anybody. He asked Foley how Madden was dressed and if he carried a gun. He was dressed ordinary and he didn't think he carried a gun. He added that he recognised his voice as well.
In his, evidence Constable McCormack spoke about the clear night. He heard a voice when the shots rang out but didn't know what it said. The shots seemed to come from a double and single-barrel gun. The last he saw of Constable Foley was after he staggered on the other side of the road. After the shots he heard a noise behind the bushes like a lot of persons running through a thicket. The noise was going back towards the Carrigahorig direction. He fired nine or ten shots after them. He stated that Constable Foley was perfectly sober on the patrol.
Dr. F.S. Brennan gave evidence of examining the body of Sergeant Brady at the scene of the shooting and of examining Constable Foley the following morning in the barracks at Lorrha. Constable Thomas Kilmurray gave evidence that in search of Trench's field, with other constables, on September 5th, he found a single-barrelled shotgun about eighty-four yards from the scene of the shooting. There was a cartridge in the gun and when it was opened the pellets found therein matched those taken from the body of the dead man by Dr. Brennan. Finally, Constable Comiskey gave evidence or arresting John J. Madden and charging him with murder on the farm of his father at Gurtahaha.
On the occasion of the evidence the prisoner pleaded 'not guilty'. He was returned for trial to the next Assizes for the North Riding of Co. Tipperary. Subsequently he was conveyed under a heavy armed military and police escort to Limerick. As he stepped into the military lorry he was loudly cheered by a crowd which had assembled outside the courthouse. His father was present during the proceedings and the court attendance also included a number of clergy.
John J. Madden was not tried at the next North Tipperary Assizes. Instead on November 13th an order was made directing that the accused be tried by a special jury in the city of Belfast. This decision was appealed by Madden's counsel on the grounds that "the majority of the gentlemen comprising the special jury panel of Belfast belong to political organisations opposed in every way to the views of the class to which it was said the prisoner belonged, or were in entire sympathy with such organisations. He believed that it was impossible for these special jurors to divest themselves of their prejudices. It was not in the interests of justice that an accused person, supposed to belong to a political organisation, should be tried by jurors almost entirely composed of gentlemen belonging to political organisations bitterly hostile to the organisation to which the accused was supposed to belong. He would be satisfied to have the trial held in the County of Dublin". This appeal, heard in the King's Bench Division before the Lord Chief .Justice, Mr. Justice Dodd and Mr. Justice Moore, was granted and the court ordered the venue to be changed to the County of Dublin.
The case eventually came up at Green Street Courthouse on February 9, 1920. There were remarkable military and police arrangements. Madden was conveyed from Mountjoy in a military motor waggon, surrounded by soldiers with fixed bayonets. Other contingents of military followed and upwards of fifty fully armed soldiers were on duty in and around the precincts of the courthouse, while half a dozen sentries paced up and down in front of the building. The entrances were guarded by armed DMP and RIC and admission was strictly limited to witnesses, jurors and others having legitimate business. The gallery of the court was occupied by a score of RIC armed with carbines and revolvers and all the DMP carried automatic pistols in their belts. All of this dramatic display was for nought, however, as the prosecution requested an adjournment of the case until the next Commission because "since Saturday important information had been received by the police, affecting not only Madden, but other persons". Counsel for the defence opposed the adjournment on the grounds that no new information could prejudice the case of the prisoner and that it was unfair to the young man, who had been in prison since September 3rd, to be sent back to prison for a further period. The judge granted the adjournment and gave the prisoner leave to appeal to a full Bench for bail.
An explanation for the adjournment can be found in the activities around Lorrha in the previous week. Mr. Felix Cronin was arrested in a round-up and was deported. He had interested himself in the preparation of the defence of John J. Madden and, as a result of his endeavours, twenty-one witnesses for the defence attended the adjourned trial in Dublin. On the Sunday morning before the trial, Mr. James Carroll of Ballyquirke was arrested under DORA and conveyed to Limerick jail. He had been staying at his mother's house which had been raided by the police on several occasions. Mrs. Carroll said that the police examined any letters they found when they called and lifted lids of pots and pans even at twelve o'clock at night. On the same Sunday morning the police visited the house of Mr. Michael Hogan of Kilfadda but he was at a dance. When he found he was wanted he departed again. Other houses visited by the police at this time were those of William Boucher, Thomas Needham, Thomas Brett, of Lorrha, Mrs. Hough and Mr. Patrick Joyce of Carrigahorig and Mr. John Dillon of Ballyquirke.
The new evidence that had come the way of the prosecution was presented at a special court at Nenagh on April 1st. On this occasion James Carroll of Ballyquirke was charged with the wilful murder of Sergeant Philip Brady on the night of September 2nd, 1919. The star witness for the prosecution was a Private John Gilligan, who gave his address as Waterloo Barracks, Aldershot. He stated 'he was an uncle of the accused man; his sister, Mrs. Carroll, was the mother of the accused man'.
In the course. of his evidence Gilligan stated that he was thirty or thirty two years of age and that he was born in New York. At the age of five or six he came to live in Ireland and spent some time in the country. In 1907 he went back to America and he joined the army. Sometime during the war he joined the 3rd West Lancashires at Liverpool. He was demobilised in March 1919 and came to live with his relations at Ballyquirke.
During the months before the shooting he heard his nephew, James Carroll, make anti-English and pro-Sinn Fein statements. In May he talked about using a gun, saying. he would soon need it and mentioned about revolutions. On the 15th of August he saw the accused with a gun in the house. Witness stated that at this time he was trying to get back to America with army assistance and this effort involved visits to Birr barracks. After such a visit he arrived back at Ballyquirke on the afternoon of September 2nd.
That night Gilligan went to Lorrha with James Carroll about 9 o'clock. They parted at the church and witness waited for an hour and forty minutes for Carroll to return. While he was waiting he observed three policemen pass in the direction of Carrigahorig. About a quarter of an hour after this his nephew returned with two men who were Michael Hogan and John Joe Madden. The four set off towards Ballyquirke.
On the way they stopped at Brett's cottage and Carroll went over the wall and returned with a long parcel and they proceeded along the way. When they came to Trench's gate Madden and Hogan went over the wall and started taking stones off the wall with Carroll who had remained outside. Witness started to go home, saying he was tired, but was ordered inside the wall. When they were all inside the wall the parcel was opened and it contained four guns. The three men started to load the guns and passed one of them to Gilligan. When he inquired their intention he was told 'We are going to hunt'. He was told to ask no more questions. Witness protested that he didn't want to be involved and left his gun by the wall.
The sound of footsteps approaching was then heard. Gilligan looked over the wall and saw three policemen. When the policemen were almost abreast Madden fired his gun and said 'Hands Up!'. The guns of Hogan and Carroll then rang out. Gilligan saw one of the policemen lying on the ground and a second running in the direction of Ballyquirke. He went to run away and Carroll caught up with him and handed him his gun. They both ran inside the wall until Carroll came to his bicycle, which he put on the road and he gave Gilligan a lift back to Ballyquirke.
When they arrived at Carroll's house no one was up. Carroll took the two guns and took them out to the yard. 'He remained outside for about ten minutes and before he took the guns from the accused took off his cap, put parriffin oil on it, and burned it. He also took his boots off and made an attempt to tear them, but he did not succeed and he took them out to the yard as well as the guns. I did not see the boots afterwards'. Witness remained in the house for about twenty minutes and then left for Birr, by the Ballyquirke Castle road. He arrived there about eight o'clock in the morning and got enlisted that day. He returned to Ballyqulrke that evening, spoke to Carroll, asked him if he was afraid of being found out. He said he did not worry as there were no informers around. The following morning Gilligan returned to Birr and from there to Preston, as an enlisted soldier. From Preston he went to Aldershot. He never gave any undertaking to join in the attack on the policemen on September 2nd. When he was handed a single barrelled shotgun in the court he recognised it as the one he saw with Carroll on August 15th.
In the course of the hearing it transpired that Private Gilligan had made his statement to the police on February 8th. Mr. Kearns, solicitor, Portumna, who was also defending James Carroll, stated that this evidence had a bearing on his defence of John J. Madden. He protested that he had such short notice of this new evidence as Madden's case was coming up the following week. He could not understand why this was so, seeing that the Crown had this information in their possession since February and it was now April. For the prosecution, Mr. Gleeson, explained that Gilligan's story was such an elaborate one that it had to be checked and investigated by the authorities to see what foundation or corroboration there was for it. This investigation had only now been completed.
Accused, who reserved his defence, was returned for trial to the next Assizes for the North Riding of the county. He was also returned for trial on the charge of the attempted murder of Contable J. Foley on the same occasion.
On the previous day, at the Nenagh Quarter Session, Judge Moore, K.C., gave his decision in the claim of Mrs. Margaret Brady for compensation for the loss of her husband, Sergeant Philip Brady, who was killed and in the case of Constable Foley, who was injured on the night of September 2nd. In the latter case his Honour awarded £2,300. In Mrs. Brady's case his honour awarded £2,000. 'This, he said,'was a different case to Constable Fo/ey's, as Sergeant Brady had 28 years service and Constable Foley was only twenty-eight years of age'. Both amounts were levied off the Borrisokane Rural District. Constable Foley had spent almost. two months in hospital as a result of his injuries.
On Thursday April 22nd the trial of John J. Madden opened before the Lord Chief Justice and a Co. Dublin special jury at Green Street Courthouse, Dublin. The courthouse was strongly guarded, both inside and outside, by armed military and police. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Wylie, K.C. and Mr. Dudley White, K.C., instructed by Mr. M. Gleeson, Crown Solicitor, Tipperary. Mr. P. Lynch, K.C. and Mr. Joseph O'Connor, instruced by Mr. J. Kearns, Portumna and Mr. A.C. Houlihan, Roscrea, appeared for the defence. The defendant was guraded in the dock by two soldiers with fixed bayonets. When asked to plead he replied: "I am not guilty, my Lord". The jury panel was called on fines of £20 and fifty were on stand by. Ten were challenged on behalf of the defence and the swearing in of the jury took over an hour.
In opening the case for the prosecution, Mr. Wylie spoke of the enormity of the crime In which Sergeant Brady was shot on the road at night with less consideration than could be shown to a dog. Maps of the scene of the occurance were produced in court. In his evidence Constable John Foley repeated the evidence he had given at the earlier hearing, repeating his conviction that it was the prisoner he saw at the shooting. He informed the court that he had about eight drinks on the day of the shooting. He said he saw the forms of four men at the time. Mr. Lynch, for the defence, drew the witness's attention to the fact that the moon, which was only two days old on that night, had set at 10.22 p.m. Constable Foley claimed that it was shining enough for him to see the man. Defence counsel also drew witness's attention to his present evidence that he saw four forms at the scene and his previous signed disposition that he had seen five forms. Witness said that was a mistake. Constable McCormack then gave evidence and Head Constable Comiskey of Portumna told the court of the arrest of John J. Madden on September 3rd on his father's farm.
The next witness for the prosecution was Private John Gilligan, who appeared in court in military uniform. He repeated the evidence he had given in the hearing at Nenagh in connection with his nephew, James Carroll. When he was crossexamined by defence counsel, Mr. Lynch, questioned him about a statement he had made to Inspector Dudgeon. It transpired that Gilligan had made this statement at Dublin Castle on February 7 but he had only received it from Mr. Wylie, counsel for the prosecution on the day before and he was extremely thankful to Mr. Wylie for giving him a copy of the statement. He did not know who was responsible for depriving him of this document but whoever was responsible 'should be made to feel the censure of those who were over him in authority, and should have meted out to him the justice that he deserved'.
Gilligan's February 7th statement differed in a number of respects from the evidence recently given. In the former he left Blrr on September 1st and walked towards Portumna and had a sleep in a field that night. He also told Mr. Dudgeon that on the evening of the second, towards dusk, he started from Lorrha, and met four men on the road, three of whom were Carroll, Madden and Hogan, The statement continued: 'I stayed here long enough for me to make sure who they were and I did not let myself be seen by them' keeping in the shelter of the opposite wall. 'I heard them whispering but could not make out what they were saying'. Gilligan replied to Mr. Lynch that all the statements he made to Mr. Dudgeon on February 7th were a lie except where he said the men took stones off the wall. He further said that he came from Glasgow the day before he made the statement and stayed the night of the 6th in the Police Depot in the Phoenix Park. At this point Mr. Lynch asked: 'When did you hear about the reward offered for information about this murder?', 'I never heard of any reward'. 'It was purely out of love of justice that you came forward .to give evidence?' 'Nothing else', replied Gllllgan. The witness also denied that he had been sent out of America as an undesireable in 1914.
The remaining witnesses for the prosecution were Dr. Brennan and Constable Kilmurray. The former spoke of examining the dead body and said that the night was dark and it would be difficult to distinguish people at a short distance. Constable Kilmurray gave evidence of finding a single-barrelled shotgun near the place of the shooting and finding a cartridge in it. The pellets matched those found in the body of Sergeant Brady.
Opening the case for the defence Mr. Lynch addressed the jury and cautioned them lest their indignation at the terrible crime would sway their judgement on the issue involved. The issue for the jury was whether they were satisfied with the identification in the case, and he directed the jury's attention to the three tests that should always be applied in a murder case: the test of time, place and opportunity. It was now certain that the moon went down at 10.22 p.m. and the murder was placed at 11.45 p.m. Constable Foley's evidence was suspect because he had ten drinks that day but he believed that it was difficult to rely on the count. He was sure the man Gilligan did not recommend himself to the jury and that they would not take his evidence to send a man to the gallows. He also referred the jury to the fact that the accused had made a statement to a constable, a short time after his arrest, and that constable had not been called as a witness. Commenting on Gilligan he drew the jury's attention to the way he contradicted now what he had said on February 7th. He continued: "He is not a credit to human nature, and he does not look a bit better than he has shown himself to be. He is an impecunious ne'er-do-well come back from America. Did you ever in your life see such a contemptible specimen of humanity as Gilligan? Would any of you hand a neighbour's dog on anything sworn by Gilligan?
Thomas Madden, father of the accused, gave evidence. He said his son, who was living at Lackeen, came to help him on September 2nd. After milking, the prisoner sat in the kitchen for a while and then went to bed. Witness locked up the house before going to bed and did not sleep until about 4 o'clock because he was in pain. He heard nobody leaving the house during the night. Prisoner got up soon after seven o'clock and was working when he was arrested. Mrs. Madden corroborated her husband's evidence. A neighbour stated that he had walked home from Portumna that night and it was dark without any moon.
Sergeant McDougall of the Leinster Regiment, stationed at Birr produced the official record of recruits kept at the barracks. John Gilligan elisted on September 4th, 1919. He gave his age as 28 years and his occupation as a medical student and his place of birth as America.
Addressing the jury on behalf of the prisoner Mr. O'Connor brought their attention to the manner in which the defence had been treated by some sinister influences and were it not for the uprightness of Mr. Wylie, their client might have been in a parlous state. As well as that the hearing had totally discredited Gilligan's evidence. For the prosecution Mr. Carrigan agreed that there was no statement by Gilligan in which the smallest credence could be placed. He did not agree that Constable Foley was drunk and he said that on the question of light the murderers 'had light enough to see their victims and shoot two of them with murderous accuracy'. In his address, the Lord Chief Justice, reminded the jury of the importance of their task and the shifting of the evidence. He advised them 'to eliminate the testimony of Gilligan. It would be utterly unsafe and wrong for them to act upon it'. Proceeding, his Lordship reviewed the rest of the evidence. Foley might, he said, be giving them what he honestly believed to be a faithful and true account but that was not enough for them. They should be convinced not only that he was telling them the truth but that he was accurate in his information, and that the accused was the person that faced him that night. So far as the other evidence was concerned it in no way implicated the accused. There was nothing found on him or in his father's house that in any way connected him with the crime. 'No matter how they looked at the case it depended on Foley and on Foley alone'.
The jury retired and returned after twenty-five minutes. There was an air of tension in the court which was relieved when the Associate of the jury announced that they had agreed that the prisoner was 'not guilty'. There was slight applause which was quickly suppressed. Mr. Carrigan, for the prosecution stated there was another charge against the prisoner of having fired at Constable Foley with intent to murder. Havng regard to the verdict they would enter a nolle prosequi. The Lord Chief justice then announced the discharge of the prisoner.
When the acquitted man appeared outside the courthouse he was enthusiastically greeted by his friends and cheered by a large crowd. He was raised shoulder high and in acknowledgement of the cheers raised his cap in the air. After a while he posed with some friends and a few priests for a photograph. Meanwhile the Lord Chief Justice thanked the jury and informed them that he approved of their verdict.
In a comment on the verdict on April 24, the Evening Herald remarked: 'The trial was specially remarkable for two things. First, it flashed a light upon the dark methods by which evidence is sometimes manufactured by certain agents of the Crown anxious to procure a conviction, and apparently absolutely indifferent and callous as to whether the man liable to be sent to the scaffold is innocent or guilty. The wretched informer, Gilligan, told in the witness box a story which tallied in every detail with that told by Constable Foley. Here was a corroborative evidence which, if it had not been utterly discredited by cross-examlnat!on, would have placed in gravest peril the life of an innocent young man in the dock. But a dramatic development took place when it was elicited by counsel for the defence that the story sworn to by this degenerate scoundrel was an absolute contradiction of the statement made by him to the District Inspector on February 7th.
The second notable feature of this Lorrha trial was the way Mr. Wylie informed counsel for the defence of the February 7th statement of Gilligan. 'By acting in the manner in which he did Mr. Wylie broke with the evil and infamous tradition and practice on the part of Irish Crown prosecutors in striving to obtain convictions of - as justice prescribes - exerting themselves to the sole end of enabling the truth to be determined· and a just verdict returned.'
'Let us hope that this Lorrha trial, so conspicuous for the fairness and impartiality with which it was conducted, will form the opening of a new chapter'.
There were other reverberations. The Irish Statesman concurred with the verdict and commented on the fabricated evidence of Gilligan and on the fact that the constable 'could have identified anybody, only on the supposition that he could see, cat-like, in the dark'. In another part of the paper a commentator remarked: 'There was a welcome rivalry between Counsel for the Crown, Counsel for the prisoner and his Lordship on the bench, as to who should say best what he thought of Gilligan.' There was a question on the House of Commons to the Attorney-General for the names of the officials at Dublin Castle and the R.I.C. in the Phoenix Park who had interviewed Gilligan and whether, in view of the verdict and the comments of the Lord Chief Justice it was the intention of the Attorney General to prosecute Gilligan for perjury. In a written reply it was disclosed that it would not be in the public interest to name anybody and that it was not intended to prosecute Gilligan.
Two weeks after the verdict James Carrell of Ballyquirke was released from Limerick jail where he had been in prison since February 8th. He received a rousing reception on his arrival home. There was a bonfire in the village followed by a dance at Carroll's home at Ballyquirke.
The final word on the whole episode must be left to Fr. Gleeson, P.P. A letter from him appeared in the Midland Tribune on May 22, 1920 about a month after the trial. It read: 'Reference has been made to Private Gilligan, who gave evidence against John Madden and his own nephew,- Carroll, also against a young man named Hogan. In justice to those young men and in justice to Private Gilligan and his relatives, it now transpires that before he left the U.S. to take part in the war, Private Giliigan was detained in a lunatic asylum. The fact, and his experience during the war, may have been the real cause of his extraordinary conduct. Any person who has intimate knowledge of this country is aware that emigration and other causes have left their mark -on the people, resulting in the production of a number of weak minded persons in this county. We are always safer to judge our neighbours mercifully'.
Cois Deirge, no. 18, 1986/87, pp 44-53