Murder and Mayhem in Roscrea by Joe Coughlan
Between the years 1816 and 1908 Roscrea was witness to at least 15 murders.
In 1816 three Yeomen Thomas Doran, John Murray and Richard Mc Guinness were brought before Clonmel Assizes for the murder of Anthony Maher in Limerick St. The three men were returning from the funeral of a comrade and had been drinking when they came upon Maher leaning over his half door. According to witnesses they began to attack him with the butts of their muskets and as he was trying to get away from them he was mortally wounded by a bayonet which stabbed him through the heart. The yeomen had come through town taunting and provoking people on the way and Maher just happened to be the one they picked on.
In 1829 a faction fight took place in the town between two clans, the Cummins and the Darrigs. They fought violently through the town until they were broke up by the police. Four men were arrested and the families attacked the police barracks to try to release them.That night while James Kane from Boularea and four companions were heading home they were ambushed at Timoney and stoned James Kane was killed while some of his friends were severely beaten. A few nights later a man named Conor Mullally from Balinakill a few miles outside town was set upon and murdered while sowing potatoes in his own field. Two men James Bourke and Thomas Smith were tried, convicted and executed for the offence
In 1838 John Quirke and Thomas Connors were gambling in town when a dispute broke out between the two men. During the fight Quirke hit Connors on the temple knocking him out. Connors died the following day from the blow and by this time Quirke had absconded. He was eventually caught and executed for his crime.
In 1843 eight year old Mary Hogan was stabbed to death with a red hot piece if iron by Philip Cunneen a nailer living in Chapel Lane. Cunneen was considered to be of “low intelligence” and was constantly being annoyed by children calling him improper names. On this occasion the girl was among a group of children when the incident happened.
On May 20th 1844 John Cook was hung for the murder of a man named Nolan in Roscrea.
In 1847 a railway ganger was murdered a few miles from town.
In 1848 Sergeant Grant from Birr was on his way to Roscrea to distribute the monthly pay to the out-
Also in 1848 two men named Egan and Dwyer were tried for the murder of Denis O Meara but after all the witnesses in the case were heard the jury found the two men not guilty.
And in November of 1848 John Carroll from Dunkerrin was attacked on his way home from Roscrea and beaten to death about three miles from town.
In 1863 Bridget Butler aged 7 from Benamore was out playing in a corn field about 200 yards from her house , when she did not return home her family went out to search for her and found her badly beaten body in the field. Her brother Thomas Butler was arrested for her murder and later released but after the inquest he was re-
In 1874 a man named Patrick Ryan from Holy cross and some of his family came to town for a match making. During this event a fight broke out and Ryan was stabbed in the neck by a man named Guilfoyle who had just returned from America, Guilfoyle was arrested and charged with the murder.
In July of 1878 John Stapleton was murdered on his own lands at Clashgad near Dunkerrin.
On April 25th 1908 Michael Gleeson of Colcannon died at the Union hospital after being shot the previous day. A neighbour of Gleeson’s was charged with his murder.
In 1918 Patrick Delaney aged 11 from Benamore and two of his friends were playing in the area when a local farmer passed with a cart load of hay. The three boys jumped on the cart and when the farmer noticed them he came back to chase the boys off but when he caught Patrick he beat him severely. Patrick died shortly afterwards and the cart drivar was char