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ness of the peasantry to take a personal part in the outrages is quite sincere: as (to say nothing of the indisposition to commit atrocious crime where there is no individual wrong) they expose themselves in so doing to considerable risk. The risk of refusing to join is, however, still greater, as their only property, their cabin, can be burnt over their heads at any moment.
In what way (Mr. Bennett is asked) can you explain the facility with which that system of terror has been introduced ?
- The people in Ireland (he answers) live very much in thatched houses; and it has very frequently occurred that a person who was well-disposed, and I believe well-affected, has, through terror, been obliged to join in the conspiracy in the country, lest his house should be burnt, and himself and his family murdered, from their unprotected state.”—H. C., 1824,
“One of the greatest and most frequent outrages we have (says Mr. Blacker) is burning houses of persons who are not their friends ; and a person can very quickly run out of a house with a half-burnt turf in a kettle, run across two or three fields, put it into the thatch, and run back again.”—H. C., 1824,
Mr. R. Griffith is examined as follows in reference to the northern part of the county of Cork, when in a disturbed state.
“ You stated that the middle gentry of the country are in a state of apprehension, and have their houses barricadoed ?At one time all the houses of the gentry were, to a certain degree, barricadoed.
“Do the farmers suffer any degree of apprehension ?-No farmer who resides in a thatched cottage dare oppose anything he is directed to do, and consequently they are quite under the control of the disturbers of the peace.
“ Do you mean anything he is directed to do by the disturbers of the peace ?
-He is obliged to do it; I have known
instances where farmers have received farm-servants who have been sent to them, and they have been obliged to employ them.
“ According to your observation, persons resident in thatched houses suffer more apprehension than those who live in slated houses ?— They are certainly entirely under the power of the disturbers of the peace, because their houses may so easily be set on fire.”—H. C., 1824, p. 233.
The only persons who can hope to prevent the spread of the Whiteboy contagion are the priests, as they can advise the people with authority, and without being suspected of sinister motives. Moreover they are likely to obtain the earliest information of such proceedings. The following examples of the exercise of this influence serve likewise to corroborate what was said in the last chapter as to the disconnexion of the Catholic clergy with Whiteboyism. In some few cases, the resistance has been successful, or has at least served to postpone the evil.
Rev. John Keily, P.P., of Mitchelstown :
“ To what do you attribute the quiet of your parish ?-I attribute it, in a great measure, to the good feeling of the people; and as it regards myself, I reluctantly speak on the subject; but as the question has been put to me, I certainly think I have exerted myself to a great degree. I was very early in the field; I live on the borders of the county of Limerick; the county of Tipperary comes very near my parish; I was appointed to the parish of Mitchelstown about the time that Mr. Baker, of Lismacue, was murdered, and I found, at that time, there were a few in my parish tainted with the spirit of Caravatism that prevailed in the county of Tipperary; and I reasoned with the people; and one morning, a number, I believe ten or eleven, of young lusty fellows came to my house, and declared to me that they were initiated in the system, and declared their sorrow for it, and that they would detach themselves from it. As soon as I heard of any
disturbances in the county of Limerick, immediately after Mr. Hoskins' business, I was on my guard; and I appointed, in the different villages in my parish, two or three individuals, unknown to one another, to apprise me of any encroachment upon the good feeling of the people; and through the exertions of those people, and through the good disposition of the parishioners generally, tranquillity was preserved. I ascribe a great deal of the merit of it to the people; they resisted any tampering with them. There were four or five sworn at a place called Milltown, on their way to Listowel; and on their return they applied to me, and I told them that by the Whiteboy laws they were obliged, within a certain time, to go to a magistrate, and give him information of it: they did so, and took the oath of allegiance. I recollect, on another occasion, a person came to me and said, that two or three strangers from the neighbourhood of Doneraile came to tamper with them; and I blamed the man for not having them taken up, or applied to the people, for I was sure they would have assisted in apprehending those persons, and he said it was better not; he said they proposed coming by night in a body, and swearing the people; and the man told me that the answer he made to them was, Let them come there in any number they pleased, they would be corpses. He spoke in Irish; in fact, it is an Hibernicism, that they would return corpses.”-H. C., 1825,
Rev. Nicholas O'Connor :
“ The [Queen's] county was usually quiet up to a late period ?--It was perhaps the most peaceable county in lreland *
* This statement is doubtless true of a recent period; but it
appears that the Queen's County was disturbed soon after the first Whiteboy risings. Twelve Whiteboys were capitally convicted at Maryborough, at the Lent assizes, 1776.--Annual Register for 1776, p. 146. See above, p. 19. The northern part of the county of Kilkenny, bordering on the Queen's County, appears likewise to have been disturbed from an early period. An attack of the Whiteboys on Ballyragget, in 1775, was mentioned above, p. 32. A skirmish between the people and the king's troops,
“ At what time did the change take place ?-About the year 1822. Having heard there were illegal societies in other parts of the kingdom, and from Maryborough being such a thoroughfare between Dublin and Limerick, and having eight fairs in the year, two assizes, and four quarter-sessions, I considered that it was very difficult for Maryborough to escape being infected, from the constant intercourse it had with other parts of the kingdom ; and as I thought that prevention was better than remedy, I was determined to speak to my parishioners against illegal societies. I spoke against the illegal oaths, and the crime of perjury that was committed in taking them. In the year 1822, during the incumbency of Mr. Waller, the Protestant clergyman of the parish, I heard, from a private communication, that there were some persons made Ribbonmen in the parish. I consider Whitefeet, and Blackfeet, and Terry Alts, under whatever denomination they may be, pretty much the same, and having the same illegal objects in view, except the Blackfeet, who did not take an oath, but took a declaration equal to an oath, in the latter part of their proceedings. They made a vow on their knees, and promised that they would follow a captain or leader. I was informed who they were, and I went individually to them; there were about the number of twelve in Maryborough, and perhaps in the whole parish they amounted to about twenty. All, except two, who were strangers, promised me they would abandon their bad practices; they admitted that an oath could not be a bond of iniquity, and I was very glad to hear them say so.
The two persons who infected the parish denied their misconduct; all the others acknowledged everything. As I could have no hopes whatever of the conversion of the two strangers I allude to, I denounced them on the Sunday following in the chapel. I exhorted the people as strongly as I could against all such societies and such oaths; I said they were detestable in the sight of God, and injurious to themselves in every point of
when carrying four Whiteboys to Kilkenny gaol, in which about thirty rioters and several soldiers were killed or wounded, in September, 1764, is mentioned in the Annual Register for that year, p. 100.
view. I did this in the three chapels belonging to the parish. The Protestants of the town, with Mr. Waller, the clergyman, sent a deputation to me to know in what manner I would receive an address from them; that they considered I was watching over the peace of the county so much, that I deserved some mark of their gratitude. I said I would decline it; that I felt very grateful for the disposition shown to me, but I wished rather to live a retiring life, except where my duty called for my exertions.
“ Did your exertions produce a check to the progress of the conspiracy ?--Yes, the parish remained very quiet; I was determined, by denouncing these persons, to intimidate others from coming to introduce any such system into the parish.
“Do you mean such persons as the two strangers ?-Yes; one was from the county of Tipperary.
“ Did they show any resentment towards you ?-Yes; the man from the county of Tipperary threatened my life, and I kept out of the way some time; but I hope I would not shrink from my duty if I was to lose my life ; if I considered it such I would not be stopped by threats.”-H.C., 1825, Nos. 316771.
In the following case the system made its way into the parish, notwithstanding the priest's exertions.
Rev. J. Delaney :
“At what period did those disturbances commence ?-In the
year 1827 a public building was undertaken in the parish [of Ballynakill, Queen's County), and to this building two rambling masons resorted; they came in from Mr. Cosby's estate; although not living there they were occasionally employed in that district; they came to this building, and after they were there ten or twelve days it reached me they were swearing in the people.
“ What was the building ?-Out-offices belonging to Mr. Cooper, who has an estate in the parish. On the succeeding Sunday I explained to the people the nature and evils of illegal combinations; I appealed to their own experience of the