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The Delahunty Family History:
From Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland to Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
by Catherine Delahunty
Chapter 3: The Murder at Ennis, July 1882


On Sunday 9 July 1882 an incident took place which was to change the history of the Doolaghty family of Drumdoolaghty, Co Clare, forever.Newspaper reports of the day covered the events in detail.
Newspaper: The Limerick Chronicle
Date: 10 July 1882
Article: Horrible Outrage Near Clare Castle
(From our Reporter) - Ennis, Monday Night - One of the most brutal and shocking outrages, for which the county Clare is for some time past notorious, took place a short distance from this town at about half-past two o’clock on yesterday afternoon. John Doolaghty is a herdsman in the employment of Mr James Lynch, a well-to-do farmer residing at Lissane. Mr Lynch has another farm at Knockaneane, which Doolaghty was herding for him. Doolaghty attended Mass at Ennis on Sunday morning, and on returning home he was fired at from behind a clump of large whitethorn bushes, within a few yards of the National Schoolhouse, and received the full charge of shot in the head and face. It would appear there was no person with him at the time, and he fell on the middle of the road, where his life blood was welling out when Dr Daxon, Resident of the Clare Asylum, and Mr Michael Considine, victualler, Ennis, happened to come on the scene. They were driving from opposite directions when they found the unfortunate man suffering the intensest agony. The police were immediately communicated with, and when Constable Doyle and a large party of constabulary arrived they forced in the schoolhouse door and had the wounded man brought in there. When Captain McTernan, R.M, Sub-Inspector Croghan, and Surgeon William Cullinan came the man was living, and the doctor rendered all the surgical aid he could, but he has pronounced the case quite hopeless. The eyes are blown out of the head from the shot, which is supposed to be the size known as number six. Happily he was conscious when the Rev J Loughnane administered the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church to him. When asked by Captain McTernan if he had his revolver with him he said he had, and when the captain searched his pockets and found the pistol it was not loaded. Doolaghty then made a statement to the resident magistrate seriously affecting a young man most respectably connected. Doolaghty said that when passing the clump of bushes he heard a rustling noise inside the wall. He turned round to look, and saw Keenan. The next moment the shot was fired right into his face. Acting on this information a party of police went in search of the accused, and found him about 4.30pm in Hassett’s public-house at Barefield, which is midway between Ennis and Crusheen, and in a different direction altogether from the scene of the shooting. He was not brought before Doolaghty, who was then in a dying state and entirely unconscious. The affair must have occurred between one and two o’clock and it is said that the accused was at Mass at Bomfield Chapel, which is generally about the same hour as last Mass in Ennis, and that he did not leave the village till he was arrested. (Author’s Note: Uncertain of the spelling of Bomfield - could be Barefield.) Doolaghty is about fifty years of age and has a wife and seven children, the eldest not more than twelve. The story of this poor man is calculated to excite the strongest feelings of horror and dismay. To see him in a miserable cabin lying on a mattress and surrounded by his wife and children was one of the most painful and harrowing scenes that could be witnessed. Several attempts were made to compel Doolaghty to quit the holding. In September last year an armed party came into his house and threatened to shoot him if he remained in the place. They fired several shots and smashed with balls the few articles of delf on his scantily-furnished dresser, and on 11 October following Mr Lynch’s men were fired at, about nine o’clock in the morning, from the hillside, as they were bringing four or five loads of hay to the farm. After that daring outrage Doolaghty got police protection. It continued for some time till it was thought matters had calmed down, and was then withdrawn. Like a faithful servant he clung to his master, and has paid the penalty of his fidelity. No hopes whatever are entertained of Doolaghty’s recovery, and when I visited the house about 8 o’clock today the man was not expected to live many hours. Captain McTernan, Sub-Inspector Croghan, and a party of police are scouring the surrounding districts, and have arrested a man named Hynes of Toureen on the charge. It is alleged that it was Hynes who fired the shot. An investigation was held in the Constabulary Barracks here today when the accused was remanded.Death Certificate of John Doolaghty
Death Certificate of John Doolaghty
Click on image for larger version
Newspaper: The Limerick Chronicle
Date: 12 July 1882
Article: The Murder Near Ennis - Inquest
(From our Correspondent) - Ennis, Wednesday Evening - An inquest was opened at 11 o’clock today by Mr John Frost, Coroner for the district on the remains of the unfortunate herdsman John Doolaghty, who was shot on the public road at Knockaneane, on Sunday afternoon, as he was returning home from Ennis. Foreseeing the difficulty there would be in getting a jury in the neighbourhood, the Coroner placed summonses in the hands of the police the evening previous and a highly respectable and intelligent jury of townspeople was secured, and brought out this morning in a drag and pair. They first proceeded to the late residence of the deceased at Drumdoolaghty, which is about three miles from Ennis, where they were sworn, and having viewed the remains, the Coroner then adjourned to the schoolhouse at Knockaneane, and held the inquiries there.Mr John F Cullinan, Sessional Crown Solicitor, represented the Crown; and Mr John Walton, solicitor, watched the proceedings on behalf of the accused. Captain McTernan, Sub-Inspector Croghan, and a police force were present. Drs Wm Maxwell, Wm Cullinan, and John Ryan were also present.Mr Cullinan, said it was not intended to accuse any person at the present inquiry. Their duty would simply be to inquire as to how, and by what means, the deceased John Doolaghty, came by his death. He would produce evidence to show it was from the effects of gunshot wounds, and it would be their duty to find a verdict according to the evidence.Elizabeth Doolaghty, wife of the deceased, was the first witness, and testified that she was in Ennis on Sunday last 9 July with her husband. He attended last Mass at the Franciscan Church. (Author’s Note: The Franciscan Church where John attended Mass on the morning of the killing is no longer in existence as a new Church was opened on the site of the transepts of the former Church. This Church should not to be confused with the Cathedral, which is on the other side of town.) She was speaking to him in the street after Mass - about half-past one o’clock. She could not say how soon after he left Ennis, as she went to the convent herself. It was between two and three o’clock when she left Ennis, and when she came to Knockaneane she saw her husband on the grass at the side of the road. Dr Daxon was with him at the time she came up, and she asked her husband who killed him, he muttered “Francy”. She could not understand anything he said. Dr Daxon and John Neylan and his wife came up. Dr Daxon then went for the priest, and came back with Father Loughnane. The priest asked her husband what happened him. She understood him to say “Francy”. Captain McTernan afterwards came and asked her husband if he was going to die. He muttered something - eh, or oh! She could not understand what he said. Captain McTernan was close to her husband when he was speaking to him. He was brought home then, and died on Monday night at 10.15. She was greatly confused and did not know what was going on. By Mr Cronan (juror) - her husband was unconscious. Cornelius McCormack testified that he met deceased on Sunday at Rossleven cross, about two o’clock, or after two. Deceased overtook him on the road, and walked in company with him and John Flanagan as far as Gauria cross. This was about half a mile from where Doolaghty was found lying on the road. When they parted him at the cross he was well and in good health and there was no person with him.Dr William Daxon, medical superintendent Clare Lunatic Asylum was next examined. He remembered driving out by Knockaneane on Sunday last, and found a man lying on the road. Did not know him. It was, to the best of his opinion, about 15 or 20 minutes after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Got down and examined the man. His face was apparently bruised and covered with blood. Mr Considine, victualler, and another man came up immediately after. He saw that the man was severely injured, and the others helped to remove him to the grass slope on the side of the road. The woman who has just been examined came up soon after. Heard herself or some other person say she was Mrs Doolaghty. She said, “Will nobody go for the priest for him”. He (witness) told her to get some water and wash the blood off his face. He then drove to the house of the parish priest as fast as he could. Father Loughnane was there, and came with him immediately. Brought some whisky from Father Scanlan’s and when he came back to the wounded man he mixed a little of it with water and gave him a little of it to drink. He was moaning, and in his opinion, unable to speak. He was unconscious. He was absent about 20 minutes going to the parish priest’s. Stopped about five minutes until Doolaghty’s wife came up. Then drove into Ennis to give information to the police, and arrived at the barracks about Michael Considine testified that he was driving from Culhane on Sunday last. Saw a man lying on the road at Knockaneane. Dr Daxon and himself came up almost at the same moment. Heard Dr Daxon ask him who he was, and what happened him. The man made no reply. He appeared to have no consciousness. Could not say whether the doctor was standing or stooping over the wounded man when he asked the question.Dr Wm Cullinan, head surgeon of the county infirmary, was the next witness. He had made a post-mortem examination, with Dr Ryan, on the body of the deceased John Doolaghty. Found a number of shot-marks on the face and upper part of the head, principally about the eyes. They found a number of grains of shot, which they put into a tin box, and handed it to the Sub-Inspector. A number of grains were flattened. The others were pretty round and perfect.(Sub-Inspector Croghan here produced the extracted grains, which corresponded in size with the shot No 8 found on the accused the evening he was arrested). Examination continued - Some of the grains passed through both the eyeballs, and struck the bone next to the brain. The wounds inflicted by the shot and the general character of the injuries would be sufficient to cause death. Only one grain entered the brain. It penetrated through the left eyeball. He was with the injured man about 4.30, and remained with him till 6.15pm. When he first saw him he was lying on the road. He was afterwards brought home. Saw him that night at nine o’clock, his condition was the same. Spoke to him, but he was unable to speak to me. Saw him twice on Monday, and there was no change. From the time he first saw Doolaghty till he died he was unconscious and unable to speak intelligibly. In his opinion he was shot from the direct front. This closed the evidence.The Coroner, in summing up, said he was sure the jury would go with him in condemning the ghastly and cruel murder by which this poor man was deprived of life on the Sabbath day, especially set apart for the love and adoration of the Almighty. The circumstances were terrible. They must deplore the condition of things that had produced such an atrocious crime.Further reports from The Limerick Chronicle state that an investigation was opened in Ennis by Captain Hamilton, R.M. on Friday 14 July on the circumstances surrounding the death of John Doolaghty. The evidence was similar to that given at the inquest. The investigation was adjourned at 3 o’clock that day until Tuesday morning 18 July.
Newspaper: The Limerick Chronicle
Date: Ennis, Tuesday 18 July 1882
Article: The Late Murder - The Investigation - Special Telegram from our Reporter
The investigation into the circumstances connected with the death of the herdsman Doolaghty was resumed today before Mr Hamilton at the Courthouse, Ennis, at twelve o’clock.Mr J F Cullinan, Sessional Crown solicitor conducted the inquiry and Mr Walton defended the prisoner. The court was crowded.The first witness examined was John Neylan, who deposed that he lived a quarter of a mile from where the deceased was shot. He remembered Mr Michael Considine, victualler, Ennis, calling from the road, near where Doolaghty was shot. Witness was then in a meadow about two hundred yards from the place. He had been there about two minutes when he was called by Considine. He came to the meadow from his own house, which is a short distance away and he had been from eleven o’clock (word illegible). He heard no shot or shots fired. When Mr Considine called him he went out on the road and saw deceased covered with blood. While in the meadow he saw Mr Considine on the road but did not see the deceased. He knew the deceased for a long time, but would not recognise him on the day in question but for his (word illegible). Witness saw no persons on the road near where Doolaghty was shot.

Constable Richard Doyle deposed that he arrested the prisoner Francis Hynes about a quarter or twenty minutes past five o’clock on the evening on the 9 instant. at Barefield. He visited the place where Doolaghty was shot after which he went across the fields to Barefield and arrested Hynes. It took him something about thirty minutes to go there. He took the direct route he knew of.Mr Considine in reply to the question that he went part of the way with Dr Daxon who went for the priest, and witness to Ennis.Mr Hamilton - “I understand you took a roundabout route to Ennis. Can you give a reason for doing so?” Witness - “I did not like to pass where the blood was.” Mr Hamilton - “Is that the explanation for not informing the police of the matter before you took your dinner. Do you think it was right or a proper course to adopt?” Witness - “I know it was not sir.” Mr Hamilton - “I am glad to hear it at the eleventh hour. I am sure you know yourself it was an omission on your part. Dr Daxon did his part rightly and properly.” Witness - “Well he knew what to do but did not suggest anything to me.” Mr Hamilton replied that nothing was suggested to Dr Daxon himself, and very properly. Mr Considine should have gone for the police while Dr Daxon went for the priest.Mr Cullinan said there was a woman who, it was stated informed Mr Considine that Doolaghty was shot, but Mr Considine was unable to identify her as being the person who gave him the information. He (Mr Cullinan) had no further evidence to produce, and therefore asked that the case be sent for trial. Mr Hamilton - “As it stands?” Mr Cullinan - “Yes.”The depositions of several witnesses were then read. The prisoner, in reply said he had no statement to make. Mr Walton said he would reserve a decision until the case came before another court. The prisoner was then returned for trial at the next competent (word illegible). He was conveyed to the Limerick Male Prison by the evening.
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Chapter 2: Report from
Clare Heritage Centre, Corofin
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Chapter 4: Trial of Francis
Hynes, Dublin, August 1882