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Genealogy of the O’Cormacain Family of Thomond by John P. McCormack

Execution of Cormack Brothers 1858

Nenagh 11 May 1858

(Note: The following article is of Australian origin. I know neither the name of the book it was taken from or the author. I had only a faded photocopy.)

Daniel and William (Mc) Cormack of Loughmore, near Templempore, Co. Tipperary, were executed at Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, in 1858 for the murder by shooting of one Ellis. There was no evidence, beyond motive, of their guilt, and their execution was one of the prime contributory factors in the Fenian rising shortly afterward. Their remains were re-interred at Loughmore in 1910, when a huge concourse of people attended in defiance of English government, then in power. A slab on the handsome vault erected to receive the remains bears the inscription given hereunder:

"By the Irish Race in memory of the brothers Daniel and William Cormack who, for the murder of a land agent named Ellis, were hanged at Nenagh after solemn protestation by each on the scaffold of absolute and entire innocence of that crime, the 11th day of May 1858. The tragedy of the brothers occurred through false testimony procured by gold and terror; the action in their trial of Judge Keogh, a man who, considered personally, politically, religiously and officially, was one of the monsters of mankind; and the verdict of a prejudiced, partisan, packed and perjured jury. Clear proof of the innocence of the brothers afforded by Archbishop Leahy to the Viceroy of the day, but he nevertheless gratified the appetite of a bigoted, exterminating and ascendancy caste by a judicial murder of the kind which lives bitterly and perpetually in a nation's remembrance."

Cormack Monument, Loughmore, Co Tipperary
Cormack Monument, Loughmore, Co Tipperary

The tradition that God signified His wrath on the day of execution by sending down an appalling deluge is commemorated in the following song. The anniversary day is invariably wet and dismal.

The hanging of the Cormack brothers

In the year of fifty eight, my boys, that was the troublesome time
When cruel landlords and their agents were rulers of our isle.
It was then that Ellis was shot down by an unknown hand.
When the news spread round Killara that Trent's agent he was shot,
The police were then informed and assembled on the spot.
They searched every field and garden, every lane and every shed,
Until they came to McCormack's house where two boys were in bed.

They accused these boys of murder from information they had got
From the coachman who was driving at the time that Ellis was shot.
They said that they were innocent, but 'twas all of no avail.
They were handcuffed and made prisoners and conveyed to County Gaol.
At the Spring Assizes these two young men stood their trial in Nenagh town.
By a packed jury of Orangemen, they were guilty found.
The judge addressed the prisoners. He asked what they had to say
Before he signed their execution for eleventh day of May.

"In Mill Killara we were reared, between Thurles and Templemore,
Well known by all inhabitants around the parish of Loughmore.
We're as innocent of shooting Ellis as the child in the cradle do lie,
And can't see the reason, for another man's crime, we are condemned to die."
The execution it took place, by their holy priest reconciled, their maker for to face.
Such thunder, rain and lightning has ne'er been witnessed since
As the Lord sent down on that day, as a token of their innocence,
That their sould may rest in heaven above as their remains rest in Loughmore.

The song, which is incomplete, was said to have been written by a man named McCarthy. The actual murderer of Ellis was said to have been a man named Gleeson from the Templemore area.

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