Athenry Land League Part 2: Peter Broderick in Galway Jail by Ronan Killeen
"The Protestant church is tolling a very sweet peal, the Catholic churches also, all seeming to mock us in out lonely cages" - Peter Broderick
In 1881 November 9th, the gates of the Galway Jail were thrown open and Peter P. Broderick of Athenry was hurried inside as prisoner, a political suspect, suspected as principal of inciting to boycotting under the Act previously passed that year 'FOR BETTER PROTECTION OF PERSON AND PROPERTY IN IRELAND'.
Broderick was a shopkeeper and farmer. He was hurried in the Governor’s Office where the Warden showed the warrant to the Governor back to the Constable and from the Constable to the Chief Warden. In the office the charge was read, entered in a 'huge book’ and a receipt of Broderick's delivery signed and given to the constable.
In the office with two chief wardens, distinguished by the gold braid on their caps and the glittering crown on their coat collars-as well as a clerk, registered Peter Broderick's name, age, complexion, colour of hair, eyes, appearance and all the 'hue and cry' evidences. His height was measured at five feet eight inches. He handed over his possessions, two one pound notes and a penknife.
Chief Warden Number One searched for other possessions but found nothing else. Then followed the last act in the day’s drama, Peter being marched from the office to his cell, a trip that took him through the whole house. His first impressions were "The repeated banging of doors, clinking of keys and martial tread of office bearers". The gas was burning in his cell the bed prepared and he was locked in.
He looked around and measured the cell, sixteen feet long by five-and-a-half feet wide, the bed was placed on a kind of camp stool or folding bedstead. It comprised a straw mattress, two sheets marked in large letters 'Galway Gaol', two blankets and a quilt-all except the fibre mattress were prison property.
Peter Broderick got a warm reception form the other prisoners. Their comments were consoling: “You here too. Good God, isn’t this too bad”, “Bad luck to them that sent you here”. O’Beirne of Ballinamore (possibly another prisoner) went and found ‘something to cheer Peter up’ and Peter was in better fettle.A few minutes before eight o’clock the warden commanded “All in”, and in they filed back to the cells.
Prisoners on two occasions during Peter sojourn there brought up with the authorities the need to sheet the sides of a shed in the yard. After a few days of the arrival at Galway Jail Broderick received from home a consignment of personal items indicating social expectations of the time.
• Two pairs of cuffs,
• Six Collars
• Four Collar studs
• One Razor
• Tooth Brush
• One handkerchief
• Holy Water
• One pillow
• Two pillow cases
• Counterpane quilt and a table cover
He made an inventory of this a week later. Isolation from the world outside, from the everyday bustle of life in Galway was almost total. An old factory whistle and the Angelus Bell ringing at 6 a.m. awakened the prisoners. Church bells pealing in early and mid-morning gave Peter the disting impression there was rivalry between the churches in the town.
"The Protestant church is tolling a very sweet peal, the Catholic churches also, all seeming to mock us in out lonely cages" . On Sunday 22nd January 1882, Peter heard the Galway Band in the distance today, but no attempt was made to approach our quarters, as it would probably be an infringement on the loyalty of the serfs.
One the 6th of December 1882 the Warden visited Peter at breakfast wanting to know what he would have for breakfast. the following day. The choice was limited to stir about and coffee, for one week. At supper the Warden asked about his preference for the coming week, tea or cocoa. In both cases he opted for the first alternative.
The following morning Peter returned from exercise (in the dark) to find 'a bright culinary utensil of gigantic proportions was laid on the table. The weapon for onslaught on the stirabout-a big iron spoon-a pan filled almost to the top with stirabout and a saucepan of milk was the inviting repast for a cold morning.
'As I attacked my skilly. I really began to feel a foretaste of prison life. The stirabout was pretty fair but abounded with salt'.
He didn't like it and turned to the cocoa with a bit of bread and butter (got in on the previous day). He observed in the refuse collected that "almost as such made its way back to the cookhouse as came from it."
For dinner that day there were 'two big pieces of coarse bread and wretchedly strong and a pint of coffee. was in his opinion 'equally as good in every was as that supplied from outside'. He was hopeful
: "All in all the fare (Prison fare) was not so bad as an outside world believes it to be. I expect (D.V.)* to be able to rough it.
By mid-December Peter was arranging for breakfast to be served from outside. Others did the same. The outside supplier was Mrs.Mason. Visitors came virtually daily and the prisoner had the choice of seeing them or not. They were welcome in nearly all instances, through Peter refused to see a certain gentleman for quite a while.
On February 7th 1882, he was visited by two men and 'felt very indifferent towards their attention'. On February 13th a woman from kilconnell visited giving Peter 'the usual santimonious consolation'. On Monday, February 20 he read in the Galway Observer that he was "Careworn and thin from confinement". The following Sunday, February 27th at Mass in Galway Jail, Fr.Creaven the celebrant 'commented strongly on the necessity of fasting'. (Sic)
Peter Broderick wasn't the only man put in jail at the time.
Martin Connelly, Athenry, Farmer was in Galway Jai
R.T. Kelly, Athenry, Farmer was in Kilminham Jail
Athenry Land League Part 3: Also coming soon.