Athenry and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 Part 2: Funerals, Arrests and Inquests by Ronan Killeen

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The funeral of the late Mr. Frank M. Shawe-Taylor, J.P., who was shot dead at Coshla on March 2 while motoring to Galway fair, took place from his residence at Moorpark, at 3 o'clock on Friday 6 March 1920 to Athenry.
   Large numbers of tenants in adjoining districts, the people of Athenry and the gentry from all over the county attended the funeral. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ross, Prostestant Bishop of Tuam, presided at the obsequies in the church at Athenry, the officating  clergy men being the Rev. J. F. Cannon Bery, Galway, the Rev. Radcliffe D. Roe, Athenry, the Reverand J. C. Trotter, Ardrahan.
   Dr. Ross with great emotion referred to the late Mr. Shawe-Taylor, and condemned the murder:

'I shall speak no word of bitterness. It is out of place here in the presence of God and of death.
T here is none more truly pitiable in all this land to-day than those men here and in other places who are moving about among their fellows unknown to the law for what they have done but known to God, and known with awful conspiciousness to their own consciences. They must live henceforth face to face with the fact that they have dipped their hands in a brother's blood. Thay are murders, and they are all the more ??? (??? ink blot on the context)  because they have not yet been discovered.
Conscience must ever be for them like some hideous ulcer full of burning and torment.'

Dr. Ross went on to pay a tribute to the deceased gentleman. They were there that day, he said to mourn for a great loss. Mr. Frank Shawe-Taylor was a strong and vigourous personality, and a useful member of society; and their hearts went out in the deepest sympathy to his widow and his family in the tragic bereavement that had fallen so suddenly upon them.
   In addition to the immediate relatives, the following were amongst those who attended the funeral; Lord Ashtown, Lord Clonbrock, Major Persse, Major Hall, Mr. J. M. Meldon, General A. Lewin, Mr. T. F. Lewin, Mr. Nicholas Coen, Colonel Concannon, Mr. R. Joyce, Mr. Pierce Joyce, Very Rev. Cannon Canton P.P., Athenry, Rev. Fr.  Lynch, C.C., Athenry, Rev Fr. McGough, C.C., Rev. Burkitt, Athenry, Mr . J. Blake Ballyglunnin, Colonel Chamier, Renomre, Mr. Cecil R. Henry, J.P. Tuam.

The Rev Father Lynch strongly denounced the murder as 'a cold-blooded, brutal, inhuman, and callous crime.'  He condemned at both Masses in Athenry on the Sunday previous. Preaching at 11 o'clock Mass, the Father Lynch said:

'There is no need for me, my dear brethen, to call your attention to the brutal murder perpetrated in our vicinity in the early morning of Wednsday last. I am not going to associate any paticular district with this foul, inhuman crime, nor to make any reference to the motives wihc may have prompted and instigated it. I am  only concerned that broad daylight fact that murder was committed.
   I now emphatically say that under no pretext what-so-ever, adn for no motive, can the callous, cold-blooded crime on the high road at Coshla be justified, for it is a direct violation of the law of God. Murder is one of thos abominable crimes for which there can never be any execuse. The taking of a human life belongs to God alone and to every legitimately constituted authority, and no man, no combination of men, can usurp God's right by killing his fellow-man or by inflicting upon him a mortal and deadly wound.'
   As a priest with God's moral law my guide, authority, and sanction, I condemn in the strongest manner possible the cold blooded, brutal, inhuman and callous crime committed near the way-side inn at the extreme end of this parish. In doing so, I believe I am only feebly expressing your condemnation of it, too, for every right thinking man who believes in God, Knows that murder is a crime against God, a crime against religion, a crime against the murdered man and his family, and a crime against society.
  The murder violates religion, violates charity and violates justice. The murder robs his victim of the highest earthly good he possesses, for he takes away his life, and deprives him of the opportunity of preparing himself for death, and gaining merits of eternity.
   Thank God, this parish has been singuarly free from such a crime in the past, and I hope and pray that never again, will such brutality be brought so near to our doors. It pains every reasonable, religously-disposed, man even to think that murder would be ever committed. Human feeling revolts against the thought.
   Every Nation on the earth abhors murder and punishes it with exceptional severity, generally by the execution of the criminal Divine Justice, too, punishes it not in this life but also in the world beyond the grave. In this life the murder can find no rest anywhere; he is a fugitative and a vagabond like Cain, his prototype. He is ever haunted by the blood of the murdered man, which always cries to Heaven for vengeance.
   Should he not repent of his crime, his next life will be ever so miserable for ' Murderers shall never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.' Their portion shall be in the pool of burning fire and brimstone. God frequently punishes the sinner in the way that he has sinned. 'All that take the sword shall perish by sword. Who ever shall shed man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed'
   Retribution will sooner or later overtake the murderer, should he escape the law he is punished otherwise. I pity the man who is guilty of the murder, and branded with such infamy, and I hope that before too late he will repent of his crime and make all possible reparation.


Five farmers' sons had abeen remanded in custody on the charge of murdering Shawe-Taylor, D.L. of Coshla, on March 3. The accused men were the following:
Thomas Holland (24) Lisheenkyle; Martin Ruane (32) do.; Thomas Connell (28) do. ; Patrick Kelly, Carranduff (22); and Michael Kelly (18) do.
    District Inspector Gilhooly, Athenry , stated, that on visiting the scene of the tragedy, he saw blood on the road and also the cart that was used as an obstruction to stop Mr.Shawe-Taylor's motor car on the day he was shot.
   Inside the wall he found eight cartridge cases which had recently been empited, tobacco, and a piece of packing case with twins whcih had apparently been tied around a boot. Evidence of arrest was given by Sergeant Tahaney.
   A special court in Galway was held on 12 March 1920 before Mr. Justice Kilbridge, R. M.., the following five arrested for the murder were remanded in custody for the assaination of Frank Shawe-Taylor on 3 March 1920. All the accussed men were farmer's sons. One of them wore a bandage on his head in the dock. They assume a nonchantalant air, and were defended by Mr. L. E. O'Dea-solicitor.A group of relatives friends and the general public witnessed  the proceedings from the Public Gallery

A small escort of police were in the court, and the prisoners were conveyed to and from Galway Jail by an armed escort of six men. District-Inspector Gilhooly, Athenry, called Sergeant Tahaney, who confirmed the following statement:

In consequence of a complaint made to me at the Athenry Barracks on the 3rd inst. I went to Coshla,and there I saw two pools of blood on the road, a little more to the right---that is, to the North side. There was on the left hand side of the road a wooden gate, resting up the ass cart and wheel. The obstruction practically blocked the road, leaving a passage at the left or southern side.
   I found eight empty cartridge cases which had been recently discharged inside the wall about eleven yards from the pool of blood: also close on a plug of tobacco. About sixty yards from the pool of blood, I found a piece of twine round it, which had apparently been tied round the sole of a man's boot.
   I found footprints on the road which showed that the boots had been covered with sack-cloth or canvas. I followed similar tracks going in the direction of Lisheenkyle from the sea. The last place I found these tracks was in a grass field in the toownland of Barretspark. This was as far as I could trace them at the grace field. I then went to Lisheenkyle, and I arrested three of the defendants  whom I now see present; Thomas Holland, Martin Ruane, and Thomas Connell, all of Lisheenkyle.
   I charged them with the murder of Mr. Shawe-Taylor at Coshla about six o'clock on the 3rd inst. I cautioned them. Thomas Connell said 'Wait till I go up to the end'. He was then working a pair of horses ploughing. Later on at his own house, he said, 'If I was dead and buried I would still be arrested'. I also arrested Martin Ruane on the same charge , and he said, 'I will go when I change my boots and clothes.'
  Thomas Holland said 'Can I go to the house to change my clothes?' He was working a pair of horses ploughing in a field'.

The sergeant added that a remand was necessary to enable him to make further enquires and complete them ---Mr. O Dea did not cross-examine. Head-constable Dolan, Athenry, confirmed a deposition made upon the arrest of Patrick and Michael Kelly of Carranduff:

In consequence of certain matters which came to my knowledge, and which I intend to embody in a future depositiion.

He cautioned both prisoners. Neither of them made any statement. He applied for a remand.---Mr. O' Dea did not cross-examine---Prisoners were remanded

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