Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England
February 17, 1840


I send you the following extract from the Evening Packet of this night, which you will insert or not, according to your own discretion. It is headed "Gambols of the Romish Priests.".


A respected correspondent has furnished the following particulars of a case which recently came before the magistrates at petty sessions, at Ballymacue, county of Cavan. The magistrates were Mr. James Little, S.M. ; Mr. Pierse Martin, D.L.; and Mr. A. O'Reilly. It appeared that a respectable Roman Catholic, named O'Reilly, had purchased property under a decree, and that to that property was attached a right to the tolls and customs of the fair of Kilgola, a place situate on the borders of the counties of Cavan and Longford. In an endeavour to collect those tolls and customs at the beginning of December last Mr. O'Reilly was resisted by a mob, headed by the padres of the neighbourhood, and some of Mr. O'Reilly's tenants or workmen were assaulted for assisting their landlord or employer. The mob and their leaders succeeded in their object, and some of their reverences were summoned to sessions to answer for their unlawful conduct. Mr. O'Reilly, in having attempted to assert his right, and to render the refractory parties amenable to the law, was deemed guilty of such an outrageous contempt of "holy mother church" that the titular vicar-general of the diocese, from the altar of his chapel, publicly denounced him (Mr. O'Reilly) and all those who should presume to come forward and prosecute in his behalf.

For this interference with the administration of justice the dignitary alluded to was summoned to the Ballymacue sessions, when it was satisfactorily proved by two policemen and by five respectable farmers, who were in the chapel, that his reverence had threatened "loss of ears" - recommended that the offending party should give up their land, that none should afterwards take it, and went so far as to say that some might suffer violence, and even death, if they should act contrary to his injunctions. It also appeared that in consequence of these fulminations some of the poor people were afraid to leave their homes, or go to the fair or market, and that some of their relatives had been beaten by the creatures under the priests' control. These facts were so satisfactorily proved that informations were at once prepared against the titular vicar-general, who was bound in recognizances to appear and answer the charge against him at the assizes. Upon this unexpected result the other priests cried "peccavimus," agreed to pay into court a smart fine, and promised not to interfere any more in such matters.

So far so good; but the sequel is not so creditable to the bench of magistrates. In consequence of the subsequent submission of the principal offender, the vicar-general, the magistrates promised they would recommend his case to the consideration of the Lord-Lieutenant. In this respect the magistrates have given great offence to all persons anxious for the maintenance of the law, but to none so grossly as to the independent gentleman who had procured people to come forward, at the risk of their lives, to give evidence , and thereby to assert the majesty of the law, which was his defiance to by the audacious priests, who considered their authority superior to the law of the land. The hearing of the vicar-general's case was attended by a great crowd of Longford priests; and such was the apprehension of disturbance, that a large body of police was brought a considerable distance to maintain order.

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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