Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England

July 17, 1840



RIBANDISM. – There have been five more convictions of Ribandism at the Cavan Assizes. I send you an abridged report of the trial of James Brady.


James Brady was indicted for being a member of an illegal society, the members of which communicated by signs and passwords, for corresponding with officers of such society, and for having a copy of passwords in his possession.

He pleaded "Not guilty."

Mr. BROOKE, Queen's Counsel, stated the case, in the absence of Mr. Sch[????], Queen's Counsel, who was indisposed.

Denis Gilligan, examined by Mr. SMILEY, deposed that he was a shoemaker. About six years ago he left Enniskillen to come and reside in this county. He was two years a ribandman. Was made one by Patrick M'Donald, of Swanlinbar, county delegate for Fermanagh. He was then a publican, and M'Donald told him it would help him in his trade. He was made to go on his knees and bless himself, a book was put into his hands, and they swore him to be ready at any time he was called upon to go where he would be required, to keep secret, and be true to the cause of brotherhood, and be true at all times in assisting a brother in fair and market. He paid M'Donald 1s., and treated them to half a pint of whiskey. He was often at meetings in Enniskillen. M'Donald attended to give renewals to parish delegates, who gave them to committee-men; he went to England, and got, on going, a certificate from M'Donald, which he gave to one Woods, of Preston; he was told it was not safe for any Catholic not to be a ribandman. M'Donald told him that the society was to put down orangemen. None but Catholics were in it. Heard them planning to beat people. Left the society in November last, and was since beaten. He prosecuted some of the party to conviction. He thought it hard to be so treated.

The witness was cross-examined by Mr. DOGHERTY, with a view to shake his testimony.

John Hutton, examined by Mr. JOHNSTON:-- In October last he was a sub-inspector; he waited on Mr. Little, the magistrate, and accompanied him to search Brady's house under a warrant. The prisoner was at home. The last part of the house he searched was the shop, and in a kind of a shop desk, the key of which he got from Brady, he found the letter in his hand. It is directed to Mr. James Brady, newspaper agent, Cavan. The prisoner said he did not understand it, that he got it by post, and paid sevenpence for it. The letter was dated 30th of September; it was signed Richard Jones, T.N.D.O. Made him write on the letter how he received it. A statement was taken down by Mr. Little, the magistrate. The prisoner said it was correct, but refused to sign it.

James Little, magistrate, examined by Mr. BROOKE.-- He deposed that he accompanied Mr. Hutton to the prisoner's house. Cautioned the prisoner, after which he made a voluntary statement. (Witness here read it.) The prisoner admitted receiving the letter signed "R. Jones." He said that he never wrote a letter to a man named Jones, and could not possibly be committed with the Riband Society. The prisoner admitted it to be correct, but declined to sign it.

Edward Kennedy deposed that he was a Ribandman, and that the body was formerly called the North and Dublin. They were joined into one, and called the Irish Sons of Freedom. He had attended meetings of the society, and heard the prisoner's name mentioned. The society is spread over different parts of the country. The highest officer is that of delegate. Then come parish masters, and after them committee men. They are known to each other by signs and passwords. They were changed quarterly, but he has known them to be changed in a week, on occasion, when they heard the North Union got possession of their passwords. Their object was to keep each other in places. If any wrong was done to a member, Jones or Dardis used to appoint persons to slate. He has written the passwords himself. Has seen Jones write short-hand in a small book.

Cross-examined by Mr. Peebles. – Is no longer employed in the canal work. Was not a man of good character. Would not swear that he had a good character six months ago. Had not a good character twelve or thirteen years ago. There was a difference in the societies; did not say his society had for its object to beat people. Never beat a man in his life. Was present at the beating of a great number. Was looking on at the beating of Ganly. He lived seven days after it. He had compunctions of conscience, or he would not be there. Was always clothed as he is at present.

To the Court.-- In the employment he was in he could not travel if he were not a Ribandman.

Jurer.-- What caused you to turn your back on your society?

Witness.-- When Ganly was beat it was not the intention to kill him, but when he died he felt compunction. It was reported that one of the men who were at it had given information. I went to Father Delaney, Chaplain of the North Union Poor-house. He several times came, and afterwards sent his man for me. It was to advise me to give evidence. He was a fortnight at me before I consented. He sent me to Father Yorr, Vicar-General, who gave me the same advice. Father Delaney went to Major Brown, and asked if a person would tell the facts about Ganly's case, would he get pardon? Major Brown said he would. If that was not to be done, there was to be no more about it. It was not my intention to speak about Ribandism; but by the constant attendance of my clergy, telling me that Ribandism and all such business was wrong, I was induced to do so. At that time I was in employment. My employment was only [??] per week; but I had four houses, and made, as my books will show, about 150[?] per year.

P. M'Collum, an approver, deposed to being made a Ribandman by O'Neil, who appeared in the evidence to be one of the prisoner's correspondents. He had been accessary to taking up fire-arms – the arms got in the possession of O'Neil.

Judge TORRENS charged the jury at great length, explaining to them the law. His lordship drew a line between the evidence of Gilligan and the other informers; he did not consider his testimony so much tainted as that of the others. If they believed his testimony, it presented to their view a society bound together by secret bonds and obligations, not only through this country, but appearing in other great towns, Liverpool, Manchester, &c., and it was natural for them to inquire what were the objects of such an association, the designs of which were kept as secret, and the members of which belonged to only one class of the community. It appeared that the association were not only for the purpose of redressing what they considered their wrongs, but even for the purpose of attacking the life of a fellow creature whom they supposed had infringed on any of their rules, and which hostility had in more instances than one led to the death of individuals. Another witness went further, and stated that taking arms was one of their objects; and thus they were shown to have some of the most dangerous objects which could exist in any community not under the government of law. His lordship next adverted to the witness, Mr. Hutton, to be in the prisoner's handwriting, show the prisoner to be superior to most men, not only in his style of composition, but in the subject-matter he selected. They should examine the correspondence, and see whether it bore the evidence of correspondence with the officer of a secret association. The learned Judge further [anima??verted] on the evidence.

The jury, after a few minutes' deliberation, returned a verdict of Guilty on all the counts.


Patrick M'Entyre, Patrick Reilly, James Smith, James Nichol, John Dawley, Bernard Alewell, Michael Dowd, and Michael Brady, were indicted for being members of an illegal association.

Edward Flood deposed that on the 5th of April last, he was at Tuilyville [?], within 13 miles of Cootehill. Went to the house of a publican named Clarke. Went there on Sunday after dinner. He went into the kitchen. It was latched. He found the whole eight prisoners at the bar, sitting round a table. He grasped at the papers, and put them in a hole in the wall. Witness closed upon him, and took out the papers. The ink was quite fresh upon them. He got ink and also a pen with M'Entyre, and a paper (a list of names) in his waistcoat pocket. Found the paper in his hat. It was an account of drink.

Mr. GRAVES read the pass-words. There were two copies similar, one of which the witness found wet. A list of names was read, among which occur the names of Dawley, M'Entyre, Smith, and Allwell.

Cross-examined by Mr. MAJOR, Queen's County. Believes there was an inquest at Clarke's house that day. They were not separate parties. Never heard M'Entyre was a school-master. When witness found the list of names, M'Entyre said it was a raffle for a pair of shoes. The hole seemed as if a holdfast had been taken out of the wall.

Sergeant Armstrong accompanied the last witness when the prisoners were arrested. He knew them to be from different townlands.

Cross-examined by Mr. DOGHERTY.-- This was on a Sunday. There were no stairs. It was a century-house.

Head Constable Leary deposed that he knew the public house of a man named Reilly, in Granard. He went to it with sub-inspector Dobbyn on the 4th of May last. He go? eight persons in the garret, sitting round a table. One of them, when a search commenced, began eating a paper which he took out of his pocket. He produced the paper.

The paper was read, and found to coincide with the papers found with the prisoners.

Cross-examined by Mr. DOGHERTY.-- Swore in Longford that there was a door in the room where he found the party. Is of the same opinion still.

An informer, named M'Gibney, deposed that he had been an informer. He repeated the pass words for last May. They were the same as above. He also showed the signs. One member put his hand to his hat, and the member answering put up his hand to his hat. He stated that Mr. Brook, of the county Longford, was beaten because he went to London about the freeholders. He was at the taking of arms.

The witness was cross-examined by Mr. DOGHERTY with a view to break his credit.

Dr. McFadden was examined to give the prisoners a character. He told Little he was going to hold an inquest, and Little said he would wait for it.

Patrick Clarke, the proprietor of the public-house, deposed that Nichol went into the room only five minutes before the police.

Judge TORRENS charged the jury, and observed on the new feature of a gentleman being beaten through the instrumentality of the society for going before the highest tribunal in the land on a matter respecting freeholders. His Lordship carefully reviewed the evidence.

The Jury found the prisoners M'Entyre, Dawley, Smith, and Allwell guilty. They were the persons whose names were in the list found with M'Entyre when he was arrested.

July 18, 1840

(From the Tipperary Constitution)

CAVAN, Wednesday. - John CLARK and Hugh REILY were indicted for being members of a Riband society. John CLARK was found guilty, and Hugh REILY not guilty.

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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