Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England
August 20, 1873

Laurence Smith, a blind man, was executed on Saturday morning in Cavan gaol for the murder of a farmer named Lynch. He was twice tried for the crime. On the first occasion the jury disagreed, but at the last assizes he was convicted and sentenced to be executed. An effort was made to procure a remission of the sentence, the fact of his blindness exciting some sympathy for him, but in the opinion of the Government the case was not one which would justify the extension of the Royal clemency. The murder arose out of a quarrel respecting a piece of bog value 10/-. Lynch was a farmer; who had been in America, and having saved some money returned home and got married to the owner of the farm which he occupied at a place called Lacknamore, a few miles from Ballyjamesduff. Smith had been in Australia and lost his sight through a hurt from a bramble as he was working at the gold diggings. He was about 40 years of age, and was considered a quiet, inoffensive man. He claimed a piece of bog which Lynch held possession of and litigation ensued, which terminated in Lynch's favour. Smith was charged with payment of the costs, and the result was that he became insolvent. In the schedule he returned the bog as his property, and it was sold. Lynch bought it, and served notice to quit upon Smith's sister. His murder occurred a few days before the ejectment proceedings were to come on. On the 3d of July 1872, the two men were in Ballyjamesduff. Lynch became intoxicated and left for home in the evening. Smith left about half an hour after him, and was observed to walk very quickly. He overtook Lynch and a quarrel ensued. Lynch fell and Smith was observed to raise his hand repeatedly as if striking him. Some persons interposed, and he went away. Lynch rose and exclaimed, "See what you have done," and immediately dropped dead. It was found, on examination, that he had received 18 stabs, 14 of which were mortal. Smith's defence at the trial was that he acted in self-defence, but it was proved that he bought a dagger a fortnight before the murder. A claim for compensation under the Peace Preservation Act was made by Lynch's family and was rejected by the grand jury on the ground that the murder was not agrarian. An appeal was taken to Baron Dowse, who allowed the claim, awarding 400/-. The scene at the execution was rendered more painful by a mishap. After the drop fell the man received a great check and came to the ground on his feet, the rope being too long. His neck was broken by the fall, and for some seconds he writhed convulsively until one of the Roman Catholic clergymen, who attended him, with great presence of mind, directed the executioner to pull up the rope. He was raised a few feet and died immediately. The hangman has proceeded to Castleborough, where a man is to be executed to-day for the murder of his wife.

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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