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"Tragic End to a Night of Whiskey: The Manslaughter of Peter Clery in 1900" |

“Tragic End to a Night of Whiskey: The Manslaughter of Peter Clery in 1900”

In the summer of 1900, the quiet town of Limerick bore witness to a grim and tragic incident that would leave its residents in shock and sorrow. At the Limerick Assizes on a fateful Monday, road contractor and labourer John Clery found himself indicted and subsequently convicted of the manslaughter of Peter Clery, a retired farmer. This harrowing tale of death and betrayal unfolded against the backdrop of a night of indulgence and ultimately resulted in a 20-year sentence of penal servitude for the perpetrator.

Peter Clery and John Clery shared more than just a last name; they were cohabiting partners whose lives became tragically entwined on that ill-fated night. On the evening of the incident, the two men immersed themselves in a bottle of whiskey, perhaps seeking solace or escape from the burdens of their everyday lives. Little did they know that their night of revelry would end in tragedy.

The following day, as the sun rose over Limerick, the lifeless body of Peter Clery was discovered in his bed. Initially, the local police believed his death to be accidental, a consequence of the previous night’s excessive drinking, as John Clery claimed. However, doubt and suspicion lingered in the air, prompting the authorities to dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding Peter’s demise.

A pivotal moment came when a coroner ordered Peter Clery’s body to be exhumed and an inquest was conducted. The findings of the inquest shocked the community and ultimately led to John Clery’s arrest. The evidence presented during the proceedings pointed toward foul play, unravelling the intricacies of a night marred by alcohol and ill intentions.

The trial that followed was marked by tension and intrigue, as witnesses took the stand to recount the events of that fateful night. John Clery’s defence team mounted a case that sought to justify his actions as a result of intoxication and argued for leniency. However, justice would ultimately prevail, and John Clery was convicted of the manslaughter of Peter Clery.

Judge Kenny, presiding over the trial, handed down a sentence that reflected the gravity of the crime. John Clery was sentenced to 20 years of penal servitude, a punishment that would separate him from society for two decades and serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of his actions.

The tragic tale of Peter and John Clery serves as a sombre reminder of the destructive power of excessive alcohol consumption and the devastating consequences it can have on individuals and the community as a whole. The town of Limerick, while left to grapple with the aftermath of this dark episode, would undoubtedly reflect on the importance of responsible behaviour and the need for justice to prevail even in the face of heart-wrenching circumstances.

Derby Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 10 July 1900

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