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Colleen Bawn Facts Not Deplorable Fiction |

Colleen Bawn Facts Not Deplorable Fiction

Dear Editor of the Limerick Echo,

I kindly request your permission to utilize your esteemed paper as a platform to respond to several correspondents who seem to believe that I have nothing better to do than answer letters. Some of these writers appear to expect immediate replies. I want to clarify that Colleen Bawn was not born in Garryowen, and her parents never resided in the city. She was born at the base of Knockfierna (also known as the Hill of the Fairies) in County Limerick. At a young age, she went to live with an uncle who was a small farmer and shoemaker. His cottage was situated on the right-hand side of the road leading from Croagh (or Croom) to the village of Ballyingarry. About a mile from the village, the terrain slopes steeply down to a stream, beside which stood a small mill in close proximity to the cottage. When I last saw the place around sixty years ago, the ruins of the mill remained, while the cottage was still intact.

I would like to add an explanation regarding how (Name Omitted) managed to escape from the house and hide in the stack of straw where he was eventually found. Around 1846 or 1847, I was visiting the Reverend Father Connery, who was then the Parish Priest of Manister. He resided in the house occupied by the father and family of the murderer of poor Ellen Hanly. (I have come across statements suggesting that they lived in Ballycummin Castle. However, the old castle could not have been inhabited at that time or for many years prior.) I slept in the bedroom that the notorious son used and observed how he escaped from the room to the yard. There was a lean-to roof of some offices extending from the window sill to about six or seven feet from the ground. He crawled along it noiselessly and entered the stack of straw, while the searching party—some of whom encircled the house, yard, and offices from the outside—conducted their search. The search would have yielded no results if not for the careless jab of a bayonet into the stack of straw by one of the parties passing through the yard, which pierced the culprit’s arm, causing him to scream and leading to his capture.

I hope this explanation satisfies my correspondents and those who intended to write. Before I conclude, I would like to express my wish for the same level of eagerness to subscribe to the memorial as there is to learn every detail about the poor innocent girl whose life was taken by the lust of a scoundrel. It would also save much contemplation and write for the two hard-working and excellent secretaries who are undeniably the right people in the right position.

With anticipation and gratitude, I remain, dear sir, yours faithfully,

Ambrose Hall
Mignon, March 7th, 1904

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 08 March 1904

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