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Highway Robbery Unfolds: Provincial Bank Manager Targeted in Daring Heist Near Abbeyfeale |

Highway Robbery Unfolds: Provincial Bank Manager Targeted in Daring Heist Near Abbeyfeale

Listowel, Friday – In a shocking turn of events, Mr John Chambers, the manager of the Provincial Bank in Listowel, became the victim of a daring highway robbery, losing a substantial sum of £780 in an incident that unfolded at Coolanely Wood, near Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, on the morning of the 2nd inst.

Today, a special court, presided over by Mr Wynne, R.M., convened in Listowel to investigate the audacious crime. The six individuals arrested in connection with the robbery were transported from Tralee Jail under heavy armed escort via the midday train, drawing large crowds as they passed through the streets. The accused is identified as Michael Kelly from Ryelane, Duagh, Co. Kerry; James Curtin from Glencarney, Rockchapel, Co. Cork; James Curtin and Michael Curtin from Knockcoolkeragh, Co. Limerick; and Michael Sheehy and John Sheehy from Kiscara, Duagh, Co. Kerry, with occupations ranging from farmers to labourers.

Mr Charles Murphy, Crown Solicitor, assumed the role of prosecutor, while Mr J. Marshall, solicitor, acted as the defence counsel during the court proceedings, which took place in a densely crowded courthouse.

The court heard testimony from Mr John Ross, the junior clerk at the Listowel branch of the Provincial Bank, who accompanied Mr Chambers on the fateful journey. They were en route to Abbeyfeale on the morning of the incident, travelling in an outside car driven by Thomas Hartney. The vehicle carried a black tin box containing £700 in notes and £80 in gold, silver, and coppers. The box was securely locked, with Mr Chambers holding the key.

As they approached Coolanely Wood, about a mile and a quarter from Abbeyfeale, the witnesses noticed four disguised men jumping over the fence on the left-hand side of the road. The men, armed with nickel-plated revolvers, quickly surrounded the car.

Mr Ross described the tense moments, stating, “They all said ‘Stand.’ One of the men was at the horse’s head, and one at each side of the car, and four between Mr Chambers and the horse’s head.”

The witness and Mr Chambers were ordered off the car, with the assailants demanding any firearms. Mr Ross recounted being searched, and the court learned that Mr Chambers, too, was subjected to a search for weapons. The robbers, armed and resolute, seized the opportunity to rifle through the black tin box.

When Mr Chambers attempted to dissuade them from taking certain bills and cheques, the assailants showed little objection. The tall man, positioned on the left-hand side of the road, covered anyone not under direct threat with a revolver. Describing this man, Mr Ross noted a cotton rag covering part of his face, with holes for eyes, and the lower part of his face blackened.

The court was informed that the robber with the knife, provided by an accomplice, proceeded to cut the harness around the horse at Mr Ross’s side of the car.

During the court session, Mr Ross identified one of the accused, Michael Kelly, as the individual who took the money during the highway robbery. The trial continues as the court meticulously examines the evidence related to this audacious incident, leaving the community in Listowel grappling with the aftermath of this daring crime.

Evening Herald (Dublin) – Friday 13 June 1913

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