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"Land Dispute Erupts in Riots and Unlawful Assembly: Thirteen Face Trial in Limerick" |

“Land Dispute Erupts in Riots and Unlawful Assembly: Thirteen Face Trial in Limerick”

Dissatisfaction Over Land Distribution on Roche-Kelly Estate Leads to Arrests and Legal Proceedings

LIMERICK, Saturday – Tensions over the distribution of tenanted lands on the Roche-Kelly estate in Bruff have escalated into a series of riots and an unlawful assembly, resulting in the arrest of thirteen individuals. The discontent stemmed from dissatisfaction among interested parties regarding the allocation of plots and the awards made by the Estate Commissioners. The constabulary, having been informed of ongoing issues, swiftly took action, leading to legal proceedings against those allegedly involved in the illegal activities.

The unrest reached a boiling point on April 15th, with a large crowd gathering outside the chapel in Bruff. Approximately a hundred people assembled, expressing their discontent over the distribution of lands. The constabulary received reports of a riot and unlawful assembly, prompting them to take legal action against those they believed were involved.

Under the command of District Inspector McEntee, a substantial force of constabulary, drawn from various police stations, executed warrants for the arrest of thirteen individuals. The arrests, conducted at 4 o’clock on a Saturday morning, were carried out without incident. The individuals were taken into custody and later brought before Mr P. J. Kelly, R.M., at Limerick.

The prosecution, led by Mr J. B. Gaffney, Crown Solicitor, alleged that the defendants were connected to the unlawful assembly and riot that took place on the aforementioned date. The accused were charged with various offences related to their involvement in the events, and Mr P. J. O’Sullivan, solicitor, defended them during the court proceedings.

Sergeant Colliding, a witness for the prosecution, described the events that unfolded on the night of April 15th. William Dwyer, one of the defendants, arrived and directed the crowd to form a line. Under Dwyer’s orders, some defendants entered the chapel briefly, and upon their return, they marched towards Kilby’s place, making demonstrations along the way. The crowd’s actions included cheering, booing, and even a revolver shot. The cause of the hostility was attributed to Kirby, who had received a plot of land from the Roche-Kelly estate.

The procession continued towards Clougherdoolerty, where Michael Callaghan, another recipient of a plot of land, resided. The crowd shouted, booed, and threw stones at Callaghan’s home, resulting in broken windows. The defendants then moved on to Friarstown, making demonstrations at Miss Morrises property and engaging in similar disruptive behaviour.

Constable Burlin corroborated the events described by Sergeant Collins. He testified that, upon arrival, he called volunteers to fall in, and under Dwyer’s direction, some of them went into the chapel. The crowd continued their disruptive behaviour, shouting, booing, and even discharging revolver shots. The defendants were identified as members of the unruly assembly.

Sergeant Jones from Grange supported the prosecution’s case, identifying five of the accused as participants in the assembly. He attested to their role, including the pulling down of a pier gate.

Michael O’Callaghan, a victim of the disturbances, recounted the night when a crowd of around a hundred people congregated outside his shop in Clougherdoolerty. They shouted, fired revolver shots, and threw stones, breaking windows and causing substantial damage. O’Callaghan, who had been allocated land from the Roche-Kelly estate, expressed fear and terror during the ordeal.

The defence did not cross-examine O’Callaghan, and other constables provided corroborative evidence of the events. District Inspector McEntee, who visited O’Callaghan’s premises, confirmed the damages caused during the disturbances.

As the prosecution concluded its case, Mr J. Kelly, the presiding magistrate, decided to return the thirteen men for trial at the next Assizes. However, he granted bail under the condition that each accused would provide £40 and two sureties of £20 each.

The trial, stemming from this tumultuous land dispute, is set to shed light on the underlying issues and the role of the accused in the events that transpired on that fateful night in April.

Dublin Daily Express – Monday 04 May 1914

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