Picture of James Martin and his mother pictured in front of Moylurg House c. 1900.
On 30th September 1896, Freeman’s Journal carried a report on a scandalous “shooting affray” at Moylurg House, Clogher, Boyle, Co. Roscommon:
–THE SHOOTING AFFRAY NEAR BOYLE
A Gentleman Farmer Returned for Trial, Boyle, Tuesday
Late last evening, an investigation was held at the Workhouse Hospital here by Captain McTiernan, R. M. into the charge preferred against Mr James Martin, gentleman farmer, Moylurg, of shooting at with intent to wound one Michael McDermott, a labourer living in the neighbourhood, on last Sunday night. McDermott’s depositions gave an account similar to that already published. Mr Martin said he was so incensed at seeing thieves taking away his property that he could not restrain his temper and he believed that if he had not fired he would have been killed himself. Dr P. White and Dr Hamilton deposed that McDermott was not in immediate danger of death. Captain McTiernan said that he was considerably influenced in taking bail by the irreproachable character of Mr Martin, and the unlikelihood of a man with such a large stake in the country going away. He would remand him to the next Croghan Petty Sessions, to be held on the 19th October, and would accept bail for the appearance himself in £300, and two sureties of £200 each.
The Leitrim Advertiser carried a fuller report on the events on Thursday 1st October 1896:-
SHOOTING AFFRAY NEAR BOYLE, ROSCOMMON.
A shooting affray took place near Boyle at about to 10 o'clock on Sunday night last, when a man named Michael McDermott was dangerously wounded. It would appear that three men, one of whom was Mr McDermott, had been spending the evening at a public-house near Eastersnow [currently Dickie Beirne’s pub?] , and, after nightfall, started towards their home in Moylurg. They passed through some fields belonging to a gentleman farmer named Mr James Martin, who owns over 300 acres of land there. In the corner of one field they met an old deserted shed put up for the purpose of sheltering cattle in winter. McDermott wanted some boards to make a hen-coop, and he and his companion, it is alleged, began pulling down some of the woodwork of the shed. They created considerable noise, which attracted the attention of Mr Martin, at whose house a christening was being celebrated. Mr Martin rushed out with a gun in his hand. Two of the men, according to their own story, saw him coming towards them, and they dropped the boards they had picked and ran away. McDermott, however, stood, and he alleges that Mr Martin when less than twenty yards away, raised his gun and fired. McDermott fell, shot in both legs and he further states that Mr Martin beat him on the head with his gun until he broke it in two.
Information was at once conveyed to the police barracks at Boyle and Croghan. Mr Martin was arrested and brought to Boyle, while McDermott was conveyed to the Workhouse Hospital. Little hope of his recovery is entertained. It was found impossible to extract the shot from his legs, and his head was laid open with a shocking wound. The utmost excitement prevails in the locality, as Mr Martin is connected both by birth and marriage with some of the most respectable families in the counties of Roscommon and Longford.
THE MAGISTERIAL INVESTIGATION
Late on Monday evening an investigation was held at the Workhouse hospital, Boyle, by Captain McTiernan R.M. into the charge preferred against Mr James Martin, gentleman farmer, Moylurg, of shooting at with intent to wound one Michael McDermott, a labourer living in the neighbourhood, on last Sunday night. McDermott’s depositions gave an account similar to that reported above. Mr Martin said he was so incensed at seeing thieves taking away his property that be believed that it he had not fired he would have been killed himself. Dr P. White and Dr Hamilton deposed that McDermott was not in immediate danger of death. Captain McTiernan said that he was considerably influenced in taking bail by the irreproachable character of Mr Martin, and the unlikelihood of a man with such a large stake in the country going away. He would remand him to the next Croghan Petty Sessions, to be held on the 19th October and would accept bail for his appearance himself is £300 and two sureties of £200 each.
The fiery but dashing James Martin, J.P., leased Moylurg House, Clogher, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, after it was auctioned in 1894, following the departure of its previous occupants, Henry and Alice Taaffe Ferrall.
Martin also owned and actually lived at nearby Tullyboy Farm. He sub-let Moylurg to Colonel James Nicholson Soden Kirkwood (born 1846), son of James Kirkwood J.P. and his wife Sarah Mary (née Soden) of Woodbrook House, near Carrick-on-Shannon. Kirkwood lived at Moylurg with his wife, Minnie, and three servants until 1910, after which James Martin moved his own family into the house.
Born in Longford, James ‘Jimmy’ Martin, J.P., had one son, Frederick (b. 1896), by his first marriage to Charlotte Anderson of Croghan (d. 1899 aged 31). [Possibly the daughter of John Anderson, the Agent of the Lloyd Estate at Croghan.] His second wife, Elizabeth (b. 1873), was a Presbyterian from Co. Tyrone. They had two sons, Strother (b. 1901) and Heary (b. 1910) and a daughter, Hester (b. 1904).
Jimmy Martin decided to buy Moylurg House and its lands from the King-Harman Estate when the opportunity arose in 1906, but things did not run smoothly. On 14th April 1906, the Roscommon Messenger carried a report from the Boyle Quarter Sessions on annuities (sums of money paid in regular instalments) on purchase agreements for tenants on the King-Harman Estate.
In the House of Commons, Mr James Joseph O’Kelly, the Irish Nationalist M.P. for Roscommon, asked the Chief Secretary, Mr James Bryce, whether he was aware that the farm of James Martin, on the estate of Edward Charles S. King Harman, at Clogher, Co. Roscommon:
“…has been valued under the rule or directions to valuers, which have since been cancelled, at £5,071 (c. £605,000 in today’s money) as the price Mr Martin is to pay; that the value was fixed on the basis of the holding being security for so much, and without regard to the tenant’s improvements or the rent payable, or the fact that this figure leaves the yearly annuity £9 more than the tenant paid in rent for the holding prior to 1902; and whether, having regards to the new directions issued to inspectors not to confuse price with security, a fresh inspection of this farm would be ordered for the purpose of fixing a price for the landlord’s interest, so as to save the tenant [James Martin] having to pay over again for his own and his predecessor’s improvements.”
Mr Bryce replied that the matter was still under the consideration of the Estates Commissioners, who did not think it desirable to go into the details in the case of a matter which had not yet been decided.
The Irish Land Conference of 1902-03 had been established in an attempt to bridge the gulf between what landlords would accept and what tenants wanted to pay to own the land or estates they lived on. Its report, published in January 1903, provided much of the basis for the act framed by Bryce’s predecessor, George Wyndham (Chief Secretary 1900-05), which became the first to make purchasing land a realistic goal for tenants, while simultaneously providing the inducements for landlords to sell. The entire purchase money was paid in cash to landlords, who were also given a 12% bonus on the sale of estates; while tenants were guaranteed that their annuities would be appreciably less than their old rents. In the case of James Martin, this was clearly not the case and he was complaining that his annuities were £9 per annum more than his previous rent [roughly £1,000 per annum in today’s money].
Although he was a Justice of the Peace, James Martin again found himself hauled into court in 1910, accused of removing a wall adjacent to Moylurg owned by the District Council. He was fined £3 and 6s expenses.
At the time of the 1911 Census, James Martin (44, farmer) was living at Moylurg with his eldest son, Fredrick (14), from his marriage to Charlotte Anderson of Croghan (d. 1899 aged 31); his second wife of 10 years, Elizabeth (37); and their children, Strother (9), Hester (6) and Heary (7 months), along with a boarder, Mallie or Mollie Nixon (23, a teacher from Cavan), and a servant, Eliza Kane (21, from Longford).
The Martin family relocated to Longford in 1915 and 34-year-old Robert Johnston Cotton of Brierfield, Castlerea, began leasing Moylurg House. (Skeffington Gibbon described Brierfield as “the admired seat of Charles Hawks Esq., on the immediate banks of a beautiful and deep lake”.)
At Roscommon Assizes in 1918, before Lord Justice Ronan, James Martin of Fairview, Longford, sued Mary Watson, Edward Egan and Mary Egan to recover possession of a dwelling house, shop and other premises in the town of Boyle. The decision was reserved and his lordship agreed to hear further arguments of counsel at Dublin (Source: Roscommon Messenger, Saturday 20th July 1918) This is believed to be James Martin, who had left Moylurg c.1915 and returned to Longford after renting the house to Robert Johnston Cotton, of Brierfield, Castlerea.
On 28th February 1920, the forthcoming marriage in April was announced of Frederick James Martin of Brianstown, Longford, (son of James Martin) and Ethel, younger daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Shaw, Clonturk, Longford. (Henry Shaw had married Mary Anne Stevenson of Cloughornal House, Granard, Co. Longford in 1881.)
Frederick Martin’s home, Brianstown House, was built c. 1730 for Samuel Achmuty, High Sheriff of Longford (1720-21), with a three-bay single-storey ballroom added c. 1880. The house's unusual lowered elevation is the result of it being partially damaged by a fire in 1922.