Attack on Michael Forde's House, Estersnow

8th February 1831

Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - Saturday 30 July 1831

Roscommon ASSIZES


Michael Moran, John Cunnane, John Higgins, Thomas Gaven, and __ Sheran, were indicted for attacking the house of Michael Forde; with demanding arms, and for attempting carry away by force the daughter of Forde. Four of the prisoners pleaded not guilty; the other admitted he was there, but said he was forced to gol>y Corny ithe approver) who put loaded pistol to his breast

Michael Forde examined by Mr. French— Lives at Eastersnow; persons came to his house about the 8th of February; they were armed with pistols and pitchforks; they broke his windows and door, and fired a shot at the house, but the hinge of the door prevented the balls; could identify one of them only by his voice. 

Michael Forde (nephew to the last witness) examined by Mr. Ellis—Recollects the night his uncle’s house was attacked; it was on Monday night or Tuesday morning; he saw one person put his head into the window; he did not know him; there was one shot fired, and he saw brace of balls taken out of the door; they demanded arms; had no opportunity of seeing any of the persons; but knew one of them by his voice; when they found that it was dangerous to get in, the house being lit with candles, they went away; knew one of the forks that was put in, it was like a sergeant’s halbert, and used to screw off; the owner of the fork was John Conry; they frequently threatened to take their lives if they were not let in; knew Conry well, he went to school with him.

John Conry, examined by Mr. Scott—Knows Michael Forde; saw his daughter; took a fancy to her; persons made an appointment to meet him at Portobello, on Mr. Lloyd's ground, he went in the evening to Michael Moran's, and Mr. Stafford coming up they ran away; Mr. Stafford took the gun; they sent to witness again when Mr. Stafford went; they said they would meet him at Flanagan’s house; went from that to Michael Forde's, at Eastersnow; they were armed; witness had a pistol; Walsh and Harrison had arms; they are not here; does not  think Moran had arms; Moran was the first that went up to the door, and desired them open it as he had business of Forde; Forde would not open it; one of them broke the window; witness seeing the two Fordes inside desired them with-draw, as it was fruitless to attempt to effect their  purpose; one of the party had a pitchfork; witness gave it to one of the party; they went there to take away his daughter; eight nine consisted of thc party ; identified Moran ; saw him nothing more than the others; John Cunnane, Sheran, and John Higgins; there was also Thomas Gaven; these five were of the party whose object it was lo carry off the girl; he gave the pitchfork to Cunnane before Mr. Stafford came; he had three of the persons present, and Gaven joined them before they left the house; the others joined them at Cavetown.

Cross-examined by Mr. Blakeney—Spent the last year principally at home; was a few months in England; went there to get information; but gave information before he went; always followed honesty, and intends doing so still; took in these poor fellows to join him, and now turns round on them and is prosecuting them to save his own neck; _ swears on his oath he does not know the question he was asked ; gets his livelihood from his father; has no trade; plows and harrows; was not found out, they made the appointment with him; Thomas Conry of Larkhill was is his father; his mother was Conry; does not know what name she took; was in Bath lately; went there to get a livelihood ; to get a wife; and would take her there as well as anywhere else ; went there alter he went to look for Miss Forde—“ when he could not pass the Forde, he crossed the channel;” lived with a cousin of his there; when he heard the police went to look for him he fled this country; does not know what brought them there; did not hear till now what the charge against him was; he gave information himself of the attack on Mr. Irwin’s house; he went there armed to compel them to deliver their arms; they took a gun and two swords, which were returned by Byrne and Dillon since; he would go to England whether or no; but principally hearing the twelve police were looking for him; had no promise from the Government; but wants to do good for his country;  his father bought these good clothes for him before be went to Bath; went by the name of Captain Rock; had a difference with Mr. Hillis about fishing at Cavetown. Is not the son of an Esquire: swore that Mr. Irwin pushed him and dragged him by the collar; neither of the prisoners are related to him; Walsh made an appointment to have the men collected, and would meet him; they volunteered to take away wife for witness; when he consented to go, he asked them; was in love with Miss Forde; she did not make love to him; he had a pistol; he bad fork that he would screw on; it was a small pitchfork; this occurred in February last;  gave his informations before he went away.

To a Juror—Walsh appointed with him to have many men; it was by witness’s desire;  they were talking of Forde’s daughter.

Terence Flanagan examined by Mr. Daniel— Lives in the parish of Elphin, Stonepark, about 4 miles from Forde's; a party came to his house on 8th February last; Roger Moran was the person, he saw him on the road; he had 4 others with him; had a conversation with the last witness in the presence of Moran; Conry desired Walsh to get a gun from witness to help him take Forde's daughter; did not give them the gun. He went for Mr T. Stafford of Portobello; they wanted him to go to Michael Forde's; he did not got with them; Walsh asked for the gun; Mr Stafford came and took the gun and another from a neighbour; Mr Stafford told them to go home, that he knew them; and they ran away; it was the same night; knew none of them except Conry & Moran; Moran had a bayonet.

Cross-examined by Mr Blakeney – Mr Stafford dispersed them and they went towards their homes; will not swear but Moran went home.

Charles Maguire, a policeman, knew two of them before; they arrested Cunnane on the 3rd of July; he said he thought there was not much against him as he was forced to go by John Conry. The Crown closed here.

James Hillis jun. Esq. —Knows the approver, Conry, and thinks he is not a man that ought be believed in a court of justice on his oath; knows Cunnane for more than ten years; he is particularly well conducted, and more industrious than the generality of the country people.

Cross-examined by Mr. Daniel—Was present when he did wrong; it was rather against him; was present when he swore falsely; it was that Mr. Irwin struck him.

Arthur Irwin, Esq.—Knows Cunnane; his character is a very good one; so is that of Higgins. The defence closed—Mr. Irwin swore be would not believe the prosecutor.

William Morton, Esq. was produced by the Crown to rebut the evidence given by the gentlemen for the defence—he said he knew Conry; he certainly would believe him on his oath. The Jury returned a verdict of acquittal.

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