Molly Maguires 300 strong turn out with guns and spades

24th January 1846
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Secret societies such as the Molly Maguires were an expression of the agrarian grievances of the poor. Active resistance to 'enclosure' (the fencing and pasturing of land traditionally used for subsistence potato cultivation) took the form of night-time ploughing of croplands that had been converted to pasture, fence destruction, and attacks on livestock. Such opposition "to correct transgressions against traditional moral and social codes"* was conceived as "retributive justice" for conacre loss (small-scale, growing-season dedicated leases of farmland).

STATE OF THE COUNTRY [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette - Saturday 24 January 1846 ]

On Monday night last, upwards of 300 persons visited several farms in the vicinity of Croghan, (within four miles of this town,) and turned such ground as they conceived should be given out as Con-acre. They turned a portion of a farm at Rusheens, held by F. Robertson, Esq., of Boyle, also part of the property of the following gentlemen: —John Duke, Esq., Moylurg; Charles Peyton, Esq., Keelogues; Arthur Irwin, Esq.Rushfield; Mr James Shaw, and Mr Acheson, they fired several shots before their departure.

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On Thursday night, the 10th inst. the house of Charles Knott, of Aughrim, within 1 mile of Drumshanbo, was visited twice by different parties of Molly Maguires. In the first instance his gun was carried away, and in about 3 hours afterwards, the second division came and swore Knott’s sister if the former party had taken the gun. On the following day, A. V. L. Birchell, Esq., the nearest Magistrate, having had information that a man was seen proceeding from the direction of Knott’s house to that of other houses in the district of Glen with a gun, and returning without one, Mr. B. went to the houses in search of the stolen property, and succeeded taking 2 other guns, 1 pistol and bullets, which he found concealed. 

On the said night, a large number of men were seen going through their exercises, within yards of the Drumshanbo police and military stations. They marched off quietly, in different directions. 

A number of men, about 150, have been seen exercising, near the crossroads, leading to Cootehall, they had a leader, who gave the words of command etc. 

On Monday night last, about 11 o’clock, twenty men wore seen marching through Carrick-on- Shannon, in military array, 4 men deep, but without arms. 

 

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On Monday, the first stone the Lock the Canal at Curlarn was laid by Colonel Jones; notwithstanding the presence of a vast number of spectators, a man, dressed as Molly Maguire, armed with a case of pistols, presented himself. Having approached four or five workmen, who were engaged in the sinking, which was situated a short distance from the assemblage, they swore they would shoot them, if they worked there any longer, without an advance of wages. 

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* Kevin Kenny