Phoenix Park Murders

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Phoenix Park Murders
Location Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland
Coordinates 53°21′27″N6°19′10″W / 53.35737°N 6.319411°W / 53.35737; -6.319411
Date6 May 1882;140 years ago (1882-05-06)
5:30pm (UTC±00:00)
Target Thomas Henry Burke
Attack type
Stabbing assassination
Weapons Surgical knives
DeathsThomas Henry Burke
Lord Frederick Cavendish
Perpetrator Irish National Invincibles
Assailants James Carey, Joe Brady, Tim Kelly, and co-conspirators
Motive Irish nationalism
Lord Frederick Cavendish Cavendish, Lord Frederick Charles (1836-1882), by John D. Miller, pubd 1883 (after Sir William Blake Richmond, exh. RA 1874).jpg
Lord Frederick Cavendish
Thomas Henry Burke Thomas Henry Burke.jpg
Thomas Henry Burke

The Phoenix Park Murders were the fatal stabbings of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, on 6 May 1882. Cavendish was the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland and Burke was the Permanent Under-Secretary, the most senior Irish civil servant. The assassination was carried out by members of the terrorist organization known as the Irish National Invincibles, [1] a more radical breakaway from the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Contents

Murders

The Irish National Invincibles failed numerous times to kill Chief Secretary William Edward Forster before he resigned his office in protest at the Kilmainham Treaty. [2] The group then settled on a plan to kill the Permanent Under-Secretary Thomas Henry Burke at the Irish Office. Newly installed Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish, on the very day of his arrival to Ireland, was walking with Burke to the Viceregal Lodge, the "out of season" residence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[ citation needed ]

The first assassination was committed by Joe Brady, who stabbed Burke with a 12-inch knife, followed in short order by Tim Kelly, who stabbed Cavendish. Both men used surgical knives, delivered by Mary Ann Byrne, [3] in order to avoid making a lot of noise while carrying out the killings. Cavendish was not a target and his presence was happenstance. Thomas Myles, resident surgeon at the nearby Dr Steevens' Hospital, was summoned to render medical assistance to the victims. [4]

The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Spencer, described hearing screams before witnessing a man running to the Lodge grounds shouting, "Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke are killed!" [5] The assailants were driven away in a cab by James Fitzharris, who served as a getaway driver. [6]

Investigation

The hunt for the perpetrators was led by Superintendent John Mallon, a Catholic who came from Armagh. Mallon had a pretty shrewd idea of who was involved, suspecting a number of former Fenian activists. A large number of suspects were arrested and kept in prison claiming they were connected with other crimes. By playing off one suspect against another Mallon got several of them to reveal what they knew. [7]

The case was successfully prosecuted by the Attorney General, Solicitor General James Murphy QC (later Mr Justice Murphy), and Peter O’Brien, before Justice William O’Brien. [8] [9] Invincibles' leader James Carey, Michael Kavanagh and Joe Hanlon agreed to testify against the others. Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly were convicted of the murders, [10] and were hanged by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between 14 May and 9 June 1883. Others, convicted as accessories to the crime, were sentenced to serve long prison terms. Fitzharris was acquitted of murder but retried as an accessory and convicted. [10]

Only the case of Kelly gave any real difficulty. He was 19 and generally said to look much younger, and by referring to him as "a child" his defence counsel created enough unease for two juries to disagree. Only after an unprecedented third trial was he found guilty. [10]

Implications

Punch magazine depicts the Fenian movement as Frankenstein's monster to Charles Parnell's Frankenstein, in the wake of the Phoenix Park Murders. Punch Anti-Irish propaganda (1882) Irish Frankenstein.jpg
Punch magazine depicts the Fenian movement as Frankenstein's monster to Charles Parnell's Frankenstein, in the wake of the Phoenix Park Murders.

Charles Stewart Parnell's policy of allying his Irish Parliamentary Party to Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone's Liberal Party in 1886 to enable Home Rule was undone by the murders. Gladstone's Minister Lord Hartington, the elder brother of Lord Cavendish, split with Gladstone on the Home Rule bills [11] of 1886 and 1893 and led the breakaway Liberal Unionist Association, which allied itself to Lord Salisbury's Conservative governments. In the ensuing 1886 general election the Conservatives and Liberal Unionists swept the board. This delayed Home Rule by twenty-eight years until the Government of Ireland Act 1914, which was technically passed but was never effected.[ citation needed ]

Reaction

Parnell made a speech condemning the murders in 1882, increasing his already huge popularity in both Britain and Ireland. He had just enabled some reforms under the Kilmainham Treaty four days before the murders. Parnell's reputation increased in Ireland, being seen as a more moderate reformer who would never excuse such tactics. [12]

In March 1887, The Times printed letters purportedly from Parnell claiming sympathy with the murderers and that his public denunciation of them was insincere. It emerged that the letters were forgeries written by journalist Richard Pigott, [13] and Parnell was personally vindicated by the Parnell Commission in 1888–89. [14]

Memorial

Memorial Cross Memorial Cross of Phoenix Park Murders.jpg
Memorial Cross

There is a crosscut into the grass at the location of the killings. It is 60 centimetres (24 in) long, filled with a small amount of gravel and cut thinly. [15]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phoenix Park</span> Park in Dublin, Ireland

The Phoenix Park is a large urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 kilometres (1.2–2.5 mi) west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) perimeter wall encloses 707 hectares of recreational space. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the 17th century has been home to a herd of wild fallow deer. The Irish Government is lobbying UNESCO to have the park designated as a world heritage site.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Stewart Parnell</span> Irish politician (1846–1891)

Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish nationalist politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1875 to 1891, also acting as Leader of the Home Rule League from 1880 to 1882 and then Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1882 to 1891. His party held the balance of power in the House of Commons during the Home Rule debates of 1885–1886.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lord Frederick Cavendish</span> 19th-century British politician and administrator of British Ireland

Lord Frederick Charles Cavendish was an English Liberal politician and protégé of the Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone. Cavendish was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in May 1882 but was murdered only hours after his arrival in Dublin, a victim of the politically motivated Phoenix Park Murders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer</span> British politician

John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, KG, KP, PC, known as Viscount Althorp from 1845 to 1857, was a British Liberal Party politician under, and close friend of, prime minister William Ewart Gladstone. He was twice Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish Parliamentary Party</span> Political party in Ireland

The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament (MPs) elected to the House of Commons at Westminster within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland up until 1918. Its central objectives were legislative independence for Ireland and land reform. Its constitutional movement was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Irish self-government through three Irish Home Rule bills.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish National Invincibles</span>

The Irish National Invincibles, usually known as the Invincibles, were a freedom fighter organization based in Ireland active from 1881 to 1883. Founded as splinter group of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the group had a more radical agenda, and was formed with an intent to target those who implemented English policies in Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Henry Burke (civil servant)</span> Irish civil servant (1829–1882)

Thomas Henry Burke was an Irish civil servant who served as Permanent Under Secretary at the Irish Office. He was one of the key individuals responsible for administering the British occupation of Ireland before being killed during the Phoenix Park Murders on Saturday 6 May 1882. The killing was carried out by an Irish republican organisation called the Irish National Invincibles. The newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland Lord Frederick Cavendish, although not the intended victim, was assassinated alongside him while they walked through Phoenix Park in Dublin. The victims were stabbed in the neck and chest with surgical blades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kilmainham Treaty</span> Informal agreement between William Gladstone and Charles Parnell

The Kilmainham Treaty was an informal agreement reached in May 1882 between Liberal British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone and the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell. Whilst in gaol, Parnell moved in April 1882 to make a deal with the government, negotiated through Captain William O'Shea MP. The government would settle the "rent arrears" question allowing 100,000 tenants to appeal for fair rent before the land courts. Parnell promised to use his good offices to quell the violence and to co-operate cordially for the future with the Liberal Party in forwarding Liberal principles and measures of general reform. Gladstone released the prisoner and the agreement was a major triumph for Irish nationalism as it won abatement for tenant rent-arrears from the Government at the height of the Land War.

The Parnell Commission, officially Special Commission on Parnellism and Crime, was a judicial inquiry in the late 1880s into allegations of crimes by Irish parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell which resulted in his vindication.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jubilee Plot</span>

The Jubilee Plot was a supposed assassination attempt by radical Irish nationalists on Queen Victoria during her Golden Jubilee, on 20 June 1887. Those who presented the idea of a plot claimed that the radicals intended to blow up Westminster Abbey, Queen Victoria and half the British Cabinet. The story was closely connected to a set of forged letters by Richard Pigott, which attempted to implicate Charles Stuart Parnell with supporting physical force Irish republicanism.

Events from the year 1882 in Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patrick O'Donnell (Invincible)</span>

Patrick O'Donnell was an Irish republican executed for the murder of James Carey, whose testimony for the prosecution led to the executions of five men adjudged responsible for the Phoenix Park Murders. O'Donnell was from Gweedore, County Donegal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Carey (Fenian)</span>

James Carey (1845–1883) was a Fenian, most notable for his involvement in the Phoenix Park Murders. He has been called "the most militant-minded republican you could possibly meet" by historian Dr Shane Kenna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burials in Glasnevin Cemetery</span>


This is a list of notable people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Senan Molony</span> Irish journalist and writer

Senan Molony is an author as well as the Irish Daily Mail's Political Editor. He was formerly Deputy Political Editor for the Irish Independent. He broke the news of politician Michael Healy-Rae's Celebrities go Wild voting scandal, receiving the award for Scoop of the Year at the National Newspapers of Ireland's Journalism Awards. He also covered the Aengus Ó Snodaigh printer cartridge scandal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clerkenwell explosion</span>

The Clerkenwell explosion, also known as the Clerkenwell Outrage, was a bombing in London on 13 December 1867. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, nicknamed the "Fenians", exploded a bomb to try to free one of their members being held on remand at Clerkenwell Prison. The explosion damaged nearby houses, killed 12 people and caused 120 injuries. None of the prisoners escaped. The event was described by The Times the following day as "a crime of unexampled atrocity", and compared to the "infernal machines" used in Paris in 1800 and 1835 and the Gunpowder Treason of 1605. The bombing was later described as the most infamous action carried out by the Fenians in Britain in the 19th century. It enraged the public, causing a backlash of hostility in Britain which undermined efforts to establish home rule or independence for Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William O'Brien (judge)</span>

William O'Brien (1832–1899) was an Irish judge. He is mainly remembered now for presiding at the trials which resulted from the Phoenix Park murders. He was also a noted bibliophile, who created one of Ireland's most valuable collections of antiquarian books.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Fitzharris</span>

James Fitzharris nicknamed Skin-the-Goat was a member of the Dublin, Ireland-based Invincibles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Byrne (Irish nationalist)</span>

Frank Byrne (1848–1894) was an instigator of the Irish National Invincibles, the radical offshoot of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was implicated, if not as the organiser, then at least as the spirit behind the assassinations of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary Thomas Henry Burke in the Phoenix Park murders of 6 May 1882. He was one of only two who managed to flee Ireland to escape prosecution for the crime. His escape was the source of much legal wrangling in Ireland, France, and the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Ann Byrne</span>

Mary Ann Byrne was an Irish nationalist.

References

  1. "HISTORY: Remembering the Invincibles". Dublin People.
  2. "The History Show Episode 16". Near FM.
  3. Quinn, James (2009). "Mary Ann Byrne In Byrne, Frank". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James (eds.). Dictionary of Irish Biography . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Molony (2006), p. 27
  5. Molony (2006), p. 33
  6. McNally, Frank. "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  7. Molony (2006), p. 146 et passim
  8. "A Short Account of the Discovery and Conviction of the 'Invincibles'", by George Bolton, Esq., Dantonien Journal, 1887. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  9. The Law Times, Volumes CXI, The Law Times, 1901. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  10. 1 2 3 Molony (2006), p. 187 et passim
  11. Lyons (1977), p. 345
  12. Lyons (1977), pp. 209–211
  13. Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Pigott, Richard"  . Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  14. Andrew Roberts; "Salisbury Victorian Titan" (Phoenix Press, London 1999) p. 454. ISBN   0-7538-1091-3
  15. "An Irishman's Diary: Finding the memorial to the victims of the Invincibles". The Irish Times .

Bibliography