Lord Chancellor's Letters, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

Letter 1

Lord Chancellor's Secretary's Office,

Four Courts,

Dublin,

26th Day of February 1902.

To: MC Henry, Esq, J P
Swinford.

Sir,

I am directed by the Lord Chancellor, to say that his attention has been called to the report of the proceedings in The Western People, of February 22nd.

On the occasion of the release of Mr Conor O'Kelly, MP, from Castlebar Prison on the termination of his sentence for Unlawful Assembly. You are reported to have taken an active and prominent part in those proceedings, notwithstanding your position as a Magistrate, to have held up Mr O'Kelly's conduct on the occasion for which he was sentenced, as worthy of admiration and imitation.

Such action on your part is entirely inconsistent with your position as a Magistrate and I am directed to inform you, that, if you desire to submit any observation in reference to the foregoing, they should reach me for submission to the Lord Chancellor on or before this day week.

I am to add, that, His Lordship requires that, pending his decision, you will abstain from sitting on the Petty Sessions Bench.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

J Nugent Liutaigne.


MC Henry's reply

Charlestown Co. Mayo,

4th March 1902.

Sir,

In reference to yours of the 26th. Concerning my actions on the occasion of the release of Mr Conor O'Kelly, MP, from Castlebar Prison, I have to say: M .Conor O'Kelly is a personal friend of mine, and as such I thought I was warranted in what I did.

Even now I cannot see that anything I did was inconsistent with my position as a Magistrate, considering Chief Baron Pallai's opinions of the Law in this case.

I am Sir, Your obedient servant, Mark C Henry.

Letter 2

25th Day of March 1902.

Sir,

I am directed by the Lord Chancellor to inform you that he has considered your reply to my letter (written by direction of His Lordship) drawing your attention to the fact that your attendance at the demonstration referred to was calculated to hold up conduct in respect of which a sentence of imprisonment for breach of the Law had just been completed, as worthy of admiration and imitation.

It is manifest that such action would be inconsistent with the position of a Magistrate.

In your reply you convey that you only attended as a friend, although on the occasion you presented an address, the wording of which is open to much criticism.

The closing paragraph of your letter cannot be understood, unless, it is intended to discuss the Law, which his Lordship could not for a moment sanction, in considering the propriety of your conduct as a Magistrate. If the Lord Chancellor thought that your action was deliberately intended to effect the object to which he has drawn attention, he would be quite unable to condone it.

His Lordship however, infers from your letter that, on the occasion referred to you took part in the proceedings without having present to your mind, that your action was inconsistent with your position as a Magistrate, and was calculated to have the effect suggested.

Acting on this assumption he is prepared to allow the incident to close, with however a grave warning to you to be more circumspect in future.

I am Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

J Nugent Liutaigne.

Lord Chancellor's Secretary's Office,

Four Courts, Dublin,

12th Day of August 1902.

Letter 3

Sir,

I am directed by the Lord Chancellor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 6th of August conveying your resignation of the Commission of the Peace for the County of Mayo.

Yours Faithfully,

W M Campbell, Colonel. Private Secretary.

PS: For many years I have wondered who the Lord Chancellor was, that wrote to my Grand-father so many years ago. Well, he was one Edward Gibson (1840-1913), 1st Baron Ashbourne. He came from a Dublin Legal family and owned a small estate in Co Meath. He was Conservative MP for Dublin University (1875-1885), Attorney General for Ireland (1877-1880) and Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1885-1886) (1886-1892) and (1895-1905).

© Cathal Henry 2005