1908 Kesh Law Day starring Augustus Armstrong and a strong supporting cast.


The last court day at Kesh being the annual Licencing Sessions, the applications made by the local publicans for the renewal of their licences were signed, with the exception of the one of Jane Armstrong, which was entered late in the order book, and which was adjourned by the magistrates at the request of District Inspector Lewis, who intimated that he intended opposing the signing of this licence. Constable Griffith proved the service of the notice of objection, since last court day, and Distinct Inspector Lewis proved two convictions against the publican.Dr. Lipsett: We admit service of the notice and the convictions. Mr Lewis: I ask the Bench not to sign the application.

Dr. Lipsett asked Constable Griffith if he ever knew of a case before where magistrates refused to sign a certificate because there was one or two convictions, and the constable replied that he had read of such a case in the paper, but he had never any personal knowledge of one. Didn’t the magistrates refuse on the last court day to endorse these convictions? Constable Griffith: I believe they did. Dr. Lipsett (hotly): Weren’t you in court, sir. Aren’t these two cases the only cases against Mrs. Armstrong?—Yes.

There was a little SENSATION IN COURT when Mr. Lewis handed a letter to Mrs. Armstrong and asked her if the letter had been sent by her to Mr. Armstrong, J.P. Mrs. Armstrong admitted that she did, but failed to see any harm in her doing so. Dr. Lipsett: We are not trying a question of letters. Mr. Lewis: She tried to keep away some of the magistrates. Dr. Lipsett: The police on the last court day/had a magistrate here who hadn’t been, here for ten years before. This accusation was denied by Mr. Lewis and Sergeant Keegan. Dr. Lipsett: The police are the most innocent men in Kesh. On reading the letter the Chairman remarked “This was a most improper letter to send to any Magistrate.” Dr. Lipsett: Much of that sort of thing goes on on both sides. There is a conspiracy among the people of Kesh to try and put the Armstrongs out of the place. In reply to the Chairman, Mrs. Armstrong said she did not see any harm in sending the letter, the contents of which were not disclosed in court. Replying to Dr. Lipsett, Mrs. Armstrong said her house was well conducted, and the certificate was signed by six decent and respectable gentlemen of the town. There were no convictions against her except two, which were brought against her at the last court. Dr. Lipsett, addressing the magistrates, said that the police could find out nothing against Mrs. Armstrong. If there was anything Mr. Lewis would have FERRETED IT OUT.

There were only the two convictions against her and neither of  them were endorsed on the licence. The magistrates had refused to make an endorsement which would automatically do away with the licence. Now the police, when they failed to get the licence endorsed, tried to destroy it by opposing the renewal. The licence was worth £200, and it would certainly be very hard if the bench refused to sign the bench refused to sign the certificate. He had never known a case of the kind before. Concluding, Dr. Lipsett made a strong appeal to the magistrates not to refuse to grant the application. Chairman. The majority of the magistrates refuse to sign it. Dr. Lipsett: Would you tell me the vote. Chairman: Four against one. Before the conclusion of the proceedings Mrs. Armstrong begged the magistrates to reverse their decision, and sign the certificate, but the beach declined to do so.

“BIT OF A FARCE.” The adjourned case against Augustus Armstrong for assaulting Constable Cullen in the execution of his duty on the 12th August was heard. The case was adjourned from the last court owing to the bench being equally divided. It appeared that a man named Henry went to the barrack to make a complaint against Armstrong, who followed him and remained, outside the barrack for the purpose of hearing the nature of the complaint. When told to leave by Constable Cullen he refused, and, cracking his fingers at the constable’s face, he said he didn’t care a damn for him, and called him a liar and a flunkey.

Dr. Lipsett: Did you say anything about being called a liar on the last court day?— Yes. Defendant was sitting on the barrack wall, which was part of the premises. It was witness’s business to ask Armstrong into the barrack. He had no right there. Dr. Lipsett: Wasn’t the whole thing this, that he cracked his fingers and said he didn’t care for the police as long as he did nothing wrong? Would you bring me up if I did that? Witness: I would. Dr. Lipsett: I am sure you would; you would be capable of doing it. Your dignity was offended, and you wanted to get at Armstrong when he was down, and when they were all at him. “My dignity is not in the question, it is the law,” returned the witness. Are you serious in thinking yon were assaulted? I didn’t bring up the case. You let your officer bring it up, you knew it was a bit of a farce. Would you have brought it up yourself? — No answer. Witness did not decline to prosecute. Sergeant Keegan gave somewhat similar evidence. The wall outside the barrack was only two and a half feet high, and Armstrong could hear what was going on inside distinctly.

Dr. Lipsett: Why didn’t you close the window? “That’s a matter for ourselves,” was the reply. Defendant’s demeanor was most aggressive. At this stage the witness protested against Dr. Lipsett’s method of cross-examining, and said he would answer all questions as well as he could if he were allowed time. After further evidence the magistrates decided to dismiss the case.

“TOO MUCH OF A JOKE.” District Inspector Lewis summoned Augustus Armstrong for assaulting Henry Irvine on the 12th August. Dr. R. L. Lipsett, solicitor, defended. Irvine, who is an old man, told the bench that he and a few other men were sitting at the corner of the street, about two o’clock in the day, when defendant came to them and remarked. “You didn’t call much in my house to-day, boys.” He then deliberately struck witness who said, “That is too much of a joke.” Defendant struck him again and called him a brat, and as witness was getting up to go to the barrack he struck him a third time. District Inspector Lewis said there was a witness in the case, but he had gone to Lough Neagh. He did not think that it would be necessary to produce him as he thought Irvine’s own evidence would have been sufficient. Dr. Lipsett said he would ask for an adjournment to have the witness produced, as he had written a letter to Mr. Armstrong, in which he stated that the whole thing was not worth twopence. Irvine, in reply to the Chairman, said he had declined to prosecute. Chairman: Irvine has given his evidence in a candid and straight way. The magistrates retired and after a consultation they returned to Court, and the Chairman said that they had decided to bind defendant over to keep the peace for twelve months, bail being fixed at £5 and two sureties of £2 10s each.

“THE TERROR OF THE VILLAGE.” A charge of assault was also preferred against Augustus Armstrong by George Allingham, publican. Kesh. From the complainant’s evidence it appeared that after the proceedings at the last Kesh Petty Sessions, at which defendant’s wife was fined for breaches of the Licensing Act, defendant came up to complainant, who was sitting outside his own door with another man named Willie Irvine and said, “Didn’t McAneran swear well the day?’ Complainant replied that the man who informed the police was found out anyway. Defendant then declared that if he said that again he would whitewash the wall, with his brains. Chairman (astonished): Whitewash the wall with your brains. “Yes.” replied complainant, who further stated that defendant next struck him, knocked him down, and kicked him. Here the witness showed marks on his face and forehead which he said were caused by the defendant. Mr. Falls; This all happened in broad daylight in the public street? Yes.

In reply to further questions put by Mr. Falls, Allingham said he was greatly stunned, and did not know what le was doing. He believed he was saved by Mr. James Aiken, who, along with Constable Cullen, lifted him off the .ground. He was medically treated and was confined to bed for six days. “Did you give any provocation?” asked Mr. Falls. “None except what I have stated,” replied Allingham.

Dr. Lipsett: I have advised my client to plead .guilty. It was no doubt a serious assault, and Mr. Allingham should certainly be compensated for the injury and loss he sustained. In extenuation of defendant’s action Dr. Lipsett said that on that day Armstrong had got a very bad knock from their worships, and was in a mad rage. He had heard that Mr. Allingham had said some bad things about him. Mr. Falls: Is there any truth, Mr. Allingham, in the statement that you said anything bad against Armstrong? Allingham: No. Dr. Lipsett: We don’t say he did, but Armstrong was told so. Chairman: This man should be put where he couldn’t put people to a loss. “He is the terror of the village,” said Mr. Falls. One month’s imprisonment with hard labour was ordered.

In this case Mr. Falls appeared for the complainant, and Dr. L. R. Lipsett defended. Armstrong had a cross-case for threatening and abusive language against Allingham, but on the advice of his solicitor, he did not proceed with the case. “There is no use in going on with it when the Bench are against me,’ said Mr. Armstrong.

PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE NOT SAFE. A charge was brought by Mr. James Aiken, Clerk of Petty Sessions Kesh against Armstrong for abusive and threatening language was next heard. Mr. Falls appeared for complainant, and Dr. Lipsett defended. Mr. Falls—The public officials are not even safe from this man. Mr. Aiken will not proceed in the case if defendant gives a public undertaking not to interfere with him again, and pay costs. When asked by his solicitor if he would do so, defendant said— “I am not guilty; he called me a liar.” Eventually defendant offered to give the necessary undertaking and pay HDs costs, but the offer was not accepted.

In his evidence complainant said he was in the courthouse on the previous day filling in a summons for defendant, who began talking about McAneran. He called McAneran a blackguard, :and began conversing about other matters, and witness told him he didn’t want to hear his talk. Defendant then called him a beggar’s brat, and said he would tramp him under his feet, .and also declared that he could beat the breed of him. “I told him,” said witness, “to clear out for a brat.” He said that it was I who encouraged all the cases against him. He followed me to my shop and continued his abusive language, and said he didn’t care a damn about me. William Eves gave evidence of having heard defendant say he didn’t care a devil’s dam about complainant, and he also shook a paper in his face. Constable Lynch was standing outside complainant’s door, and he heard defendant using nasty language. At this stage defendant went over beside complainant and made some remark, whereupon the chairman shouted—“Go down and conduct yourself, sir.’’In this case defendant was bound over to keep the peace for twelve months.

“HONEY {SUCKLE) AND THE BEES.” James Aiken, Clerk Petty Sessions, Kesh summoned James McAneran for maliciously injuring his bees, and for the larceny of honey. Mr. Falls, solicitor, defended. Complainant said he brought the case in consequence of a statement made by Augustus Armstrong on the last court day. Augustus Armstrong was examined and stated that he was awakened by the barking of a dog on the morning of the 14th July last, and on going to the yard he saw defendant there. He asked him for three bottles of porter, and also asked if he liked honey. Witness refused to give the drink, and defendant then said —  “If you knew the good thing we have on you would not refuse me.” He offered witness payment in honey for the drink. He bad a blue indelible pencil in his hand, and subsequently he gave the pencil to witness, saying— “I would be as well without that.” There was honey sticking on defendant’s hands, and  there was grease on his clothes.

“Did you make a statement to Sergeant Keegan on the 14th July?” witness was asked. “He came to me and asked me to make a statement, which referred to John Cullen and not defendant. Wasn’t there notices up by Mr. Aiken offering £5 reward for information that would lead to the conviction of the parties who destroyed the bees?—Yes. Why didn’t you make this statement before? I wanted to keep clear of the case. Witness was friendly with Mr. Aiken. Hasn’t he you summoned here to-day for abusive language? He has.

Sergeant Keegan read the statement made by Armstrong on the 14th July, and it was to the effect that John Cullen and a few others were in his house that morning, and he overheard Cullen saying that he had got a United Irish League card hanging on a gate that morning, and on it was written, with indelible pencil— “Tell James Aiken that his bees are all upset.” Armstrong further stated that when he asked Cullen for the card he said he had burned it.

In reply to Mr. Falls, Armstrong admitted that his wife was twice convicted on the last court day for offences under the Licensing Act, and that McAneran was a principal witness in one of the cases. Witness went to the barrack after the court was over and made a statement similar to that made in court. Asked by the Chairman why he made the statement at the barracks on the last court day, Armstrong replied—“Because I had opened it in the court.” In further reply to Mr. Falls, Armstrong said he was out himself on the night of the 13th July about 11.30. He met two policemen and told them that there was a man lying out the road with no boots on him.“Wasn’t that for the purpose of getting the POLICE OUT OF THE TOWN?” queried Mr. Falls. A reply in the, negative was given. Chairman — We have heard enough. The case is dismissed. Mr Aiken (C.P S.): I wish to state that as a matter of fact there was no honey stolen. The bees were maliciously injured. The magistrates’ decision was received with some applause.

During the hearing of the case a membership card of the United Irish League was produced, and it showed that James McGinty was admitted as a member of the McCarthy branch, and it was signed by the treasurer and secretary, although producing the card had no bearing on the case.

“OVER THE GARDEN WALL.” District Inspector Lewis summoned William J. Armstrong, son of Augustus Armstrong, defendant in some previous cases, for being on the licensed premises of George Allingham on Sunday, 6th September. Mrs. K. Allingham, wife of the publican, gave evidence to the effect that defendant came to her husband’s house on Sunday, 6th September, at 2 o’clock, and asked witness to get him a naggin of whiskey, He offered the money, but witness declined to serve him with the drink. Defendant got into the house by climbing over the garden wall, and he went out the same way. Defendant said he was in Allingham’s on the night previous also, and complainant said he was not brought up for that. Mr. Lewis— Is it your grievance that there is not enough cases brought against you? Defendant—No, I don’t mean that. Mr. Lewis — Didn’t you go to Allingham’s for the drink to try and get them into trouble? 1 did not. Defendant appealed to be dealt leniently with, and Mr. Lewis said he did not press for a very heavy penalty. A fine of 5 shillings was imposed.

A MATCH—AND A FIGHTING MATCH. A young lad named James Monaghan summoned William Irvine for assault on the 5th September. Mr. W. P. Maguire, solicitor, appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Falls, solicitor, defended. On the night of the 5th September, complainant said, defendant asked him for a match, and in doing so called him by the name of “Vickie,” which was a nickname. He gave him the match, and afterwards defendant made use of filthy expressions, and struck him a box. There was no provocation whatever given by witness. Defendant’s mother and several others who were there held defendant back, and his mother also called for the police. Witness got a second blow but he could not say who gave it to him. He had to be attended by a doctor.

In reply to solicitor for the defence, complainant said that the occurrence took place about a quarter past nine after defendant and some others had come out of Mr. Eve’s public house, where they had been drinking. There was nothing said by witness, who never had an outfall with defendant. Allen Irvine, who was there, pushed witness away and told him to stand back. He was sure that it was defendant who gave him the first box, but who gave the second one he did not know. Sergeant Keegan was called, but he said he was not present at the row. The wounds received by Monaghan were serious, and his face was covered with sticking plaster. Allan Irvine .was summoned to give evidence on .behalf of complainant, but Mr. Maguire said he would not call him. Mr. Falls —; I will call him.

WITNESSES WANT PAY. Irvine, before kissing the Testament, remarked—“Your Worships, I had great bother getting here to-day as I am working on the railway, and I should get paid.” He said that he separated Monaghan .and defendant, and after being separated Monaghan was knocked down, but witness could not say by whom. Cross-examined, he said that he could not say if complainant was struck by defendant, before he separated them. He heard Monaghan say— ‘‘If I hadn’t had my hands behind my back, you would not have done so much.” Robert Irvine said that when defendant asked Monaghan for a match, the other “cut him short.’ There were some words between them, but there was no fighting. Complainant was knocked down, but not by defendant. Mr. Maguire —Aren’t you a relative of this man’s? Witness—Yes. Mr. Falls— Do you insinuate that because he is a relative that he is perjuring himself? “I do not,” replied Mr. Maguire, “but what other evidence might you expect from a friend?”

Another witness named Hugh McHugh also demanded payment before taking, the oath. His evidence was to the effect that he and Allen lifted complainant off the ground. Defendant was not near him at the time. He was present when the match was asked for, and he was positive that defendant did not strike Monaghan. Mr. Maguire— He was struck by a star out of the Heavens (laughter). Witness— The man who struck him jumped into Gibson’s house. The Chairman said the majority of the magistrates dismissed the case. The result was greeted with slight applause at the back of the court, but it was instantly stopped by the Chairman, who told a constable to remove out of court any person who made any noise.

A HORRIBLE CASE. A most horrible evolution of iniquity was disclosed during the healing of a charge brought by District Inspector Lewis against Mary Gallagher, Railway Row, for keeping an improper house. Before the case was opened the Chairman had all persons cleared out of court except the witnesses and those professionally engaged. Augustus Armstrong, in reply to Mr. Lewis, said defendant was a tenant of his, and occupied one of the row of houses near the railway station. There was an agreement drawn up in connection with the house but he was unable to produce .it as it was in a solicitor’s office in Enniskillen. Mr. Lewis—’Wasn’t this row of houses called “Virgin’s Row’ in the agreement? Armstrong— It was not. Mr. Lewis—Isn’t it called Virgin’s Row on account of its purity? Mr. Noble, J.P.—I heard it called Virgin’s Row, but I can’t say where I heard it.

Constable Burrows who was the first witness to give evidence to show that defendant’s house was used for improper purposes, said he was five years in Belfast, but he never saw a worse case than the present one. Five other police constables gave evidence which was REVOLTING IN T’HE EXTREME to corroborate Constable Burrows. Defendant, who is about sixty-eight years of age, denied the charge, and also denied that men were in the habit of frequenting her house. Chairman—I don’t believe that statement. “Thank you,” defendant quickly returned. The magistrates, not wishing to send an old woman like defendant to jail, imposed a fine of £1 and Is 6d costs. Defendant— I am a good living woman. I am one of the eight generation, and was never in jail in my life. In fifteen years I earned £179. Will you give me time to pay? Mr. Lewis said he had no objection, to defendant being allowed time to pay, on condition that she promised to leave the town altogether. Defendant said she would leave as soon as she would get a house elsewhere. Chairman— That might be a long time. Eventually defendant decided she would take her departure in a week. Before the court rose defendant offered 13s to the chairman, and said she would pay the balance when she got it, but the money was refused, she being told to keep it until she was able to pay the full amount.

A few “drunks” having been fined, and a number of cases brought by the Kesh School attendance committee against parents for failing to send their children regularly to school, disposed of, the business concluded.

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