The Death of Fr John Walsh at Kilgraney
By Maura Cronin
On July 31, 1835, the body of a local Catholic curate, Fr. John Walsh, was found near Kilgraney bridge near Borris in the county of Carlow. How had he died? It was likely that he had been thrown from his horse, but in the disturbed political atmosphere of Carlow in the mid-1830s, the rumor soon spread that he had been murdered. The finger was pointed at a local Protestant farmer, Archibald Sly, who was brought to trial at the Spring Assizes of 1836. The outcome of that trial was a further trial, this time of three witnesses who had testified against Sly. Together, the death of Fr. Walsh and the ensuing court cases raise important questions, not only about political and social tensions at local level in pre-famine Ireland, but also about the conflicts between an increasingly centralized and reforming state on the one hand and, on the other, a landed and denominational elite threatened by the pace of change.
Publication Date: 10/28/2010