Hay Set on Fire.

Extraordinary Allegations Against a Glantrasna man. Magisterial Investigation.

Susan Toulson

1901 Census
1911 Census Extract

Galway Express – published Saturday, 19 Aug 1916

Hay Set on Fire. Extraordinary Allegations Against a Glantrasna man. Magisterial Investigation.

At the Oughterard Petty Sessions on Thursday, 10th August, the following case was heard.

It was that of the King at the prosecution of District-Inspector Neylon against Thomas O’Toole, level crossing, Binnekill, Maam Cross, who was charged with maliciously setting fire to a load of hay. In the absence of Mr Neylon, Head-Constable Noonan conducted the prosecution. Mr George Lyons, Bannakill, Fishery Inspector for the Board of Conservators, examined by Head-Constable Noonan stated that on the 8th August at about 7 p.m., he saw from his farm smoke, and on arriving at the place, he found a cart load of hay on fire; the hay was thrown on the road; the place was about 150 yards from the crossing at Bunoakill ; Pat Naughton, Glantrasna, was in charge of the cart; witness’s land runs on each side of the road where the hay was burning, and to prevent the hay from setting fire to the fences he scattered the hay along the road; whilst doing so he found a piece of partly burned turf with a rag around it; he gave it to Sergeant Bolton, and he now identified it; he knew the prisoner Thomas Toole, who lives with his aunt, uncle and sister at the crossing in the railway cottage; it was about 150 yards from where the hay was burned; witness was aware that accused’s uncle, John Toole, had the grass along the railway line for some years; witness bought it three years ago; this year he was informed that Mr Tom Lyons had the hay bought from the railway company; it was a portion of this hay Pat Naughton was removing when it was , burned.

Defendant declined to cross-examine Mr Lyons. John Conneely, Glantrasna, stated that this year he bought a quantity of meadow from Mr Thomas Lyons, Tullaboy; the meadow was on the railway line; he cut and saved the grass himself; on the 8th of August he had three carts removing the hay to Glantrasna ; James Conneely, Colman Lydon and Patrick Naughton were in charge of the carts; as he was passing the crossing Mary Toole and Mary Walsh were there, and they were shouting and jeering. To the Chairman—He could not say if it was him they were shouting at; he did not know what they were saying.

Continuing, witness stated that about 150 yards beyond that he heard Pat Naughton say his cart of hay was on fire; he ran back to his assistance, and cut the rope and threw the hay on the road; the value of the hay would be about £3; the car was also partly burned, and the carman would claim £3 more if new shafts had to be replaced; he found the bits of burned turf (produced) ; he knew the prisoner; he could not say whether the, Toole’s were angry with him for buying the hay or not.

Cross-examined by the Defendant—Where did you find the piece of turf
I found it on the middle of the road.
When did you find it? Half an hour after the fire was discovered.
Did anyone see you finding the turf?
Yes, Mr George Lyons and James McDonagh.

Pat Naughton swore that he was a farmer and lived at Glantrasna ; on the 8th inst he was carting hay for John Conneely from Bunnakill ; Colman Lydon and James Conneely were also carting hay, and he last of the three on the road; as the cart passed the crossing Mary Toole and Mary Walsh began to shout; after proceeding about 150 yards the horse began to get restless and seemed to notice something behind it, and on looking down he saw the cart on fire; he saw the accused running from the cart; be would be about 10 yards behind; he was on the side of the road and stopped; he knew him 12 months and he had no doubt but it was he that was there; he at once unyoked the horse and cut the rope.; he had about 14cwt of hay which all burned; the value alit would be about £3; his cart burned to the value of about £3.

Sergeant Bolton, Maam Cross stated that on the 8th of the present mouth on account of a complaint made to him he want to Bunnakill and on the public road be saw a quantity of hay smouldering; be also saw a cart on fire on the side of the road; he got the piece of burned turf covered with a rag from Mr G. Lyons; he afterwards on that date arrested Thomas Toole and charged him with maliciously setting fire to a quantity of hay the property of John Connolly; be gave him the usual legal caution, and Toole said he did ‘ not set fire to the hay; there was no house in the vicinity of the place except the railway cottage, Mr George Lyons’ house, which is about 500 yards away, and Thomas Lyons’ house which quarter of a mile away. At this stage Mary Toole, defendant’s sister, stood up and said she would like to be examined on behalf of her brother.
Chairman—Do you to make a statement?
Miss Toole. –I do.
Miss Toole, in the course of a statement, said that on the date in question her brother came in at 6.30 pm., and had his dinner, which he was directed by his aunt to go up the ladder to see if there was any train coming; subsequently he came in and took a book and was reading it when the cars passed; her brother was inside reading the book; later her aunt out her brother and herself to see the blaze up the road; then her aunt asked her to bring in a bag of turf; the three of them went out saw the fire.
Cross-examined by Head-Constable Noonan—You had the grass the Railway Company for some years past?
We had.
Did you feel angry for not having it this year?
You don’t know what your brother was doing when you went for the turf? He inside reading.
The Head-Constable characterized the case as a very serious one, and he would ask Bench to return the defendant for trial without bail.
Head-Constable—Because the interval between this and the neat Quarter Sessions at Galway will be a period of months, and defendant might go away. Chairman (to defendant)—lf you were let out on bail could you get solvent sureties?
Defendant—l can.
Who are they? John Conneely and Harry Toole.
Chairman (to Harry Toole)—Are you satisfied to go bail?
Mr H. Toole, who spoke in Irish. said he was willing to go bail.
Chairman—Do you know what responsibility you will be under if the defendant does not turn up? Mr Toole made no reply.
Chairman—ls defendant a friend of yours or a near relative? Mr Toole did not answer.

The Chairman very clearly pointed out to Mr H. Toole his responsibility regarding the bail bonds, but Mr Toole did not evidently realize the Chairman’s remarks. Mr George Lyons speaking in Irish, plainly pointed out the responsibility which Mr Toole would he under, and the latter gentleman said he quite understood and was satisfied to give the necessary security.

Chairman asked Mr Lyons if he was well acquainted with the prisoner, said Mr Lyons stated that he was of opinion that if bail was granted the defendant would stand his trial. Mr Hill—Very well. I will allow the defendant out on bail to stand trial at the Quarter Sessions.

These image relate to the Toole family.  In 1901 Bernard/Bryan Toole is living with extended family. He died before 1911 and the kids scattered.  In 1911, Thomas Toole isn’t found, but his Sister Mary and Uncle John are listed in Bunnakill, with a nephew James.  And there were only 2 houses in Bunnakill, the other occupied by William Lyons and family.

This page was added on 07/06/2021.

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