Journal Volume 7 2013

A farmer’s wife shot dead by an artisan

Freeman’s Journal, 17 August 1896


Delgany, Sunday.

Last night a terrible murder was committed at Kendalstown, about midway between this village and Greystones, and up to the present time no reason has been assigned for the awful deed. It appears that about ten o’clock last night Mrs Winifred Gorman, aged about fifty years, and wife of a small farmer named Richard Gorman, was shot dead by a tenant of the latter named James Sweeny, who resided with his wife and children quite close to the Gormans. Sweeny is a native of Blackrock, and about thirty-four years of age. He has been for a long time past foreman bricklayer in the employment of Mr Wm Harpur, contractor, Greystones. The deceased’s family are most respectable people, and very popular in the district. As far as can be ascertained, it appears that on Friday last there was some trifling discussion about fowl between some members of the families, who were, with this exception, always on the best of terms, and very little heed was taken of the matter. It would seem, however, that the matter weighed on the mind of the deceased, with the result that she referred to it in some way last night while in Sweeny’s house, whereupon he took up a loaded gun and shot her dead, and then went and gave himself up to the police. The prisoner was, it is stated, quite sober during the evening, and at six o’clock yoked an outside car and drove Mrs Bridget Gorman, a relative of the deceased, who is also a neighbour of the parties, to Greystones to do marketing. He afterwards went out with Mrs Sweeny, and the latter left her baby in charge of Mrs Bridget Gorman until her return. At 10 o’clock Mrs Gorman went to Sweeny’s house to see if she might bring back the baby, and whilst there the deceased also came in. Deceased made some observation about what happened on Friday, whereupon Sweeny went over to a table, took up a loaded gun, and fired at the unfortunate woman, who turned towards the door, but dropped on the threshold and expired in three minutes. Mrs Bridget Gorman, on seeing Sweeney take up the gun, made an attempt to seize it, but before she could do anything the gun went off and all was over. The poor woman was struck powerless by the awful suddenness of the outrage, and could not do anything or even properly remember what was said or done on the occasion. She remembers saying to Sweeny, “Jem, have you killed her. I’ll go for the police”, to which he replied, “Never mind, I’ll go myself.” He then left the house, went direct to the police station at Delgany, and stated that he had just committed a felony – that he had accidentally shot a woman at Blacklion, near Kendalstown. He was taken into custody on his own accusation, which subsequently proved to be true.

Subsequently … the person was formally charged with having on 15th August at Kendalstown, Co Wicklow, wilfully murdered Mrs Winifred Gorman …


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