Murder on a Grand Canal Company boat

At the inquest on the body of Myles Crofton, who was, as alleged, murdered on board one of the Grand Canal Company’s boats on the Limerick Canal, the jury returned the following verdict:— “That the deceased, Myles Crofton, aged 45 years, dies at Killaloe on Sunday, the 29th November, 1891, from certain wounds inflicted on him in boat No 17, plying on the canal, but we find there is not sufficient evidence before us to enable us to say who the guilty person or persons are that inflicted said wounds. We unanimously wish to put before the Grand Canal Company the unhappy position of the wife and large family of the deceased, and to pray the merciful consideration of the company on their behalf.”

Freeman’s Journal 5 December 1891

From the issue of 1 December 1891 we learnt hat, on 30 November 1891, two Grand Canal Company boatmen, and a third man, were charged with the murder. The boat had left Limerick for Killaloe on Saturday 28 November with Crofton, two other crewmen and a fourth person, not a boatman, on board. When it reached Killaloe, Crofton was found to be unconscious “with seven wounds about the head and over both eyes”. The police were called and the dispensary doctor attended but Crofton died next morning “in great agony”. The other three were remanded to Limerick Jail for a week. Crofton left eight children.

On Tuesday 29 December [FJ 30 December 1891] the three men were brought before the magistrates. They were defended by P S Connolly, solicitor. District Inspector M’Donald said that one of the accused had made an important statement but, as he had not yet received instructions from Dublin Castle, he requested an adjournment which, despite Mr Connolly’s opposition, was granted. On the following day [reported in FJ 31 December 1891] the DI said that one of the men, George Farrell, had been released from prison and was prepared to give evidence against Frank Egan.

On being sworn, Farrell deposed he had heard a row in the cabin of the boat between Frank Egan and the deceased, Myles Crofton, and afterwards saw them fighting with their fists. Subsequently he saw Egan strike the deceased with his boot.

Dr John Keogh, who had attended Crofton before he died [was he the dispensary doctor?], said that the wounds were caused by violence, not by accident.

The Belfast News-Letter [1 January 1892] had a slightly different account:

[…] one of the men turned Queen’s Evidence, and confessed that while going down [sic] the Shannon a comrade named Miles [sic] Crofton was repeatedly assaulted while all the party were drinking.

Egan was committed for trial; Farrell had already been released and now the third, Nutterfield [Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 1 January 1892] or Netherfield [Hampshire Telegraph and Oxford Journal, both 2 January 1892], was also released.

I have not been able to find anything about Egan’s trial, if there was one, or subsequent fate.

 

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