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From animal theft to murder, secret police files go public

December 30th, 2016 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

From animal theft to murder, secret police files go public Image
SKIBBEREEN: In 1863, information was being sought on a woman who was believed to have abandoned her infant child in Abbeystrewry.

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Details of the villains of Victorian West Cork who engaged in animal rustling, forgery, assaults and murder are now available online

Details of the villains of Victorian West Cork who engaged in animal rustling, forgery, assaults and murder are now available online

A NEW online collection, released via, allows members to examine their family and local history in a different light.

It may be found that your great ancestor lived a life of crime, or rather may have been a victim of one. 

The records include the names, addresses and descriptions of Cork residents wanted for and convicted of various crimes, as well as their victims. Many of the crimes were connected to heightened periods of civil unrest that defined them Land War and its related tensions in rural Ireland in the final three decades of the 19th Century. 

This was an era in Ireland when murders were seven times more likely and theft was rife. The collection reveals that across Ireland assault was the most common crime over the 32-year period with 28,353 cases reported. This was closely followed by reports of breaking of licence conditions (28,092 cases) and of theft (23,345 incidences). The collection depicts 48 accounts of murder that occurred across Cork. 


Assault in Kilmeen

WE see Daniel Crowley from Shanacrane who on November 28th 1879 assaulted John Brien in Kilmeen. John is described as being a farmer and it is said that Daniel assaulted him with a stone. Daniel is described in detail in the gazettes as having a somewhat high left shoulder, regular nose, fresh complexion, of medium make of 5ft 6inches high, 22 years of age and whitish hair. When last seen he was wearing a black coat, grey trousers and a vest. He is finally described as being as labourer. 


Family Murder

CORNELIUS Driscoll, native of Ballinlough stood charge in Kilmacabea on October 20th 1873, with having struck Denis Driscoll a blow to the head with a stick from which Denis died as a result of his injuries the following morning. Cornelius is described as having brown eyes, regular nose, shallow complexion, a rather long face, of stout make, 5 ft 7.5 inches, about 35 years of age. When last seen he was wearing a soft round hat, blue coat and trousers, he is of smart intelligent appearance, the appearance of a man of determination. His hair is described as hanging to both sides of his head as if recently wetted. He is lastly described as recently been in America and speaking with a slight American accent. It was supposed he would attempt to return to America following committing the crime.


Child Abandoned in 


INFORMATION is sought on a woman who is believed to be a native of West Cork who stood charge with having abandoned her infant child on September 21st 1863 in Abbeystrewry. The woman is described as being 25 years of age, 4 feet 10 inches tall, of slight make, fresh complexion, small face, regular nose, short dark brown hair and low forehead. 

She was last seen wearing a net on her head, a purple dress, a black mantle with a small cape and a bead collar. It is alleged that the woman was heard saying that the father of the child is a boat builder, based in Kinsale and that the infant is named Kate. 


Heifer Stealing

WILLIAM Hourihan, native of Dunmanway stood charged with having in his possession a heifer which is believed to have been stolen on April 4th 1883. William is described as having grey or blue eyes, regular nose, sallow complexion, a long face, medium make of 5 feet 7 inches, about 18 years of age and dark hair. The heifer is described as being red and white, with a white belly, of poor condition and 1 year old. The heifer is valued at £5 or £6. 

Ancestry’s Rhona Murray commented, “It’s fascinating to see the variety of crimes and note how some of them differ from those committed today. Stealing livestock was rife and the level of assaults and murders was much higher than the present day.  It all makes for fascinating reading for anybody looking to find out more about either a historic offender or a victim of crime in their family tree.”

Ancestry is the world’s leading family history site containing the largest collection of family trees with over 6 billion profiles from over 100 countries. 

This year they have launched new Irish collections of records including over 10 million Catholic Parish records and a fascinating collection of once secret 1916 Easter Rising files.


To search the Irish Police Gazettes 1861-1893 log onto The records are searchable by name, date, type of crime and that county in which they occurred. 

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