Select Page

Limerick Video 1917, Manchester Martyrs

Limerick Video 1917, Manchester Martyrs

Probably one of the oldest videos of Limerick City showing the Manchester Martyrs Commemorations in 1917.

On the 11th September, 1867, two prominent Fenians Colonel Thomas Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy were arrested in the centre of Manchester on a vagrancy charge. News of their arrest was immediately sent to Mr. Disraeli, the Prime Minister, and it was considered quite a capture. Seven days later, the two prisoners were conveyed from the Court House in Manchester to the County Jail on Hyde Road, West Gorton. The Kelly and Deasy were handcuffed and locked in two separate compartments inside the Police van, with twelve mounted policemen to escorting the van.

On the journey, as the van passed under a railway arch, a man darted into the middle of the road, pointed a pistol at the driver and called on him to stop. At the same time, about thirty men jumped over a wall at the side of the road and surrounded the van and seized the horses, one of which they shot. The police being unharmed offered little resistance, and quickly fled.

The rescuers first attempted to open the van with hatchets, sledge hammers and crowbars, as this failed. They called upon Police Sergeant Brett, who was inside the van with the prisoners and the keys, to open the door. Sergeant Brett put his eye to the keyhole to see his attackers at the same moment a revolver had been placed at the keyhole in an attempt to blow the lock. The gun was fired and Sergeant Brett was killed immediately. The door was opened from the inside and Colonel Kelly and Captain Deasy escaped, never to be recaptured.

Another police officer shot in the thigh, and a civilian shot in the foot during the skirmish. After a chase, the police made 29 arrests, including, they claimed, the three men who had fired the revolvers. By November, five of the men arrested for taking part in the rescue; William O’Mera Allen, Michael Larking, William Goold alias O’Brien, Thomas Maguire and Edward Stone, were found guilty and sentenced to death. Maguire was pardoned and discharged, Stone’s sentence was commuted on the eve before the day fixed for his execution.

Allen, Larkin and O’Brien were publicly hanged on the 23rd November 1867.

The video shows both Cumann na mBan and the Irish Volunteers, as well as a group of children in laced collars.

The memorial shown at the end of the video is at Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery.


About The Author

Sharon Slater

Sharon Slater is the owner and operator of the Limerick's Life website. She has been researching and collecting information regarding Limerick history and genealogies since her early teens. She obtained a Masters degree in Local History at the University of Limerick.

About Limerick’s Life

This website is a personal project of Sharon Slater, born from a passion for Limerick and it's history. She maintains, updates and contributes to it independently and voluntarily. If you'd like to donate to keep Limerick's history online, please know that all donations will go directly into the costs of hosting the website and the time and travel to research and write the articles found on the site.

Recent Tweets

Limerick’s Life Awards


Sharon Slater Publications