Horrible Outrage Near Gort. A Woman Killed with Child in her Arms.

The Galway Observer, Saturday, November 6th, 1920


Mrs. Ellen Quinn, (24), who was shot on Monday evening while sitting on the lawn, in front of her farmhouse at Kiltartan near Gort, bled to death the same night. She leaves three children, the eldest of whom is not yet four years old. Rev Father Considine, C.C., Gort, wired Mr Arthur Griffith, T. D., on Wednesday —

Woman within two months of childbirth, holding child nine months old in her arms, shot by Galway police here on Monday evening. Died few hours afterwards. Have wired Greenwood.

At the time of the shooting Mr Quinn, who is a farmer, was in Gort. Another messenger going to Ardrahan for Dr Foley was, it is reported, wounded by a bullet. Uniformed men passed into Gort subsequently firing shots. When the lorry passed the house where the dying woman lay the terror—stricken occupants fled by the back way.

Priest's Anguish

Rev Fr. Considine, C.C., Gort, gave a graphic description of Mrs Quinn's last moments.

"It is too awful, too inhuman, to contemplate." These were Father Considine's opening remarks concerning the tragedy. Pressed to explain what occurred, Father Considine said: "I have read of Turkish atrocities; I have read of the death of Joan of Arc; I have read of the sufferings of Nurse Cavell, and as I read those things I often felt my blood boil and I often prayed that the good God might change the minds and hearts of those cruel monsters.

"It is Awful."

Little did I then dream that I should witness a tragedy, an atrocity more hideous, more revolting, more frightful, more brutal, more cruel than any of those things, and here in our own little peaceful parish of Gort. My God, it is awful! About three o'clock on Tuesday Malachy Quinn weeping bitterly, called for me. Father, said he, "I have just heard that my wife had been shot. Will you run down immediately." I procured a motor car and hurried to the scene. At the gateway there we beheld a large pool of blood. In the yard another pool, and the porch leading to the kitchen was covered with blood. I entered the room. Oh, God! what a sight. There lay the poor woman, the blood oozing out through her clothes.

"I Have Been Shot"

She turned her eyes towards me and said: "Oh, Father John, I have been shot." "Shot!" I exclaimed. "Yes," she replied. By whom, I asked. "Police" she answered.
"By police!" Yes, she replied empathically.
"Did you see them?" Yes.
"Where?" "On a lorry."
"How many lorries?" Two.
"From what lorry did the shot come?" From the first.

"What a Scene"

A Mother's Anxiety for her Children

She then became weaker, Father Considine explained, and on rallying exclaimed, "Father John, will you do something for me?" I tried to console her, he explained, and administered the Last Sacrament.

When I finished she whispered to me, bring me Malachy, bring him to me, I hear him crying. I have something to tell him. I did so. What a scene. Then she became weak and fainted off. Gradually she became worse.

I sent word immediately to the Head Constable at Gort. He arrived with police and military. All seemed shocked at the tragedy. I asked him to go in and see the woman. He and his men felt the trial too much, as he answered, "I cannot." No trace of the bullet could be found.

Continuing, Father Considine said Mrs Quinn was sitting on the lawn with her child when the lorry passed from which the fatal shot was fired. The bullet pierced the stomach, and the child she was holding fell from her arms. She crawled over the wall into the yard, and then crawled to the porch to tell her servant that she was shot. "Take in the little children!" she exclaimed.

"I'm Done! I'm Done!"

From 3 o'clock to 10.30 she lingered on in pain. Occasionally she would clasp my hand pull me towards her, and say: "I'm done I'm done!" At 10.30 her condition became worse, and we knelt by her bedside to recite the Rosary and prayers for the Dying. She tried to join, but was too weak.
At 10.45 the little children began to cry, and with them the crowded house burst into tears. As I read the last prayer of the Ritual she looked around, then closed her eyes and died. My God! what Turkish atrocity ever equalled this?

Prayers for the Dead

That morning, said Father Considine, I had a note from her asking me to offer Mass for her deceased friends. Little did she dream that prayers for the repose of her soul would be asked for to—day from this altar.

The interview was given by a priest who, on last Sunday denounced the recent ambush of police at Castle Daly and cried on the altar steps when speaking of the occurrence. The police subsequently called to thank Father Considine for his remarks, saying they would feel for ever grateful.

Dr J. Sandys states that Mrs Quinn was suffering from a wound in the groin, probably caused by a bullet. She collapsed from shock and haemorrhage from which she never rallied.

Surgeon O'Malley, Galway, was then wired for, but so great is the sense of terror in Co Galway that he could not secure a motor car. Eventually Dr Mahon and himself travelled in the latter's car, only to find that Mrs Quinn had bled to death.

Fowl was found shot in Quinn's yard.

Gort Mother's Death. Chief Secretary and the Co. Galway Horror. Resentment at Question by English Member.

The sad case of Mrs Eileen Quinn, a mother, expectant, who was mortally wounded outside her home near Gort, on Monday, was the subject of questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday and a military inquiry in Gort.

Mr Devlin, by private notice, asked the Chief Commander Kenworthy — If it is the case can the Chief Secretary say if there will be any difficulty in tracing which lorry this was, and can he assure the House that the most drastic steps will be taken to punish those who have taken pot shots at an innocent woman!

Sir H. Greenwood — I must protest against these remarks.

Court of Inquiry. Driver's Evidence

At a court of inquiry which was held.
Another witness deposed — I am a motor car driver. I remember the 1st November. I was driving the car that came to Gort on duty. There was another car with us. We left Gort about 2.30 returning to Galway. I was driving the lead car. Along the road leaving Gort there was a lot of traffic. I had more than once to slow down to pass the cars. I did not leave the driving seat at any time. I fired no shot. I heard shots fired from the car I was driving. We got to Galway about 4 o'clock. I did not see a woman shot, nor hear of a woman being shot on the road, until I got to Galway. I did not notice a woman on the wall between Gort and Ardrahan.

He was not cross—examined.
The next witness deposed — On Monday last I was one of an escort that came to Gort on duty in a motor car. We left Gort about 2 o'clock. There were two cars. I was in the leading car. The roads were congested. I don't know if it was a fair day or not.

When They Would Fire

When travelling along a suspicious—looking place like a wood we would fire our rifles in the air, but would not fire near a house or near a decent looking civilian. I was armed with a rifle. I fired a few shots on the road to Galway. I did not see or hear of a woman shot on the road till to—day. I did not see any woman sitting on the wall that day.

To Dr Comyn — "I fired my rifle twice on the road to Galway, but did not fire between Gort and five miles from it. There were shots fired from my lorry in the town when we were leaving."

Two other witnesses deposed they were in the lorry, and that no shots were fired in Gort. Otherwise they corroborated.

Verdict at Military Inquiry

The verdict of the military inquiry is announced this morning as follows:— The court has considered the evidence and the medical evidence are of opinion that Mrs Eileen Quinn, of Corker, Gort in the county of Galway, met her death due to shock and haemorrhage by a bullet wound in the groin fired by some occupant of a police car proceeding along the GortArdrahan road on the 1st November, 1920. They are of the opinion that the shot was one of the shots fired as a precautionary measure and in view of the facts record a verdict of death by misadventure.