Foran timeline, notes & links

A 100-year timeline related to the July 1888 murder of John Foran. (© 2020)

BEFORE THE MURDER, 1820s to 1887:


Birth year of George Sandes, who became land agent known as “The Terror of North Kerry.”

FEBRUARY 10, 1826:

Baptismal record shows John Foran (or Forhan) born to John Foran and Mary Mulvihill of Aghalahana in Listowel parish, north Kerry. The 1858 marriage record of John Foran (below) indicates his father was John Foran. News accounts at his death in 1888 say he was 60 (1928). A civil death record says he was 63.

Foran would have been in his early 20s during the Great Famine.

Record link 1. Record link 2.

April 14, 1827:

Birth of Arthur John Walsh, 2nd Lord Ormathwaite, owner of the property at the time of Foran murder.

Source link.


Property records (Griffith Valuation) for 1851 show John Foran leased a 150-acre farm in Tullamore townland, about five miles north of Listowel on the east side of Knocanore Hill. This might have been the father, the son being in his early 20s at this time. News accounts at the time of the murder suggest the lease was passed down through his family, and Foran was probably his father’s oldest son and spent his entire life in north Kerry. That he held the lease up to the time of his murder indicates that Foran survived the Famine and other hardships better than many of his neighbors.

Records show John Foran leased a farm a Galey parish from the estate of John Benn-Walsh. Records also show John Foran leasing at Kilconly and Listowel.

Record link

SEPT. 6, 1855:

John Benn-Walsh visits “my new purchase of Coolclarig opposite Tullamore. This is, I think, a very good investment.” This is the property at the center of the 1888 murder.

“The Journals of Sir John Benn-Walsh Relating to the Management of His Irish Estates, 1823-64,” By James S. Donnelly, Jr., in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol LXXXI, No. 231, January-June, 1975, page 16. … “Introduction” and earlier years in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol LXXX, No. 230, July-December, 1974.


George Sandes appointed agent for the Kerry lands of John-Walsh.

FEBRUARY 14, 1858:

John Foran (32?) of Liselton marries Mary Stack of Shroneagraga at Moyvane.

Record link


John, 1860; William, 1863; Catherine, 1865; Nora, 1867; Edward, 1868; Joanna; 1870; Patrick, 1872; Michael, 1873; Tim, 1877; Dennis 1878.

Honorah Foran of Shrone (Ballybunion parish) born/baptized Feb. 12, 1867 (assumed). This date means she would have been 21 at time of her father’s murder; or 16 based on 1895 passenger record; or 12 based on 1910 census; or 16 in 1920 census; or 15 in 1930 census.)

Record link (birth)

“They know the price of shoes and what spuds are worth at market, but it is beyond them to recall the date of their birthday or what the present month may be.” from “Going Through Ellis Island.”  Comment by U.S. public health inspector Dr. Alfred Reed, Jan. 1913. Story link.

SEPT. 12, 1860:

John Benn-Walsh and “Foran of Shronoun” meet and talk about a recent murder in the area. (Both men would have been about 34.) The crime “was committed by one Fitzgerald, a farm servant of his,” while the victim was “a young man named Dore,” who died from “a blow of a bludgeon on the head.” Benn-Walsh writes there was “a quarrel and ill blood” between the two. He notes the reluctance of several people with knowledge of the crime to speak to authorities until they are compelled to testify. “Everyone in Ireland is against the law and in favor of the criminal.”

In the same passage, Benn-Walsh writes of visiting his properties at Tullamore and Coolclarig.

“The Journals of Sir John Benn-Walsh Relating to the Management of His Irish Estates, 1823-64,” in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol LXXXI, No. 231, January-June, 1975, page 32.


The National League established in January to restore a separate and independent Irish legislature. National Association of Ireland founded in December to reform landlord-tenant laws.

MARCH 1867:

The unsuccessful Fenian Rising. Story link.

OCTOBER 23, 1869:

Author and former Kerry county court judge William O’Connor Morris writes about Kerry in his “Letters on the Land Question in Ireland,” a series published in the Times. He writes:

“…the people of Kerry are, perhaps, more clannish in their ideas, more like what we should conceive as a tribe, than those of most other parts of Ireland.

“The people of Kerry are a thoroughly Celtic race … They are shrewd, quick-witted, fanciful, sensitive, affectionate if you touch their sympathies, prone to submission, and to respect those connected with them by ancient tradition. On they other hand, they are jealous and irritable, tenacious of custom, and unprogressive, and, above all, impressionable and fiery, rather than persevering, steady, or courageous.”

On landlord-tenant relations, Morris notes that “the occupiers of the soil …. are exposed to destruction by the stroke of a pen.  … Such a condition of tenure … alarms and irritates a vast class in the nation, keeps it in a state of precarious uncertainty on the land on which it has no hold, and tempts it to have recourse to violent means to obtain the security denied it by law.”

Morris suggests that “Kerry is all but free from agrarian crime” but adds there is “a perceptible amount of querulous discontent in Kerry,” which he attributes the bitter memory of the famine. He says Kerry is “not deeply affected by the Fenian spirit,” thanks in part to the efforts of Roman Catholic Bishop Dr. Moriarty in condemning “all movements of a revolutionary kind.” The prelates views on the land question are “temperate and just.”

But adds too many young priests are encouraging their flocks “in a vain agitation” and “ought not to hold out expectations to them which Parliament, I am convinced, will frustrate.”

“Letters on the Land Question of Ireland,” by WIlliam O’Connor Morris. Chapter XIX: From Skibbereen to Killarney. Written for the Times and published by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1870.

SEPTEMBER 7, 1872:

Jeremiah Scanlon born on 9/7/1872 in Inchamore, baptized 9/11/1872 at Moyvane, northeast of Listowel. Father Michael Scanlon. Mother Mary Shanahan.

JUNE 1874:

First debates in the House of Commons about Home Rule for Ireland.

AUGUST 1878:

Lord Ormathwaite (Jonn Benn-Walsh) owns 8,907 acres in Kerry valued at £2,619. (Page 356.) George Sandes, J.P. Listowel, owns 803 acres/£178. (Page 403)

“The Landowners of Ireland,” Compiled by U. H. Hussey de Burgh.
Dublin Steam Printing Co., Dublin 1878. Record link.

OCTOBER 21, 1879:

Beginning of the “Land War” period.

Irish National Land League founded. C. S. Parnell elected president.

JULY 1880

Kerry Evening Post story about land dispute on Lord Ormathwaite properties in Tullamore, including suit of John “Foran” against Jeremiah Madigan in September 1879. It was later withdrawn. Foran testifies that he was paid in promissory notes, including 8 pounds in March.

FEBRUARY 3, 1881:

Death of Sir John Benn Walsh. Land holdings transferred to his eldest son and heir, Arthur John Walsh, 2nd Lord Ormathwaite, who has already begun to mortgage the properties.

Source link.

MAY 6, 1881:

The Phoenix Park murders in Dublin. Eventually this would lead to creation of the Special Commission on “Parnellism and Crime” in 1888, which would reference the Fitzmaurice and Foran murders in Kerry.

Story link.

NOV. 14, 1881, The Irish Times, page 5

Report of Land Commission Court setting of rents on behalf of 150 tenants on properties of Lord Ormathwaite and other Kerry landowners, including Thomas Sandes  (Sallowglen) and George Sandes.

DECEMBER 23, 1881:

Andrew Higgins appointed Bishop of Kerry. Ordained Feb. 5, 1882.

JULY 12, 1882:

Prevention of Crime in Ireland Act. Defines and outlaws “intimidation” as “any word spoken or act done calculated to put any person in fear of any injury or danger to himself, or to any member of his family, or to any person in his employment, or in fear of any injury to or loss of his property, business or means of living.” Document link.

OCTOBER 17, 1882:

Irish National League founded, successor to Irish National Land League, which was suppressed. Adds Home Rules in addition to land reform.

 APRIL 4, 1883:

Thomas Walsh evicted from 57 acre farm at Coolaclarig. Annual rent of 66 pounds on land valued at one third as much (22 pounds). Foran got the farm about 10 months later, or February 1884.

Record link 1. Record link 2.

Details of the Walsh eviction are also contained on page 4 of an “Evicted Tenants (Ireland) “return” prepared as part of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act of 1907. The document is dated Nov. 4, 1909. (1909 document for 1907 Act is CQ)

To put Walsh’s eviction in context, a Royal Irish Constabulary report of April 11, 1883, showed there were 793 families (3,859 people) evicted through out Ireland during the first quarter of the year. There were 94 families/519 people evicted in Kerry, nearly 12 percent. In some cases, families were readmitted as tenants or caretakers.

FEBRUARY 24, 1884:

The Kerry Sentinel of May 6, 1884, (p4) reported that John Foran appeared at Listowel Presentment Sessions, chaired by George Sandes. Foran, “who is under police protection,” claimed that a foal was “maliciously killed and wholly destroyed at Coolaclarig” after being “captivated into a ditch by some moonlighters.” The case was dismissed on grounds that the foal accidently fell into the ditch.

APRIL 8, 1884:

Kerry Sentinel story, “A Boycotted Farmer and His Calf,” describes Foran as being boycotted for taking Walsh farm. At the Listowel market with two police officers he is unable to sell a calf. “Several persons went through the form of buying the calf but it was evident from the amount of money which they offered, that they had not the remotest intention of buying it.” The bidders offered less than half the worth of the animal, so Foran sent the calf “by another person” to Ballylongford the next day to sell.


Gaelic Athletic Association founded. It quickly develops a strong presence in Kerry, with members involved in land agitation and Home Rule efforts.

DECEMBER 12, 1884

Kerry Sentinel story of January 6, 1885, details episode at Listowel Market. Foran convicted of selling inferior butter.


By 1886 the Ormathwaite estates had been mortgaged for £153,755.  By 1890 estate revenue was unable to meet all its annual charges: interest payments were £3,000 in arrears.

Source link.

JANUARY 12, 1886:

Kerry Sentinel story about John Foran and Nora Foran at Listowel Petty Sessions regarding December 1885 incident at Listowel market, where he is harassed trying to sell a firkin of butter. Seek to bring charge of intimidation. Testimony includes that he was fined for “selling fraudulently prepared butter” in December 1884  … Case of intimidation is denied. “Johnny and his daughter left the court in anything but a pleasing mood.”

FEBRUARY ??, 1886:

Death of Mary Stack Foran, based on March 22 discussion in House of Commons.

FEBRUARY 2, 1886, Kerry Sentinel

“The Rents in North Kerry”

FEBRUARY 26, 1886, Kerry Sentinel, page 4

“The Tenantry in North Kerry Under George Sandes’s Agency”

MARCH 22, 1886

First reference to John Foran in House of Commons. Discussion about Foran being boycotted “for some time past” and that police protection was withdrawn in February 1885 “at his own request.” The rumor that Foran could not obtain a coffin “last month” to bury his wife is said to be untrue, it was supplied by landlord agent (George) Sandes’ carpenter.

Record link

More details in March 24, 1886 Kerry Evening Post story (copy)

APRIL 21, 1886,

“The town of Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, is placarded with notice of a boycott against Lord Ormathwaite (Foran’s landlord). The boycott orders the tenants on Lord Ormathwaite’s property to resign their holdings within a week.”

This news item appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Herald and other U.S. newspapers.

Record link 1. Record link 2.

 JUNE 5, 1886:

“Agrarian Outrages” piece from United Ireland appears in the New Zealand Tablet. Story about George Sandes and Lord Ormathwaite in Kerry. “The tenants on the Kerry estate of Lord Ormathwaite cannot pay their rents, and the agent knows it. The rent is from twice to three times Griffith’s valuation, and Griffith’s valuation is itself excessive.”

Record link

May 29, 1886, Weekly Irish Times, Page 5

Evictions in North Kerry.  Brief story about “a series of evictions” on Lord Ormathwaite’s property near Listowel under the agency of George Sandes, J.P. Evicted tenants included Jeremiah O’Connor, of Coolaclarig; Denis Curtin of Knockane; Martin Flavin of Coolaclarig; and Thomas Hegarty of Tullamore. Farms handed over to Ormathwaite’s representative Mr. Power. Local Tenants Defense Association erected “Land League huts for the evicted tenants.” About 160 police on hand for the evictions.

Story link. (Sandes, “The Terror of North Kerry.)

MARCH 1887:

The Times begins its series “Parnellism and Crime.” A. J. Balfour become Chief Secretary in Ireland.

Story link 1. Story link 2.

July 19, 1887:

Prevention and Punishment of Crime in Ireland Act passed.

AUGUST 19, 1887:

National League proclaimed dangerous.

OCTOBER 28, 1887:

William Foran, “son of boycotted man,” assaults Thomas and Richard O’Connor of Knockane. The next month he is fined 20s in Listowel Petty Sessions, according to Kerry Evening Post


JANUARY 31, 1888:

James Fitzmaurice shot to death in front of daughter Nora near Lixnaw, north Kerry.

Story link. Scroll to “Boycotting of James and Norah Fitzmaurice, County Kerry 1888”

FEBRUARY 3, 1888

United Ireland editorial in Kerry Sentinel about the “state of Kerry.” (HAVE COPY) “Another Kerry Murder. Unhappy Kerry….” talks about problems of moonlighting, coercion and evictions.

FEBRUARY 29, 1888:

Opening of the Lartigue monorail railway linking Listowel to Ballybunion.

MARCH 31, 1888:

Coverage of the Fitzmaurice murder trail, which occurred in Wicklow. “It is scarcely doubtful that if this trial had taken place in Kerry, the jury would have either acquitted the prisoners, or have given no verdict at all.”

Story link.

APRIL 20, 1888:

Rescript, or decree, of Pope Leo XIII condemned the Irish Plan of Campaign and all clerical involvement in it as well as boycotting.

APRIL 23, 1888: The Irish Times (archive story)

Nora Fitzmaurice shunned at Mass for giving evidence about her father’s death. Magistrate Roche and District Inspector Hickie will show up  in Foran trial.

Story link.

APRIL 28, 1888:

Daniel Hayes and Daniel Moriarty are hanged after being convicted of Fitzmaurice murder.

JUNE 24, 1888:

Encyclical on boycotting in Ireland Pope Leo XIII.

“We have learned that an untoward excitement has suddenly arisen because the Sacred Congregation, whose office it is to vindicate the authority of the Church against those who resist it, has decreed that those methods of warfare known as Boycotting and the Plan of Campaign, which had begun to be employed by many, may not lawfully be used. And what is more to be deplored, there are not a few who have come forward and summoned the people to excited meetings, where inconsiderate and dangerous opinions are set in circulation, the authority of the Decree not being spared.”

Record link

JULY 29, 1888:

John Foran murdered on a Sunday afternoon.

JULY 30, 1888, Times of London, Page 6

John Foran killed at 5 pm at “Mount Cole” (Mountcoal) south of Listowel.

Story says JF, 60, shot by “two disguised men.” Says Foran lived at Tullamore between Listowel and Ballylongford.

(Brief coverage of the murder appears in many U.S. papers within a day or two.)

JULY 30, 1888:

Chief Secretary A. J. Balfour questioned about the murder in House of Commons.

Record link

JULY 31, 1888, Times of London, page 10

Second day follow up story says Foran and 15-year-old son (Michael, not named) were 400 yards past Banemore, “where there was a dance.”

“The people at the dance distinctly heard the shots fired but did not interfere or render any assistance to the unfortunate man.” (son?)

A Listowel correspondent for the paper said Foran was “one of the first and most rigidly boycotted persons in the County Kerry.”

Tells story of Foran being unable to procure a coffin for his wife’s death “for love or money” except an agent T.W. (George?) Sandes, agent at the estate, ordered a carpenter at Sallowglen (a few miles east of Ballylongford) to build the burial box.

Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (same day) describes the murder “one of the most daring, as well as one of the most brutal, which have yet stained the criminal annals of Kerry.”


The summer of 1888 was very wet in Ireland. That was good for the grass crop and helped increase livestock prices. Dublin recorded 15.9 inches of rain over 109 days through July 31, compared to 7.9 inches over 80 days during the same period the previous year. The 23-year average was 14.7 inches over 112 days, according to the 23rd Annual Report of the Registrar-General for Ireland for the Year 1888. Document link.


AUGUST 1, 1888, The Kerry Sentinel, page 1.

“Terrible Murder Near Listowel / A Farmer Shot Dead in Broad Daylight”

Story “from our reporter” uses the same “most daring/most brutal in criminal annals of Kerry” description as above, adding the crime “would lead one to fancy we are living in the medieval ages, among a tribe of barbarians, rather than in this nineteenth century, among civilised (sic) and Christian people.”

Story says that Foran kept the Walsh farm despite suffering many “annoyances” but “he was not subject to anything like rigid systematic boycotting.” Why? The story says that Listowel police believed it was because Foran “was of such a fearless disposition –being brave even to rashness– that the people of his district had a wholesome dread of himself and his shilelagh. He was never apprehensive of any danger to his person owing to his position, and is said to have on several occasions made a vaunt of his having continued to hold the farm despite all public opinion could do to make him uncomfortable and leave him severely alone to batten on his newly acquired treasure.”

The story says Foran began hiring laborers from Tralee almost as soon as he obtained the farm for Walsh because local men refused to work for him.

Gives location of the crime at Irremore Road, west of Mount Coal.

AUGUST 4, 1888, Weekly Irish Times, page 6

“Murdered for Taking an Evicted Farm”

Foran killed at Mount Coal near Listowel returning from Tralee where he hired three laborers. Story says “two disguised men” jumped a fence and shot him dead. Foran, 60, lived at Tullamore between Ballylongford and Listowel. (Mount Coal, eight miles from Tralee, six from Listowel) …they were 800 yards from Banemore… “clear the car” …shots fired “poor Foran gave a loud groan and fell to the ground a corpse (conflicts with later testimony he was not dead on falling). Laborers ran “got his eye blackened by a revolver bullet. The shots must have been distinctly heard where the dance was going on, as it is not three hundred yards distant from the scene of the murder. The spot chose for the cowardly deed is one of the most lonely and uninhabited parts of Kerry, being skirted on either side by a of the road with a wood about forty yards deep…there is not a house situated with a radius of a mile of the scene, and though the shots must have been distinctly heard by those who were at the dance, not one of them had the humanity to come and offer any assistance to the poor man’s son. The poor fellow, left to his own resources, was not able to lift his lifeless father into the cart, but put him up against the wall and drove to Listowel…”

Story suggest motive is that Foran lent money to Mrs. Walsh of Tullamore, who was not able to repay the debt. Story says Foran acquired the farm and “worked it successfully, being a hard-working and industrious man” and “a large farmer in affluent circumstances.”

Story says John Brosnian, Michael Brosnihan and John Buckley were charged but son “failed to identify the prisoners, as also did three other men and a woman who travelled in the same car. The prisoners were according discharged.”

AUGUST 4, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 4

Story about “young Foran” being unable to identify the three prisoners and “left the (prison) yard crying.” The three laborers, or spalpeens, also could not make identification, nor could Kate Sullivan, the young woman who was given a ride shortly before the attack.

Story also notes that jury refused to issue murder verdict without hearing testimony from from any of the five witnesses because “the Crown declined to produce them.”

AUGUST 6, 1888:

House of Commons discussion about Walsh being evicted from the farm and activities of the National League.

Record link

AUGUST 11, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 4.

Resumption of the inquest (Monday, Aug. 6) at Listowel. Dr. J. Clancy, District Coroner, said he issued summons for attendance of “young Foran.” But District-Inspector John C. HIckie said the boy had not been served because he (Hickie) “had instructions — in fact, directions from the Attorney-General not to produce Foran or any of the others who witnessed the murder for examination before the coroner.”

AUGUST 15, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 2.

Inquest resumes Aug. 13 in Listowel “and the Crown persisted in refusing the bring forward the witnesses required.” Summons not given service. Alexander Morphy, Crown Solicitor, (joined by Hickie) says the jury can only question experts about the manner of death and that “their right of examining witnesses ends there.” He says the jury should “not go into outside matters” as “the effect of it woudl be to mar the administration of justice.”

Coroner Clancy says the jury’s “request to have these witnesses produced in not unreasonable, and it ought to be granted.”

Argument follows between Morphy, Clancy and several members of the jury, who want to question the witnesses about how and where the murder occurred and if there was one or more shooter.

“Well, they are not in attendance,” Morphy says.

“We will not be lectured by you,” a jury responds.

Clancy says he issued summons for Michael Moriarty, Owen Sullivan, Thomas Clifford (the laborers) and Michael Foran, but Hickie and Morphy contend they were not the correct documents and were not issued.

AUGUST 13, 1888:

Special Commission on “Parnellism and Crime” established. Meets for the first time on October 22, 1888. The three member “court” is presided over by James Hannen, president, along with Mr. Justice Day and Mr. Justice A. L. Smith. They were to consider whether Parnell had a role in the Phoenix Park murders, and whether he and other nationalists were stoking agrarian violence in Ireland.

Story link.

AUGUST 17, 1888, Times of London, Page 4

Brief mentions that James Curtin arrested on suspicion of participation in the murder, remanded for eight days on the deposition of Head Constable Strettans.

AUGUST 17, 1888, The Irish Times, Page 3

Brief says James Curtin arrested for murder. Says he worked for “a man named Walsh at Tullamore.”

AUGUST 18, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3.

Brief about Aug. 15 arrest of James Curtin.

AUGUST 25, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, p?

Remand of James Curtin, represented by John Moran. Morphy representing the Crown. Moran opposes remand to Tralee and says first duty of the Crown is to produce witnesses. He said he “did not understand this hole and corner business” and “protested against this extraordinary mode of procedure adopted by the Crown.” Describes Curtin as “an extremely poor man.” Remand to Tralee granted despite Moran’s protest that the location was “to suit the convenience of the Crown Solicitor.”


Publication of “Ireland Under Coercion,” by American author William Henry Hurlbert. The series of dispatches is based on is travels through Ireland from January through June, 1888. It references of “Lixnaw murder” of James Fitzmaurice less than  two weeks after the crime. Also quotes an unidentified priest as deploring counties Clare and Kerry as the “solitary plague-spot, where dwell the disgraceful and degraded ‘Moonlighters.’ ” See Vol. 1. More on Kerry in Vol. 2.

Source link, Vol. 1. Source link, Vol. 2

Note: Hurlbert’s book was criticized two years by Irish Nationalist Patrick White in a 32-page pamphlet “Hurlbert unmasked: an exposure of the ‘thumping English lies’ of William Henry Hurlbert in his ‘Ireland Under Coercion.”

Source link

SEPTEMBER 12, 1888, The Irish Times, Page 3

“Murder of John Foran Near Listowel (From Our Correspondent)

Rearrest of James Curtin, previously detained three weeks. Story says “Curtin is a young man, and had been employed as a labourer by the murdered man.”

SEPTEMBER 13, 1888, The Irish Times, Page 5

Says Curtin arrested at the home of Edmond Walsh at Tullamore. Says that young son of JF (identified as William) gave statement against Curtin after earlier declining. Gives Curtin’s age as 23. Says he entered the court and “threw the soft white hat which he wore on the floor, and listened without the least discomposure to the following information of William (Michael) Foran…

Tells story of Curtin breaking the milk churn “July of last year (1887) near Guiney’s Cross with sister Hannah and younger brother Denis and Mossy. “My father wanted me to go to the court against Curtin, but I was frightened of Curtin and I would not.”

Foran said he had other encounters with Curtin on the road at Coolaclarig “He used to look cross at me, and when he had the ass and car with him he would begin to wallop and beat the ass hard.” Mentions Curtin usually wore “a soft hat.”

Day of the murder: In the cart with father and Pat Connor and three laborers. Passed a son of Tom Walsh of Clontabrid who previously had the farm. Took up a girl named Kate O’Sullivan…Stopped at Barry’s publichouse. Son stayed with the girl…Reached crossroads at Mount Coal Cross. “I saw a number of boys and girls. There was a piper there, but he was not playing at the time we passed.” Entered area with wood on both sides of the road. “Clear the car” Shots fired. All scattered except for Thomas Clifford (laborer) “waited for the men’s pikes (shovels?), which he took out of the car”. Mentions other laborers as Owen Sullivan and Michael Moriarty “the pensioner.”

After hearing the allegations, Curtin responed: “I have nothing to say, but may the Almighty God do something for me.”

SEPTEMBER 13, 1888, Times of London, Page 7

Story says that James Curtin discharged and rearrested on information of William Foran, 15. (This is really Michael.) The witness “swears it was James Curtin who killed his father. He had no doubt about it.”

The young man says he, father and Patrick Connor left the farm in the morning to get laborers in Tralee. On the way back reached “part of the high road which passed through a wood.”

Someone called “Clear the car” and jumped a fence into the road. Four or five shots fired at Foran in the cart. He fell from the cart but was not yet dead. Laborers scattered. Son went on to Listowel but father was dead before he returned with help.

“He (boy) said he was very frightened, particularly of James Curtin, whom he knew well previously, and on the advice of his sister (Nora?), who was also frightened, he had refused to give evidence.”

SEPTEMBER 15, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 4.

Rearrest (Sept. 14) of Curtin at the home of Edmond Walsh of Tullamore. Story says Curtin “was acquitted” at Tralee about five weeks earlier. Testimony of “young Foran” (William is named, but probably means Michael) includes story of broken milk churn and details of the day of the murder. Hearing is before J.P. George Sandes (landlords’ agent to the property?)

SEPTEMBER 15, 1888, Weekly Irish Times, page 5 Repeats Sept. 13 story.

SEPTEMBER 20, 1888, The Irish Times, page 6

Grand jury in Tralee. Repeats earlier information, but adds story of cross examination by Mr. Moran. Young Foran had conversation with Head Constable Streton in an outhouse. “Witness said there and then that Curtin was not the murder of his father…” But he changed the story after a second encounter with Stretion.

Moran: “As you hope to be saved hereafter, do you still stick to the swearing that Curtin ws the murderer of your father?

MF: “I do sir.”

SEPTEMBER 20, 1888, Times of London, Page 3

At Tralee, James Curtin brought before the court and charged with murder of Foran at “Mountcoole.”

Dr. Dillon, who did the post-mortem, testified that he found six bullet wounds in the victim: three in the chest, two in the side and one in the back. One of the bullets “passed through the heart, broke through the sixth rib and lodged in the muscles of the back.” Cause of death from hemorrhage and shock.

William Foran, “eldest son,” testified his father was boycotted for three years. “The shopkeepers in Listowel refused to supply him with provisions. Neither the blacksmiths, coopers, nor tailors would work for him. We were great friends with our neighbors until the (National) League decided to boycott us, and then they all refused to speak with us. They used to whistle after us and hoot us and call us landgrabbers, and threatened repeatedly to shoot us if we did not give up the farm.”

Michael Foran, 15, said he accompanied his father and witnessed the murder. Some months earlier with a younger brother and sister were conveying a churn of milk in a cart to their home when a stranger attacked them, spilled the milk and broke the churn.

He later learned the man was James Curtin, whom he identified as the murderer.

Cross examined by Mr. Moran, Michael said he identified Curtin to his brother Patrick and to Constable Strettans.

Defense attorney Mr. Roche attempted to confused the boy in cross examination, questioning whether Curtis’ name as provided by police, who said Curtin would horsewhip him if Michael didn’t swear a statement to justify Curtin’s arrest.

Story concludes by saying, “The witness was examined at much length, but he remained positive that the prisoner was the man who murdered his father.”

SEPTEMBER 22, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3

Testimony of Dr. John Dillon, Listowel regarding autopsy of July 30. … Testimony of William Foran about the family being boycotted.  … Mention of Patrick Conner was in the cart the morning of the murder … Judge Roche prevents Moran from asking questions …. Testimony of Michael Foran. Story of the milk churn, with mention of brothers “Mossy” and Denny and sister Hannah.  …  Mention of leaving home with Pat Connor and at Listowel passing “a son of Tom Walsh, of Clountubrid, on the road; that’s the Tom Walsh who owned Coolaclarig before my father…” Names workers and girl … Dispute about a drink of water for Micheal Foran between Moran and Morphy …. On cross examination there is reference to a Sept. 10 statement by Micheal that he was very frightened about the murder “and my sister’s Nora’s advice [was] not to give evidence made me unwilling to swear against the murderer.” Revealed that Michael did not return home until two days after the murder. He says in the testimony his brothers William and “Patsy” convinced him to testify against Curtin.

SEPTEMBER 29, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3

Testimony of Head Constable Stretton. Describes finding two sets of footprints leading from the woods to the road where the murder occurred and finding a piece of flannel and two pieces of brown paper, which he kept as evidence. … Describes the arrest of Curtin at the home of Edmond Walsh, who suggest the alibi of Curtin playing cards at the home of John Foley. …. Examined about whether he spoke to Michael Foran about Nora Fitzmaurice, who “was believed and she was in the dark (of early morning); you had the daylight” … Stretton suggests he got Curtin’s name from District-Inspector Hickle of Listowel, who testifies that he got the name from Sergeant McGoldrick of Ballylongford. … Testimony of George Sandes, J.P., and land agent for Lord Ormathwaite’s property Coolaclarig, held by Tom Walsh until April 4, 1883. … Hannah Foran testifies about the milk churn story, saying Michael, Maurice and Denny with her at the time. She is prohibited by Judge Cecil Roche RM, from answering a question about asking her brother Mike who killed their father. This results in dispute between Roche and John Moran, defense attorney. Hannah Foran references conversation between Mike and Nora and Mike and sister “Kate.)

OCTOBER 10, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 2

Procedural matter regarding testimony of others in Foran car.

OCTOBER 10, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3

Testimony of Micheal Foran regarding another broken milk churn, about six months before the earlier described episode of June 1887 (Jan. 1887) near Coolaclarig. Three men who had been under a bridge began throwing stones and broke the churn, but couldn’t be identified. … “It is turning into a butter milk case now,” Moran says. … Testimony of Sgt. McGoldrick of Ballylongford about giving Curtin’s name to the District Inspector. But the questioning is objected and upheld … Curtin and seven other men brought to a magistrate’s office, but the three laborers and girl state that they could not identify the murderer. …. Testimony of Kate O’Sullivan of Glenbeigh. Said she was turned from the front of the car and did not see the shooting.  … Testimony of Michael Moriarty of Riangue, near Killorglin: says he heard “clear the car” or “quit the car” and shots fired from a man coming from the side of the road. He ran away. Says Clifford was behind, caught up with the three pikes and “a little bundle belonging to myself.” Says he couldn’t identify anyone in the magistrate’s office. Says he got two glimpses of the murderer, but “it was a very small sight I got of him.” Moriarty gives a vague description of the shooter, including being about 5′ 6″ or 5′ 7″, about 23 or 24 and “fair haired to the best of my belief.”  Curtin is asked to stand, but Moriarty says, “I was standing in the car and things would not appear to so big to me but I think he was not so tall” (as Curtin).

OCTOBER 13, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 4

Oct. 9 testimony of Thomas Clifford. Describes the shooting and then gathering the three pikes and belongings. … Morphy (Crown) and Moran (Defense) continue their verbal sparring … Testimony of Mary Lynch, “an intelligent young woman” of Mountcole. Says she was on the road the day of the murder and saw two men standing near the ditch, “one of them appeared to be pairing a stick with a knife.” She asked why they were not a the nearby dance, but they did not answer. The car approached, and she turned to get out of the way. She heard “clear the car” and the sound of gunshots. She describes the shooting, referring to Michael Foran as “the little boy.”  Morphy asks: “As you hope to see your God is that man Curtin the man that fired the shot.” Lynch answers, “No sir.” … Curtin remanded another eight days.

OCTOBER 22, 1888:

Special Commission on “Parnellism and Crime” meets for the first time. (Charles Russell, attorney for Parnell, had once been on general retainer fo the Times.)

OCTOBER 27, Kerry Sentinel, page 2

Curtin remanded another eight days, due to absence of Morphy.

OCTOBER 29, 1888, Times of London, Page 4

Foran house visited by correspondent reporting about Lord Ashbourne’s Act and agrarian issues.

“The house and offices were very tidy and well slated, and they were evidently industrious and well-to-do people,” the correspondent wrote.

Also speaks of the “anti-Lartiguer” opposed to north Kerry’s monorail.

“Exceptional interest attaches to the operation of land purchases in Kerry, owning to the disturbed condition of that county in recent years.”

NOVEMBER 3, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3

“The Defense.” Detailed trial coverage from Oct. 31 at Listowel, where “the court was crowded.” Morphy opened by saying that the same evidence was given in any other country the case would have been no need to go into a defense. But he would do so for three reasons: 1) there was an absolute defense; 2) he knew in his heart and his soul that he was defending an innocent man; and 3) he wanted the public to reach a judgement on the case. … Morphy reviews Michael Foran’s conflicting testimony about knowing or not knowing the man who shot his father. He references Michael saying that his sister (singular, unnamed…Nora) would not allow him to identify the person.  …. He questions why laborer Owen Sullivan was not called to testify, the one person described by the others as facing the front of the car, not with his back turned to John Foran.  … He said the testimony of Mary Lynch was “characteristic of truth, honesty, uprightness and integrity.” Morphy said he “defied the most orange and most partisan jury to convict James Curtin of the murder of John Foran.”

William O’Sullivan of Tullamore testified that he saw Curtin on Aug. 15 at his father house. He asked for a haircut and shave, and to borrow some trousers to go to Ballybuion that day, which was a holiday (Pattern Day). … Patrick Sullivan gave supporting testimony. … Johanna Heffernan, Coolkeragh, describes the home of John Foley the afternoon of the murder. She describes a card game involving Foley, her husband, Jeremiah Heffernan, Michael O’Brien and James Curtin. She tried to break up the game to get her husband to come home and take car of some cows that “broke into the hay.” When he refused, she scooped up the money on the table. … Michael O’Brien and Jeremiah Heffernan testify about the game. … Others called are John O’Brien and Cornelius Mahony … Moran says he intends to call Owen Sullivan, adding that local police “refused” to summon Sullivan in the past. “I wish that the police won’t interfere so much with my witnesses as they have up to the present.”

(Same issue has story about William O’Brien talking about Plan of Campaign in Killarney.)

NOVEMBER 16, 1888, Times of London, Page 8

Trial resumes at Listowel (Cork winter assizes)

Owen Sullivan, one of the laborers, testified that Curtin was not the shooter. He also said that had he known who Foran was he “would not have engaged to go into his employment.”

NOVEMBER 17, 1888, Kerry Sentinel, page 3

Owen Sullivan’s appearance as the only witness generated “a great deal of interest” and the courthouse was “crowded during the proceedings.” … Says Curtin “is not the man who fired the shots.” He describes how he, Clifford and Moriarty are picked up by police and taken to police barrack in Tralee, returning to Listowel the next day. He speaks of being kept at “Mrs. Smith’s house” in Tralee for three weeks, where he meets Michael Foran. He speaks of young Foran crying, but not because of his father’s murder. “It was crying after something else.” He is prohibited by Morphy from further describing the conversation.  Judge Roche mentions he might get the opportunity before “Chief Baron” when the case comes to trial at Cork. …. Curtin is asked if he wants to say anything and responds that he is innocent. “I know nothing at all about it.” …. Judge Roach says he will return the case to the next assizes in Kerry, the winter session. He thanks Morphy and Moran for their professional behavior.

NOVEMBER 28, 1888, Times of London, page 5

Laborer James Connor shot at near Mountcole “where Foran was murdered.”

NOVEMBER 29, 1888, Times of London, Page 6

Coverage of Special Commission. Michael Foran called to testify but dismissed because of pending trial of father’s murder. Belfast News-Letter story of the same day (have hard copy) does not name the Foran son, “a young red-haired Kerry lad of some sixteen years.”

1888: “Return of the Number of Agrarian Outrages”

According to quarterly reports to the Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary, Fitzmaurice and Foran were the only murders in Kerry for the year.

Foran’s murder was the 12th and last agrarian homicide recorded in Kerry in the 1880s. The county had three murders in 1887, and a high of four in 1882.

There were six murders in all of Ireland in 1888, compared to a period high of 26 in 1882.

FEBRUARY 28, 1889:

Foran mentioned twice in parliamentary debate on Irish land question.

Record link.

MARCH 1, 1889

Foran and Fitzmaurice murders raised in debate about Irish land question.

Record link.

MARCH 13, 1889, The Kerry Sentinel, p?

Story about resumption of the James Curtin trial for murder of John Foran. Mr. Wright, “directed to Attorney General on behalf of the Crown” enters a nolle prosequi, or “unwilling to pursue.” Mr. Teeling, the defense attorney, asks for a jury to be sworn and if the prosecution offers no evidence, to have a not guilty verdict recorded “as to not have the charge hanging over the man.” Wright refuses and Curtin is freed.

MAY 1, 1889:

Death of Andrew Higgins, Bishop of Kerry. Replaced by John Coffey (appointed Aug. 27, ordained Nov. 10, 1889.)

MAY 13, 1889:

“Letter of Administration of the personal estate of John Foran late of Shroneown, County Kerry … granted at Limerick to William Foran of Shroneown.” Effect 559 (pounds).

From Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920. Record link.

MAY 22, 1889:

At the Times Commission hearings in London, Foran and Fitzmaurice are confused in testimony by nationalist MP William O’Brien, editor of United Ireland, questioned by Sir Charles Russell, C.S. Parnell’s lawyer. (The Freeman’s Journal, May 23 copy)

JULY 22, 1889, Times of London, page 7

Coverage of the slander trial William O’Brien v. Lord Salisbury, at Manchester, including testimony about agrarian crime.

William and Michael Foran testified about their father’s murder. Norah Hunt Fitzmaurice also testified. Michael testified six were in the cart and had stopped at a pubic house shortly before the ambush.


Conclusion of the Special Commission on Parnellism and Crime. (Full circle from beginning of 1888)

In a Nov. 20, speech, Sir Henry James quotes from United Ireland and Kerry Sentinel of February 3, 1888 (after Fitzmaurice, before Foran) about the “state of Kerry.” (HAVE COPY) “Another Kerry Murder. Unhappy Kerry….” talks about problems of moonlighting, coercion and evictions.

FEBRUARY 13, 1890

Foran and others raised in a speech by Chief Secretary of Ireland A. J. Balfour to the House of Commons. March 4, 1890 document.

Record link. (Click on ‘Open Document.’)

APRIL 12, 1890:

Nora Foran is assaulted at home by her brother William after she sold butter from the farm, according to June 21 story in the Kerry Weekly Reporter. “He struck me more than once, and dragged my head… he is in the habit of taking drink, and assaulted me before in several ways by throwing articles at me.” William Foran was appealing a sentence of two months with hard labor. It was reduced by one month. The judge makes reference to the fact that William Foran, like is father, is being boycotted.


In a government report for the administration of Arthur J. Balfour, the Foran case is described as “one of the most shocking murders ever perpetrated in Ireland to enforce the law of the National League against ‘landgrabbers.'”

Blog link

Other details about agrarian crime in Ireland.


The Foran and Fitzmaurice murders were raised in anti-home rule and anti-Parnell political fliers distributed in spring 1891. There were several by-elections in the months after Parnell’s infamous divorce case and ouster as leader of the pro-home rule Irish Parliamentary Party, and months before his October 1891 death.

The flier mentioning the two Kerry murders was directed at William O’Brien, a Parnell ally and publisher of The United Irishman, the house journal of the Irish National Land League, which supported tenant rights and fomented agrarian violence.

“What does teaching of this kind lead to? It has led to MURDER!,” the flier shouted at readers.

“In the County of Kerry, James Fitzgerald and John Foran, two honest and inoffensive farmers were denounced as landgrabbers. Fitzmaurice was shot dead on the public road in the presence of his daughter, on the 31st January, 1888. John Foran was shot dead on the public road on the 29th July, 1888.”

Article Stable URL:

MARCH 14, 1891:

The Primrose League Gazette, a conservative mouthpiece, also mentioned the Foran murder in a story about Irish Land League and Home Rule politics of the previous two decades.

The article charged the British government was “playing the game” of “clever and unscrupulous” Irish leaders “whose aim was – and is – not to improve Ireland, but to ruin England.”

The story pointed to Kerry as the home of agrarian violence and detailed detailed numerous murders in the county from 1882 up to Foran’s death in 1888. Only six of the murders mentioned by the newspaper match those in the appendix of the Special Commission report. Nine others do not appear in the government report.

“During these nine years (1892 to 1891) 18 murders were committed in the county Kerry, where for the previous 40 years only three murders were known to have occurred,” the newspaper story claimed.

JUNE 4, 1895:

Marriage of Jeremiah Scanlan of Inchmore (South of Killarney) to Honora Foran of Murhur, northeast of Listowel at Moyvane, northeast of Listowel. His father is Michael Scanlan, mother Mary (no last name). Her father is John Foran, mother Mary (no last name.) Witnesses are Timothy Foran and Margaret Foran

Record link.

JUNE 12, 1895:

New York arrival date of “Jerh Scanlon,” 22, laborer, and “Mrs. ”, ” 23, servant, of Ireland,  bound for Chicago, from Queenstown, aboard the “Majestic.” This date is eight days after above marriage and seven years after John Foran’s murder.

Source record. Passenger ID assigned to Mr Scanlon is 102866030340. Mrs. Scanlon is listed on the manifested directly below him.

APRIL 1, 1897:

Discussion of application for reinstatement of evicted tenant Thomas Walsh to the Ormathwaite property. Police protection “still necessary for the protection of the caretaker in charge of the farm.”

Record link.

MAY 14, 1897:

More about evicted tenant reinstatement and police protection.

Record link.


JUNE 11, 1900:

U.S. census for Allegheny County (North Side of Pittsburgh).

“Jerry” or “Jerm” Scanlon with wife Nora of Ireland, with immigration in 1894. Their ages are given as 36/46, respectively (older than other records) with sons Michael, 4 (March 1896) and John 2, (March 1898), born in Indiana?(not Illinois) Husband working as “day laborer.” Family living in 1300 block of East Street (North Side).


Irish census for Kerry. William Foran, age 37, shown as farmer living in Tullamore/Shronowen. (North of Listowl in same general area as the old farm.) Wife Johanna and three children (Mary, 7; Patrick, 5, and Jane, 1) Shows in 1911 census as widower living with children (Mary, 17: Patrick, 15 and William, 11), still farming.

MAY 25, 1905:

Discussion of reinstatement of tenant at Coolaclarig and police protection of property. Foran murder referenced by date.

Record link.

Kerry Weekly Reporter, May 29, 1905; Kerry Sentinel, May 31, 1905 (COPIES)


Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907.

APRIL 22, 1907:

Inspection of Coolaclarig farm and Walsh application.

Record link.

MAY 14, 1907:

Coolaclarig inspection and Estates Commissioners’ estimated price for property sent to owner’s agent, Sept. 18, 1906, but no reply.

Record link.

FEBRUARY 29, 1908, The Irish Times, page 8.

Notice of Proposed Compulsory Acquistion of Lands reference in the Dublin Gazette of previous week that Estates Commission intends to acquire compulsorily under the Evicted Tenants Act of 1907, including “parts of the lands of Coolaclarig…containing in or about 57 a. 3 r. 18 p. statute measure in the raised? Occupation of Baron Ormathwaite.

Same listing appeared MARCH 7, 1908, Weekly Irish Times, page 11.

MAY 21, 1908:

Lord Ormathwaite has agreed to sell his estate in North Kerry to the tenants. Says 1906 offer on behalf of Walsh was refused by owner.

The MP Mr. Flavin says that Walsh “has been on the roadside for over twenty years.”

Record link.

OCTOBER 28, 1908, The Irish Times, page 7

Evicted Tenants Act: Acquiring Estates. Estates Commission proposes to buy three evicted farms on the estate of Lord Ormathwaite at 1,498 pounds.

JANUARY 20, 1909:

Freeman’s Journal story about Walsh trying to regain the property. Gives history, caretakers, etc.

APRIL 28, 1909:

Why hasn’t Thomas Walsh, of Coolaclarig, been reinstated to the property?

Record link.

OCTOBER 18, 1909;

Discussion of Walsh being reinstated to the Coolaclarig farm with free grant of £120 for the purchase of live stock.

Record link.

NOVEMBER 3, 1909:

Details Walsh eviction of April 4, 1883, plus side debate over there is any connection between the evicted tenant and the murder.

Record link.

April 12, 1910:

Confirming grant to Walsh to stock the land.

April 30, 1910:

U.S Census shows Jeremiah Scanlon, age 36 (about 1874) married to Nora Scanlon, age 34, (about 1876). Both are from Ireland. He immigrated 1891?. Naturalized citizen. She immigrated 1896 He is working as a mail carrier. They are living at 1257 Warner St. on Pittsburgh’s north side.

Children are Michael, 13 (1897), born in Illinois, and John, 11, born in Ill.; Mary, 8, born in Pa.; Annie, 4, Pa.; Jeremiah Jr. 2, Pa., Nora, 3/12, Pa.

June 1913, The Irish Times and Irish Weekly Times:

Stories about James Curtin and five other men, two others of the same last name, arrested for highway robbery of a bank manager near Listowel. More than 785 pounds. Priests at the Sunday Mass in Abbeyfeale referred to the incident, saying “the people of the town and district had no sympathy with such crimes, which would not occur if people had more moral courage, and if public opinion was more healthy.” During evidence at trial, a witness described the roadside holdup of the bank car used to deliver. One of the disguised men demand, “Come off the car,” echoing the order of the Foran murder.

June 5, 1917:

U.S. military draft registration of Michael Scanlon. Michael John Scanlon, DOB 3/29/1896, living at 1429 Magnolia St., working as Bell Telephone lineman. (Jeremiah Scanlon listed at address in 1918 Polks.) Michael indicates he is “single. Described as short with medium build. Brown/black.

Indicates “Private” in “Signal Corps?” on line 10/11/12.

Registration is 3rd pct., 21st Ward.

DECEMBER 19, 1919, Pittsburgh Press, page 35, col. 2.

Obit of Micheal Scanlon gives parents as Jeremiah and Nora (nee Ford) and address at 1429 Magnolia. Funeral Monday 12/22/19 from St. Andrews, (2056 Beaver Ave./North Side/block from car barn) reception from Manchester Post 80 American Legion. (Chicago and New York papers please copy).

December 12, 1919:

Death register entry from Saint Andrew’s church, North Side, Pittsburgh, Pa. transcribed in entirety: “Scanlon, Michael J., cause of death peritonitis, age 23.” (The register does not specify if this is the date of death or burial.  It is probably the date of burial)

January 13, 1920:

U.S. Census shows Jeremiah Scanlon, age 45, married to Nora Scanlon, age 48. Both from Ireland. He immigrated in 1895 and naturalized in 1905. She immigrated in 1895, naturalized but no year indicated. Family renting at 1429 Magnolia St. in North Side. He is working as streetcar conductor.

Children Mary A., 19; Annie M., 14; Jeremiah, 12; Nora E., 9; daughter Catherine, 6.

John P. Scanlon, 21, born in Ill., living with his wife Mildred H., 19, and their daughter, Mildred N, 1 2/12, and father-in-law, William Baumann at 1422 Faulsey Way in Pittsburgh (north side.) John is working as a streetcar conductor.


MARCH 27, 1922:

American Red Cross, 47 Victoria St., London, sent Nora Foran affidavit to the British Estates Commission office. Referenced by other correspondence. 

APRIL 11, 1922:

Estates Commission memorandum outlining the history of the Foran farm. It says Foran’s son (unnamed) claimed his father paid a fine to the landlord to obtain the Coolaclarig farm. Nora Foran says her father took the farm in satisfaction of a debt due him by the landlord’s then agent (Sandes?).

Summer 1922 through early 1923:

IRA and Free State skirmishes in north Kerry. “Munster Republic.”

 JULY 17, 1922:

John A. Gamon, American Consul sent letter to Land Commission officials containing an affidavit from Nora Scanlon of 1429 Magnolia Street in Pittsburgh.

SEPTEMBER 27, 1922:

Estates Commission replies to American Consul at Cobh.

(1923 letters to U.S. and British consulate offices indicate Nora Foran living at 1429 Magnolia Street through July 1922. By fall 1923 she is at 1221 Ridge Ave.)

AUGUST 22, 1923:

Affidavit sworn before Herman P. Young. “He was boycotted to the meanest extreme and finally shot to death.” Father died without a will. Letter signed by Nora Foran Scanlon.

Notary office: 1502 Beaver Avenue, North Side, a few blocks north of what today is the site of The Rivers Casino. The walk to the notary was about a mile west.

AUGUST 22, 1923: Pittsburgh Press

A hard thunderstorm and 35 mph winds wiped through the city the evening before, dropping the temperature to a 40 year low of 51 degrees. It barely reached into the 60s by the afternoon. “Abie’s Irish Rose,” about the marriage of an Irish Catholic girl and Jewish man, was in its 23rd week at Shubert “Pitt” Theater.

AUGUST 25, 1923:

Letter to David Lloyd George….Tells of father’s murder. Mention’s son’s death “in the late war.” (Not by name). “It is my intention to travel to the United Kingdom in the near future to present my claim in person.” Signed Mrs. Nora Scanlon. (1221 Ridge Ave.)

OCTOBER 2, 1923:

Letter from British consul Charles E.E. Childrers in Pittsburgh (401 Fitzsimons Building, 331 Fourth Avenue) to American consul in Ireland. (Dr. Charles Hathaway Jr.) Says he is “somewhat acquainted” with Nora Foran who has asked his advice “in a matter very near to her heart.”

(Childers was appointed consul in 1913 and would retire from the post at the end of 1924. He was vice consul four years earlier and had been in the city for years earlier as representative of the Trunk Line association since 1887. He was a son of C. E. Childers of the William Gladstone cabinet, who supported Home Rule for Ireland in 1886.)

Says Foran wrote a letter to Lloyd George “some little time ago…”

OCTOBER 4, 1923:

Letter to American Consul General in Dublin from Nora Foran, 1221 Ridge Ave. References letter to Lloyd George of Aug. 25, with copy of affidavit from Aug. 22. Says she heard reply from Lloyd George, who didn’t think the government would approve a request for compensation in a case that was 35 years old, but she should seek redress from a court.

Foran says Childers, “whom I am personally acquainted, offered to help.

OCTOBER 31, 1923:

  • Letter to Charles Hathaway Jr. from solicitor and land agent Thomas MacGrath in London. Gives chronology and copies of earlier letters, suggesting the conclusion is “self-explanatory.”
  • Letter from Hathaway, American Consul in Dublin, to Nora Scanlon at 1221 Ridge Ave. References April 11, 1922 memo and says “it appears that there is no legal remedy left to you …. I am sorry therefore that there appears to be nothing I can do to assist you.”
  • Letter from Hathaway to Childers, British Consul in Pittsburgh. “It is evident that the British Government would be unlikely to consider itself responsible for any injustice that Mrs. Scanlon’s father and brother may have suffered and it is equally unlikely that the Government of the Irish Free State would consider it a matter for their attention.” Includes copy of his letter to Nora Scanlon to forward “if you desire.”


Polk’s 1925 city directory for Pittsburgh lists Jeremiah Scanlon at 1912 ½ Laurel Street, the same address Nora Foran Scanlon provided in her May 5, 1925 letter to the Irish Free State.Correspondence with British/Irish government gives this address.

MAY 5, 1925:

Letter from Nora Scanlon of 1912 ½ Laurel Street to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Mentions enclosed affidavit. “The treatment my father and family received has always been a great sorrow to me … ” Mentions Michael’s death … ” if there is any way for me to secure compensation through the British Government on this claim which I am submitting, I would feel that some justice is being done.”

JUNE 2, 1925:

Letter from Downing Street to Irish Free State, forwarding material “to be laid before your Ministers” and “if they think fit, cause an appropriate reply” to Nora Scanlon.

JUNE 24, 1925:

Irish officials acknowledge June 2 letter from England.

JUNE 27, 1925:

Irish Land Commission memorandum reiterates the April 11, 1922 memorandum. “No action can be taken by the Land Commission on Mrs. Scanlon’s application.”

OCTOBER 8, 1925:

A letter was sent to Nora Scanlon (unsigned draft reply in file) says “My Ministers have given careful consideration to your claim … (but) they have no statutory power to accede to your application for compensation.”

APRIL 4, 1930:

U.S. census shows Jeremiah Scanlon, 57, married to Nora Scanlon, 57, both of Ireland, renting at 1912 ½ Laurel Street in Pittsburgh’s north side. Both give 1895 as year of immigration. He is working as a streetcar conductor, just a block from the Manchester car barn. Living with the family are children “Anna,” working as a laundress (same as 1925 city directory) Jeremiah, a mail carrier, Nora (no work) and Catherine, a waitress.

OCTOBER 6, 1938:

The following death register entry from Saint Andrew’s church, North Side, Pittsburgh, Pa. is transcribed in its entirety. “Scanlon, Mrs. Nora, age 69, of Rush St., buried 6 Oct. 1938 in North Side Catholic cemetery.”


Nora: Born 1876 Death: Oct 3, 1938. Obit of Oct. 4 gives name as “Nora Ford Scanlon” and address of 1329 Rush Street, husband of Jeremiah.

Says funeral at home of daughter Mrs. George Schultz,  1028 Liverpool Street, three blocks away. Not in 1940 census.

Mike Diggin and wife/sister in law lived at 1319 Liverpool St.

Says she was mother of Mrs. Harry (Mary or Catherine) Kibler, Mrs. George (Anna) Schultz, Mrs. Martin (Nora) Ossman,  Mrs. Charles (Mary or Catherine) Kibler, John P. and Perry Scanlon. Sister of Hannah Ford.

Mass from St. Andrews Church.

Buried at Christ Our Redeemer Catholic Cemetery (formerly North Side Catholic)

Plot: Lot #221/Section G

Same cemetery: Michael Scanlon, born March 29, 1896, Died Dec. 19, 1919.

There was no headstone as of June 2014 visit.

APRIL 2, 1940:

U.S. Census shows Jeremiah Scanlon, 68, listed as widow. Living with daughter Nora Ossman, 29, (matches name and age of daughter in 1920 census) at 1441 W. North Ave in the North Side/Manchester area. He had been living in same city since at least April 1, 1935.

Source Notes from version in The Irish Story:

  • The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin, and the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.), contain numerous letters from Nora Foran Scanlon to U.S. and British government officials regarding the July 1888 murder of her father. The letters are dated from 1922 through 1925. The files also contain replies to the victim’s daughter, and detailed Irish Land Commission memorandum of the case, including the 1883 eviction of Thomas Walsh. I have viewed these records in person and have copies.
  • The boycotting of John Foran, his murder, its aftermath and the eventual reinstatement of Walsh are detailed in Hansard, the official report of U.K parliamentary proceedings, from 1886 to 1909. Online search.
  • Foran’s troubles are also well-detailed in the Kerry Sentinel and other local and national newspapers of the day, which are attributed in the story. Online and microfilm.
  • 100 agrarian murders: From the “Appendix to Evidence of the Parliamentary special commission on ‘Parnellism and Crime,’ ” and “Events connected with the Administration of the Law and the Agrarian Agitation in Ireland during the term of office of the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P., as Chief Secretary, with short references to his Speeches on Irish Affairs.” Part I, August 1887, to end of year 1890. Viewed at the British Library.
  • John Foran and Nora Foran grew up in North Kerry: Based on news accounts, and baptismal and marriage records via
  • John Benn-Walsh’s estate: “The Journals of Sir John Benn-Walsh Relating to the Management of His Irish Estates, 1823-64,” By James S. Donnelly, Jr., in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol LXXX, No. 230, July-December, 1974, and Vol LXXXI, No. 231, January-June, 1975; “The Landowners of Ireland,” Compiled by U. H. Hussey de Burgh. Dublin Steam Printing Co., Dublin 1878; National Library of Wales, Ormathwaite Estate Records; and John Foran (victim or his father) at Tullamore: 1851 Griffith’s Valuation shows.
  • Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) reports of “agrarian outrages”: “Appendix to Evidence of the Parliamentary special commission on ‘Parnellism and Crime,’ ”
  • “one of the most shocking murders…”: “Events connected with the Administration of the Law and the Agrarian Agitation in Ireland during the term of office of the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P., as Chief Secretary, with short references to his Speeches on Irish Affairs.” Part I, August 1887, to end of year 1890. Viewed at the British Library.
  • The Foran murder also became fodder in anti-home rule political handbills: “Leaflets on the Irish question” 1891. LSE Selected Pamphlets. Retrieved from JSTOR.
  • John Foran’s personal estate was settled at Limerick: Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920, via the National Archives of Ireland.
  • boarded a ship to America: Passenger record via The Ellis Island Foundation. The couple’s final destination was Chicago.
  • living with two children in Pittsburgh at the turn of century: Nora and Jeremiah Scanlon are recorded living in the city in the 1900 U.S. Census, along with two sons born in Chicago. The family continued living in the same part of the city, in different apartments, in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census. The family is also recorded in Polk’s City Directories for Pittsburgh during the 1920s at addresses that match those on Nora Foran Scanlon’s letters about her father.
  • The Scanlon family lived in an area dominated by Irish immigrants: “A Fanatic Heart” : The Cause of Irish-American Nationalism in Pittsburgh During the Gilded Age, By Victor A. Walsh, “Journal of Social History, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Winter 1981). Oxford University Press.

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