JOHN RYAN AND MATHEW KEARINGE
Executed in Ireland, for Arson and Murder, 1808
AT the Lent Clonmell Assizes for the year 1808 John Ryan and Mathew Kearinge were indicted for the murder of David Bourke; in a second count with the murder of John Dougherty; in a third, with setting fire to the house of Laurence Bourke; and in a fourth, with maliciously firing at Laurence Bourke, with an intent to kill him. They pleaded the general issue.
After the Solicitor-General had opened the case he called Laurence Bourke, the prosecutor, who stated that on the night of the 11th of October, between the hours of ten and eleven o'clock, he was informed by his servant that there were a number of men in arms advancing towards the house. In consequence of this information he went to the window and saw the prisoners, with several others, all armed, surrounding his house. They desired him to open the door, but he refused; and they then fired several shots in through the different windows. In the house were Dougherty, the deceased, a man who was servant to the witness, and witness's wife and child. They were armed, but had no ammunition but what the guns were loaded with. The prisoners and the party, finding they could not get into the house, set it on fire; and the witness heard the prisoner Ryan say: "Take it easy, boys; you will see what boltings we shall have by and by." The witness's wife and child then went to the window and called out to Ryan (who was her relation) not to burn the house, but he replied with an oath that he would; and a shot was fired at her, which, though it did not take effect, frightened her so much that she and her child fell out of the window, and were seized by the prisoner Kearinge; but they afterwards fortunately made their escape. The house was now falling in flames about the witness's head, and he therefore opened the door and ran out. Several shots were fired at him, but he escaped them, and made his way to the house of his father David Bourke. In his flight he fired his piece and killed one of Ryan's party. When witness arrived at his father's house he found he had gone to the assistance of the witness; and on returning to the place where his house stood, in search of his father, he found that Ryan and his party had gone, and his father's corpse was lying about twelve yards from the smoking ruins of his dwelling.
Winifred Kennedy and other witnesses were examined, who corroborated the testimony of Bourke, and proved that the deceased John Dougherty was burned in Bourke's house. It was also proved that the whole of Ryan's party were entertained at dinner by him that day, and they all left his house armed, for the purpose of attacking Bourke.
On the part of the prisoner Ryan an alibi was attempted to be proved by a woman who lived with him, which entirely failed; and, after a very minute charge from the learned judge, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty against both the prisoners. They were executed accordingly.