I originally started researching Thomas McCartney, aka McCarthy, and John Morgan over six years ago but due to work commitments had to leave it aside. The following is from information found at that time. It was of interest to me not only because I had McCartney ancestors, living in the general part of mid County Louth that he belonged to, but also that the incident was forgotten. However on searching further, with difficulty, his memory appears to have been purposely erased from history over time. So there are still many unanswered questions relating to his time and the man who was shot. In particular why was the latter chosen.
Why I say difficulty is that in the course of the research I followed many dead end leads. I cannot even be certain if those leads were purposely placed in the records of the time, at the time, to cover-up the memory. Similar names as the deceased appeared in records and it became difficult to even ascertain if the persons involved actually died. Drainage development works, some years later in the area, also created difficulty with further changes in names of places and boundaries where the relevant people belonged to all helped to erase the memory.
There is a certain amount of difficulty researching that time period, anyway, because of loss of records such as parish baptism, marriage and death and other civil records. While some indexes exist in the National Archives of Ireland there may be no corresponding files. On knowing the incident and looking back on published works one can find some references to something happening but not sufficient to gain knowledge of its significance.
The renowned ecclesiastical historian, the later Canon J. B. Leslie, who wrote an extensive history on this general area of mid County Louth briefly referred to the incident:-
‘Lurgangreen -1790-1820 – In 1792 we find in the Crown Book of Assize a record of the trial of 19 persons for the murder with a gun of John Morgan at Lurgangreen. They were found guilty of conspiracy to kill, and sentenced to 18 calendar months imprisonment’ (History of Kilsaran Union of Parishes in the County of Louth, Dundalk, 1908, reprint, p.213).
Why I say it was a significant event is that it, along with other incidents at the time, lead to the introduction in Parliament of a Bill relating to the crime of ‘conspiracy to murder’. What happened afterwards would appear to be an attempt to break the spirit of people in seeking that the Roman Catholics etc. had equal civil rights with their Protestant neighbours. So, I would think that, the later involvement of people from the county in the eventual Rebellion in Ireland, in 1798, was less significant than would have been expected.
The first reference to the incident appears in the Freeman’s Journal dated 4 September 1792 (in the quotes below the letter ‘s’ replaces ‘f’ used in the original):-
‘A Letter was yesterday received in town from the county of Louth, by which we are sorry to learn, that Mr. Morgan, of Dellin, a person of respectable circumstances in that county, was murdered on Saturday might last, at eight o’clock, returning from his father’s to his own habitation, having been way-laid on the road by some villains, who fired upon him and lodged one ball in his body and another in his head.'
A month earlier the same newspaper reported:
Belfast, July 6.
On Friday last at Tallanstown, near Dundalk, a patron was held in honour of St. Peter and Paul, when a riot was expected, because eight days prior the haggard and offices of a Mr. Morgan, of Lurgan-green, had been set on fire in the night and consumed, and because it was reported that the Defenders intended to parade there in great numbers, and from considerable distances.
The Speaker of the House of commons, with several other magistrates of the county, attended with two troops of horse and a company of foot. When they arrived, about the middle of the day, they found assembled a great number of men with red cockades in their hats, and white rods in their hands, in a piece of ground where the revels and devotions of the patron was going on. To them they directed their progress. The magistrates desired them to disperse and threatened them with confinement in case of refusal. To this the people paid no attention. The Speaker then read the riot act, and ordered them to disperse. They answered, that they were not assembled for any riotous purpose; that they were met together for amusement only; and would not disperse. He read the act a second time, and again ordered them to disperse; they answered by groans and other marks of contempt.
A third time he read the riot act, and ordered them to disperse; and they, with the precaution of retiring to a little distance, answered him as before. One, more audacious than the rest, took up a stone, and flinging it at the soldiery, wounded one of them. A few more stones were flung but without effect. The soldiery became impatient, and the magistrates were at length obliged to order them to fire.
After they had fired, the horse were ordered to charge the mob with their swords, which they accordingly did. The number of wounded, in consequence of the charge, was very considerable; that of the killed is unknown. The general belief or report of the country is that six were killed; but there is a certainty only of one, who being wounded by a shot, was driven by a horseman into the river, and there finished, as his cor[p]se shortly after was seen floating down the stream. Ten were made prisoners, three of whom were sent to Dublin, to be examined, it is supposed, by the Privy Council; the remainder were lodged in Dundalk gaol.'