H3480 : MacCrossan headstone, St Mary's Church, Envagh

taken 2 years ago, near to Bellway, Northern Ireland

MacCrossan headstone, St Mary's Church, Envagh
MacCrossan headstone, St Mary's Church, Envagh
This family grave located inside the entrance leading to the church caught my eye and I had a look at the inscription on the headstone.

It mentioned that John MacCrossan Solicitor was fatally wounded in Castle Street Omagh and this prompted me to look microfiche records of the Tyrone Constitution detailing the “Atrocious and Brutal Murder” of John McCrossan Esq. Solicitor on 29th August, 1864 and there was an article by the Ulster Herald giving further details which mentioned what happened to his assailant.

At the late assizes in the town, Mr McCrossan was solicitor for the plaintiff in the case of Doyle -v- McLaughlin who were rival coachbuilders. The defendant not having paid costs and damages in which a judgement was made against him, an execution was brought to recover goods. The Under-Sheriff Charles MacCrossan (brother of John MacCrossan), had his office close to the Diamond Bar in George Street and rather than issue a cold minatory decided to walk the short distance to McLaughlin's place in Castle Street to attempt to devise an agreement in which he could pay the debt in instalments. McLaughlin refused and ejected the Sheriff from the entry into the street.

The Sheriff seeing that resistance was offered thought to seek advice from his brother and sent for him to come from his house located at Abbey Street, Gaol Square.

Mr MacCrossan came to Castle Street and was standing outside McLaughlin's forge, the location being here H4472 : Barboni's Sit-In & Takeaway, Omagh and an iron rod with a barbed hook was thrust outside the second floor window over the entry and it plunged into his throat, inflicting a dreadful wound. He became weak and almost lost consciousness, help was called and he was carried to his home.

His wife and children knew that something was amiss when they saw the huge crowd following him, initially thinking that it was a prisoner being taken to the nearby Omagh Gaol. A priest and physician were summoned and the wound was treated. Mr MacCrossan called for pen and paper and made out his will and bade farewell to each member of his family, knowing that he had a short time to live. He died in his home on Monday August 29th, 36 hours after he had been attacked.

His funeral took place at Dregish where he was interred at St Mary's Church with every class of the community being represented.

It was a curious coincidence that he always had a great horror of murderers and persons charged with the crime of capital punishment. During his professional career he never defended a prisoner on a trial for murder.

McLaughlin was arrested at the scene of the crime. The inquest was held in the Board room of Omagh Gaol on the previous Monday afternoon to the report in the Tyrone Constitution dated Friday, September 2, 1864 and lasted for several days, the jury returned a verdict of “Wilful Murder against John MacCrossan” and he was committed for trial at the next assizes.

McLaughlin's trial took place in the courthouse commencing 17th March 1865. He was found guilty of murder, and the judge donned the black cap to issue the death penalty. This was later commuted to life imprisonment at Spike Island in County Cork. It was said the political establishment of the day were so relieved to see the end of Mr MacCrossan that they did not have the heart to execute his murderer. Mr McLaughlin was released 18 years later. He came home to Omagh and returned to his trade. He died peacefully in his family home in 1908.
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H3480, 125 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 25 September, 2019   (more nearby)
Thursday, 26 September, 2019
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Subject Location
Irish: geotagged! H 347 800 [100m precision]
WGS84: 54:40.0368N 7:27.7409W
Camera Location
Irish: geotagged! H 347 800
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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