The Times, 26 Dec 1887 ~

The Meath Hunt is the most exciting topic of the day.  Numerous letters are published expressing indignation at the correspondence between the Master and Bishop Nulty, and all declaring their determination not to submit to such degrading terms.  The action of the committee in calling a special meeting to consider the correspondence is commended.  The following letter from the Master presents the matter in a different light, and affords another illustration of the danger of holding “strictly private” communications upon public questions with persons connected with a party who made a boast and a merit of publishing confidential documents and have spies, detectives and informers everywhere:-

“To the Most Rev. Dr. Nulty, Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath.

Brownstown, Navan, December 24th 1887

My Lord, - I observe with regret that a recent private letter of mine addressed to your Lordship, has been made public, and has, through some misunderstanding, been used in such a way as to convey a meaning I certainly never intended and which I entirely repudiate.  Let me remind you of the circumstances under which this letter was written.

A convention was lately held in Navan, representing, as I believe, a small minority of the people of Meath, at which it was resolved to put a stop to hunting by the use of poison.  It is said that the main reason put forward for the resolution was that the Lord Lieutenant was at the time hunting in Meath......

I am, my Lord, Your Obedient Servant,

J.O Trotter.

The Times, 29th Dec 1887 ~

A thoroughly representative convention of the National League was held at Navan, and after a careful inquiry resolved unanimously to recommend the farmers and occupiers to put a complete stop to hunting over their lands.  As the safest, the quietest and the most legal expedient to give effect to this resolution, the convention further advised the farmers to poison their lands after having given due legal notice of their intention to do so.....

The Times, 22nd Oct 1894 ~

Hunting....Mr. John Watson - nine days a fortnight - Navan.

Meath Chronicle

6 February 1909

meath hunt


A very interesting ceremony took place at the Russell Arms Hotel, Navan, on last Monday. For the first time in many years the Meath Hounds met in the town and the Urban Council availed of the occasion to present an address and silver hunting horn to the Master, The Earl of Fingall.

The following members of the Council were present: Messrs. John Spicer (Chairman), J.P. Timmon (Vice Chairman), James Sheridan, E. Gilsenan, L. Reilly, J. Quinn, Christopher Farrell, J. Keappock, J. Finnuncan, E. Gilsenan, E. O'Reilly.

Mr. Spicer read the following address from the Urban Council:-

My Lord- By an unanimous vote of the Urban Council of Navan, it was decided on behalf of the town, to thank your Lordship, and also congratulate you on your undertaking the Mastership of the Meath Hounds.

We, the Urban Council, have only the authority to speak on behalf of the townand people of Navan, but we venture to do so on behalf of the farmers of Meath and the people generally, and especially of the labouring population,whose interests we are considering.

Hunting is not only a fine sport, but encourages people - wealthy people - to come and dwell amongst us here in Meath, and we venture to assure your Lordship that visitors to our county, will be well and respectfully received by the people.  Hunting circulates money amongst all classes of the community, but above all, it gives considerable employment to all labouring classes.

The Meath Hunt Committee, in appointing your Lordship as Master of the Meath Hounds, has acted entirely in accordance with the wishes of the people of Meath.  You are from your high station the right person for the position.  You are the chief representative of one of the greatest and oldest families in Ireland, and besides you reside here in our midst.

We, my Lord, on behalf of the town of Navan, respectfully ask your Lordship to accept this hunting horn as a small token of the high regard and esteem in which you are held by the people of Navan.

Our hope is that for a long number of years you will live to use it and conduct the hunt over the plains of our Royal County.


Signed on behalf of the Navan Urban Council.

John Spicer, Chairman.

James Lawlor, Town Clerk.

Source: Meath Chronicle Archives


ROINN COSANTA. BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY, 1913-21 STATEMENT BY WITNESS: DOCUMENT NO. W.S. 1715. Witness Comdt. General Seán Boylan, Edenmore, Dunboyne, Co. Meath. Identity. O/C Meath Brigade; O/C 1st Eastern Division. Subject. I.R.A. activities, Meath Brigade, 1917-1921. Conditions, if any, Stipulated by Witness. Nil.

Sean Boylan's statement is at:

......While all those men were in jail, it came to my knowledge that the Unionist Party in Co. Meath had petitioned the British Government to keep all arrested Volunteers in jail.  At this time, the Unionist Party were the main supporters of the hunt (Fox and Stag).  I reported the matter to Eamon Duggan and asked for a direction.  On the following day, the Sinn Fein Executive had a notice inserted in the daily papers requesting all members of the Hunt to cease huntung until the prisoners were released. The Ward Hunt Club ignored the request.  With other Volunteers I decided to carry out the instructions of the Sinn Féin Executive.  A meeting of the Ward Hunt had been fixed for a certain day.  We went to the fixture and found that it had been cancelled.  A number of such fixtures were published in the local and daily papers and were subsequently cancelled secretly.  Those fixtures were published as a ruse to wear us out and confuse us as to the time and place of meeting.  They eventually held a meeting at Hollywood Rath, and, on the following Saturday evening, the "Evening Telegraph" published an account of the meeting, stating that it had been held without Sinn Féin interference.

I was determined to put a stop to their meetings.  I received information that their next meeting was to be held at the Workhouse, Dunshaughlin. With twelve Volunteers I arrived in Dunshaughlin just as they had assembled with the stag in a box cart.  I approached the Master, a Mr. Levins Moore, and told him that we had come along to enforce the Sinn Féin and Government of Ireland's ban on hunting.  He replied: "I cannot take notice of political parties". I replied; "It is not a political matter, it is a Government instruction".  He said: "The land is ours, we will hunt it, what can you do?". I said: "If everyone had their own land your people would not have much".

Among the members of the hunt present were: Captain Boyd Rochford, General Waldron, Captain Sam Watt, Major-General Hammond and numerous other British army officers, as well as the Whip - James Brindly - who intervened and said: "I think you are strangers".  I replied: "We were not strangers in "98 when you burned the house over our heads in Boheravia, Dunboyne".  I was referring to an ancestor of mine who was evicted and had his house burned at the time.  Brindley's father was English and had come over to Ireland to act as Whip to the Ward Hunt.  He later became a Catholic and was dismissed by the Ward Hunt Committee.  When the local farmers heard of this story, they would not allow the Hunt to pass over their lands until he was reinstated.  Brindley was reinstated.

After further parley with Levins Moore, he agreed to call the Hunt off, having secretly arranged with the officers present to ride us down.  I had placed six men in front of the box cart and six behind.  There was a movement from the rere and a shout: "Charge, let him out", meaning the stag from the box cart.  Some of my men in the rere of the box cart were knocked down in the charge.  A "lady" came straight for me.  I jumped to the left and shouted: "One side, Madam."  She said: "Have we not a right to the road?"  I said: "Every right but not on top of us."  One of my men in front of the box cart opened fire and shot a horse in the flank, the property of Patrick Nugent, Church Road, Dublin.  A stampede followed and the Master, Levins Moore, who had been in front of the charge, returned to me and said: "You have shot Mr. Nugent's horse."  I said: "He is lucky he was not shot himself".  He asked to be given the box cart and stag. I replied: "You won't have the cart now, but I will guarantee that the cart and stag will be delivered safely at the kennels."  I accused him of conniving to hold the meeting unknown to us.  He denied he did so.

Mrs. Sam Watt, wife of the captain, approached and said: "I will identify the man who shot the horse." I said: "If you do, we have made arrangements to deal with informers."  There were shouts of "disarm him."  I said: "The first one to move I will drop you."  Shortly after, those of the hunt party who had remained to the end rode off.  A lot of them had scattered when the shot was fired.  When they had gone, I sent an escort of Volunteers with the box cart and stag to the kennels at Ashbourne.  As they (huntsmen) proceeded on their way home, some Volunteers engaged on road work asked one or other or the huntsmen: "Did you have a good run, sir?" and got the reply: "It's a bloody war."

Next morning, Mrs. Sam Watt changed her mind in Dunboyne R.I.C. barracks.  When asked if she could identify the man who shot the horse, she replied that she could not.  The names of those who assisted me in this job were: Barney Dunne, O/C., 1st or Dunboyne Battalion; Michael Felix, Captain of Kilcloon Company; Stephen Darcy, Peter Callaghan, Frank Carolan - all of Kilcloon Company; Christopher Lynam, Captain of Dunboyne Company; James Maguire, Michael Toole, Peter Keating, James Farrell, Joseph Gaynor and Nicholas Moran - all of Dunboyne Company.  The Dunshaughlin Volunteers refused to co-operate.  I reported the matter to Sinn Fein Headquarters where I met Eamon Duggan, who said to me: "If the people don't back us up we are beaten."  I replied: "They will if they don't do it for love, they will do it through fear."  On the Saturday following, the Ward Hunt met again at Hollywood, Rath, Co. Dublin, under police protection.  Dublin was not included in my area, so I did not take any action.  That Saturday evening, when the hunt servants were returning, one Patrick Kelly, who was taking some horses home, shouted to me: "We hunted today". I replied: "He who laughs last, laughs best.  Where will you be next week?"

On the following Monday, I prepared a document headed "Sinn Féin" as follows:

"To: The Master and Members of the Ward Hunt Club;

Acting on instructions from the Central Executive and endorsed by the constituency committees of North and South County Meath, we, the landholders and residents in the Ward Hunt area, hereby call on you and your supporters not to hunt or trespass the lands in our possession until all Sinn Féin prisoners are unconditionally released.

Signed: Elizabeth Boylan (my mother) John Bruton, Patrick Smith, Edward Cussen, Laurence Ward, Patrick Kelly, Michael Kelly, John Farrell, John Umbley, Frank Farrell Jim Quinn."

The document was voluntarily signed by each person - all of them land owners.  Another meeting had been arranged for the following Wednesday.  That evening I visited Levins Moore at his home in Ashtown, Co. Dublin, and showed him the document.  He still refused to discontinue hunting, adding that they could not take heed of political parties.  I replied: "It is not a political party order but a direct instruction from the Irish Government.  I met you this day week and beat you.  I'll beat you today.  You are the only Hunt Committee that have defied the wishes of the Irish people; it is war between us."  He replied: "I don't mean that." I said: "You cannot have it both ways"

I returned home to Dunboyne and found a message from my I.O. Bernard Reilly, to the effect that 60 R.I.C. in charge of a County Inspector and two District Inspectors had surrounded the area of Batterstown village, with instructions to hold up and search people of Sinn Féin sympathies.  The message also conveyed the information that the R.I.C. were supported by two lorry loads of military - the Black Watch - 80 soldiers in all, and that they were lying in wait at Batterstown railway station.  On receipt of this information I proceeded to Patrick Moore's house in Portmana, Clonee, and told him I wanted him to take me in his motor car to Batterstown, that the area was surrounded and that there was no chance of getting in on foot.  He agreed and drove me to the village.  On the way, there were 17 R.I.C. men on the road including a Sergeant Neary, who was a friend of ours.  Having got through the police cordon, I got out of the car and approached Lord Fingall, acting Master, and read the contents of the document to him.  He asked me to wait a moment until he would speak to Mr. Fitzgerald - another member of the Hunt Committee.  When he returned he said: "When the farmers and people who supported them forbid them to cross their lands, they had no alternative but to abandon the meeting, but we are not taking dictation from political parties."  I returned to the car and ordered the driver to proceed into the village.

In the meantime, the R.I.C. and military were brought in.  In the centre of the village I was approached by the correspondents of about 13 newspapers, including the "Daily Mail", "Mirror", "Sketch", "Irish Independent", "Freeman's Journal", "Irish Times", "Meath Chronicle", "Drogheda Independent" and "Leinster Leader". The "Daily Mail" man asked me for the document.  I replied: "I'll frame this." He added: "The Irish Independent' man is in one of the local pubs, will you allow me to take it to him?" I said: "We don't frequent pubs."  By now, the police and military had assembled in the village.  The "Daily Mail" man said: "I'll go over to those hardy faced Black Watch men and have a word with them."  I replied: "We are Ireland's watch today."  I returned home and reported to G.H.Q., Dublin, that night.

Next day I attended a Sinn Féin meeting in the Mansion House.  My photo was on all the daily papers showing me reading the document to Lord Fingall.  Mick Collins, Arthur Griffith and other members of the Executive were on the platform.  They all gave me a great welcome and called on me to address the meeting.  Mick Collins said: "Anyone but yourself  would  be doing three years in jail".  As a result of the meet being abandoned, Fairyhouse Races, which were run by the Hunt Committee, were also abandoned that year.