Murder of a Coastguard

The late murder in Achill (from our correspondent) Achill 7th.January 1839.

I write to give you some particulars of the murder of Mr. Reynolds, Chief Officer of the Coastguard in the Island of Achill, he died last Wednesday; before his death he identified his murderers, two of whom are in Castlebar jail. The Coroner, Mr. Knox, was sent for, but he refused to go to Achill to hold an inquest. The deceased officer was interred on Saturday without any inquest being held. At length the Stipendiary Magistrate Mr. Cruise was written to by Mr. Farrell, Chief Constable of Police in Newport; he went into Achill on Sunday - had the body disinterred - a jury summoned, consisting of the Islanders and a verdict was brought in that the deceased came by his death, in consequence of wounds inflicted on his head by Patrick Lavelle, and Nancy Lavelle, his wife. Some extraordinary circumstances came out on the inquest.

It appears that there were four persons in the house at the time of the murder - which took place in the night when Mr. Reynolds was returning to his house after visiting, as was his duty, the wreck of a vessel on the shore, Which he and his men were protecting. Two of these are in custody, the other two absconded - they had gone he said, to Father James, to Westport.

It appears that the man Patrick Lavelle, held the unfortunate deceased while his wife struck him on the head with a gub or two pronged spade used on the island. Of these blows he died, leaving a wife and eight children to deplore his loss.

The character of poor Reynolds, is attested by all who knew him for humanity and kindness - and the men who served under him almost adored him, - - He was a constant attendant at the church in the Achill Protestant Settlement, and even the Papists shared his kind and benevolent attention whenever it was in his bones to assist these in want - or to do a good office for any.

Mr. Cruise, the Stipendary Magistrate, came out of his own district to hold the inquest, and nothing could be more praiseworthy and impartial than his conduct. Mr. Cruise is a Roman Catholic. (1)

Achill Island - Rumoured Murder

We copy the following from the Freemans Journal in reference to the reported murder of a gentleman named Reynolds. A grossly exaggerated statement on the subject has been going the round of the Orange press in which the deceased is described as a victim to a "Ribbon Conspiracy" :- Achill Island - A Castlebar correspondent in noticing a statement in the Evening Mail, attributing the death of Mr. Reynolds, of the coast guard service, to injuries received from the people in consequence of certain evidence given by him before a committee of the House of Lords and his support of the Rev. Mr. Nangle, of the Island of Achill, states that the real cause of this gentleman's death arose out of a squabble he had with a man of the name of Calvey, and Calvey wanted to convert Reynolds and they mutually agreed to go on alternate Sundays to Church and Chapel. A dispute arose as to the manner in which Reynolds should conduct himself. Subsequent to this, but the same night, he got into a fight with a man named Lavelle, upon whom he drew his sword, and, it is supposed that it was at this period he received injuries to which his death is attributed. (2)


  1. Dublin Evening Mail. Friday, January 11th. 1839
  2. Dublin Evening Post Saturday 12th.January 1839.

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