The Castle Lambert Tapes: Tape 3 The Shooting of Captain Lambert

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This is tape 3 of 10 Lambert tapes recorded at Pat Kelly’s house, Castle Lambert in August 1990. The main speakers were Pat Kelly and his son Martin T. Kelly, Nora O’Brien (nee Egan) Paddy Kelly, his brother Jack and John “Mac” Kelly. Michael O’Malley interviewed the gathering and Frank Burke was on the camera.

Michael: Tell me of the attempted assassination of Captain Lambert.

Pat: The date of the assassination of Captain Lambert by Barrett was the eleventh of July 1869. I have here a letter from Peter Barrett’s grandson. Tom Barrett from Texas.
Martin T. Kelly- reading from the letter: Peter Barrett was born on the 1st. October 1849 in Athenry. Seven children – four boys and three girls left (Ireland). (In) 1875 (he married) a Dublin Girl in the USA – Ellen Agnes Heavey. Peter Barrett died (in) 1931. Isaac Butt (was his) defence council and his assistant (was) Mr. McDermott …

Nora O’Brien: Peter Barrett, he was the man who came from London to shoot Lambert. That is what I heard my mother and father saying – that this man came from London – I was only young at the time – thirteen – anyhow there was three men from this area and they were coming from the fair in Athenry, at that time the Pig Market. That is the truth! Now Barrett shot Lambert but he didn’t kill him and he ran from Barrett’s Hill where the Currys are now. When Lambert was shot he (Barrett) ran to get the train in Athenry and it only took him twenty five minutes and he hit for London. Now, he discarded the pistol – so he really did it – but anyhow the three men were interviewed by police and the first man said it wasn’t Barrett and the second man said it wasn’t Barrett and the third man said it was Barrett. He, the third man, thought that he’d get a reward for identifying Barrett. They brought them, anyhow, to the court and the three men were there to testify and in the court the judge gave them three needles and the first two threaded the needles – the men that said it wasn’t Barrett – and if the third man was there since he couldn’t thread the needle and so the case was dismissed.

Paddy: (referring to Barrett) He came over from Frenchfort, on through Lisheenkyle, across Ruane’s bohereen and came on them (the three men) playing pitch an’ toss.

Michael: Tell us the reason for the attempted assassination? Why did Barrett shoot him?

Jack: He put them out on the roadside and put them all down into Ballinloughaun.

Nora: Barrett’s father was evicted from Moorpark because he didn’t pay the rent. Curry’s house is on the foundation of the old Barrett home.

Michael: But Barrett didn’t succeed in killing Tom Lambert?

Pat: He bought a faulty gun from a gunsmith in London – not a licensed firearm dealer. This was a man that bought guns, repaired them and sold them over again and he was there giving evidence that Peter Barrett was the man that bought the gun off him. It was a faulty gun and one of the bullets lodged in the breech. He (Lambert) staggered to the hall door. There was a huge lime tree with branches dipping to the ground. Barrett was situated under that lime tree with his head and shoulders up through the leaves on the branches of the tree. Lambert, in the meantime, had visitors to Moorpark – lady visitors – and they walked out the avenue to the main road and on his return Barrett shot him from under the lime tree. So the trail came off in Dublin! The first trail was in Galway, in the criminal court. Before the second trail Lambert, in the meantime, had the lime tree shifted and he was cross examined by McDermott and Lambert swore it was the “Missus” that had it shifted (because it was) interfering with the view from the hall door. Anyone standing under that lime tree and firing shots could not be identified and that’s what won the case for Barrett in the end.

Michael: Isaac Butt who defended Barrett was a famous historical character ans was leader of the Irish Party (in Parliament).

See also Ann Healy’s article – Did the evicted tenant’s son shoot the landlord?

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About this record

Written by Recorded in Pat Kelly's House, Castle Lambert

Published here 08 Feb 2021

Page 203 of the The Lamberts of Athenry Book archive.

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