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Sunday, 2 April 2017


2‭ ‬April‭ ‬1878:‭ ‬The assassination of Lord Leitrim on this day.‭ ‬William Sydney Clements,‭ ‬3rd Earl of Leitrim was born in Dublin‭ ‬1806.‭ ‬He had a successful career as an Officer in the British Army.‭  ‬On his father's death in‭ ‬1854,‭ ‬Clements succeeded him as‭ ‬3rd Earl‭  ‬and he retired from the Military in‭ ‬1855.‭  ‬Over the next two decades,‭ ‬his overbearing behaviour as a landlord brought him much hatred from his tenants.‭ ‬He personally took on many of the legal cases of Eviction against his tenants and was a very hard taskmaster.‭ ‬His oppression of his tenants and his rumoured seduction of some of the local girls made him a marked man in the eyes of many of the local people.‭ ‬He had already survived a number of attempts on his life before his luck ran out.

He was finally shot dead in an ambush at Cratlagh Wood while making his way to Manorhamilton,‭ ‬County Leitrim.‭ ‬His‭ ‬clerk and driver were killed along with him so there would be no witnesses.‭

It was reported that there was:

an open encounter,‭ ‬in which the assassins closed with their victims and deliberately put them to death.‭ ‬That there was a struggle the appearance of the ground seems to establish.‭ ‬Besides,‭ ‬Lord Leitrim's head has been shockingly battered,‭ ‬both his arms are broken,‭ ‬and the shattered stock of a gun was found close to his body.‭ ‬We are also told that one of his two attendants was shot through the mouth.

Manchester Guardian,‭ ‬April‭ ‬4‭ ‬1878

His assassins,‭ ‬Michael Hegarty,‭ ‬Michael McElwee and Neil Shields all escaped detection by the British.‭ ‬The Earl’s remains were conveyed to Dublin for burial in the family vault of St Michan’s Church where they can be viewed to this day [above].


Leitrim’s death was a prelude to the Land war,‭ ‬which broke out one year later.‭