Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/241

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227
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

in Irish governing circles towards the close of the last century. A soldier happened to be murdered in the neighbourhood of Youghal, and, as the actual culprit could not be discovered, the authorities resolved that some one must suffer for the deed, and accordingly made an indiscriminate arrest. They seized an idle, worthless scamp, and threatened him with a flogging if he did not give information as to the perpetrator of the murder. Under the influence of this threat, he promised to disclose everything, and he actually had the sacrilegious audacity to name the parish priest of Youghal, Father O'Neil, as the murderer. On the strength of this reckless assertion, and with nothing more substantial to go upon. Father O'Neil was arrested, and, horrible to relate, was cruelly flogged in the vain hope of compelling him to confess the crime or give information concerning it. After being kept in prison for a time, Father O'Neil was sent away in a felon-ship to the new convict settlement at the antipodes, but in less than a month after his departure from Ireland, his innocence was completely demonstrated. He was at once liberated by order of the Crown, brought back from Australia, and re-appointed in his old parish of Youghal, but no recompense or apology did he receive from the government for the harsh, unjust, and scandalous treatment to which he had been subjected. The impious scoundrel who bore false witness against him was subsequently convicted of heinous crimes and executed in Cork.

The case of Father Harold, though not so painful, was equally unjust. He was a hard-working priest in the parish of Dublin, and, because some of his people joined the rebels in '98, he was arrested and transported on the mere gratuitous supposition that they had taken that course