Molly Maguires, &c.

Asenath Nicholson
1851
Chapter VII (6) | Start of Chapter

A class of persons, driven to madness by idleness and hunger, were prowling at night through some parts of the country, calling themselves "Molly Maguires." These go from house to house, in disguise, demanding money, and if denied, they card the refuser till the skin becomes lacerated; this scratching is performed sometimes with a card and sometimes with the whin-bush, which is full of small thorns, but these thorns, when applied to the skin, take leave of the bush, and remain there, so that the sufferer must often continue days before he can rid himself of these troublesome comrades. Many of these marauders have been apprehended, yet the practice did not cease, because they were encouraged by the country people, who had cattle in the pounds which had been seized for taxes, and these expert gentry, for a small reward, liberated and restored the animals to the original owners. A good supper of the best bread, butter, milk, and fowls, which the farmer could supply, ended the evening's jollity. White-boys, Peep-o'-day boys, Lady Clares, and Molly Maguires, are hereditary entailments, having existed ever since parceling out the land so unjustly, as a reward of plunder, was done to a few. Uncultivated as the mind of the Irish peasantry may be, it is not inactive—the pool is not stagnant—life of some kind will sparkle up; and truly, if ever oppression was justifiable in making wise men "mad," it is in Ireland. When the cup is full it will flow over;—and the saying, that Ireland "must have a rebellion every forty or fifty years," has a law of nature for its foundation. The grand river that supplies the mighty "Niagara," flows quietly on for many a mile, till it reaches a certain point, when it takes a rapidity, gathering force as it proceeds, till it meets the fearful precipice down which it has roared and tumbled for ages, and down which it will roar and tumble till nature herself shall be dissolved.