Phoenix Park Murders

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XII | Start of Chapter

Gladstone was applying himself to the question of Home Rule when the murders of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke took place in Phoenix Park, Dublin, on May 6, 1882, and sent a shock of horror all through the civilized world. These crimes were the work of one of the small subterranean gangs of desperadoes who had then chosen to associate themselves with the National cause of Ireland. Lord Frederick Cavendish had just been appointed secretary to the Lord Lieutenant by Mr. Gladstone with the hope of introducing a more conciliatory form of administration into Ireland and getting rid of the old coercion system. Mr. Burke was one of the permanent officials of Dublin Castle, and was believed to have got hold of the secret plans concocted by these desperadoes, and to have discovered the identity of their authors. There can be little doubt that the object of the conspirators was to kill Mr. Burke, and that Lord Frederick was done to death only because he gallantly endeavoured to defend his companion, with whom he was walking when the attack was made. The murders in the Phoenix Park were publicly condemned by all the leading Irish Nationalists everywhere, and were deplored all the more because they naturally created a widespread feeling against the Irish National cause.