Murder on the Royal Canal: A daughter’s grief

Detective Wright and I visited the Griffiths estate the day following the murder and visited privately with Claire Griffiths. The poor girl, still in quite a sorry state, controlled herself well and helped as much as she could. She and her late father had maintained a strong relationship, at times perhaps too strong. Claire had developed a sympathetic heart for the poor and working classes of Ireland, and thus parried words often with Lord Griffith in terms of what he should and shouldn’t do in regard to his business endeavors. She especially had qualms about his current venture, which would entail demolishing a section of Northern Dublin which housed various soup kitchens and shelters for the poor. Claire had been down in Rathmines the evening of the murders. At first, she was reluctant to provide a witness to her activities. However, Wright gently, yet firmly, pressed her until she yielded. At once, her unwillingness made sense; she had been in the company of Peter Lawrence, her- at one timeintended. With the respect I have towards Lady Claire, I dislike the idea of irritating still-fresh wounds, however, Ambrose insists I record anything of (possible) value, so here is the story: The tension between Gerald and Claire had primarily began with when she first was courting Lawrence, a recent Trinity College graduate. It was whispered that the young man’s father had not only been a member of the Irish Confederation but had also taken part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. It was also whispered that Lawrence held his father’s insubordinate beliefs.


At first few believed Claire had chosen him for love; it was obviously only to anger her father, who had been one of the British sympathizers against the Young Irelander movement! It had been quite cold between father and daughter for a time, and it was most likely for the best. Lawrence was disgracefully removed from his position in Dublin’s muslin operations, and Lady Griffiths was forced to save face and reject him altogether. Perhaps the rejection hadn’t been as altogether as we were led to believe. We arrived at the house of Peter Lawrence later that day. Instead his mother answered, explaining that he wasn’t home but would be back in a week’s time; he had left for a supposed business venture. His mother informed us that, of the night in question, Peter had in fact told her he had plans to spend the evening in Rathmines with a girl and that was all she knew. We sent word that he return as soon as possible. Nothing of much interest occurred until the 10th, when Ambrose and I went to talk with Michael Kennedy, Daniel Wallace’s business partner. The two of them had both been up in arms over Griffith’s plans to disenfranchise those living in Georgian North Dublin, who already have enough suffering on their plate. Daniel Wallace, in support of the working communities, had remained in Northern Dublin even when the upper-class had migrated south. When asked about the beggarwoman Isabell Byrne, Mr. Kennedy responded that, yes, in fact, he had seen her before. He and Wallace had often supported a North Dublin soup kitchen. Kennedy said Ms. Griffiths, who offered her time there, would often converse with Wallace with Byrne occasionally by her side. Kennedy also confided that Wallace had been in an odd way the days before his death, deciding to spend much of his time in solitude and rejecting most social events.


To be honest, Kennedy hadn’t seen him very much before his death, even though they had both been busy working in opposition against Griffiths. Kennedy recalls walking in on an apparently tense meeting Wallace was having with an unknown young man, about a week before the murder. Wallace had immediately ordered the man out and had rebuffed all of Kennedy’s questions. I must say, I am not a large fan of the detective Ambrose Wright. I can never tell what he is thinking, and it is like there is a storm brewing constantly in his mind. I can’t help but feel in awe of the man, despite my feelings. One can dislike Ambrose Wright, but one can’t stop from holding him in the highest regard. I sincerely hope he unscrambles the mystery of this case, as I feel quite truly in the dark.

Zach Dankert ('21) is one of the Campus Co-Editors at the Anchor.

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