Murder on the Royal Canal: The beggar’s plight

Editor’s Note: Zach Dankert is a junior majoring in biology and English. After working as our Arts Editor last semester, he’s back to share his writing with us in the form of a serial story during his study abroad experience in Ireland. Look for the next three installments in our upcoming print editions this semester!

 

7th of November, 1866 As the assigned documenter for the Garda, it is my duty to record the details of this case to the best of my abilities. Here is the information of the murders as we know it. The curiosity of this case lies in the fact that the same woman, a beggar by the name of Isabell Byrne, discovered both bodies. She stumbled upon the corpse of Lord Gerald Griffiths, then, if you will, proceeded to scream and flee the scene drawing a crowd of passersby. So it was that several witnessed her discovery of blood leading into the house of the esteemed Daniel Wallace. Inside was the unfortunate man in question, his body lying awkwardly in the welcome hall, his throat slit. The beggarwoman was initially questioned about any familiarity she might have with either of these men, to which she refused to give an answer. The Garda did not push further, as both Griffiths and Wallace were esteemed members of Dublin’s high society, and for a lowly woman like Byrne to have familiarity with them would be not only unlikely, but scandalous. Lady Claire Griffiths, the Lord’s daughter, was alerted of his murder and brought in for questioning, along with Mr. Clarke, a family friend and, now, her guardian. Lady Griffiths provided that she herself was a regular acquaintance of the beggarwoman and asserted that Byrne had indeed met Lord Griffiths on rare occasion. But the question remained; why had she fled immediately to the house of Mr. Wallace, a man to whom she did not currently have a link?

 

Byrne, either in shock, grief or with adverse motive in mind, was still refusing to talk, and Lady Griffiths had no clue. Isabell Byrne discovered Griffiths’ body at 19:23 on the 5th of November under the North Strand bridge of the Royal Canal. Griffiths had been absent from his manor for three hours, according to the servant of the house, Benjamin McFadden. McFadden states Griffiths had left in light mood, eager for a walk and fresh air. After finding his body, Byrne was then witnessed to run down Charleville Mall to Killarney Row and finally to Buckingham Street Upper, where Mr. Wallace was found at 19:36. Amelia Collins, Wallace’s maid, had been told to leave early for the night, and she had left the residence by 17:50. Both victims suffered a slit throat. Lord Griffiths is believed to have been killed where he was found, while Mr. Wallace had been moved. Both, due to the condition of the bodies, are believed to have died within minutes of each other. We cannot be sure whether these murders are related. Both men are of high society, though on vastly different sides. Indeed, these men had been enemies in various political movements in the past. Wallace had long been a champion for the rights of the Irish people, while Griffiths always had Britain’s interests in mind. Ambrose Wright, the famed detective from England, has been called in for consultation. He has asked for a young, inexperienced officer to act as his assistant, and this role has unfortunately fallen upon me. I must say I am somewhat uneasy with this partnership. It is a common belief across the pond that, when Ambrose Wright overturns stones, you never know what he will find under them.



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