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Alan Stanley's book: "I Met Murder on the Way"

category offaly | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Tuesday May 30, 2006 17:03author by Pat Muldowney Report this post to the editors

Alan Stanley’s book describes the death of the Pearson brothers using a variety of sources:
(1) The contemporary (July 7 1921) account in the Unionist newspaper “The King’s County Chronicle, Parsonstown” (King’s County and Parsonstown are, respectively, Co. Offaly and Birr) which quotes their sister Matilda Pearson on her brothers’ death and the burning of their house;
(2) A 1983 description by a surviving Pearson brother David Pearson in Australia;
(3) A summary of descriptions of those events by William Stanley who was with the Pearson brothers when they were arrested and who subsequently lived in Carlow until his death in 1981;
(4) A number of comments gathered by Alan Stanley, mostly from Protestant neighbours and relatives of the Pearsons after 1981, and principally from Tom Mitchell of Kinnitty near Coolacrease.

The page numbers refer to the edition of Stanley's book published July 2005.

Editors Note: This article originally refered back to the indymedia feature at: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74400

The basic facts of the Pearson case, on which all accounts essentially agree, are as follows. On Thursday June 30 1921, Richard and Abraham Pearson (aged 24 and 19) were saving hay in a field on their estate at Coolacrease with their younger brother David (aged 14) and their close friend and distant relative William Stanley. When a group of 30 or so members of the Irish Republican Army arrived, William Stanley escaped by running away. The Pearson brothers were brought back to the house, where an IRA death sentence was read to them. They were shot by a firing party, and their house and outhouses were burnt down. Prior to this, all accounts refer to some trouble between the Pearsons and local Catholics, in which the three older Pearson brothers (Richard, Abraham and Sydney) and their father William sought to prevent the use of a traditional mass path through their estate. And all accounts agree that a couple of weeks before the brothers’ death there was a clash with the IRA near Coolacrease House when the IRA were engaged a road-blocking manoeuvre. (According to Patrick Heaney, the purpose of the road-block was to facilitate an IRA ambush on the British forces near Birr, preventing British reinforcements from getting through from Tullamore on the other side of Coolacrease and Cadamstown.)

Stanley’s book maintains (pages 12, 13, 72, 97) that, like other Protestants in the area, the Pearsons’ social credentials were established, and that a repetition of the naked sectarian conflict that opened up in 1798, in the Orange terror of that time, was completely unexpected (page 31). According to him (page 67), the Pearsons bought the farm in 1912, at a time when the large Coolacrease estate was expected to be divided up among the locals, thereby causing resentment against the Pearsons.

In contrast to Alan Stanley, Patrick Heaney reports unfavourably on the Pearsons’ social attitudes at this time. The mass path incident is an indicator of an actively sectarian hostility towards the people among whom they lived, which was demonstrated in many additional ways. In potent displays of threat and contempt they would gallop on horseback through the groups of Sunday Mass-goers to force them off the roads. When the local Cadamstown IRA were arrested and imprisoned, they triumphantly erected white flags around their estate. Whether or not the Pearsons were instrumental in these arrests, it is hardly possible to misread this kind of thing as being anything other than age-old Orange Croppy-Lie-Down supremacism, not different from the routine humiliation that white settlers in Africa liked to inflict on the natives.

Stanley reflects (page 72) on whether the Pearsons were estranged or alienated from their Catholic and Protestant neighbours, and concludes they were not. But, as we shall see, his own account tells us a very different story. The Pearsons were not the simple, quaint, rustic Bible-folk, full of Christian humility and charity towards all, portrayed by Alan Stanley and Eoghan Harris; and the War of Independence brought out their Orange predilections.

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Alan Stanley on the Pearsons: I Met Murder on the Way     Pat Muldowney    Tue May 30, 2006 17:24 
   Alan Stanley on the Pearsons: I Met Murder on the Way     Pat Muldowney    Tue May 30, 2006 17:26 
   Alan Stanley on the Pearsons: I Met Murder on the Way     Pat Muldowney    Tue May 30, 2006 17:30 
   Alan Stanley on the Pearsons: I Met Murder on the Way     Pat Muldowney    Tue May 30, 2006 17:37 
   Partisan Politics masquerading as ‘History’.     Shane M. Hayden    Mon Jun 05, 2006 22:24 
   More information on Alan Stanley, Pearson Brothers and Eoghan Harris here     Ned Young    Mon Jun 05, 2006 23:37 
   Patrick Heaney on Factual Errors in Alan Stanley's Book     Pat Muldowney    Wed Jun 07, 2006 14:11 
   Alan Stanley: Correction     Pat Muldowney    Thu Jun 08, 2006 13:45 
   The Pearsons according to Cordial     Solas Nua    Sun Jul 23, 2006 17:58 
 10   Eoghan Harris-Authoritarian     Barra McCaille    Sun Jul 23, 2006 18:56 
 11   The Pearsons & Mr. Muldowney     Seanachai    Mon Jul 24, 2006 02:11 
 12   A Quest for the truth, not historical myths     PMCC    Wed Jul 26, 2006 22:20 
 13   Original critique of the Alan Stanley account     Jeremy Windle    Thu Jul 27, 2006 13:16 
 14   Response to Solas Nua and Seanachie     Pat Muldowney    Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:26 
 15   Paddy Heaney's Offaly Heritage article     Pat Muldowney    Thu Sep 14, 2006 18:02 
 16   Sunday Independent Anti-Republicanism     Seosamh O Galunach    Mon Oct 09, 2006 20:04 
 17   THe Pearsons & their prosecutors     Solas Eile    Mon Oct 23, 2006 18:59 
 18   Duplicity and denial     Dermot Ryan    Thu Nov 02, 2006 00:26 
 19   The Pearsons : Duplicity & Denial Part 2     Solas Eile    Fri Nov 03, 2006 18:47 
 20   Dermot Ryan Responds     Dermot Ryan    Tue Nov 07, 2006 17:48 
 21   The Pearsons & their Prosecutors???     Pat Muldowney    Sat Nov 11, 2006 21:32 
 22   In response to Dermot Ryan Responds     Solas Eile    Fri Nov 17, 2006 18:57 
 23   Solas Eile's Red Herrings     Pat Muldowney    Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:55 
 24   Mr. Muldowney's red herrings     Solas Eile    Fri Nov 24, 2006 15:44 
 25   Solas Eile on Religious Toleration     Pat Muldowney    Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:30 
 26   Pearsons in RTE Hidden History     Pat Muldowney    Tue Oct 09, 2007 20:03 
 27   Link     Pat Muldowney    Thu Apr 03, 2008 21:26 
 28   Three clever Stooges X 2 + one to spare + logic=sophism     Bando    Fri Apr 04, 2008 15:11 
 29   Porky pie at BCCI     Pinochio    Fri Apr 04, 2008 18:34 
 30   standard RTE practice     Dempsey    Fri Apr 04, 2008 21:26 
 31   Lies, Bluff and Bluster     Joker    Fri Apr 04, 2008 22:58 
 32   The Magnificent Seven     Reel Journalist    Sat Apr 05, 2008 09:09 
 33   Clarification of "standard RTE practice"     Dempsey    Sat Apr 05, 2008 09:33 
 34   Porky pie 2     Pinochio    Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:23 
 35   National archive?     Joker    Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:11 
 36   The documentary makers were under no obligation to have an official, designated consultant historian     zemhra    Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:38 
 37   Niamh/Bando/Zemhra     Reel Journalist    Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:39 
 38   Cut to the chase     Joker    Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:52 
 39   "why did RTÉ lie about it?"     Dempsey    Sat Apr 05, 2008 13:48 
 40   "why did RTÉ lie about it?"     Joker    Sat Apr 05, 2008 17:10 
 41   Sorry if I'm being slow, but...     Dempsey    Sat Apr 05, 2008 19:25 
 42   BCC fig-leaf for RTÉ     Joker    Sat Apr 05, 2008 20:44 
 43   RTE's policy on historical consultants     Niall Meehan    Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:46 
 44   RTE's policy on historical consultants     Dempsey    Sun Apr 06, 2008 21:32 
 45   Feelings     Dimpsey    Sun Apr 06, 2008 21:49 
 46   "Feeling(s)" - ambiguous     Dempsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 00:04 
 47   Write     Niall Meehan    Mon Apr 07, 2008 08:06 
 48   Buyer Beware!     Reel Journalist    Mon Apr 07, 2008 08:22 
 49   Clarification     Dempsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 09:13 
 50   Small Print     Joker    Mon Apr 07, 2008 09:49 
 51   Catch 22     Reel Journalist    Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:02 
 52   Palaver     Dempsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:20 
 53   Is Dempsey missing something here?     Humpty Dumpsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:50 
 54   "Humpty Dumpsey" - the clever word play is cracking me up     Dempsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:21 
 55   Dempsey, were you born obtuse?     Niamh Trout    Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:33 
 56   Troll baiting     Joker    Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:39 
 57   Troll Bait     Joker    Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:19 
 58   Fishy Tales     Reel Journalist    Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:27 
 59   Plot     Plot spotter    Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:37 
 60   Plot spotted     Dempsey    Mon Apr 07, 2008 14:07 
 61   Feelings versus Facts     Joker    Mon Apr 07, 2008 14:44 
 62   Broadcasting Complaint: Sammon vs. Muldowney     Pat Muldowney    Mon Apr 07, 2008 19:34 
 63   RTÉ Atrocity Propaganda and Censorship, Part 20     Pat Muldowney    Sun Apr 13, 2008 20:04 
 64   More documents     Pat Muldowney    Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:23 
 65   inaccuracy     Phil    Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:56 
 66   Not once was there a mention.     Joker    Wed Apr 16, 2008 18:35 
 67   Revenge of the Magnificent Seven     Pat Muldowney    Thu Apr 17, 2008 21:31 
 68   Pearsons go abroad     Television    Wed Apr 30, 2008 22:58 
 69   Excellence in Creativity!     Reel Journalist    Tue May 06, 2008 08:32 
 70   technical excellence...a jury of leading media professionals     Reeling Journalist    Tue May 06, 2008 22:22 
 71   Plaque     A dentist    Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:04 
 72   Making a 52-minute television documentary the subject of a 472-page book isn’t funny. .. it’s sad"     The Pale    Sat Jan 03, 2009 09:51 
 73   Niamh Sammon’s Words of Wisdom.     Maura Keating    Wed Mar 18, 2009 18:13 
 74   Coolacrease documentation website     Pat Muldowney    Fri Jun 19, 2009 19:58 

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