The Highway Man...

JEREMIAH GRANT (1785 – 1816)

Jeremiah Grant was born in Moyne in 1785 and lost both his parents as a baby and was adopted by his uncle who lived in the townland of Kilnesare in the parish of Loughmore. He gave Jer plenty of money which Jer promptly spent. He married at the early age of 19, his wife being younger than him. He rented a farm and grist and tuck mill in Loughmore. His landlord found reason to complain that Jer was not keeping the terms of his tenancy and issued a Warrant of Distress in 1809. Jer’s wife was very attached to some bee hives in her possession. The landlord demanded the hives, but Jer and Mrs Grant refused the request. The landlord insisted, and in a fit of rage Jer fired a pistol. He was prosecuted and tried but was acquitted.

          Jer now turned to poteen distilling. The landlord’s son frequently visited Grants’ house and seduced Jer’s sister. Jer and his brother John resolved on summary justice and fired a shot at the landlord’s son. Jer and John were arrested near Borrisoleigh and were being taken to Clonmel Jail when Jer escaped. John’s trial was deferred but he was later transported.

          Jer returned to Moyne and was captured by the Templemore Yeomanry. In revenge for her brother’s arrest, Mary Grant murdered the landlord’s son at Loughmore. She was arrested, tried and executed at Clonmel. She was the last woman in Ireland to be hanged and was transported from Clonmel home in an open cart.

          Jer was released and fell in with Egan, the horse stealer. He was again arrested for horse stealing and was put into Clonmel Jail, but after a short time was transferred to Limerick Jail and was later acquitted.

          He visited Moyne again to see his wife and family but had been informed on by a fellow horse stealer in Maryboro. Jer this time took to Cappawhite in 1812. One day his lodgings were surrounded by soldiers. Jer’s wife barricaded the front door while Jer escaped to Newfoundland. He returned at Christmas 1812 and settled at Cullena, Co. Waterford. Dane of Cappoquin tried to arrest Jer, but again Jer escaped, this time in his shirt. A regiment of soldiers surrounded and captured him. He was put into a car but escaped from the soldiers. He now parted company with Egan and went via Kilmacthomas to Enniscorthy in 1813. He travelled to Enniscorthy and Graiguenamanagh to buy some stolen sheep and cows. When he was driving the cows to Bray he was followed by the owner. Some time later Jer’s house was searched by soldiers but Jer had again disappeared, this time to Drogheda via Dublin.

          Jer returned to Moyne to collect rent from fellow cow stealer, Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was in jail. Jer stole a gig from Cambie of Killoran but had to delay at a forge in Leix for repairs and was eventually arrested near Rathdowney by Magistrate Steale. He was tried, convicted and imprisoned firstly at Thurles and then at Clonmel. After a short time Jer escaped and again returned to Moyne.

          Soon he was on his way to Bray on a stolen car and then pressed on to Drogheda where he was recognised by a Thurles gauger. He was arrested immediately and jailed in Drogheda and later transferred to Kilmainham. Here he had everything ready for escape but his fellow cell companion Green informed on him.

          On being transferred to Maryboro jail, Jer met Carroll Whelan, a native of Ballyragget. Soon Jer had a skeleton key brought to him in a herring fish and Jer escaped and made off to Ballyroan.

          Ballyroan, Ballinakill and Castlecomer were now the chief areas of activity. Jer and Whelan robbed Kennedy of Firoda. Jer then went to Scorthy to rob Mr Orr, here he was surrounded by soldiers but escaped and made back to Ballyragget. He robbed Stubber of Ballinakill of £300 as Stubber was on his way to Kilkenny at the Dinan Bridge. His next expedition was to Moyne to waylay Kildare buyers who were on their way to the Horse Fair of Templemore. Jer was surrounded in Killoran and made his escape to Kylemakill from here he got away to Enniscorthy where he was arrested and sent to Wexford jail. The governor in Maryboro, named Clerk, sent his son to identify Jer. The son did so and he was sent back to Maryboro where he was tried, convicted and executed on August 13th 1816.   During his escapades Jer wounded no man and was kind to animals. He shot one dog and one only.