Sligo Jury Turns Water into Whisky, 1860

From the Belfast News-Letter, 17 March 1860:


While the jury empanelled to try the case of Michael Lynot, charged with committing an aggravated assault on Pat Sexton, were locked up considering their verdict, Judge Hayes came into court on Monday night, at ten o’clock, to ascertain whether they had agreed.  The jury having been sent for, the Foreman informed his lordship that there was not the slightest chance of their agreeing, when the judge expressed his regret at being obliged to leave them in charge of bailiffs all night.

The Foreman made a strong appeal for refreshments, and succeeded in obtaining an order upon the sheriff for a supply of fresh spring water fresh from the court pump.  Five tin vessels, supposed to be full of this cooling beverage, were shortly borne to the jury-room door by the messengers of the court-keeper, and had well-nigh been introduced inside, when a curious police constable removed the very handsome plates which covered the vessels for the purpose of preserving the contents from dust.  The careful officer found this full, but not entirely with water, as a fishing examination of the interior was rewarded by the discovery of several bottles containing liquid of a more stimulating quality. 

The production of these before his lordship and the court created a lively sensation.  An inquiry was immediately instituted by his lordship to ascertain the author of the violation of his order, but as nothing of a definite character could be elicited, he was pleased to order merely that the bottles and their contents, supposed to be good Islay, should be confiscated to the use of the county.  The disappointment of the jury at the seizure of their reliefs was beyond description – and such was the effect upon one of the besieged, that he was afterwards seized with jury-room fever, and kindly discharged by the judge, with the other eleven, at two o’clock in the morning.  The Sligo Chronicle.

A St. Patrick’s Day miracle sadly frustrated! Islay is an excellent Scotch whisky made in the Inner Hebrides with a characteristic peat-smoke aroma, Laphroaig for instance, or Craighleachie.

Jury room fever can be a trying complaint! I hope the sufferer recovered quickly!

Image Credit: (left) (right)

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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