Three arrested and Sinn Féin denounced after Nenagh Murder
Nenagh, 12 January 1918 - Three brothers – John, Patrick and William ‘Bunty’ O’Brien – were arrested yesterday in connection with the murder of George Sheehan, an elderly man, at Boherbee Silvermines, near Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
The three young men, one a postman and two of whom are national school teachers, are currently being heavily guarded at Limerick Jail. All three are identified with the Sinn Féin movement, although only one, the postman, has been confirmed a member of the party.
George Sheehan was shot at his home two weeks ago, apparently while resisting the theft of his son’s rifle.
According to the local parish priest, Rev. Fr M. Hogan, it was crime the like of which had not been seen in the parish for more than 100 years. Delivering a forceful message at Sunday mass at Silvermines, the preacher said the atrocious deed was a ‘base shameful...unchristian act’.
Throughout his message he hinted at Sinn Féin involvement: ‘In Sinn Féin as in every movement tinged with militarism they had a number of reckless, wanton men who were out for mischief, and who used their organisation as a shield and cloak for their personal wickedness.’ In an even more pointed reference, the priest told parishioners that if there was a less militant Sinn Féinism in the district of North Tipperary, George Sheehan would be present at mass that day and not lying in a coffin at the morgue in Nenagh.
The O’Brien boys are the sons of a deceased policeman. Their mother was the postmistress at Silvermines until a few weeks ago when she lost her job.
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]