The “Constable Leahy Tax” was an insult added to the grave injury of the Mitchelstown Massacre, and so of course it was resisted. Here is part of the story, from the Freeman’s Journal:
Lifting the Leahy Tax.
A Day With the Collectors.
The collection of the sum of £1,000 awarded by the Grand Jury of Cork county to Constable Leahy as compensation for injuries received at the famous Mitchelstown meeting has been attended with some extraordinary incidents. In the district the cric [?] adjudged to the injured constable is never spoken of except as the “Blood Tax.” On the walls of the highroads, on the piers of gates, and on every place where the inscription can be readily affixed the legend in red letters is painted — “Pay no Blood Tax.” On Sunday as the people were on their way to Mass a placard was found posted up near the chapel gate at Coolagewny calling on the people to resist the payment of the Leahy blood tax. Some police who espied the document proceeded to tear it down, when a farmer in the locality, Mr. James R. Kent, produced another copy from his pocket and read it aloud to the people, and defied the police to arrest him. This the police threatened to do, but failed to take any active measures. Scenes of a similar kind take place daily. Indeed, not since the collection of the tithe rent has the tax gatherer in Ireland a more disagreeable errand entrusted to him. The gentlemen who call for taxes are seldom received with obsequious urbanity, but the appearance of the Leahy taxgatherer in the barony of Condens or Clongibbons is the signal for a popular manifestation against that official in which the whole countryside join. The people who have acquiesced in the award of the fiscal authorities are few and far between, and the only way in which it is found possible to realise any of the tax in the majority of cases is by seizing the property of the farmers. The modus operandi of the bailiffs is a modernised and revised edition of the simple plan of Rob Roy’s cattle lifting raids, with, of course, the additional provision that the latter-day exponents have the law upon their side. Long before dawn the expedition is prepared. Behind the iron shutters of a wayside police station the taxgatherer with two bailiffs and a posse of police are looking to the priming of their firearms before they set out upon what is a far from prosaic means of earning a livelihood. The objective point of attack is arranged, and away starts the raiding party. A farmhouse is reached; Mr. Dwane, the collector, knocks cautiously at the door, while his immediate attendants make a preliminary inspection of the cattle grazing in the fields around. The response to the demand of the visitor leaves no room for doubt that a seizure must be effected or that the bailiffs must execute a volte face without any monetary return for their early morning’s march. By this time the family are astir, the children are already out in the field, and between their cries and the still more vigorous measures of the elder members of the family, the live stock on the farm is seized with the liveliest desire to fly over the county, and not only the horses but the cows take to steeplechasing with sudden alacrity. The claims vary from a few shillings to six or seven pounds. The capture of a single member of the flying herds will in the most instances suffice to meet the full demand of the law. In dealing with the people the police — as it seems to be unfortunately the invariable rule in this district — use violence on the slightest necessity, or perhaps it is more accurate to say without any necessity whatever. The children are pursued by the police, and the women and girls, who are the readiest victims, are hustled and struck, while away and away go the bailiffs after some of the most inactive of the cattle. At last a cow is seized, and is at once marched off in triumph. By this time the horns have been blown on every hill around, and the neighbours come streaming over the fields by all the short cuts until an immense throng has assembled, who shout and express their indignation in a manner not to be misunderstood. The bailiffs then proceed to the nearest pound, the nearest being usually a distance of miles, in some cases four or five. At the ground an auction is held, and the cow is bought in for the owner. As soon as it has been released it is decorated with green ribbons, and driven home in triumph amid the cheers and plaudits of the people. In other instances, and these are the majority of cases, where the sum to be paid amounts to say 9s or 10s, the process, if less exciting, is calculated to rouse even greater indignation among the sympathisers of the victims than in places where the farmer is a “strong” man. The other day Mr. Patrick Nash, deputy-collector, was actually engaged in the Kilworth and Araglen districts, where seizures for sums of 9s, 15s, and 18s were made. Among the booty captured was a donkey and water barrel the property of a Widow Clancy, and a donkey and three sucking calves were captured from John Healy. Flushed with his success, Nash and his followers made a swoop on the townland of Kilmurry. Here the people were on the alert. The fiery cross was sent round, horns were blown, and willing voices sped the news from cabin door to cabin door. The lands were soon cleared, and Mr. Nash drew blank. In the yard of a cabin a boy named James Walsh displayed his joy at the discomfiture of the bailiff, and was at once set upon by a policeman who pushed the lad about the yard of his own cabin with the muzzle of his rifle; the boy’s sister shouted in her alarm, and the people rushed to the place, whereupon the sergeant desisted. Incidents of this kind are far more eloquent of the situation of the people of the district than any comment can possibly be. At Kilworth Nash was more fortunate. At this time of the year the people are busy in the fields, and as the bailiff had not effected a capture at Kilmurry he was permitted to go away unattended. Then he took to the mountains, and at a farm belonging to Mr. Michael O’Donnell he seized a cow, the amount of the impost being £3 6s 4d. The bailiff was anxious to sell the cow on the roadside and avoid any loss of time, but the farmer took quite a different view of the matter, and insisted on walking to Kilworth, a distance of three miles, where the auction took place. This march allowed the people time to congregate, and, what was evidently deemed of much greater importance, to clear the lands, so that the seizure was a far from paying one for the active Nash. This little escapade over, no further business could be carried out for that day, and the discomfited brigade returned to the shelter of their barracks. Costs are piled up on the people, in some instances amounting to a couple of pounds. These harassing expeditions have naturally aroused the people to a greater hatred of the tax than ever, and their resolve not to pay it unless when compelled has not been in the slightest degree abated by the means taken to collect the money. All last week the bailiffs were at work in the district about Fermoy, where the cattle seized were auctioned. In the town the hostages when delivered up were decorated, a procession was formed, and the town band turned out and played as the farmer received the congratulations of sympathisers. The spirit of the people is really wonderful, and their self-control even under the most provoking circumstances is worthy of all praise. Passive resistance is shown in every possible case, and violence and insolence are left monopolies of the upholders of “law and order.” Not one-third of the rates have yet been collected, and if the bailiffs continue at their present rate the Leahy tax will not be recovered this side of Christmas at any rate. When the first attempts to collect the tax were made a descent was made upon Mitchelstown, but when some cattle belonging to the late John Mandeville had been seized the bailiffs retired. We are informed that as some of the hangers-on of these expeditions were passing the house of the late Mr. Mandeville on , where his remains were lying, they jeered and gibed as they went by. This is conduct worthy of ghouls, and in any other land the beings who committed so dastardly an act would be prosecuted for conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace.