Illegal Poteen Making in Belfast

Northern Whig, 27 August 1921

In August 1921, the Northern Whig reported on a session at Belfast Custody Court, where James Flynn was charged with illegally making poitín with the help of Michael Murphy.


Police Court Sequel.

In the Belfast Custody Court, yesterday—before Mr. J. Gray, R.M,—a respectably-dressed man named James Flynn, who lodges at 78, Short Strand, Belfast, was charged with having assisted Michael Murphy to make, keep, and conceal a quantity of illicit spirit at 14, Hamilton Place, Belfast.

District-Inspector Spears prosecuted, and Mr. J. Graham defended.

Constable Flannery gave evidence that on 18th inst. He was present in Michael Murphy’s premises, 14, Hamilton Place, where a seizure of illicit spirit had been made, when the prisoner Flynn was brought in by the police. In the presence of prisoner Murphy made a statement, saying, in reference to Flynn—“That’s the man who was to give me £4 a week to allow him to make whisky; that’s the man who brought the still here.” Flynn said—“What the h— are you talking about? It’s not the first time I did six months; I am innocent.”

Mr. Graham—Although Murphy was innocent what happened him before the magistrates last week?—He was fined £100

To the District-Inspector witness said it was because of a statement made by Murphy to the police when they entered the house that the prisoner Flynn was brought there that evening.

Detective-Sergeant Kennedy was also examined.

Annie Lenaghan, 9, Hamilton Place, swore that three weeks ago she saw the prisoner wheel two barrels into the house No. 14 by the front door. Murphy was with him, but was walking on the footpath. She saw the prisoner a couple of times in Murphy’s.

Mary Robinson, 12, Hamilton Place, said she saw several men, including the prisoner, going into the premises, and she saw the prisoner with Murphy every day of the week.

Ellen Murphy, wife of Michael Murphy, said her husband was now in prison in connection with this affair. Her husband had been out of work, and about three or four weeks ago the prisoner with a friend came to the house to see if her husband would let them have a room in which to make poteen. They said they would give her husband so much per week if he would agree, and they would be responsible for anything that might occur. It was the prisoner who brought in the barrels and accessories, fitted the pipe to gas stove, and set up the whole apparatus.

This concluded the evidence.

Prisoner was discharged.