Racehorse Shoe Owned by Abraham Morris.
Abraham Morris was a member of the landed gentry and a magistrate who would have probably never been remembered in history only for a feud that he became involved in with Art Ó Laoghaire. This incident would be immortalised in the poem “Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire” by Art’s widow Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonnaill.
These events all took place in the Penal Law times and show the real hatred and difficulty between the Settler Protestant and the local Catholic population at this time.
Art Ó Laoghaire was born in 1746 in Uibh Laoghaire on lands that had been held by his family for generations. At some stage in his youth they moved to Rathleigh House. His father acted as a Land Agent for the Minhear Family of Carrigaphooka. This would have enabled the Ó Laoghaire’s to have a comfortable life despite being a Catholic family during the Penal times.
Art purchased a commission in the Austrian Army and served as a captain in the Hungarian Hussars Regiment. Around this time, Art also fell in love with Eibhlín Dubh O’Connell of Derrynane House in Kerry. They met in Macroom Town Square. Eilbhín was an aunt of Daniel O’Connell the Liberator. The O’Connell’s however were against the match and so they eloped.
It would seem from the accounts of the time that Art was a brash young man, proud of his lineage and his officer status and it would appear that it was this that got him into trouble with Abraham Morris.
There was a history of bad blood between Art and Morris who was High Sheriff of County Cork in 1771. On the 13th of July 1771 there was an encounter between the two men at Hanover Hall. The first notice of this is on the 19th of August when Art stated in the Cork Evening Post that he had been charged with different crimes and that he was prepared to stand trial at the next Assizes in Cork. This was answered by Morris on the 7th of October in which he outlined his charges against Art from that earlier incident in July. Morris’s fellow magistrates in the Muskerry Constitutional Society agreed and three days later judged Art in his absence. He was outlawed and a price of 20 guineas was put on his head. On the 19th of October Art replied through the same newspaper and defended himself from the charge and stated that judgement should be suspended until he has had a fair trial.
Events seemed to die down for a while as Art was away in Austria until early in 1773. The event that led to the fatal culmination of the feud was over a fine horse that Art had brought back from Austria. Morris demanded that Art sell him the horse for 5 pounds. The Penal laws stated that no Catholic could own a horse worth more than 5 pounds. Art refused the sale and struck Morris with his horse whip. He also challenged Morris to a duel, which was declined..
Morris however had other plans. He used his position as a magistrate and convinced his fellow magistrates to support him and proclaim Art as an outlaw. Art Ó Laoghaire could now be shot on sight legally.
On the 4th of May 1773, Abraham Morris was in Millstreet on business which Art heard about and set off to Carriganimma to intercept and possibly kill Morris. It is said that Art was drinking in the Inn in Carriganimma and boasting of what he was going to do to Morris. One of the people at the Inn slipped away and rode towards Millstreet to warn Morris. Morris on hearing this then returned to Millstreet and took a posse of soldiers with him to Carriganimma to set up an ambush for Art Ó Laoghaire.
Art rode into the view of the soldiers and Morris gave the order to shoot. Art was shot in the neck and fell off his horse over a hundred yards away. He was then left to die by the soldiers.
At a Coroner’s inquest held on the 17th May a verdict was returned that Abraham Morris and the party of soldiers were guilty of the wilful and wanton murder of Art Ó Laoghaire. Art’s brother Cornelius decided to seek revenge for his brother.
He rode into Cork city on the 7th of July and arrived to Mr. Boyce’s house in Hammonds Lane where Morris was staying. He saw Morris at a window and shot three times, wounding him. Cornelius then took passage to France and from there to America.
The local gentry were outraged by this attack and a Proclamation was issued on the 26th of July for Cornelius and large sums were offered as a reward for his capture. However, Cornelius was long gone.
On the 4th of September Abraham Morris submitted himself to trial by the local Magistrates. The Ó Laoghaire family were not represented and the soldiers involved had been sent to the East India colonies. He was tried and honourably acquitted.
Abraham Morris died in September 1775 from the wounds that he had received in the shooting by Art’s brother Cornelius two years previously.
The horseshoe on display in the Independence Museum Kilmurry is from a racehorse owned by Abraham Morris
 The life and times of Art O Laoghaire by Peter O’Leary