William J. Maher, Esq., one of our County Coroners, held an inquest at Corbetstown, in this county (midway between this city and Castlecomer) on view of the bodies of four individuals, found drowned in a dyke on the townsland of Webbsborough, on Sunday last. It appeared from the evidence at the inquest that the mother and three children had been in that neighbourhood for some days in a state of very great destitution. On Friday last they had been relieved at the house of Hugh Muldowney, a respectable farmer living at Corbetstown; they were subsequently seen loitering on the road at Webbsborough– the mother, about 30 years old, appeared to be in an unconscious state, probably from mental anxiety and hunger.
The bodies were brought to a house on the road side, the nearest that could be procured, by the police– they presented a truly heart-rending spectacle, partially covered with filthy rags saturated with mud, and frozen, having been exposed to the inclemency of the weather. The hand of one child, and part of the foot of another, had been devoured by rats. Doctor Gwydir, of Freshford, made a minute post mortem examination of the bodies of the mother and eldest daughter, a child about 9 years old. The Doctor was unable to detect in the stomach or the bowels of the mother a trace of food having entered for more than twenty hours before death. The child’s stomach contained a very small quantity of half-digested potatoes. The following was the verdict of the jury:–
We find that deceased and her three children’s death’s were caused by drowning, and we find from the post mortem examinations made by Doctor Gwydir on two of the bodies, that they were in a state of hunger bordering on starvation, but how the bodies came into the dyke of water, whether by accident or design on the part of the mother, we have no evidence to show.