Senator solves mystery of 100-year-old murder

A 100-year-oldurder has been solved by a senator who had a book on the subject launched last night by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

If the Seanad is abolished, Senator John Gilroy (Lab) may pursue a career “writing on cold cases”.

The Cork-based politician spent years researching the murder of 31-year-old Sanotic Koniste, a Japanese man shot dead on the Clifton Lodge Estate in Athboy, Co Meath, on Jul 27, 1913.

Mr Gilroy, who was born in Athboy, was fascinated by the story of Koniste who became manservant to the estate’s playboy multimillionaire owner John Morgan Mordecai Jones. Koniste travelled the world with his master, including to Kenya where Jones owned 100,000 acres of land.

When they returned to Athboy, people mistakenly believed Koniste had wrestled a lion while in Kenya.

“The poachers in Athboy were terrified of him as a result of this legend and Koniste never dispelled the myth,” Mr Gilroy said.

“A year before he was killed he came across five poachers on the estate and took them on. They beat him several times but he kept coming back at them.”

Four days before Koniste was murdered, Jones died of malaria. “Koniste was left temporarily in charge, but a row ensued between him and the gardener Peter Farrell Sr who threatened to kill Koniste. Therefore, after his death the RIC arrested Peter and his three sons who were in their 20s. They weren’t charged and the locals always maintained his killers were poachers.”

Mr Gilroy pursued the poachers line and was able to get it corroborated that the killer was Jack Connell, 41, who lived in the nearby village of Kildalkey.

“He lived with his mother and was an agricultural labourer known for poaching rabbits. He killed the Japanese man in a blind panic,” Mr Gilroy said.

The man who confirmed the identity of the killer is a grandson of another poacher who was with Connell on the night. “I gave him my word that I wouldn’t publish the name of this man,” Mr Gilroy added.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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