“I was there on a November day. I was one of a troop to protect the law officers, who had come from the agent in Dublin to make an eviction a few miles from Inniscarra, where the river Bride joins the Lee. It was a miserable day – rain freezing into sleet as it fell – and the men beat down wretched dwelling after wretched dwelling, some thirty or forty perhaps. They did not take much beating down; there was no flooring to take up; the walls were more mud than aught else; and there was but little trouble in the levelling of them to the ground.

We had got our work about three parts done, when out of one of them a women ran, and flung herself on the ground, wet as it was, before the Captain of the troop, and she asked that her house might be spared – not for long, but for a little while. She said her husband had been born in it; he was ill of the fever, but could not live long, and she asked that he might be permitted to die in it in peace. Our Captain had no power; the law agent from Dublin wanted to get back to Dublin, his time was of importance and he would not wait; and that man was carried out while we were there – in front of us, while the sleet was coming down – carried out on a wretched thing (you could not call it a bed), and he died there while we were there; and three nights afterwards, while I was sentry on the front gate at Ballincollig Barracks, we heard a cry, and when the guard was turned out, we found this poor women there a raving maniac, with one dead babe in one arm, and another clinging to the cold nipple of her lifeless breast. If you had been brothers to such a woman, sons of such a woman, fathers of such a woman, would not rebellion have seemed the holiest gospel you could hear preached?”

Charles Bradlaugh, aged 18 and serving with the 7th Dragoon Guards in Ireland