The Cork Examiner, 1 May 1846
CORONER'S INQUEST—INHUMAN CONDUCT
A SWEEP ROASTED ALIVE
An inquest was held on Sunday, at Barrington's Hospital, on the body of Michael O'Brien, a chimney sweep aged eight years, who was burned to death in the flue of a chimney in Patrick-street, on Saturday evening, which he was forced to descend by his master, Michael Sullivan, although the chimney had been on fire since early in the afternoon. The body of the unfortunate creature presented an awful appearance, being literally roasted and mangled. We subjoin the evidence of the witnesses which will speak for itself—
Thomas Costelloe, of Garryowen, labourer, deposed that he was in Mr. Mathew Ryan's house, in Patrick-street, on Saturday evening, where he saw two sweeps, Michael Sullivan (master) and Michael O'Brien (apprentice) aged eight years ; was present when Sullivan compelled the climbing boy to ascend the chimney ; shortly after being sent up, the boy cried out, he was burning, and Sullivan called him down ; Sullivan then brought the boy up to the top of the house, and directed him to go down through the chimney, which he did ; in about two hours after, witness saw Michael O'Brien taken out of the chimney dead ; deceased had objected to go down the chimney, upon which Sullivan seized him by the arms and forced him up stairs ; heard Mr. Ryan desire Sullivan not to send the boy up the chimney if there was any danger.
Catherine Ryan, servant in the house, sworn—I heard Sullivan desire the little boy go up Mr. Ryan's chimney for the purpose of cleaning it ; in about 15 minutes after I heard the boy cry in the flue, and say he was burning ; he then came down the chimney, and Sullivan caught hold of him by the leg, and pulled him into the grate of the fire-place ; he beat the boy with a leather belt so severely, that the little fellow threw himself on his knees, and said I will go to the top of the house, and come down through the chimney ; I saw Sullivan seize him by the arm, and carry him up stairs to the top of the house ; the boy was subsequently taken out of the chimney dead.
The jury returned the following verdict—“Michael O'Brien came to his death from the effects of heat and suffocation, in consequence of having been forced to descend a chimney in Mr. Ryan's house, Patrick-street by Michael Sullivan.”
The monster who was the cause of the boy's death has absconded. —Limerick Chronicle.
Submitted by dja