The Castlerock Poisoning Sensation
Speaker Geoff Warke, Chair Coleraine Historical Society
Tuesday 15th June 2021 7.30pm
A very well attended Zoom meeting. Geoff`s story told of a dramatic incident, described in many newspapers as a `sensation`, that gripped the small village of Castlerock in 1892.
Seeking to purchase an ingredient for a summer cordial, the local Presbyterian minister Rev Dr William Irwin and his family were poisoned when James Mullan, the local grocer and druggist, mistakenly put poison into the packet. Although the Rev Irwin`s family all recovered, the housekeeper at the Manse having also ingested the poison, sadly lost her new born child.
While James Mullan always enjoyed a good relationship with Rev Irwin, it was his misfortune to have fallen out with both the local constabulary and Dr James Steel, the District Medical Officer and those factors were to play a role in James Mullan`s eventual prosecution on a charge of manslaughter. While Geoff will outline the circumstances around the poisoning, the story is very much about the tensions and relationships between these parties and also some of the social attitudes, which although we might look on as unfair today, prevailed at the time.