Murder On The Port Road! 1916
On the 13th October 1916, the town of Letterkenny awoke to hear of the sudden and bloody murder of Patrick Anderson, a well-known pork butcher and egg merchant on the Port Road, who was shot and killed outside his business by a dentist, William H. Boland.
Patrick (or Paddy) Anderson was 47 years old and had his store at the top of the Port Road (approximately where the Golden Grill is today) next to his home where he lived with his brother William and sister Hannah. Boland, a 28-year-old dentist originally from Birmingham, lived just across the road from Anderson’s store with his wife.
The night before, Boland had been at a wedding in a neighbour’s house and after being up all night, he was reported to “have had some drink taken, but he was not drunk”. It is believed that other people at the wedding were joking with him that his wife was ‘doing a line’ with Anderson – although these claims appear to be unfounded.
At around 9.30am on that fateful morning, Anderson was outside his store cleaning a butter auger when Boland walked across to the store and entered. Witnesses saw him turn around almost immediately though and approach Anderson. He slowly reached into his pocket, removed a revolver and shot Anderson in the side of the head from about five feet away. Anderson fell immediately, bleeding profusely from the ear while Boland put the gun back in his pocket and calmly walked away, his wife running to him and escorting him back to their home.
Dr. J.P. McGinley, who also lived just across the road, heard the shot, looked out of his window and saw Anderson lying in a pool of blood. He immediately ran to his aid and tended to him but he died within a few minutes. Sergeant John Grattan immediately went to Boland’s house and charged him with the willful murder of Patrick Anderson and later discovered the revolver with five undischarged cartridges hidden in a saucepan in the back yard.
Following a large funeral attended by many local people saddened and sympathetic to the well-known and popular family, Patrick Anderson was buried in nearby Gortlee cemetery. At the trial a few weeks later in Letterkenny Courthouse, William H. Boland pleaded guilty to the murder and received five years penal servitude. However, he was presented instead with the choice of enlisting in the army to serve on the Western Front, an option that he grasped, but where, it is said, he met his own demise.