independent

Friday 31 October 2014

Lincoln's avenger

LINCOLN, THIS YEAR'S BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE ABOUT THE ASSASSINATED AMERICAN PRESIDENT, IS SET TO HIT CINEMA SCREENS NEXT WEEK AND WILL REKINDLE INTEREST IN THE SLIGOMAN WHO TRACKED DOWN AND KILLED LINCOLN'S ASSASSIN, JOHN WILKES BOOTH. PAUL DEERING REPORTS

Published 15/01/2013 | 10:57

YOU WON'T find many references if any at all to Captain Edward P. Doherty in Sligo tourism literature.

He was the US soldier who tracked down and killed the man who shot President Abraham Lincoln in April 1865.

In the year of The Gathering it would seem appropriate that Sligo would celebrate the connection.

However, the Doherty family grave in the old part of Sligo cemetery is run down and few visitors know it is even there.

The inscription ' The Brave Avenger of President Lincoln' is barely visible on the headstone.

Indeed, it takes a little rub of a wet cloth to make it visible.

Borough Council graveyard employee, Brian Scanlon, says the cemetery attracts many US tourists.

"They don't ask about the Lincoln connection.

"They call in, mainly during the summer enquiring about their ancestors.

"I show them around and I often bring them to the Doherty grave and they're delighted.

"They don't expect to see such a strong connection in Sligo in the West of Ireland to Lincoln."

Brian is an authority on the graveyard, knowing exactly who is buried where and more importantly, the family history.

He explains that the Doherty family hailed from Castle Street in Sligo.

The Dohertys were ironmongers and were all buried in the Old Cemetery.

Their son, Edward, was born in 1840 and enrolled in the Union army at the age of 21 in April 1861.

Another son, Henry, made the rank of Colonel.

Edward led the 16th New York Cavalry in the chase of confederate John Wilkes Booth following his murder of President Lincoln, who died on April 15th 1865 the day after being shot in a theatre.

The headstone in the Old Cemetery was erected in "fond remembrance" of the two men in 1887 and other family members who are buried there.

Brian says a General Kavanagh had travelled to Sligo and wanted to commemorate Captain Doherty.

He sought and got permission from the Doherty family to have the reference to Lincoln's Avenger put on the headstone.

"Captain Doherty is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington but General Kavanagh wished to have him remembered in his hometown.

"The General wanted to acknowledge the role played by Captain Doherty in the death of John Wilkes Booth and travelled to Sligo to ensure this happened," says Brian.

The full inscription on the Doherty grave reads:

"In the beloved memory of Elizabeth Crawford Gribbin, first love and wife of Henry Doherty Esq and their son Joseph and his sons Michael, Colonel Henry J. Doherty and Captain Edward P. Doherty The Brave Avenger of President Lincoln and their youngest daughter Catherine Teresa and to the memory of their eldest daughter Mary Anne Doherty who in fond remembrance has erected this monument in the year 1887."

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