From the Belfast Commercial Chronicle Dublin 2 May, 1816:
“On Tuesday evening, two young men of the names of John Goold and Michael White, had a regular pitched battle in the field near the Military Road, which terminated, after two-and-twenty rounds, by blow given by the latter to the stomach of the former, which put an end to the battle, and the life of Goold together.
These young men were the sons of two housekeepers of the Four Courts, Goold’s mother having the care of the Court of Common Pleas (today’s Court 2) and the mother of White that of the Court of Exchequer (today’s Court 3). They had been, until lately, in strict habits of intimacy; this, however, was stopped, by some misunderstanding, which caused a good deal of bad blood to exist between them; so much so, that they never met without having a good deal of altercation, which often proceeded to blows.
At length Goold wrote a challenge to white, which was accepted, and the time and place agreed upon. They met in the Military Road, and chose their ground in an adjoining field, each combatant being attended by some of his own friends. After a closely contested engagement of about 29 minutes, Goold received the fatal blow as above stated.
He was carried down to the river, and plentifully sprinkled with cold water, but all efforts proving ineffectual to recover him a car was sent for, and he was conveyed to his lodgings in Liffey Street, where he expired in half an hour after his arrival.
White was taken into custody by order of the Magistrate of Mountrath Street office and yesterday Alderman Fleming attended at the lodgings of the deceased for the purpose of holding an inquest on the body when, after the Jury had been sworn, and had viewed the body, it was found necessary to adjourn to nine o’clock this day for want of a surgeon who could prove by what probable cause the deceased came by his death.
The deceased was about 21 years of age and did business as a writing clerk to an Attorney.
The other is a boy, apparently between 17 and 18, and is an apprentice to a whitesmith, in Church Street.”
The Military Road referred to was up by the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Many fist-fights took place in Bully’s Acre beside the Hospital over the years and many of the losing parties still lie in its graveyard.
Goold and White would have been two of that strange band of housekeepers’ children haunting the subterranean vaults below the Round Hall. I wonder if poor young Mr Goold’s challenge to White was inspired by the tendency of legal professionals at the time to issue challenges to arms in response to any personal grievance?
Though legal duels tended to be with pistols and mercifully be over sooner.
Twenty two rounds!