Queer Places:
Clonmel House, 17 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin's, Dublin, D02 W963, Ireland
Abercorn Churchyard Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland

Gustavus Charles Cornwall (1822-1903) was the Secretary of the General Post Office (GPO). He lived at 17 Harcourt Street and was involved in the Dublin Castle scandal. He married Elizabeth Grace Dalyell (1829-1913), daughter of Sir William Cunningham Dalyell, 7th Bt., and Maria Sampayo.

Tim Healy (Irish Nationalist MP) accused two high-ranking British establishment figures, of being homosexual in the United Irishman newspaper edited by William O’Brien MP. They were: James Ellis French, Detective Director of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and County Inspector for Cork and Gustavus Charles Cornwall.

Both men had little choice but to sue the newspaper to uphold their reputations. French backed off as there was multiple evidence of his sexual relationships with young police officers. He retired from the RIC on the grounds of being medically unfit. Cornwall, who was known by the nickname ‘the Duchess’, pressed on with his libel action and it went to court on 2 July 1884.

O’Brien’s solicitors and his private detective managed to convince three men to give evidence against Cornwall. They were: Malcolm Johnston, known as ‘Conny’ or ‘Connie Clyde’ or ‘Connie Taylor’. A Trinity-educated student of ‘private means’ whose father ran a bakery business in Ballsbridge which later became ‘Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien’. Alfred McKiernan/McKernan, from Pembroke Road, who was employed as a clerk in the Munster Bank for 16 years. George Taylor, known as the ‘Maid of Athens’. A former Royal College Surgeons medical student who was employed as a clerk in the British and Irish Steam Packet Company for four years. Another ‘Dublin Castle’ figure who was accused of being homosexual in court was: Captain Martin Oranmore Kirwan of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, (aka ‘Lizzie’).

Cornwall denied all the allegations. The trial lasted five days but the jury took only an hour to find Cornwall guilty. He was charged with buggery and with conspiracy to corrupt young men. It was revealed in court that liaisons and meetings took place between the various characters in the many locations around Dublin – the hothouses at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin; at a ‘musical party’ in a house on Raglan Road; the back seats of the Queen’s Theatre and the Gaiety Theatre; the urinal behind the Moore statue; laneways off Brunswick Street and Cornwall’s home. A lot of other activity happened in three brothels ran by three middle-aged men who were convicted in the August 1884 trial.


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