Murder of Moll McCarthy

52°26′13″N 7°54′26″W / 52.4370067°N 7.9073011°W / 52.4370067; -7.9073011[1]

Murder of Moll McCarthy is located in Ireland
Murder of Moll McCarthy
Location of Marlhill (Cnocán an Mharla) in Ireland

Mary McCarthy, known as Moll Carthy (1902[2]–20/21 November 1940[3]), was a smallholder, prostitute, and murder victim from Marlhill, near New Inn, County Tipperary in Ireland. Henry "Harry" Gleeson (1903–23 April 1941[4]) from Holycross, County Tipperary,[4] was convicted of her murder and executed, but granted a posthumous pardon in 2015.[5][6]

Victim edit

Mary McCarthy or Carthy, known as Moll, was an unmarried mother who had seven children by at least six different fathers between 1921 and 1940.[2][4][7] She lived in a rundown cottage on a two-acre plot beside a farm belonging to John Ceasar, from whose well she drew water.[2] She lived by bartering sexual favours for produce and services.[8][9] Her scandalous lifestyle attracted opprobrium and the cottage's thatched roof was destroyed by arson in 1926.[4] Local judge Seán Troy refused two applications to have her children taken into an orphanage, persuaded that she was a good mother.[8]

Crime and sentence edit

Harry Gleeson was Ceasar's nephew by marriage and worked the farm for him.[4] On 21 November 1940, Gleeson reported finding McCarthy's body, with two gunshot wounds to the face, in the "Dug-Out Field" of his uncle's farm.[4] The Garda Síochána arrested Gleeson on 30 November, claiming he was the father of McCarthy's youngest child, who had recently died in infancy, and that he feared his uncle would disinherit him if he found this out.[4][10] Gleeson denied any "immoral association" with McCarthy or "hand, act or part" in her murder.[4] He was tried at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, found guilty on 27 February 1941,[3] and sentenced to death.[11] Appeals to the Fianna Fáil government for clemency were rejected, and he was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint in Mountjoy Prison and buried in the prison yard.[4]

Pardon edit

Seán MacBride was junior counsel to James Nolan-Whelan in defending Gleeson, and later claimed his opposition to the death penalty was prompted by his certainty that Gleeson was innocent.[4] The Farcical Trial of Harry Gleeson, privately published by Gleeson's friend Bill O'Connor in the 1980s, maintained that Gleeson was framed. The book spurred historian and lawyer Marcus Bourke to write Murder at Marlhill, published in 1993, which offered evidence of Gleeson's innocence.[12] Cathal O'Shannon presented a documentary on RTÉ in 1995 based on Bourke's book. The Justice for Harry Gleeson Group was established locally to gather evidence and campaign, and it later contacted the Irish Innocence Project, the Innocence Network's Irish affiliate at Griffith College Dublin.[11][13] In 2013 the Irish Innocence Project sent its file to the Department of Justice and Equality.[11] Minister Alan Shatter sent it to Máire Whelan, the Attorney General, who got senior counsel Shane Murphy to review it.[11] Deficiencies in the case were noted:[11]

  • medical evidence suggested the death was probably on 21 November, when Gleeson had an alibi, whereas the prosecution exaggerated the likelihood that it was on 20 November
  • failure to call John Ceasar or his wife Brigid as witnesses
  • the Garda stage-managed a confrontation between Gleeson and two of the McCarthy children to reflect badly on him
  • failure to introduce the local shotgun register in evidence

Murphy reported that the conviction was based on "unconvincing circumstantial evidence" and recommended a pardon. On 1 April 2015, Shatter's successor as minister, Frances Fitzgerald, announced that the government would direct the President of Ireland to exercise his right to pardon under Article 13.6 of the Constitution of Ireland.[3] President Michael D. Higgins formally signed the pardon order on 19 December 2015.[5] This was presented to Gleeson's family at a ceremony on 13 January 2016.[5][14][15] Some family members complained that the document used "Harry" rather than "Henry" as Gleeson's forename.[6]

Theories edit

Kieran Fagan believed that Marcus Bourke knew who was responsible for McCarthy's murder and chose not to name the murderer in his 1993 book.[9] Fagan, in 2015, published The Framing of Harry Gleeson, which claimed McCarthy was murdered by local Irish Republican Army (IRA) members suspecting that she was an informant for the local Garda sergeant, Anthony Delaney. Fagan suggests Seán MacBride's past as IRA Chief of Staff prevented him following up this angle.[10] Other possible culprits mentioned by Brendan Ó Cathaoir in 2001 were the Gardaí or the father of the seventh child.[4] Fagan's book caused controversy by naming the alleged fathers of McCarthy's children, many of them married.[7][16][17] Of those, he alleges that one was involved in the murder and others knew that Gleeson was innocent, but were content to have the scandal of their relationship to the victim kept hidden.[17]

Other works edit

We Are Seven, a 1955 novel based on McCarthy's life, was written by Una Troy, daughter of the judge Seán Troy who had kept McCarthy's children with her.[18][19]

A 1958 film adaptation, She Didn't Say No, was banned by the Irish Film Censor for immorality.[20] Thanks to the European initiative A Season of Classic Films[21][22] of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE), the film has been digitised in early 2021 and made possible to release online with an introduction on the film’s preservation and history.[23]

Carlo Gébler's 2011 novel The Dead Eight is also based on the murder case.[8][16][24]

References edit

Sources edit

  • Bourke, Marcus (1993). Murder at Marlhill: Was Harry Gleeson Innocent?. Geography Publications. ISBN 9780906602232.
  • Fagan, Kieran (2015). The Framing of Harry Gleeson. Cork: Collins Press. ISBN 9781848892460.

Citations edit

  1. ^ Cross-referencing the Garda crime-scene map reproduced in Bourke 1993 with: "25-inch map of County Tipperary". Mapviewer. Ordnance Survey Ireland. 1 June 1906. Sheet 68–16. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Bourke 1993, pp.6–7
  3. ^ a b c "Minister Fitzgerald announces Government decision to grant a Posthumous Pardon to Harry Gleeson" (Press release). Department of Justice and Equality. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k O Cathaoir, Brendan (27 December 2001). "Gleeson case led to campaign for abolition of capital punishment". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "President grants State's first posthumous pardon to man hanged for murder almost 75 years ago". 19 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b Calnan, Denise (12 January 2016). "Family of man wrongfully executed by State deem it a 'disgrace' posthumous pardon 'bears wrong name'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b Clifford, Michael (18 April 2015). "Uproar as book on wrongly hanged man Harry Gleeson 'names names'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Fagan, Kieran (22 May 2011). "A murder, a hanged man -- and a plea of innocence from the grave -". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  9. ^ a b Fagan, Kieran (21 April 2015). "The Framing of Harry Gleeson author Kieran Fagan on how an innocent man was hanged". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b Fagan, Kieran (June 2015). "Seán MacBride would not take on IRA involvement in murder". Village Magazine. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Hanged Man". Prime Time. RTÉ News. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  12. ^ Nolan, William (2010). "Marcus Bourke 1927–2010". Tipperary Historical Journal. Tipperary Historical Society. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Irish Innocence Project Secures First Pardon". Griffith College Dublin. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Tim (19 December 2015). "Harry Gleeson granted pardon over 1941 murder". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  15. ^ "News in Brief". RTÉ News. 13 January 2016. Gleeson family receive posthumous pardon. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  16. ^ a b Clifford, Michael (18 April 2015). "Harry Gleeson a patsy for locals with a secret". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 39-year-old victim
  17. ^ a b "Anger as Harry Gleeson book names fathers of victim's illegitimate children". Irish Independent. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  18. ^ Fagan, Kieran (11 May 2015). "11 things you didn't know about the killing of Moll McCarthy". The Irish Post. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  19. ^ Troy, Una (1955). We are Seven. [A novel.] London: William Heinemann. OCLC 504617054.
  20. ^ Walsh, Ian R. (15 April 2012). "Experiments in Gender: Elizabeth Connor". Experimental Irish Theatre: After W.B. Yeats. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 77–78. ISBN 9780230300958. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  21. ^ Reizi, Paulina, ed. (2020). A Season of Classic Films: Programme Catalogue (PDF). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: ACE - Association des Cinémathèques Européennes.
  22. ^ "A Season of Classic Films". Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE). Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  23. ^ Reizi, Paulina (12 April 2021). "A Season of Classic Films: She Didn't Say No!". ACE - Association des Cinémathèques Européennes. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  24. ^ Gebler, Carlo (2011). Dead Eight. New Island. ISBN 978-184840-094-8.

External links edit