Such innocent words, often chanted by Irish children in nursery rhyme, only hint at the grisly but true story of the young Irish woman whose life was snuffed out on a bitterly cold day in March only a little over a century ago in Ireland. Bridget Cleary was a seamstress married to a cooper nine years her senior named Michael Cleary. Around the village she was known to be a polite, friendly, independent woman, well respected but little understood by her neighbors. The couple had no children after eight years of marriage, which was unusual in those days, and they lived in one of the finer cottages in town. One day in March of during the hardest winter so far on record, the year-old Bridget fell ill, and the events that followed are still shrouded in mystery and folklore.
Essay on the Burning of Bridget Cleary
Essay on the Burning of Bridget Cleary Free Essay Sample
This vivid account of a woman murdered by her husband and nine of his friends returns to Ireland to discover why the citizens of rural Tipperary believed innocent Bridget Cleary was in fact a demon. The torture and burning of Bridget Cleary caused a sensation in which continues to reverberate more than a hundred years later. The significance of the case, as the multi-layered text conveys, is the imbrication Johanna Burke saw the desecration of the Sacred Host because she was watching for Bridget's reaction, recognizing that the saying of the Mass would discern if the changeling was still in possession of Bridget's body.
In , Bridget Cleary, a strong-minded and independent young woman, disappeared from her house in rural Tipperary. At first her family claimed she had been taken by fairies-but then her badly burned body was found in a shallow grave. Meanwhile, Tory newspapers in Ireland and Britain seized on the scandal to discredit the cause of Home Rule, playing on lingering fears of a savage Irish peasantry.
This surely is a quality of which it is far safer to have too much than too little. The cases dealt with in this and the succeeding chapters are, so far as the public know, quite exceptional cases in Ireland. But the number of people more or less involved in two of them, and the apparent acquiescence of entire localities in some or all of the proceedings, raise them far above the category of ordinary crimes. These cases were hushed up and cloaked, or only partially reported, by the nationalist press of Ireland; and, furthermore, no public condemnation has issued in reference to them from either the pulpit, the press, or the platform—or from the oracle at Maynooth. That is not right.