Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Travel Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

BRIDGET CLEARY

Murdered in 1895 IN BALLYVADLEA

Just another little murder?

Below are links short film I made about the murder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ukBWj813Ao

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlXhN3fGBL4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxAZQFxEOPU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfR6euumhds

In her book The Burning of Bridget Cleary Angela Bourke leaves no stone unturned as she recreates the chilling assault on Bridget in March 1995 in Ballyvadlea, Tipperary.

In 2007 I made my second visit to the cottage in which 26-year-old Bridget was knocked to the floor in her kitchen by her husband Michael and set alight with paraffin oil. Yet no matter how much I marvel at Bourke’s scholarship and compassion, I remain unconvinced that Cleary was a victim of fairylore.

Bridget, claimed her husband, ‘was away with the fairies’ and the concoction of milk and herbs given to him by Dinny Gahan (Ganey) was for the sole purpose of expunging those fairies. All had gone horribly wrong when Bridget refused to swallow a piece of bread. In an instant, with her father, her aunt and her cousins only metres away Bridget Cleary was attacked and set alight.

The outhouse where Bridget's body was laid out for the inquest.

As James Ramage had done to his estranged wife in Melbourne Australia in 2003, Michael Cleary not only killed his wife, he buried her in a dirt grave. Deep beneath Cleary’s words and actions lay the same pathology that droveRamage and the man who stabbed my 25-year-old sister to death in 1987.

In every courtroom a woman killed by an estranged partner is said to have been 'away with the fairies’. Recalcitrant, infuriatingly provocative and unfaithful; this is the narrative that courts entertain about these women. So whilst there were men – John Dunne and the ‘herb doctor’ Dinny Gahan - who might have genuinely believed Bridget was away with the fairies - was her menacing husband talking the same language as them?

And even if the fairy lore men were acting with good, if ill informed intent, is it unreasonable to think that 'being away with the fairies' was a myth fashioned to deal with recalcitrant women? Just as witches were burned at the stake so too was Bridget Cleary struck down by patriarchal orthodoxy. Was she having an affair with the ‘emergency’ man, Willie Simpson? Was her illness the consequence of the miscarriage of a child fathered by another man? Was Michael Cleary engaging in an act of revenge for her recalcitrance when all went awry? Was he engaged in an act of poisoning, which Bridget grasped and resisted that night?

Paddy Power tells his story about Bridget Cleary

 

On a mild December day in 2007 70-year-old Patrick Power mesmerised Limerick Councillor John Gallahue and your correspondent as he recounted the stories he’d heard. In a picturesque thatched cottage up the road from the Cleary house he walked us through the murder. His grandmother, he said, had come across the limping John Dunne as she returned from Drangan Church on Saturday 17 March, the morning after the killing. In Power's home it was said Cleary might well have been poisoning his wife and that she had indeed suffered a miscarriage.

Dunne, who physically restrained Bridget the night before she was killed, played a major role in the fairy myth. He had walked with Cleary to Drangan Church on the morning after the killing and told Father Ryan what had happened. At the trial the priest would not devulge what Dunne had said. Paddy Power believes the priest did however tell the police what he'd heard in confession.

Although Dunne wasn’t at the house on the night of the killing he was sent to gaol. He lies with his mother Ellen in Cloneen graveyard. So too do the Gahans. Dinny Gahan, who created the herb concoction, was charged but released before the trial.

John Dunne's grave. Buried with his mother Ellen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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