The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke

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In 1895, 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. Bridget's husband, father, aunt, and four cousins were arrested and tried for murder, creating one of the first mass media sensations in Ireland and England as people tried to make sense of what had happened. 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. Combining historical detective work, acute social analysis, and meticulous original scholarship, Angela Bourke investigates Bridget's murder.

About Angela Bourke

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Angela Bourke is Senior Lecturer in Irish at University College, Dublin, the National University of Ireland. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard University & the University of Minnesota, & writes, lectures, & broadcasts regularly on Irish oral tradition & literature.
Published July 1, 2001 by Penguin Books. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Bourke’s knowledge of English and Irish political history, her sympathetic understanding of Irish folklore, her meticulous descriptions of the life and ways of the landless poor, the authority of the Catholic church, the court’s procedures, and the workings of the prison system all make for an ex...

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Publishers Weekly

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Found guilty of manslaughter and sent to prison, Michael Cleary, upon his release in 1910, emigrated to Canada, but the legend of Bridget Cleary lives on in a Tipperary children's rhyme: ""Are you a witch or are you a fairy,/ Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?"" This thoughtful and disturbing...

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Entertainment Weekly

Fusing a true-crime saga with rich cultural history, Angela Bourke's The Burning of Bridget Cleary explores an 1895 murder in Ireland's County Tipperary.

Oct 06 2000 | Read Full Review of The Burning of Bridget Cleary

London Review of Books

Wexford and paid time-and-a-half – otherwise known as danger money – to complete the job.

Sep 21 2006 | Read Full Review of The Burning of Bridget Cleary

Project MUSE

Angela Bourke's meticulously researched account of the sensational and still-remembered burning of Bridget Cleary situates itself at precisely the point at which the institutions of the modern state—Poor Law guardians, doctors, police, and the Church—become inextricably entangled with local disco...

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