The Begorrathon 2015: My Favourite Irish Murders

I’ve always had an interest in the macabre and the under belly of society; there’s something appealing about it that draws me in and fascinates me. All the “bad” things we do. The morals that are broken and the horrors we commit against each other. There’s nothing like a bit of murder to get the heart pounding and the adrenalin racing, especially when viewed from a safe distance. Here are five Irish Murders that have piqued my interest over the years. Enjoy!

The Colleen Bawn: In the Autumn of 1819, at Moneypoint, Kilrush, were found the remains of Ellen Hanley. The victim, now known to story, drama and opera as the Colleen Bawn, was not quite sixteen years of age. Her body was washed ashore there six weeks after her marriage. She had been murdered at the insistence of her husband, John Scanlan, of Ballykehan House, near Bruff County Limerick. Full story here.

The Scissors Sisters: Linda and Charlotte Mulhall are sisters from Dublin, known for having killed and dismembered Farah Swaleh Noor, in March 2005. Noor was killed with a Stanley knife wielded by Charlotte and struck with a hammer by Linda following a confrontation with the sisters and their mother, Kathleen Mulhall, whom he was dating. His head and penis were sliced off and the rest of his corpse dismembered by the women and dumped in Dublin’s Royal Canal where a piece of leg still wearing a sock was spotted floating near Croke Park ten days later. Full story here. I lived in the area when this happened and I remember it very well. In typical Dublin/Irish sense of humour (or perhaps lack thereof), there is now a hairdressers on the street where the murder occurred called The Scissors Sisters Salon.

The Boy in the Attic: On a bright sunny June afternoon a seven year old only child was left in the care of a teenage neighbour. No one knew, or would even have dreamed of suspecting, that that the older boy was a Satanist. The two went out to the fields to look for rabbits. The seven year old was never seen alive again. Full story here. The Boy in the Attic by David Malone.

The Kerry Babies: A young woman gave birth late on the night of April 12th, 1984, in what later became controversial circumstances, to a son who did not survive. Some 75 kilometres away, at the other side of the county, the body of a baby, who had died from stab wounds to the heart, was washed up in the White Strand,  on April 14th, 1984. The fallout of theses two babies’ deaths would lead to a judicial tribunal, revealing an Ireland largely unrecognisable today. Full story here.

Mary Cole and the Drowned Sisters: Mary Cole, a servant girl from Co. Laois, was convicted of not one but two murders in 1928 when she was just fifteen years of age. Her victims: two children that were in her care as part of her daily tasks for the Flynns, a pair of school teachers who ran the local primary school. At the end of summer 1927, two year old Philomena was found drowned in a stony river that ran close to the Flynn’s house. This was ruled as an accident by the coroner, as there was no cause for suspicion at the time. A few weeks later Maureen, Philomena’s older sister, drowned in frighteningly similar circumstances. Surprisingly, this was classed as another unfortunate accident, despite there being evidence of blunt trauma to Maureen’s head. With two less children, the Flynns did not need two servants, and Mary Cole was relieved of her duties at their household. However, the gardai were not convinced of two similar occurrences being accidents and began an investigation, leading them to question Mary. Given that she was one of the last people to be seen with either of the deceased Flynn children, the gardai believed she had a hand in their deaths and she was arrested on 1st December 1927.  In March 1928 she stood trial and the case shook the country; a minor was charged with the murder to two children, who she was meant to be caring for. Mary Cole was convicted of murder, her young age spared her from the death penalty; instead she was sentenced to life imprisonment. For more visit www.nationalarchives.ie or see The Cruelest Cut by Anthony Galvin.

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