Shatter orders case review 73 years after man hanged
THE first in memoriam notice for the unmarried mother of six whose murder in 1940 is still the cause of controversy in Co Tipperary appeared last week.
The notice in the Irish Independent was placed by family and friends of Harry Gleeson, whose conviction for murder and hanging is currently being reviewed by a senior counsel on behalf of Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has ordered a review of the case.
Bernadette Gorman, whose father Billy was a close friend of Harry Gleeson, believes along with others that there was a conspiracy involving the State, gardai and the IRA men whom, she believes, murdered Mary 'Moll' McCarthy in November 1943.
Until last week the anniversary of Ms McCarthy's murder had gone unmarked, though her death and the execution of Harry Gleeson has been the cause of frequent revisiting. Ms Gorman hopes the death notice will spark wider interest in the case and come to the notice of the remaining children or grandchildren of Ms McCarthy.
Her children would need to give "locus standi" consent for any re-examination of the case by the courts.
Ms McCarthy was killed in November 1940 when she was shot in the face with a shotgun. No image of her alive has been found. She reputedly had six children by six different local men and raised her family with money paid by the fathers of her children, according to local legend.
Ms Gorman, among others, believes that she was murdered by the father of her last child – who died in infancy – to cover up the parenthood.
The State case was that Harry Gleeson made Ms McCarthy pregnant then killed her because she threatened to expose his paternity. It was argued that Gleeson's aunt and uncle, whose farm he hoped to inherit, would remove him from their will.
Ms Gorman said her father was in business with Harry Gleeson and at the time Ms McCarthy became pregnant, her father and Gleeson were working "day and night" with each other at their harvesting business. They had invested in modern threshing and binding machinery and were extremely busy at the time, she said. Mr Gleeson's aunt and uncle's farm, where he was living, was beside the cottage where Ms McCarthy lived. Mr Gleeson found her body but denied her murder right up to the moment of his execution.
Her father was not called as a witness and was present in court when the death sentence was handed down.
"That lived with him for the rest of his life," she said.
She also said that her father described Sean MacBride, defence counsel for Mr Gleeson as "a Judas".
Mr MacBride was chief of staff of the IRA until 1936 and suspicions remain that he failed to mount an adequate defence in order to protect the local IRA unit who, some believe, murdered McCarthy.
Suspicions remain that Ms McCarthy had been made pregnant by a leading IRA man and that he and three others murdered her to cover up his parternity.
Ms McCarthy, who was said to have made no secret of having had her children all by different fathers, was the subject of vilification and was reputedly denounced by a local priest as the "Devil's disciple".
Following petitioning by people who believe there was a conspiracy and miscarriage of justice, Mr Shatter ordered that the case be reviewed by senior counsel with the prospect of the case being returned to the courts for review.
The murder at Marlhill, New Inn, Tipperary, was the subject of the book Thou Shalt not Kill by the RTE journalist Cathal O'Shannon in 1995.
O'Shannon believed there had been a conspiracy and miscarriage of justice.
A group of academics and interested parties have continued campaigning for the re-opening of the case and appealed to Mr Shatter last year, leading to the review of the case.