The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story

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9780141002026: The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story

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.

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Review:

In March 1895, Bridget Cleary became ill. Her husband, Michael, and a number of neighbors and relatives became convinced that she was a fairy changeling and tortured her to death. This grisly true story forms the basis of Angela Bourke's outstanding narrative The Burning of Bridget Cleary, in which the whole context of this "crime" and its punishment is sparely and powerfully laid out. Bourke's style, judgment, and eye for detail are superb. There are scenes in this book of appalling vividness--in particular, the chapters concerned with poor Bridget's end. The closed room, the men yelling questions at her, trying to force her to eat herbs boiled in milk (if she could eat them, then she might be the real Bridget and not the changeling), manhandling her; "lifting her body and winding it backwards and forwards, yelling, 'away with you; come home, Bridget, in the name of God!' while slapping her." On March 14, they held her over the fire to drive the spirits out, and on March 15, Bridget's husband set fire to her nightgown, throwing lamp oil on her to make the fire burn more fiercely. "She's not my wife," he told the assembled people. "You'll soon see her go up the chimney."

This is a chilling story, one that stays with you, creepily, long after you have finished reading. Like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, it seems to open itself to a wide variety of interpretation, and Bourke's balancing of old-world superstitious Ireland against the new rational nation about to be born is expert. These events may be a hundred years old, but they come over as frighteningly contemporary. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Angela Bourke is senior lecturer in Irish at University College, Dublin. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard University and the University of Minnesota and writes, lectures, and broadcasts on Irish oral tradition and literature.

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reissue. 196 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780141002026

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reissue. 196 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780141002026

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Book Description Penguin Books. Paperback / softback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story, Angela Bourke, 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. Bookseller Inventory # B9780141002026

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