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The Murder of Bridget Cleary


On March 15, 1895, thirty-five-year-old Michael Cleary murdered his wife, twenty-six-year-old Bridget Cleary in their home in Ballyvadlea, County Tipperary. While terrible, the murder was just the last act in a series of bizarre atrocities committed against Bridget, whom her husband would later claim had been taken by malevolent fairy folk and replaced with a changeling.

More shocking, however, was that the barbaric act hadn’t been committed by one man alone, but by a group of rural men, including family. 

Was Bridget Cleary really murdered out of fear of fairies? Or had Michael Cleary just convinced himself of as much in order to commit murder?


Bourke, Angela. 1999. The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story. London, UK: Pimlico.

Freeman's Journal. 1895. "Strange death near Clonmel." Freeman's Journal, March 25.

Irish Times. 1999. "Burning Bridget." Irish Times, August 7: B24.

n.a. 1917. The Tipperary Witch Case. Toronto, ON: McGill University.

New York Times. 1895. "A with burner sentenced." New York Times, July 6: 5.

—. 1895. "Not witches, but fairies." New York Times, April 22: 4.

Ruxton, Dean. 2016. "The story of the last 'witch' bruned alive in Ireland." Irish Times, November 24.

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