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  • Published: 1 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446412329
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

The Burning Of Bridget Cleary

A True Story




The torture and burning of Bridget Cleary caused a sensation in 1895 which continues to reverberate more than a hundred years later.

In 1895 twenty-six-year-old Bridget Cleary disappeared from her house in rural Tipperary. At first, some said that the fairies had taken her into their stronghold in a nearby hill, from where she would emerge, riding a white horse. But then her badly burned body was found in a shallow grave. Her husband, father, aunt and four cousins were arrested and charged, while newspapers in nearby Clonmel, and then in Dublin, Cork, London and further afield attempted to make sense of what had happened.
In this lurid and fascinating episode, set in the last decade of the nineteenth century, we witness the collision of town and country, of storytelling and science, of old and new. The torture and burning of Bridget Cleary caused a sensation in 1895 which continues to reverberate more than a hundred years later.

  • Published: 1 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446412329
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the author

Angela Bourke

Angela Bourke is the author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story (winner of several awards, including the Irish Times Literature Prize for Irish Non-Fiction), Maeve Brennan and By Salt Water. Born in Dublin, where she still lives, she spent long periods in the USA, and has held visiting academic positions at Harvard University, Boston College and the University of Minnesota. A leading scholar in interdisciplinary Irish Studies, Angela Bourke writes in Irish and English, and makes frequent appearances on television and radio. She is Senior Lecturer in Irish at University College Dublin, The National University of Ireland, Dublin.

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Praise for The Burning Of Bridget Cleary

'The story of the killing of Bridget Cleary is so brilliantly researched and narrated that it becomes a parable of the cultural and political relationship between Ireland and Britain at the end of the last century. A modern world of newspapers, courts and railways, and an old world of folklore and fairy-belief tradition are brought together with such force that we can feel the antagonisms and the incomprehensions of the 1890s still reverberant within our own disputes about modernity and colonialism, cultural memory and patriarchal assumptions, high politics and the world of the people. It is a classic account.'

Seamus Deane

'From the feathers on her hat, to Dotey the cat who climbed on her shoulders, to her pitiable last words as her husband closed in for the kill - every detail of Bridget Cleary's world and life is re-presented here with passionate empathy, disciplined by a wealth of scholarship and enlivened by subtle intelligence. A wonderful, wonderful book.'

Nuala O'Faolain

The story of Bridget Cleary's death is a parable for a changing world, a well-researched and horrifying account of what could happen in the region where myth and modernity collide...As dramatic a murder mystery as any devotee of the genre could long for...And it is the rich abundance of ideas that makes this a uniquely important historical work

Irish News

'A sad but spellbinding story, told with artistic tact and a humane concern for all caught up in the terrible event. The Burning of Bridget Cleary draws on oral tradition, reportage, popular culture and high literature to show how the past may persist in the present. Angela Bourke writes with an interpretative audacity which is tempered only by sound scholarly scruple. The century-old tale becomes in her telling as troubling and mysterious as the news of the last half-hour.'

Declan Kiberd

Much of her material is startlingly raw, and the narrative retains its horrible fascination

Times Literary Supplement

Angela Bourke's fascinating, disturbing and powerful book tells a compelling and tragic story

Financial Times

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