Part of our 2021 Samhain Superstitions Series
The infamous story of the murder of Brigid Cleary became well known as the last witch burning of the nineteenth century. The world turned it’s gaze at Ireland in 1895, when Michael Cleary was found guilty of manslaughter after burning his own wife to death. The only reason he wasnt charged with murder was because the court found he truely believed he was killing a changling. Superstitions about changelings were strong, so strong in fact that Michael had his father in law, and his brothers in law convinced that the woman in front of them was not the real Brigid.
A changeling was an unwanted faerie, and one that was swapped with the person in question. They were taken far away and underhill to be with the fae, while the unwanted faerie (often a child) was left behind and transformed it’s image to that of the stolled person or child.
This episode is an attempt to gain an insight into how those superstitions must have festered and driven a man to the point of murdering his own wife. We will talk about this episode and the following one on the Banshee, on Sunday the 31st in our special post show chats with Anthony Murphy of Mythical Irealnd.
Story by Aron and Sorcha Hegarty
Music and composition by Oisin Ryan
Produced by Oisín Ryan
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Further sources for this historic story can be found: