Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Justice for Harry Gleeson at last

We are proud to announce a late edition to the Saturday Lecture Programme - Sean Delaney & Kevin Gleeson from the JFHGG will be presenting on their campaign to clear the name of Harry Gleeson.

This is a free public lecture, hosted by the Silvermines Historical Society in conjunction with the Gleeson Clan Gathering, and will be followed by a book-signing event with Kieran Fagan, author of The Framing of Harry Gleeson. The event will be followed by an informal social evening where members of the Gleeson Clan Gathering can mingle with local people and share stories.

Justice for Harry Gleeson at last
Sean Delaney & Kevin Gleeson
Saturday 20th August, 8pm 
Scouts' Hall, Nenagh

Harry Gleeson was the first man to get a posthumous pardon in Ireland. He was hanged in 1941 for the murder of his neighbour Mary McCarthy. At the time, he was managing the farm of his uncle (John Caesar). The murdered woman, known locally as Moll Carthy, was infamous in south Tipperary. She and her six children (by different fathers) lived in a rundown cottage at Marlhill, near New Inn, and she got her water supply from a pump on her neighbour John Caesar’s farm. When Harry found her body lying in a field on a wintry November morning in 1940, the police charged him with her murder.

"Seán MacBride was junior counsel to James Nolan-Whelan in defending Harry Gleeson, and later claimed his opposition to the death penalty was prompted by his certainty that Gleeson was innocent. The Farcical Trial of Harry Gleeson, privately published by Gleeson's friend Bill O'Connor in the 1980s, maintained that Gleeson was framed. The book spurred historian and lawyer Marcus Bourke to write Murder at Marlhill, published in 1993, which offered evidence of Gleeson's innocence. Cathal O'Shannon presented a documentary on RTÉ in 1995 based on Bourke's book. The Justice for Harry Gleeson Group was established locally to gather evidence and campaign, and it later contacted the Irish Innocence Project, the Innocence Network's Irish affiliate at Griffith College Dublin. In 2013 the Irish Innocence Project sent its file to the Department of Justice and Equality. Minister Alan Shatter sent it to Máire Whelan, the Attorney General, who got senior counsel Shane Murphy to review it. Deficiencies in the case were noted:
  • medical evidence suggested the death was probably on 21 November, when Gleeson had an alibi, whereas the prosecution exaggerated the likelihood that it was on 20 November
  • failure to call John Ceasar or his wife Brigid as witnesses
  • the Garda stage-managed a confrontation between Gleeson and two of the McCarthy children to reflect badly on him
  • failure to introduce the local shotgun register in evidence

Murphy reported that the conviction was based on "unconvincing circumstantial evidence" and recommended a pardon. On 1 April 2015, Shatter's successor as minister, Frances Fitzgerald, announced that the government would direct the President of Ireland to exercise his right to pardon under Article 13.6 of the Constitution of Ireland. President Michael D. Higgins formally signed the pardon order on 19 December 2015. This was presented to Gleeson's family at a ceremony on 13 January 2016."
from Wikipedia

Sean Delaney, founder & Leader of the J.F.H.G.G

In 2012 Sean, a retired official with South Eastern Cattle Breeding Society decided he would do “something” to clear the name of Harry Gleeson. Sean’s mother, Norah Gleeson was Harry’s cousin and it was from her that Sean first heard the tragic story of Harry Gleeson as a young boy. As no concerted effort was ever made to do this Sean founded the J.F.H.G.G who’s names are as follows, Tom Gleeson (Harry’s nephew) and Kevin Gleeson (grand-nephew), Pat Fitzgerald who’s wife bears the Caesar name, Jack Caesar (grand-nephew of John Caesar Harry’s Uncle), Emma Timoney (grand-daughter of J.J. Timoney, Harry’s solicitor), Timmy and Ollie Delaney brothers of Sean and Sean’s wife Mary. The group relentlessly pursued its aim as expressed in its mission statement which in turn has it’s origins in Harry’s now famous last request to Sean MacBride his counsel only hours before his hanging – “I rely on you then to clear my name”. 

The discovery of the Irish Innocence Project by Mary Delaney was crucial and following a lengthy telephone conversation between Sean and David Langwallner of the Irish Innocence Project, Mr. Langwallner agreed to meet the group. The IIP thereafter were the legal representatives of the Group.

Sean says “I believe the fate that befell Harry Gleeson is arguably the greatest miscarriage of justice ever presided over by the Free State and how unfortunate that those who’s role it is to ensure a fair trial for all citizens conspired to deny that right to Harry. Evil prospered as the good remained silent and even the very pillars of the community lost their voice”. 

Kevin Gleeson, grand-nephew of Harry Gleeson and member of the J.F.H.G.G

Kevin Gleeson, a secondary school teacher who amazingly was born and raised in the very house and farm at Galbertstown, Holycross as was Harry. The Gleeson family still continue to reside and farm this land. 

Kevin’s first memories of Harry’s sad story date back to when he was 11 or 12 years of age. Although Kevin clearly remembers the story he also recalls that it was seldom spoken of such was the hurt, burden and tragedy of it all. When Kevin became aware of the formation of the JFHGG he was an immediate volunteer.

Kevin says “I always longed for the day when somebody somewhere might meaningfully take up the case for justice for Harry Gleeson. When my father Tom Gleeson (Harry’s nephew) informed me what Sean Delaney was doing my immediate reaction just like Dad was to put my shoulder to the wheel.”

This talk will be followed by a book-signing by Kieran Fagan, author of The Framing of Harry Gleeson. This is a compelling account of how and why he was framed and who the guilty parties were.

"Where do the ideas for books come from? This one started in Dún Laoghaire on a summer afternoon in 2009. I was early for an X-ray in St Michael’s hospital, and I was killing time in a second-hand bookshop. Some words on the back of a slim paperback caught my eye.

“I rely on you then to clear my name. I have no confession to make only that I didn’t do it. That is all. I will pray for you and be with if I can whenever you [his defence lawyers] are fighting and battling for justice.”

The speaker was Harry Gleeson, talking to his counsel Seán MacBride on Tuesday, April 22nd, 1941, the day before he was hanged for the murder of his neighbour Moll Carthy.


Fairly soon I knew who had murdered Moll. And I had a good idea why. But how they got away with it, that was the mystery. That goes back to the state of the nation barely 20 years after independence: untrained and poorly-led gardaí; the presence of respected former IRA members in every community – people who could and would take the law into their own hands when the official channels failed to work, as they clearly had when Moll was allowed to practice the oldest profession with impunity."
Kieran Fagan, Irish Times, Tuesday April 21st, 2015


  1. I don't see what having multiple children by different fathers has anything to do with the case other than to cast an unfair slur on McCarthy. History has recorded that she bartered her living in exchange for sexual services - not an uncommon practice in those times - and have just assumed as per your insinuation that she was a promiscuous woman. But bear in mind that in those times, rape was also a commonplace occurrence and it often happened that the victims were shunned and left to fend for themselves as it was considered "their fault" - especially if it was then assumed that the victim was a prostitute - that the assault occurred. This may have led to her method of living. Personally, I find that the recorded judgments on more than one occasion by a court of law in her favour of keeping her children when people in the village wanted her children to be placed in an orphanage a good weight to her character. Do not forget that life in Ireland was very cruel and that Molly McCarthy was a victim too.

    1. Molly was indeed a victim and paid with her life. That fact needs to be borne in mind too. And you are very correct to point out that the courts ruled in her favour re keeping her children. If she had been born today rather than back then, society would probably have treated her and her children very differently.