Mr Harry Gleeson was executed for the murder of Miss Mary (Foxy Moll) McCarthy, latter who was found shot dead in Tipperary on November 21st 1940, by the then British hangman Albert Pierrepoint (1905 – 1992) in Mountjoy jail in April 1941. Pierrepoint executed at least 433 men and 17 women during his time as a hangman.
According to a fictional novel, The Dead Eight by Carlo Gebler, Moll McCarthy’s story truly begins with her mother, who was reportedly a woman of ‘ill repute,’ and who sold sex to improve her impoverished lifestyle during a sojourn in Dublin city. Moll, her daughter, lived in a children’s home here in Thurles Co Tipperary for the first sixteen years of life and was never acquainted with her actual father. Carlo Gebler paints Moll, like her mother, as somewhat of a promiscuous woman, even by the then standards of her time, having had numerous relationships with local men, both married and unmarried and also used these encounters to gain basic economic support, e.g. Unexplained Loads of Turf, Bags of Spuds, Groceries paid for at local shop etc..
Minister for Justice Mrs Frances Fitzgerald is due to bring a memo to Cabinet in the coming weeks recommending that Irish President Michael D Higgins now pardon Mr Gleeson.
Senior Counsel Shane Murphy has since reviewed the case on behalf of the Department of Justice; based on new submitted and compelling evidence from the Irish Innocence Project, based at Griffith College in Dublin. New evidence is understood to relate to withheld information by the prosecution which shows a discrepancy in their case in relation to a local gun and ammunition register. Evidence submitted is also understood to show that the then police involved may have encouraged witnesses to submit less than true statements relating to these events.
Mr Harry Gleeson, a neighbour of Ms Mary McCarthy, latter a single mother of seven, had first reported the discovery of her body and some 5 months later was hanged for her murder.
Previously this story was documented by the late broadcaster and journalist Cathal O’Shannon (1928 – 2011) in a TV series entitled “Thou Shalt Not Kill, ” back in 1995. Perhaps it is time to dig into the archives and refresh our memories.