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Pardoned Harry Gleeson Re-Interred In Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

“Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust…”
Extract from poem ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, by Thomas Gray.

The earthly remains of an innocent man, executed by hanging in Mountjoy jail; same body having been located within the prison grounds, were handed over to his family last week.
Yesterday, Sunday July 7th, 2024 same remains were re-interred, with his parents in the family plot, following Requiem Mass in Holycross Abbey, Thurles, attended by hundreds of people, some who travelled from other countries, to be in attendance.

Farm worker Mr Harry Gleeson, then aged 38 years, was executed on April 23rd 1941, despite his denial of the killing of a neighbour known as Ms Moll McCarthy of New-Inn, Co Tipperary.

In November, 1940, the executed Mr Gleeson had found the body of this single mother of seven children in a field owned by his uncle Mr John Caesar, while the former was out tending sheep.
The victim had been shot twice in the head and rather than being thanked for alerting local authorities to his gruesome discovery of Ms McCarthy’s body, Mr Gleeson soon found himself charged with her murder.
Following his trial and eventual conviction, the manner of execution was proscribed by the then sentencing Judge, Mr Justice Martin Maguire, that he be ‘hanged by the neck until he be dead.’
Alas, Mr Gleeson’s pardon came 74 years after his execution; granted by the current President of Ireland, Mr Michael D. Higgins, on the initial recommendation of former Minister for Justice, Mr Alan Shatter.

Having studied the original trial transcripts and noting that back in 1941 the judge, Mr Martin Maguire, had asked for a gun register to be shown during the trial. Same register although available, had never been produced by the prosecution.

Yet another issue was the temperature of Ms McCarthy’s body, when it had been first located. The post-mortem report from 1940 indicated that Moll had been murdered at a time when Mr Gleeson actually had an alibi.

Ten years ago in 2014, a retired nurse Ms Ann Martin Walsh, who had cared for Ms Moll McCarthy’s eldest daughter, Ms Mary McCarthy, as the latter was nearing her death, confirmed that her patient had clearly declared that ‘I saw my own mother shot on the kitchen floor and an innocent man died’.

Mr Harry Gleeson denied ever being one of Ms Moll McCarthy’s many known lovers or of fathering one of her seven children, which, it was stated could have jeopardised an inheritance of land, due from an uncle John Caesar.

Today, the murdered body of Ms Moll McCarthy lies in an unmarked grave in a now disused cemetery in New-Inn, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

In 2015, following a full review of the trial and the evidence provided, members of the Gleeson family attended a special ceremony at the Department of Justice, where a certificate of official pardon was finally presented.

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