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The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story Paperback – July 1, 2001
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This is a chilling story, one that stays with you, creepily, long after you have finished reading. Like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, it seems to open itself to a wide variety of interpretation, and Bourke's balancing of old-world superstitious Ireland against the new rational nation about to be born is expert. These events may be a hundred years old, but they come over as frighteningly contemporary. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Visitors to Ireland will be aware of what author Angela Bourke calls "townlands." An inexact term, it describes rural places that are not on any map. Certainly not towns, nor even villages or hamlets, these places consist of a few adjacent farmsteads and perhaps a freestanding house or two, set off from other such places by fields, and perhaps by a large boulder carved with the name of the place. Populated by only a few families, who living cheek-by-jowl for hundreds of years are interlinked but independent, such places exist "there but not there," a reality which has informed the Irish mind and character for generations.
Ms. Bourke, a lecturer in Irish history, uses the death of Bridget Cleary as a paradigm for cultural change and disruption. Bridget Cleary died in 1895 because the "modern" Social Darwinist linearly organized, scientific, English-speaking and aggressively concrete universe of the late Victorian era butted heads with the "traditional" non-linear, symbological Gaelic-speaking world it was supplanting.
At first glance, Bridget and Michael Cleary would seem to have been thoroughly "modern." Both Michael and Bridget were educated and literate. She was a trained dressmaker who owned her own Singer machine. He was a tradesman, a cooper, who worked in a large commercial brewery. For their time and place they were affluent.Read more ›
This book will be mediocre if you are interested in the details of the criminal case and criminal analysis, the latter of which is mostly lacking. However, if you are interested in the wider picture of Irish identity, history of daily living in Irish or other cultures, or the history of thought and worldviews, this book provides a wonderful microcosm and is well worth your time to check out.
According to Michael Cleary and the other relatives responsible for Bridget's death, Bridget Cleary became ill with bronchitis and was then abducted by fairies who left behind only a changeling. This came after Michael Cleary had sought genuine medical help for his wife, then, convinced that Bridget had "gone with the fairies," conspired with a fairy doctor instead.
Bridget Cleary, at 26, was definitely not the average 19th century peasant wife. She was more independent that most women of her time, both in her outlook and in her finances (she was a successful dressmaker), she was more educated, she was quite attractive and she spoke her mind. But probably most damning, at least in Bridget's day, was the fact that although she had been married for eight years, she was childless.
To put it all in a nutshell, Bourke, who originally began this book as a part of her doctoral dissertation, believes that Bridget was simply too "strong-willed" to fit in with 19th century Tipperary society. The local traditions condoned the burning of witches and fairies and so, what better way to "control" Bridget than to burn her? Just get her out of the way.
I can buy the reasoning above.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book because I heard my favorite actor, Richard Armitage, was going to film this. It's very interesting. Not a happy story. But well worth the reading.Published 12 months ago by Carolynd
Fascinating read. I applaud the author for her efforts in doing such extensive research and presenting the facts and doing so in an unbiased fashion. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Diana S. Long
A really fascinating exploration, through a specific case, of a part of Irish history and of Ireland rarely covered in depth.Published 17 months ago by Catherine S. Kemelmacher
While I am very interested by the premise of the story, the writing is difficult to get into. In the first few pages, the author jumps right into the heart of the action without... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Amy B
In 1895, the United Kingdom was rocked by a news story out rural Tipperary, Ireland. On Friday, March 15, a woman was cruelly murdered by her husband, thinking that she was a... Read morePublished on December 20, 2013 by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
Tedious story with too much historical reference material included. Could have been shortened and simplified. Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by J. Duffy
The story is 239 pages long. Upon turning page 239, to see what the rest of the book is about, you see Acknowledgments and Sources. The very first sentence says it all! Read morePublished on June 30, 2012 by IMC