Thursday 23 February 2017

Eddie Dalton Honoured

Eddie Dalton of Golden, County Tipperary, is to be received into the Hall of Fame by the Tipperary Association in Dublin at the end of this month. It is a greatly deserved honour whose genesis lay in a tragic set of circumstances which occurred 76 years ago.

Here I will quote the opening lines from the book Murder at Marlhill written by Marcus Bourke in 1993:
At eight o'clock on the morning of 23 April, 1941, Harry Gleeson was hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin for the murder of his neighbour, Mary McCarthy. Her body had been found in a remote spot on Gleeson's uncle's farm near New Inn, Co.Tipperary early on Thursday 21 November,1940...A six day preliminary hearing in Clonmel District Court on January 1941 was followed by a ten day jury trial in Green St. Court House, Dublin in February. A four-day hearing in the Court of Criminal Appeal a month later and a reprieve campaign both failed.
Harry Gleeson was born in Galbertstown, Holycross, County Tipperary, in 1902. Sixteen years before the tragic events, he moved to his uncle John Caesar's farm at Graigue, New Inn. Three years later, they moved to a 75 acre farm at Marlhill, New Inn. As the Caesars were childless, it was assumed that Harry would inherit the farm. A fellow worker on the farm was Harry's friend and cousin, Tommy Reid, who was in his early twenties at that time.

Marcus Bourke, the author of the book, was a barrister with Tipperary connections. He became convinced of Harry Gleeson's innocence after more than five years of painstaking research and interviews, prompted initially by a casual encounter with two people from the Cahir area. Sean McBride, who was a Junior Counsel at the time of the trial, was on the defence team and had a life-long belief in Harry Gleeson's innocence. Marcus Bourke spoke to McBride on many occasions, mostly on the telephone, but also at his home. In the book, Bourke quotes from an interview with McBride in 1974:
Gleeson not alone didn't commit the crime but couldn't have committed it as he was elsewhere at the time...two years earlier he had said "I was quite certain the man was innocent. I had no doubt about it...I did everything I could to prevent him being executed". 
Talking to Marcus Bourke in 1992, Tommy Reid recalled the fateful evening before Mary McCarthy's body was found. He and Harry Gleeson were cleaning themselves before entering Caesar's house for supper at about seven o'clock, When Reid heard two shots, he turned to Gleeson and said "By God, Harry, whoever fired those shots must have cats eyes". He said he didn't think Harry heard him as he was a bit deaf.

Mary McCarthy was a single mother with seven children which led to McBride writing in his papers: "Mary McCarthy was a victim of a perverted sense of morality bred by a civilisation which nominally based on Christianity lacks most of (its) essentials.

Although he was not yet born at the time of Harry Gleeson's execution, Eddie Dalton was inspired by his father, John, late of Cloughleigh, Golden, and others from the area around, who were convinced of Gleeson's innocence. Dalton worked arduously and painstakingly over many years to secure a Presidential Pardon for Gleeson. On January 2016, on the advice of the Attorney General, the Minister for Justice directed the President, under Article 13.6 of the Constitution, to grant a pardon to Harry Gleeson. This was justification for Eddie Dalton, and other good people involved in the campaign.

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