Search to resume for body of Harry Gleeson who was hanged for murder but posthumously pardoned by the State


THE Government has vowed that a search will resume for the body of Ireland’s only person to have been given a posthumous pardon after having been hanged for murder.

arry Gleeson (38) from Holycross in Tipperary was hanged for the murder of mother of seven Mary ‘Moll’ McCarthy in 1941.
Mr Gleeson – a well-known Tipperary musician and sportsman – vehemently protested his innocence of the crime.

The farm labourer had discovered the body of Ms McCarthy who had sustained two gunshots to the face.

She had been targeted before with an arson attack on her home in the 1920s, believed to have been linked to her lifestyle which had scandalised locals.

A friend of Mr Gleeson’s later wrote that he had been framed for the killing.

The Tipperary man was defended by Junior Counsel Sean MacBride whose lifelong opposition to capital punishment was rooted in his absolute belief that Mr Gleeson was innocent and had been wrongly executed.

After a lengthy campaign to have his trial and conviction reviewed, in 2015 Mr Gleeson was granted a posthumous pardon after it was decided he did not commit the killing he was accused of.

It is now believed that the killer, and their accomplices, ensured that no one locally came forward with testimony which might have saved Mr Gleeson.

The murder became one of Ireland’s best known miscarriages of justice – and was the focus of radio documentaries, a book and even TV programmes.

Then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald granted Mr Gleeson a posthumous pardon – the first in the history of the Republic.
After his execution, Mr Gleeson was buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Prison.

Immediately after his pardon, the Department of Justice ordered a trawl of records to determine if his precise grave location could be identified.

Searches were also ordered of parts of the Mountjoy grounds known to have been used for prisoner burials.

Nothing of significance was uncovered and the search was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, the Department have insisted to the extended members of Mr Gleeson’s family and justice campaigners that the search will be resumed.
“(The search) has been disrupted as a consequence of the restrictions on movement in response to Covid-19 and the many demands arising for the relevant agencies involved,” a spokesperson said.

“However, it remains the Department’s objective to do what can be done to identify and return the remains of Mr Gleeson to his family.”

A previous Department of Justice-ordered search of prison grounds did yield positive results with the remains of executed 1916 rebel Thomas Kent being located and exhumed in Cork Prison.

Thomas Kent was captured at the only Easter 1916 Rising event staged outside Dublin and executed in Cork Prison on May 9.

With Roger Casement, who was hanged in London for his role in attempting to smuggle German arms to the Easter Rising rebels through Kerry, Thomas Kent was the only rebel executed outside Dublin for the events of 1916.

His body was located and exhumed from the Cork Prison yard and re-buried with full military honours in a ceremony led by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in September 2015.

To date, the Department has spent almost €27,000 in the search for Mr Gleeson’s remains.

Department officials are now examining how best to reactivate the search with other agencies including the Irish Prison Service and Dublin City Council.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News