Essay on the Burning of Bridget Cleary

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Fairy, Changeling, Belief
  • Pages : 4 (1497 words )
  • Download(s) : 165
  • Published : May 1, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Bridget Cleary or more popularly described as "the last witch burned in Ireland", though not actually accused of witchcraft, was murdered and burned by her husband in 1895, whose motive was his belief that she had been abducted by fairies and in her place the fairies had left only a changeling; he claimed to have killed the changeling and not his actual wife. Bridget was burned - immolated which either caused her death or was done post mortum which prompted extensive press coverage during a time when Ireland's quest for self-government was being hotly debated. During this time it is clear that many changes were occurring in Ireland, a land that was once dominated by tradition was now becoming a modernized country. Where then does tradition stand in the course of change and on what grounds can it be upheld? The case of Bridget Cleary illustrates the relationship between tradition and change in rural Ireland through knowledge. As it is first by knowledge that one is able to gain an understanding of beliefs as tradition or superstition, further that knowledge gives a person or a group of people grounds for power, and finally knowledge joins hands with reason and together affect change. Tradition is seen as an inherited or established belief relating to the past that is accepted though not verifiable, and generally this belief has been passed down through generations commonly by storytelling or word of mouth. It is through knowledge that this idea that a tradition as a common belief can be understood as historical in context but fails to be accurately historical by nature. The traditions surrounding  Bridget Cleary are those of a deep fondness even loyalty to the rich folklore that is synonymous with Ireland and celebrated as such, "the fairy legends of oral tradition marked Kylenagranagh as important." (Bourke, 20.)  Living so close to geographic landmarks of centuries passed whose purposes had been long forgotten and thereby had been subject to the basis of  fairy...
tracking img