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Irish Innocence Project
harry gleeson

Irish man pardoned for murder conviction 74 years after his execution

Harry Gleeson has received the State’s first posthumous pardon for murder.

THE MURDER CONVICTION of Harry Gleeson has been overturned by the government 74 years after he was executed.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, today announced the decision to grant the pardon under Article 13.6 of the Constitution.

This is the first posthumous pardon in the history of the State.

On 27 February, 1941, Harry Gleeson was convicted of the murder of Mary ‘Moll’ McCarthy.

In accordance with a range of evidence reviewed by Shane Murphy SC under the instruction of the Attorney General, the original verdict was viewed to be “unsafe”.

Who was Harry Gleeson?

Harry Gleeson was accused of shooting Mary McCarthy dead in November 1940.

He had been living and working on a farm owned by his uncle John Ceasar and his wife Brigid.

McCarthy was living in a nearby house with her children.

On 21 November, 1940, Gleeson reported to Gardaí in Tipperary that he had seen the body of a woman lying in a field near to where he lived. It was the body of Mary McCarthy, who had been shot twice.

He strongly maintained his innocence up to the point of his execution in Mountjoy Prison on 23 April, 1941.

The Irish Innocence Project has looked at Gleeson’s case due to interest from Harry Gleeson’s nearest living relatives Tom and Kevin Gleeson, and the Harry Gleeson Group from the Tipperary area.

Earlier this year, an American pathologist helped prove Mary McCarthy’s time of death coincided with a time that Gleeson had an alibi for.

Why has this been overturned? 

He has now been granted this pardon after the re-examination of a large amount of information relating to his case.

Some of these inconsistencies include the time of death, a fair trial not being afforded to Gleeson, the non-disclosure of evidence by Gardaí at the time, and inconsistencies relating to medical evidence at the time.

He had been one of 12 siblings. His mother emigrated to the United States when Gleeson was 17, and while the family stayed close, the rest of his brothers and sisters decided never to inform her of what happened to him.

A Department of Justice states that: “Mr Gleeson was convicted and executed as a result of a case based on unconvincing circumstantial evidence”.

They go on to say that:

The government deeply regrets that a man was convicted and executed in circumstances now found to be unsafe. All that can be done now by way of remedy is clear his name of the conviction, which this pardon will do, in the hope that this will be a proper tribute to his memory.
More information about the case can be found here. 

Read: Liam Neeson to use his very particular set of skills to narrate 1916 doc

Also: See the house built by Clonmel schoolmasters to show off their love of history

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