The Bodkin Murders by Paul B McNulty

David Burke’s Bookshelf, Tuam Herald, page 45, 4 May 2016.

Library Corner – a look at some of the books in your local library.

Fiction mixed with local murders makes for a gripping read.

In second place only to the notorious Maamtrasna Murders in the annals of truly shocking Irish crimes are the ‘Bodkin Murders’ of 1741. That they happened only a few short miles from Tuam makes a recently-published novel by Paul McNulty all the more interesting. The story, as it has been handed down, is known only through a few references in the Dublin newspapers of note of that time, and through the memoirs of the Headford barrister Oliver J. Burke in his Anecdotes of the Connaught Circuit (1885).

This account of the murders claimed that John Bodkin Jr., the dissolute eldest son of Oliver Bodkin of Carrowmore House in Belclare orchestrated the violent murders of his own father, his heavily-pregnant stepmother Margery Blake, and his seven year old stepbrother, Oliver Jr., along with the servants and others unfortunate enough to have been in Carrowmore on the night in question. In all eleven people were murdered. They were purportedly killed as revenge for John Jr’s disinheritance, in favour of the infant Oliver Jr., his father’s other son, by his second marriage. In carrying through the plot, John Jr. was helped by one of Carrowmore’s tenants, John Hogan, and his father’s embittered brother, ‘Blind’ Dominick Bodkin of nearby Carrowbeg. Justice being swifter in those days, all three were apprehended and hung at Claretuam within a matter of days of the murders.

As if all this was not enough, John Jr. made a dramatic confession from the gallows, in which he implicated a cousin (also John Bodkin) of having suffocated his own brother (another Dominick) to death, a number of years earlier, in what the resident magistrate Lord Athenry had at the time judged to have been a natural death. This John was then hunted down and executed in Galway some months later. There have always been problems with the account that Burke gave in 1885; the role of the tenant Hogan is ambiguous to say the least. He was purportedly chief murderer on the night (including of the child), in spite of the fact that he and his wife had fostered Oliver Jr. as a baby. There is moreover an apparent lack of motive in the case of John Bodkin’s fratricide, his brother Dominick being the younger of the two, and therefore no threat to John’s inheritance (of the neighbouring Carrowbeg House in their case).

Without wishing to provide any plot ‘spoilers’, in his latest novel Paul McNulty provides a thrilling tale, which attempts to grapple with some of these discrepancies; its protagonists, the tragic John Bodkin (Dominick’s accused brother) and his fiancée Catherine, daughter of Lord Athenry. Part romance, part thriller, McNulty beautifully evokes the period and has researched the time and its events thoroughly. What comes shining through are not the gory details of an appalling crime, but the human cost to those left behind. A gripping read!

(A Review by Ruairí Ó hAodha.)

A bloody slaughter — a tainted inheritance — a dark secret.

A bloody slaughter — a tainted inheritance — a dark secret.

Book available at Charlie Byrne’s, Club Lighthouse and Amazon

Video “Genealogy of Anglo-Norman Lynches..”

Just click on this link to view a video of my Fulbright Lecture on “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” presented on 5 March 2015 under the chairmanship of Professor Art Cosgrove, past President of UCD. The video was recorded by Brian Kelly, Media Services, University College Dublin.

The book on which my lecture was based is available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.co.uk.

Anglo-Norman Lynch Genealogy

Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches …

On Thursday 5 March 2015, I presented a lecture on “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” under the chairmanship of Professor Art Cosgrove, past-President of University College Dublin. The event was held in the Lynch Theatre, O’Brien Centre for Science, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4 and was supported by the Fulbright Alumni Engagement Fund. The visuals I used, including links to primary sources, are available for inspection through the attached link below, “Lynch OH 7.”

The genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway can be traced back to the invasion of Ireland by Strongbow in 1169. Having settled as one of the fourteen Tribes of Galway, the Lynches held the mayoralty of Galway more than eighty times from 1485 through 1654. Their hold on power was diminished in the city by the Cromwellian confiscations but revived in the countryside through the establishment of landed estates. Eventually, the Anglo-Norman Lynches became more Irish than the Irish themselves. They are now virtually indistinguishable from the older Gaelic Lynches whose name is derived from Ó Loinsigh. The discovery of forgotten stories linked to the Lynches has inspired the author to write historical novels and plays based on real events in 18th century Ireland.

Paul McNulty is a Fulbright Scholar and Alumnus of UCD, Ohio State and MIT. He served on the academic staff at University College Dublin from 1972-2005 and since retirement has studied Genealogy/Family History and Creative Writing. His diploma project, “The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who Settled in Galway,” was published in the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society in 2010. Paul has written two historical novels, Spellbound by Sibella, and The Abduction of Anne O’Donel, inspired by his research in genealogy. Both have been finalists in the William Faulkner Novel Competitions in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and have been published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Canada.

Lynch OH 7

Thomas McNulty, the grandfather I never knew.

My grandfather, Thomas McNulty, the son of Charles of Derry City and Maria McColgan of Culdaff, Donegal, attended Trinity College Dublin before studying the law at King’s Inns, Dublin. He was admitted as a barrister to the Society in the Trinity Term 1889. He married Mary Boylan of 31 Hawthorn Terrace, Dublin 3 in Rathmines Roman Catholic Church, Dublin on 30 December, 1891. They lived with their children, Charles, Thomas Bernard (my father), John and Margaret Mary at 15 Warrington Place, Dublin 2. Little is known of my grandfather’s professional practice as a barrister. He died young on 8 November, 1903 in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, and is buried with his wife, children and my mother, Kathleen McHugh, of Tuam, Co Galway in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

The following record of my grandfather was provided by Sile O’Shea of the King’s Inns Library, Henrietta Street, Dublin on 26 July 2007:

The entry for your grandfather appears in the book, ‘King’s Inns Barristers, 1868-2004′, edited by Kenneth Ferguson (The Honorable Society of King’s Inns in association with The Irish Legal History Society, 2005), as follows –

McNulty, Thomas (b. 1 Sept. 1863) only s. of Charles McNulty, decd., late of Great James’ Street, Derry, Co. Londonderry, and Maria McColgan; B.A. (T.C.D.); M 1885. 1889/T/03.

The Records’ Room of the King’s Inns library holds the papers belonging to your grandfather if you wish to consult them.

As regards any details of your grandfather’s professional practice as a barrister, it may be possible that after your grandfather’s death an obituary appeared in the ‘Irish Law Times’ periodical which is also held in the King’s Inns library. It would be necessary to know when your grandfather died so that that particular volume could be checked in the library for any details relating to him and his professional life. If his date of death is not known, it might be worth checking the ‘Thom’s Directory’ to see up to what date your grandfather practiced and that might give you some indication of when he died.

Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin,1863-1903.

Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin,1863-1903.

Mary Boylan, the wife of Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin, Ireland.

Mary Boylan, the wife of Thomas McNulty, Barrister-at-Law, Dublin, Ireland.

The Legal Education of Thomas McNulty at King's Inns, Dublin, Ireland, 1889.

The Legal Education of Thomas McNulty at King’s Inns, Dublin, Ireland, 1889.

The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations

You can read and listen to my podcast which links the Anglo-Norman Lynches of Galway to the Michel Lynch wine label, to Che Guevara and Bram Stoker. My contribution starts at the conclusion of a previous item (lasting 1.50 minutes) on The History Show, RTE radio, http://www.rte.ie/radio1/the-history-show/programmes/2014/0511/615538-the-history-show-sunday-11-may-2014/

A more detailed exposition on The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations is included in the Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway available on Amazon UK and on Amazon.com.

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.