Monday, March 5, 2012

The Resurrectionists

By Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill

A somewhat macabre but highly lucrative business flourished in the first half of the nineteenth century and while the term body snatchers is commonly used today, those who stole cadavers to sell for medicinal research were more commonly known as ‘sack-em up men’ or resurrectionists. Medical students had been studying corpses since the 16th century. The bodies supplied were those of executed criminals. By the 19th century however, the amount of people studying medicine had risen and the demand far exceeded the supply thus corpse robbing developed into a profitable business. Up to ten pounds was paid for a cadaver, a sum equivalent to a yearly wage for some, that of a child was paid for by the inch, while a set of teeth would earn a pound. Given Dublin’s proximity to the sea Irish cadavers were also exported to England and Scotland in barrels and crates. Once dug up the corpse would be stripped, as to remove anything but the body was regarded as theft. Corpse robbing itself, though not entirely legal was not considered a serious offence. The corpse had to fresh without any sign of decomposition. The corpse would then either be placed in a sack, placed on a cart and brought away. A famous Dublin memoir Malachai Horan Remembers recounts that the horses wore leather shoes to muffle any noise. Sometimes the corpse would be dressed in an old coat, and supported by two people walked out, giving the appearance of a drunk being brought home by friends. The basic method the resurrectionsts employed was using a wooden spade, to create less noise, to dig at the head of the grave, placing the earth on a sheet to disguise their activities. The body would then be pulled from the grave and the earth carefully replaced. Another more refined method; whereby a tunnel would be dug a few metres away and a small boy would crawl into the tunnel and slip a noose around the neck of the corpse and slowly drag the body out, was also used. Thus is appeared that the ground had never been disturbed. Sometimes resurrectionists attended funerals, carefully noting where the body lay and sometimes gravediggers themselves were reurrectionists by night. It was usual at the time for relatives to remain behind after the funeral and watch over the grave of their loved one to deter the resurrectionists. Some resurrectionsts unintentionally provided a service to humanity. When Margorie McCall from Lurgan got the fever and died in 1705 she was buried in haste to stop the disease from spreading. Resurectionists dug her up a few hours later. Intending to steal her wedding ring, one of the party cut off her finger and to his horror the body stirred. She woke up and walked the short distance home, still dressed in her shroud, where her family were gathered grieving their loss until they heard her familiar knock. She lived for several years thereafter.
The main source of bodies was Bullys’ Acre on the grounds of Kilmainham hospital. During the time of the Penal laws it was the only cemetery open to Catholics and as burial there was free it was used until the cholera epidemic of 1832 by Catholics from all walks of life. It was a somewhat lonely location and its low walls provided easy access. Though considered the lowest form of life those who had dealings with resurrectionists were often highly regarded in society and the medical profession certainly did not frown upon the practice. Peter Harkan, a pathologist at a medical institute known as Crampton’s School was caught body snatching with his students by a night watchman at Bullys’ Acre. He fled with the others but the watchman grabbed him by the legs while is students pulled him by the arms and though the students won the tug-o-war he died of his injuries shortly after in 1814. One of the most famous bodies stolen was that of the champion fighter Dan Donnelly who died in 1820 and was buried at Bullys’ Acre. When his body was dug up and sold to a doctor Hall it caused outrage among his fans who threatened to kill the surgeon. Hall agreed to return he body but kept the arm which until very recently was on display in Kilcullen. Soldiers stationed at the nearby Royal Hospital Kilmainham did their best to keep watch over the graves as their comrades were also buried there and would sometimes shoot at resurrectionsists. It is recorded that in 1825 a sentry captured Thomas Tuite, who had five bodies and pockets full of teeth in possession. Digging up corpses was hard work and two Irishmen William Burke and William Hare found an easier way by murdering people. The pair murdered an old beggar in Edinburgh and sold his body to Robert Knox who ran an anatomy school and continued to provide him with freshly murdered corpses. His students became suspicious when well known healthy individuals suddenly turned up as cadavers in the lecture hall. By the time their murder spree had come to an end in 1828 they had murdered sixteen people. Hare turned informer, Burke was hanged, and though never prosecuted, Knox, became a social pariah. The public outrage which that the case caused led to the Anatomy Act. The Anatomy Act of 1832 had a massive impact on body snatching and it resulted in a rapid decline of this macabre practice. According to the act unclaimed bodies or bodies donated by the family could now be used for medical research. Henceforth, an ample supply of bodies could be legally provided. The act was just coming to force when Ireland’s most famous cemetery, Glasnevin was opened in 1832. It was built with high walls and watch towers. The watchmen, who were armed, used Cuban blood hounds to deter any nocturnal visitors. Its security from resurrectionists made it the most popular cemetery in the city and when poets such as Zozimus died in 1846 he insisted on being buried there for this very reason. The grim business did not die out entirely with the passing of the act. In 1838 thirty pounds was paid for an ankylosed skeleton of a man who had died in the Isle of Man. Though his body had been broken up by his relatives to prevent his remains being exhibited, the resurrectionists disinterred it and brought it to Dublin.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Original Van Helsing

It is widely believed that Bram Stoker based his character of Dr Van Helsing on a real character, also a doctor from Holland who carried out real life research into vampires. Gerard van Swieten (1700–1772) was born in Leiden, Holland and at the age of forty fives became the personal physician to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresia. His statue is given place of prominence on Vienna’s ring right underneath that of his employer.
As well as being someone in whom the empress placed great trust, he was also her personal librarian and did Trojan work for the health service and medical studies. The 18th century was a time of Enlightenment and the empress was eager to spread reform and learning throughout her vast empire, which encompassed most of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It was from the latter territories that age old superstition challenged modern thinking. There had always been a strong belief in vampires in the Balkans and several cases of vampirism from the region had been documented when the phenomenon reached its peak in the 18th century. The first case was that of the Croatian vampire Giure Grando from the Istrian peninsula who died in 1656. According to the locals he rose from the grave and knocked on the doors of his neighbours. Wherever the knock was heard someone died from that house. When his grave was opened, sixteen years after being interred, his body was not decomposed and he had a smile on his face. Attempts to stake him with a hawthorn stick failed and it is said that his body groaned as his head was sawn off. The two most famous vampire cases were those of Arnold Paole and Peter Plogojowitz both from deeply impoverished parts of Serbia which had been recently ceded to Austria from the Ottoman Empire. It is not known how Plogojowitz died but returned from the dead to ask his son for food. It was a widely held belief that the dead got hungry and thirsty. His son refused and was found dead the next day. Several neighbours also died from loss of blood, claiming on their dead beds that Plogojowitz had visited them at night. The locals demanded from their Austrian Imperial Provisor, a man called Frombald, take action. He wanted to seek further advice on the matter from the authorities in Belgrade but hysteria among the villagers was so great that immediate action had to be taken. He was compelled to acquiesce to a vampire slaying, something of which, as an outsider, he understood little. A priest was present as the grave was opened. The body was not decomposed, hair and a beard had grown as had new skin and nails and there was blood in the mouth. The assembled crowds staked the corpse and fresh blood spurted out. Today these symptoms with the aid of medical knowledge would not be considered abnormal, but the assembled crowd knew nothing of modern medicine and followed an age old ritual. The Serbian Arnold Paole had been a soldier, who had been attacked by a vampire in Kosovo. He had told his neighbours that he had cured himself by eating the soil from the vampire’s grave. Years later he became a farmer in his native village of Meduegna and died suddenly when he fell from a hay wagon in 1726. Within three weeks of his passing four people claimed that he had visited them at night. They all died soon after. His grave was opened and again his body was not in a state of decomposition. Fresh blood had flown from his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. His finger nails had apparently grown since death. A stake was driven through his heart, to which he apparently groaned and his body was burned. The same was done with his victims. The whole affair was well documented by the local authorities, which seemed to confirm the existence of vampires. Word reached the seat of the empire in Vienna and Johann Flüchinger, a regimental field surgeon was sent to investigate. His report Visum et Repertum (Seen and Discovered) was published in 1732 and became a European bestseller and Paole became known throughout Europe. Indeed, the word vampire itself entered the English language from German at this time. Academics and thinkers began to debate the existence of vampires. While some argued it was premature burial or rabies, which causes thirst and makes the victims light sensitive, others such as Dom Augustine Calmet, a well respected French theologian and scholar, brought out an influential treatise in 1746 which supported the existence of vampires. Even Voltaire seemed to believe in them and gave a description of them in his Philosophical Dictionary. The European wide discussion prompted the empress to send van Swieten to Moravia to determine once and for all whether or not vampires existed and he commenced his work in 1755.Van Swieten was not impressed by what he found. His findings were published in a report entitled Abhandlung des Daseyns der Gespenster (Discourse on the Existence of Ghosts) in which he put forward offered natural explanation for a belief in vampires. Lack of decomposition he argued was due to the lack of oxygen in the coffin and dismissed the fears of the people as peasant superstition.
Van Swieten’s conclusion was simple- “Vampires appear only where ignorance still rules.” Given his influence over the Empress she passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and desecration of bodies by impaling, decapitating or cremating, which largely put an end to the vampire epidemics. Medical knowledge and the strange phenomena and appearances that the Austrian officials witnessed are now known to accompany the natural process of the decomposition of the body. Despite this there is still a belief in the undead in some corners of Europe as documented in the case of Petre Toma. When he died in 2003 relatives claimed he was coming back from the grave to haunt them. Three weeks later they opened his grave, removed his heart and burnt it at the village crossroads, which put a stop to his nocturnal visits.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Memoir of Rural County Dublin

Accounts of country life in bygone days are not uncommon and although Dublin is usually only associated with city living, one of the most interesting accounts I have read is from Dublin. Written by his friend Doctor George A. Little, who himself had served a medical officer in the Dublin Brigade of the IRA; Malachai Horan Remembers is a testimony of long forgotten Dublin. Even in 1945, when the book was written, the world Malachi Horan describes was a world far removed from contemporary Dublin. In the memoir Malachi recalls his life and the social conditions of the time. Memories of 1798 and the Night of the Big Wind in 1839 were still fresh in peoples’ minds when he was born in Killinarden in 1847, ten miles from Dublin between Saggart and Old Bawn, where he spent his entire life. The famine was at its height, though the Horans were largely, due to living in the hills, which form The Dublin Mountains and where the blight did not reach, were largely spared this affliction. Those who were starving went to nearby Tallaght to get their Indian meal. Speaking nearly a hundred years later he made the interesting observation: “I was born the year it started. It was not that it made them that lived after poor-God knows they were used to that-but it made them so sad in themselves. It made many a one hard, too. The people have not got rid of the effect of it yet.” The stable diet of most people at the time was stirabout, wheaten bread, cabbage, potatoes and a little meat. His first school was a Hedge School in a barn at Killinarden Four Roads where the master worked and lived. The master was a really a labourer who had received only very little education himself and was both hated and feared by the children. For their education they brought a sod of turf and a penny a week. He later went to the Belgard school in Ballysack where he claimed the mistress did not each. When she beat him the sally switch he left and never went back. Malachi says that at the time it was not unusual for a man to work from six in the morning until eight in the evening and even longer if his master so desired. Men prided themselves in their physical strength and how much they could work. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century there was a hiring fair in Tallaght. Those who wished to be hired stuck their clay pipe in their hat bands and then into their pockets when hired. The farmers would meet and decide on a common wage- a crown a day without keep and about a shilling with bed and board. The men were expected to reap an acre a day. As a form of entertainment people went to watch and bet on cock fights which are now illegal. Malachi speaks of Mass paths which were just short cuts to mass that had been public rights of way for centuries. Landlords hated people using these paths and erected fences, which the locals tore down. Going to the doctor at the time would have been an expensive option that people could ill afford and they had their own cures-dandelion tea for yellow jaundice and scalded buttermilk and whiskey for sore throats. For the common cold scalteen-a drink of boiled whiskey, water, sugar, butter, pepper and sometimes caraway seeds, was used. For stomach complaints the water from the Holy well of St. Moling at Toolmaling was good. Belief in piseogs was much stronger back then and Malachi believed firmly in the féar gorta or The Hungry Grass, a spot where someone from the Famine had died and describes how when out walking with a friend near the Sally Gap in Wicklow they took a short cut through the furze and he suddenly felt weak. His friend knew what it was and put food into his mouth. Most people at the time never undertook a journey without food in case something like this happened. There is a description of wakes and the games played at them. As he points out staying awake all night by the corpse after a long day’s work was hard going and the people needed some form of entertainment. It was a time when people were still being hanged in public, usually in their own neighbourhood or even in front of their house. There are several descriptions in the book, one such event was the Kearneys of Bohernabreena, a farmer and his two sons who were hanged for the murder of a land agent called Kinlon, although there was very little evidence to support this. The book contains a description of resurrection men who stole corpses from the graveyard in Saggart to sell them on to doctors. Officially only the bodies of criminals were to be used for dissection but not enough people were being hanged to meet the demand. It was usual for the relatives to stay by the grave until it was filled in to deter body snatching. The resurrection men used to shoe their horses with leather to make less noise. It was a lucrative business and they were vicious people who would murder anyone who interrupted their activity. Malachi describes how his father met them on the road and they pursued him until he reached the safety of an inn and explained what was happening. The people in the inn, some of them relatives of the deceased caught up with the resurrection men and gave them a severe beating. Malachi also describes how the son of a well known surgeon was shot dead while body snatching. Malachi was still living in his little thatched cottage when Little interviewed him at the age of 98. He never married and died the same year the book was published. The book which was reprinted three times has since proven to be a valuable and rare resource and a gateway to rural County Dublin, which would have otherwise been lost forever.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Budgies By Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill Budgies were introduced to Europe from Australia in the late 19th century and are sometimes referred to as budgerigars or parakeets. Originally pale green, yellow and black in colour there are now several mutations giving us a wide variety of colours. Keeping budgies is a great and inexpensive way for younger people to learn responsibility and commitment. They do not make much of a mess and do not require much food. Even for adults they provide great companionship. They will communicate with people, mirrors and toys and just about anyone or anything they think will listen. They are playful and affectionate, each with their own separate character. Watching their antics can prove to be very therapeutic and entertaining. The lifespan of a budgie depends on their diet and general living conditions. It may be as little as four years if they only eat seeds, while with the right amount of exercise and vitamins they can live up to the age of fifteen or even longer. Depending on the budgie they will also eat a variety of fruit and vegetables such as pieces of apple, broccoli and shredded carrot. Avocado, chocolate and coffee are however toxic for budgies. Budgies do no chew their food but have powerful intestinal muscles and the food can be eased along with a little grit. With the seeds care is required. Budgies open the husks, remove the seed and leave back the empties, which looks as if the seed dish is full, when in fact your budgie may be starving. They can be left alone with adequate food and water for a number of days, but no more than five. Males are easily recognisable with their blue seres above their beak, while the females have a brown sere. The breeding season in Ireland is usually around March and budgies mate if they are at least a year old, like each other and their owner provides a nest box. The months that follow is a good time to buy a budgie. A young budgie will have lines on his forehead and will have black eyes with no rings. As a pet, it is better to buy a young budgie as they are easier to train, less aggressive and not as set in their ways. Budgies can see in colour, can turn their heads 180 degrees and have the ability to count up to three as well as learn basic tricks. It should be noted however that not all budgies will speak and the chances are less if they have a companion. As with a lot of other animals they are active by day and tend to rest in the evening. They tend to sleep on their perches with their heads turned back. Placing a blanket over the cage, with space to breath, will help them sleep and quieten them down. A healthy and happy budgie should be let out of their cage for at least an hour a day. A budgie that is never let out will puff his feathers and start self plucking in frustration and boredom. When out of the cage they should be supervised. Windows should be closed and toilets lids should be down. Budgies may fall behind fridges or book cases and will not be able to get out. In the wild budgies forage for food on the ground so it is not unusual for them to be seen to walking around the floor, which is why you need to be careful walking around the room. Some people will have their budgies’ wings clipped which stops them flying around the room and also makes them easier to train, but may mean that they do not get enough exercise. Training a budgie should be done in a room where the cage is not in view as they tend to be more cooperative. A budgie should be taught to jump onto your finger before being let out of the cage. Otherwise there is the tendency for them to ignore their owner. Budgies do not always like to be petted and will let you know with a peck. A budgie that trusts you will have no problem sitting on your shoulder. A budgie may bite your finger. Sometimes this will be a little bite as it prepares to step up onto your finger and sometimes it will be stronger. The bite is best ignored; otherwise it only encourages such behaviour. Do not raise your voice as this will only frighten the budgie. Catching the budgie can be problematic and certainly requires patience and careful handling. They are after all fragile creatures, albeit with very fast reflexes. It may be coaxed back into the cage with food or caught with a towel. Some people close the cage doors and the budgies return when they are hungry. If the lights can be turned off the budgie is easy to catch as they cannot fly in darkness. If you only have one budgie and introduce a new one this may lead to tension in the beginning. The newcomer could be regarded as an invader and fights are brief but sharp. On the other hand there might be an immediate bond. Ideally, budgies should be bought as a pair. A budgie is a living creature with feelings that responds to its environment and a budgie alone in a cage even with toys will require a lot of attention or it will become frustrated, bored and lonely. A decent cage, two budgies and food can be purchased for under a hundred euro. Sometimes they are even given away as people move house. Given that a budgie is such a sociable pet the joy it gives in return is well worth any investment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Molly Maguires

The Molly Maguires


Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill

Make way for the Molly McGuires
They’re drinkers, they’re liars, but they’re men
Make way for the Molly McGuires
You’ll never see the likes of them again

The above lines are taken from a well known folk song. Less well known however, is who the Molly McGuires actually were. While the Irish are extremely popular in America these days it was quite the opposite in the nineteenth century. Thousands of Irish had fled the post famine Ireland, but they were less than welcome in their new homeland and were palced at the lowest level of society.
The Irish worked what jobs they could find and in Pennsylvania this was in the anthracite coal mines, which included counties such as Luzerne, Carbon, Lackawanna and Northhumberland. Conditions in the mines were atrocious to say the least and the mine owners showed little interest in improving them. Not only that but the foremen, usually Welsh, English or German were inclined to cheat the Irish of their wages and this was largely tolerated.
The miners were paid only once a month and most if not all their wages went to the ‘pluck-me’ or company run general store, which they were obliged to use and where they ran up a tab. The debt owed never seemed to be paid in full and customers were not permitted to see the ledger, not that it would have made much of a difference as most of the Irish would have been illiterate.
Out of this discrimination emerged the Molly Maguires or Mollies as they were more commonly known which was strongest between the Civil war and 1876. The origin of the term Molly Maguire is somewhat murky, but it more than likely originated in Ireland, a country with several secret organisations in the eighteenth century. It has been suggested that Molly was a widow evicted from her home and her supporters took on the name when as they sought revenge. She may also have been the owner of a sheebeen where the group met. As with the secret societies of the old country the activities of the Mollies included intimidation, beatings and even murder. Most, if not all, of the Mollies were also members of the legal Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The legal system as well as the police force was mostly Welsh, German, or English, who had little sympathy for the Irish or their grievances, leaving the Mollies as the only form of support and as the grievances increased so too did Molly activity. There were fifty unsolved murders between 1863 and 1867 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and neither the public nor authorities seemed interested in solving them, such was the strength of the Mollies.
The Mollies were a thorn in the side of the industrialist Franklin Benjamin Gowen, president of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, who saw the Mollies as union agitators and was determined to crush any union movement. In order to crush them he would have to infiltrate them. An Irishman was required and James McParlan from County Armagh volunteered. He had only recently become a private detective working for Major Allan Pinkerton, originally from Scotland. Pinkterton ordered him to remain in the field until ‘every cut-throat has paid with his life for the lives so cruelly taken’. It was a dangerous assignment that began in 1873 would last five years.
McParlan first frequented the Mollie hangouts dressed as a vagrant with very limited success. He then posed as a dandy called James McKenna and claimed to have killed a man in Buffalo. He was something of a natural entertainer and was soon a member of the secret of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which in Pennsylvania also meat being a Molly. He soon met the ‘King of the Mollies’, John Kehoe from Wicklow and James ‘Powder keg’ Kerrigan his lieutenant. Kerrigan participated in several Molly murders but once arrested wrote a two hundred page confession which would save himself from the hangman but condemn others. Thus he never had to answer for any crimes and became known as ‘the squealer’.
Unlike many Mollies, McParlan could read and write and his Molly brothers appointed him secretary. His new position was ideal as he could now take his notes without arousing suspicion.
In 1874 wages for the miners were cut by 20% and a strike was declared. It lasted six months and the company run shops would not serve striking families women and children had to forage for food in the woods. As families starved the men were compelled to return to the mines with no concessions offered. Molly violence did not however desist. In July of 1875 Benjamin Yost, a police man was murdered as he extinguished a street light. He had previously arrested a Molly which made him a marked man. Not long after this, two eighteen year old Mollies Michael J. Doyle and Edward Kelly were commissioned to assassinate Welsh mine Superintendent John P. Jones of Tamaqua. They were caught and unlike previous occasions the witnesses were not to be intimidated and over a hundred people testified against them and they were sent to the gallows in 1877.
Thomas Sanger, foreman of Heaton's Colliery in Raven Run near Girardville, and his childhood friend miner William Uren were shot dead on their way to work. Sanger died because of an alleged workplace incident and Uren was murdered so no witness would remain.
The frequency of murders stirred an anti Irish sentiment among the English and Welsh miners. It was suspected that the culprit in the Sager-Uren murder was a Charles O’Donnell though nothing could be proven. Patrick O’Donnell was of this family and history remembers him as the man who killed James Carey, who had informed on The Invincibles following the Phoenix Park murders. A vigilante mob went to his house and murdered him, and two children. The pregnant wife of Charles McAllister, another suspect the vigilantes seemed to know about, was murdered and her mother severely beaten.
All this time McParlan had been passing on information to his superiors and Captain Robert Linden of the Coal & Iron Police. The vigilantes, though never publically identified had all been trained by Linden and McParlan was horrified to learn that his information was being passed on to vigilantes who murdered innocent people.
The operation was drawing to a close as the Mollies suspected that an informer was in their ranks. Instead of fleeing McParlan confronted Kehoe about the allegations and asked that a meeting of the Mollies be convened where his fellow brothers could judge him. It would also be a suitable opportunity to get them arrested. When this did not work Gowen had his Coal & Iron Police arrest Kehoe and other member they could catch.
The trials were not glorious events in the history of the American judicial system. No Catholics were permitted to sit on the jury and some of its members did not fully understand English, having only recently arrived from Germany. The prosecution lawyers worked for Gowen and judges were sympathetic towards him, permitting him to conduct several of the prosecutions himself, a allowing him to rant on about the Mollies and even when his statements lacked any factual basis he was not interrupted.
It was at the trial that McParlan revealed who he really was, much to the devastation of his friends who had trusted him. Support for the Mollies began to dwindle. Labour leaders did not wish to be associated with them and they were denounced from the pulpit.
The outcome of the trial resulted in twenty men facing the hangman, though in some cases the evidence was weak and some they may have been completely innocent. Alexander Campell for example was hanged for the murder of John P. Jones in 1875, but the evidence was based solely on the statement of Kerrigan who was out to save his own skin.
There were other irregularities about the whole affair. Although America was a sovereign nation the Mollies had been arrested by private policeman and prosecuted by mining and railroad company lawyers. Indeed, the only thing the state of Pennsylvania had provided was the courtroom and the hangman.
Ten of the Mollies were hanged–four at Mauch Chunk and six at Pottsville–on21 June 1877, a date remembered as 'Black Thursday.' More were to follow and at each execution the Irish community waited in respectful silence outside the prison walls. Jack Kehoe was hanged in 1878 at Pottsville for the 1862 murder of foreman Frank W. Langdon. He was pardoned by the Pennsylvania Governor Milton J. Shapp in 1979, who said of him 'we can be proud of the men known as the Molly Maguires, because they defiantly faced allegations which attempted to make trade unionism a criminal conspiracy’.
Following the trials James McParlan continued to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Gowen committed suicide in 1889 after his railroad company fell into bankruptcy.
James ‘the squealer’ Kerrigan went to live in Virginia, living under his wife’s name, where he died in 1898.
Conditions for miners were slow to improve and it was not until United Mine Workers of America was founded in 1890 that an eight hour shift was introduced, children under 14 could no longer work in the mines and workers no longer had to buy at the company run shops.
Since the executions opinion has been divided on how to judge the Mollies. Ancient Order of Hibernia members who were also Mollies were written out of the organisation’s history. The Mollies terrorised entire communities and murdering anyone who crossed them, though it was through great injustice that they came to be in the first place. A movie called The Molly Maguires was made in 1970 starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris.