A historic murder tale at the Farside Festival

Gillian O’Brien

Gillian O’Brien

History buffs are in for a treat this weekend as there are some interesting history events lined up as part of the Farside Festival.

On Sunday, September 20, there will be a guided historical walking tour of Athlone with Donal O’Brien. The tour is €5 and the meeting point is outside the Abbey Road Artist Studios on Northgate Street at 11am.

At noon, there will be an opportunity to take part in a response room in the Abbey Road Artist Studios, where artist Clodagh Kelly will facilitate a response room called ‘Home for blue children’. All members of the public are welcome to come in and create a piece of art using the materials available and respond to the history and impact of the workhouse in Athlone.

On Sunday afternoon at 3pm, there is a discussion in the Radisson Blu Hotel Athlone with historian Gillian O’Brien and Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists. O’Brien has strong links with Athlone as her grandfather was Dennis O’Brien from Talbot Avenue, and her grandmother is Pauline Gorman from Coosan. The University of Chicago Press published O’Brien’s book Blood Runs Green; the murder that transfixed gilded-age Chicago, and it has received rave reviews in both Ireland and the USA.

Her book tells the tale of a crime almost as sensational in its day as Jack the Ripper’s attacks on prostitutes. In the spring of 1889, just months after five women were murdered in the Whitechapel district of London, the body of Patrick Henry Cronin was discovered rotting in a storm sewer on the outskirts of Chicago.

A murder the Chicago Tribune called a “tale of mystery and horror” scandalised and divided Chicago’s Irish community and dealt a blow to American support for Ireland’s independence.

Blood Runs Green is the first book in more than a century to examine Cronin’s execution-style killing and the trial of five men on charges of conspiracy to murder. The Irish Times said earlier this year that O’Brien’s retelling of this pivotal yet almost forgotten story is well worth the wait.

The Farside Festival takes place from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20. It covers a large variety of events including poetry, psychology, history, music, and art. A full programme is available on www.thefarsidefestival.com

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