Bridget Cleary, Fairy Changeling
Bridget Cleary was an Irish woman who, in 1895, was killed by her husband who believed she was a fairy changeling. In folklore a changeling is a fairy which is switched with a human infant. In many cases a changeling seemed like the only rational explanation for the unknown diseases etc., which might afflict a child.
Although her age, for she was 26 at the time, perhaps makes Bridget’s case unique, it was with such illness that her troubles began. She lay in bed with a fever for over a week, going undiagnosed by her physician and believed sufficiently ill enough to have a priest administer the last rites, before her husband and father declared her to be a changeling. In a curious ritual, aimed at expelling the fairy from her body, they doused her in urine and sat her before the fireplace.
A few days later she went missing. Her husband reiterated his belief that she had been taken by fairies, however, Bridget’s burnt remains were soon found nearby in a shallow grave. Evidence suggested that, as the Cleary family gathered at Bridget’s sick bed, an argument, tinged with fairy mythology, had erupted, and Bridget had offended her husband by telling him the only person who had gone off with the fairies had been his mother. This escalated into him menacing his wife with a flaming stick, which ignited her chemise. He then threw an oil lamp on her, all the while claiming that she was a changeling and that he would, by these means, get his wife back.
He was convicted of manslaughter, though some believe he concocted a ‘fairy defence’ after Bridget’s murder so he might get a lesser sentence. Nine other people were also charged for their involvement in the murder, demonstrating how widely believed fairy folklore was amongst these rural Irish communities at the time.
SOMEONE MAKE THIS A BOOK. WAIT, DON’T, BECAUSE I’M GONNA.