I've just finished reading The Dead Eight by Carlo Gebler, the novel based on the Marlhill murder case mentioned earlier in the thread. Gebler traces Moll's story right back to the days of her mother, who was a woman of ill repute and who sold her body to get by in life during the time she spent in Dublin. Moll herself lived in a children's home in Thurles for her first sixteen years and never knew her father. Gebler paints her as a very promiscious woman, even by today's moral standards, not to mind the standards of the times she lived in. For instance, she jumps into bed with Sergeant Daly almost immediately upon his arrival at New Inn Garda station. She had numerous relationships with local men, married and unmarried, and used these relationship to improve her material circumstances. Having said that, Moll was quite discreet and revealed little about her various trysts once they were over.
According to Gebler, Moll was in a relationship with a local IRA leader, who he calls JJ Spink. He fathered her seventh and last child, who died at a young age. As with all her previously relationships, this one ended as a result of the pregnancy and the potential for scandal that surrounded it. Moll then began a relationship with Sergeant Daly, who was married, immediately upon his arrival in New Inn early in 1940. Daly's role in the Gardai was to root out the remnants of the IRA who were still active and this meant he had been stationed at several locations over the course of his career and was somewhat notorious for the rough treatment he dished out. His relationship with Moll presented a threat to Spink, who thought she might pass on information about his activties, and this provided the motive for her murder. Spink and two IRA associated brought Moll to a deserted house close to Marlhill on Wednesday evening, got her drunk, shot her and then planted her body where they knew Gleeson would find it on Thursday morning. Spink then blackmailed Sergeant Daly, threatening to reveal his relationship with Moll unless Daly was prepared to frame Harry Gleeson. Daly coached one of Moll's sons to say that Gleeson was the father of Moll's last child and the whole case against Gleeson rested on this. Gebler makes no mention of locals having heard gunshots, either on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. There are other aspects of the case that are central to Marcus Bourke's book that don't appear in The Dead Eight.
One problem with the novel is that it is, as the author states in the afterword "a hybrid that combines some factual content with a great body of invented speculative material". The difficulty for the reader is identifying which aspects of the story are based on fact and which are speculative - frustrating if you want a clear factual account of the case but a good device from the author's perspective as Gebler cannot be accused of inventing facts or blackening the names of real people. It is interesting to note that Gebler got a lot encouragement from Marcus Bourke when decidig to write the novel. I am certain Marcus Bourke knew a lot about the case that wasn't included in his own book for legal or other reasons.
Two things jumped out at me in particular. One is a letter from Miss Cooney of Garranlea House to John Timoney, Gleeson's solictor, written over a year after the execution. Miss Cooney states that Moll's son admitted to her that he had been coached by Sergeant Daly to give testimony against Gleeson i.e. that Gleeson was the father of Moll's last child. I presume this is factual and based on an authentic letter.
There is also an account of a confession made by one of Moll's killers to her son and grandson in 1966. The man was terminally ill at te time. I'd love to know if this is a purely speculative account or based on something that Gebler would have heard from Moll's surviving relatives.
Last edited by The Woodcock; 10-11-2012 at 00:36.