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Prostitute murder in Dublin 1920s/30s?



  • Registered Users Posts: 19 manchild

    Thanks for info on graveyard. Will go there soon. The local church usually has position and location of all graves in there records. This is the norm in rural graveyards in ireland. so it should be available at local church. Will check locally for you. I see the Garda staff magazine have recently done an article on the murder.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,649 ✭✭✭✭ CDfm

    You should check with the Church. I lived in England just down the road from where Ruth Ellis the last woman to be hanged was buried. Anyway her grave stone had a different name on it and I was told by a neighbour that it was the practice to deter sightseers/trophy hunters because of its notereity.

    Maybe there was something similar here.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,649 ✭✭✭✭ CDfm

    PLH wrote: »
    It's not known.

    I have looked for Leopold Dillon's place of birth in Ireland in 1900 but have not found it, nor his death certificate, though I am hampered by not knowing what year he died.

    I did a websearch of the 1911 census and there was one Leopold Dillon listed in 1911 aged 16

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4 Markao

    I am constantly amazed that this bit of history keeps cropping up in unexpected places. Is there any chance you might be able to send or direct me to where I might view the Garda Magazine Article? Best of luck in the graveyard and Church records.
    Smilalot M

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,080 ✭✭✭✭ Big Nasty

    I live like 2 seconds around the corner from where the plaque is - must try and get up to take a pic over the weekend.

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,649 ✭✭✭✭ CDfm

    Markao wrote: »
    I am constantly amazed that this bit of history keeps cropping up in unexpected places. Is there any chance you might be able to send or direct me to where I might view the Garda Magazine Article? Best of luck in the graveyard and Church records.
    Smilalot M

    I tried to find it online but havent been able too

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,080 ✭✭✭✭ Big Nasty

    MCMLXXV wrote: »
    I live like 2 seconds around the corner from where the plaque is - must try and get up to take a pic over the weekend.

    Two and a half years later and I managed to take a pic:


    It's located here.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 801 ✭✭✭ Wicklowandy

    CDfm wrote: »
    I did a websearch of the 1911 census and there was one Leopold Dillon listed in 1911 aged 16

    That's a very unusual census listing; was it a Protestant teenage home or similar at the time?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,095 ✭✭✭ jill_valentine

    Stumbled over this thread on the front page. Fascinating stuff!

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭ feargale

    Who is the publisher of Patricia Hughes' book?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7 bill1953

    I remember as a child on Dublin in the late 50s hearing my father talk about the case. Brenda Behan had a character Chrystal Clear based on her.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1

    Just came across this too and found it all fascinating. I did a few Google searches and discovered Patricia's book on Haven't managed to read it all yet but it is a riveting mystery. It would make an interesting film. If I were a relative of Honour Bright I would keep trying to find the truth as well. I wish her family well in their search for answers.

    A few interesting things came up online. "Honour Bright" was also the name of a racehorse, in Australia at the time I think, and the name I believe is still used for some horses in recent times.

    “Honour Bright” was the name of a racehorse mentioned in the short story “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence.

    In The Kerryman newspaper on Saturday, 22nd August 1925, there was a poem entitled “A Tribute to the late Michael Collins” by Mrs Hannah McCarthy, Caherciveen. The third verse goes like this:

    "A fond and loving brother he, a comrade gay and kind,
    So worthy, staunch and true a friend ‘twere very hard to find,
    With honour bright his motto, he was a leader grand,
    With brain and tongue he strove and clung to free his native land"

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 bill1953

    I remember my father saying she acquired the nickname Honour Bright by her habit of saying this phrase when promising to meet friends. I remember also him saying that there was a 'prominent person' rumoured to be involved in her death. Really interesting case. I will have to get Patricia's book.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,426 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pinkypinky

    Since this has been resurrected a little, I did some checking in the birth and death indexes for a Leopold Dillon.

    Only one birth of a Leopold MacGregor Dillon in Dublin South in 1894, which would fit the census record from St Columba's college.

    No deaths listed up to 1958, but if the above is right, no reason to think he'd be dead before then.

    It also looks like he married in 1937 to a woman called Helen Wilhelmina Anderson.

    Genealogy Forum Mod

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 bill1953

    I wonder if he moved to England or elsewhere and subsequently passed away?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 bill1953

    Just found this on Wikitree

    Leopold served as a Private in the Artists Rifles in 1919, Regimental No.8752. and Studied medicine at University College Cork
    Joined the Garda Siochana (Irish Police) on 20/8/1923 &
    Resigned 12/11/1923
    Rejoined 10/12/1923
    Promoted Superintendent 6/2/1924 – attached to Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow.
    Dismissed 6/7/1925
    On 4/7/1925 he was charged with his co-accused Dr. Patrick Purcell, Blessington, Co. Wicklow with the murder of Honor Bright (Lizzie O’Neill), 48, Newmarket Square, The Liberties, Dublin from Carlow who was found murdered on Tuesday 9/6/1925 at the crossroads at Ticknock, near Lamb Doyle’s pub, Dublin. The Trial began on 30/1/1926 and the accused were found not guilty on 3/2/1926.
    Leopold emigrated in 1926, departing from Liverpool on 1/4/1926 to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada on the ‘Montclare’ (Canadian Pacific Railway Line) arriving on 10/4/1926 – fare paid by his father and his occupation was given as a farmer and his address as 17, Clare Street, Cardiff.
    Leopold married Isabel Margaret Jean Brown (21/6/1904-14/2/1972), daughter of Harry W. Brown (1867-1960) & Helen Edy (1868-1942).

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,126 ✭✭✭ Santa Cruz

    This is another great story of our social history. It reminds me of the wonderful series of programmes introduced by Cathal O Shannon on R.T.E. a number of years ago in which he told the story of murders committed back in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭ Jellybaby1

    Dillon a 'farmer'? Considering his previous career, he obviously wanted to disappear. The story comes a fair bit forward and there must be descendants around but even they may not know the truth.

  • Registered Users Posts: 711 ✭✭✭ 1968

    The 5 Lamps Dublin Brewery brought out an ale called ‘Honour Bright’ last year.

    Some contemporary photographs and press snaps from the time at this link:

    We walked up through Kingston housing estate, crossed the M50 motorway and onto the Blackglen Road. Taking a sharp right onto Ticknock Road, we located the small plaque marking the place where the body of Honor Bright (real name Lily O’Neill), shot through the heart, was found on June 9th 1925.

    Lily, originally from County Clare, lived at 48 Newmarket in the Liberties and worked as a prostitute in the vicinity of the Shelbourne Hotel on Stephen’s Green. A mother of a young child, it was rumoured that she was forced to turn to prostitution after she was fired from her job for having a child out of wedlock. On the night of her murder, she was seen outside the Shelbourne talking to two men in a grey sports car. These were later identified as Dr. Patrick Purcell from Blessington, Co. Wicklow and a former Garda Superintendent, Leo Dillon from Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow. It was reported in the press that Dillon had served with both the British Army and Free State army.

    That night, Dr. Purcell claimed to a number of people that he had been robbed earlier of £11 by a prostitute and that he was out looking for her. It was repeated in the newspapers that he told a cab driver that “‘if he got her he would put a gun through her mouth … (and) if he did not get her, some other girl would fall a victim”. One of the last people to see Lily alive was a taxi driver Ernest Woodroffe who came forward and said that he had dropped her to Leonard’s Corner, about ten minutes walk from her house, just after 2:30am. As the cab driver headed back towards the Green, he saw the distinct grey sports car drive past him, towards where he had just left the girl.

    Her body was found in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains at 7am. In an era when cars were scarce, the sports car was quickly traced to Dr Purcell who admitted being in the city on the evening Lily was murdered with Leo Dillon. The latter of which eventually admitted that he had ‘been with her’ that night but said he had last seen her getting into a taxi at St Stephen’s Green and driving off.

    Although the taxi driver testified that he had seen Purcell’s car in the vicinity of Leonard’s Corner after dropping Lily and a Garda said he saw Purcell and Dillon with Lily speaking beside the grey sports car in Harold’s Cross later that night, the jury believed that there were a lack of sufficient evidence and acquitted the two men in just three minutes.

    Folk singer Peter Yeates wrote and recorded a song in memory of ‘Honor Bright’ in the early 1980s.