Documentary on One

Little Molly O'Neill - A Survivor's Story

1922, Alice O'Neill and 7 of her children are killed in a suspicious fire - 1 child survives, 8yr old 'Little Molly' - 90 yrs later, Molly's family tell the story of that night - as we discover what happened.

Little Molly O'Neill - A Survivor's Story

The headstone at the graveyard in Ballygarrett
The headstone at the graveyard in Ballygarrett

In a graveyard in Wexford is a family headstone. Many names are listed but one date stands out among the others - Christmas Eve 1922, when a mother - Alice O'Neill - and her seven children all died on the same day.

They all died in a fire that was to haunt a community and shape a family for generations. The fire left only one survivor from the family - an eight year old girl 'little Molly' - to carry on the family's history.

"Family Wiped Out. Awful Tragedy Near Gorey. Widow and seven children burned to death. Question of Malice" read the headline of The Free Press on Saturday December 30th 1922.

After the fire, the Coroner held a hearing in the local pub. Eighteen jurors gathered to try to decide had the fire been started out of malice. Had somebody deliberately crept around the back of the house and set fire to a rick of hay which then spread to the main house, setting the thatched roof alight and setting the whole house ablaze?

In the months leading up to the fire, other mysterious things had happened on the farm - potatoes were reportedly pulled up, the meadow-field was 'spiked' so that machinery working the field was damaged.

But could somebody have started this devastating fire deliberately?

That eight year old survivor - 'Little Molly' - went on to marry and have her own children - now her family tell Molly's story.

"Little Molly O'Neill - A Survivor's Story " was made and presented by Pat Shine.

Production supervision was by Nicoline Greer.

Sound supervision was by Damien Channelles.

The voice of the reporter was by Enda Oates.

"Chuadar Siar's Aníar ar na Sraideanna" was sung by Kate Barry.


First broadcast 18th February 2012.

'Documentary on One is the home of Irish radio documentaries and the largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere in the world. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish ones, and each documentary tells its own story'

Documentary Maker: Pat Shine

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Documentary maker: Nicoline Greer

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