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Woman and her two new-born babies found dead in Cork lodging house
Carrigaline, where the the deceased woman had worked until recent months, and where the babies' father still worked Photo: National Library of Ireland, L_ROY_09515

Woman and her two new-born babies found dead in Cork lodging house

Cork, 7 March 1918 - An inquest has been held into the death of Bridget Doyle, a native of Borris, Co. Carlow, whose body has been found in a lodging house in Cork alongside the dead bodies of her two new-born children.

Ms Doyle, unmarried, had been employed until recent months at Coolmore House in Carrigaline.

In evidence provided to the coroner, Mr Timothy West, who works as a coachman at Coolmore, confessed to having intimate relations with Ms Doyle as a result of which she had become pregnant. He claimed that he had offered to marry her, but that she had rejected him.

However, Sergeant Flanagan, who conducted the examination, accused Mr West of leaving this ‘fine girl’ at the ‘mercy of the world’.

Mr West admitted that when last he saw Ms Doyle, on Sunday week last, there had been no mention of marriage, but he had offered to make arrangements for her the later stages of her pregnancy. Ms Doyle declined, saying she would look after herself.

Ms Doyle was residing in recent weeks at the lodging house of Mrs Kate Sheehan at 39 Pope’s Quay, Cork and it was there that she was found dead.

On the night before she was found, the deceased came downstairs looking ill. Mrs Sheehan offered her aid and gave her some brandy.

The following morning, Dr Shinkwin was called to the house where Ms Doyle was found lying dead on a sofa.

When he examined her room afterwards, he found a brown leather bag in a corner. The dead bodies of two male children were contained within. One of the children was stillborn while the other had been born alive before it was suffocated by a towel wrapped around its head.

Ms Doyle had died from shock, due to haemorrhage and want of treatment. A post-mortem examination confirmed that Ms Doyle would not have died if she had received proper attention.

The lodging house owner, Mrs Sheehan, was commended by the coroner for behaving humanely towards ‘this friendless girl’.

Death sentence in Westmeath
In a separate tragic case in Westmeath, a 19-year old woman, Margaret Travers, has been found guilty of the murder of her 11-month old ‘illegitimate’ child.

Ms Travers a domestic servant, had entered Delvin Workhouse where her child was born and she remained in the institution until last December. Questioned by the police, Ms Travers confessed to smothering the infant in a drain down a boreen near the town.

The jury at the Westmeath Assizes found her guilty with a recommendation to mercy. However, Mr Justice Gibson passed a sentence of death.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.