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A strange discovery near Loughrea – 1876

Northern Argus, 20th October, 1876 p4

Sphagnum Moss  Photo: Wikimol Wikimedia Commons

Sphagnum Moss
Photo: Wikimol
Wikimedia Commons

(abridged)

A correspondent of the Freeman has sent the following account of a remarkable discovery in a bog near Loughrea:

Last week the body of a full-grown female was dug up by a young man while cutting turf in Carnagarry bog, about two miles from this town. The body is supposed to be buried over 200 years, as the turf was quite close all round it and cut like soap, having no appearance of being recently disturbed. Some years ago there was a bank cut off this place about six feet deep. This recent cutting of a second bank uncovered the body two feet below the surface. The body must have been buried about eight feet deep. .

An inquest was held, and the jury found a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown. The body had the appearance of a well-tanned leather bag of a dark brown colour. With the exception of the top of the nose being shrunk, and the under jaw a little to one side, the features were perfect. The top of the nose could be easily lifted back to its place, it being just like the finger of a glove. The throat was evidently cut, as the cut was quite visible. The feet and hands appear, to be quite small; the calf of the leg large as it formed a great empty bag, the two sides of which were clapped or drawn together. The police say that her height was about 5ft 7in. Her teeth were regular and sound. Her hair seemed as fresh and glossy as if only buried yesterday; in the knot of hair at the back of her head was found a beautiful carved wooden comb, with a cord and tassle attached.

The oldest inhabitant here never remembers having seen anything like it. Some say the cord and tassle are silk, while others say it is flax. As silk is an animal matter it would rot away, but the flax would stand. The comb is in the possession of Mr. Reeves, sub-inspector of police.

There was also found round her neck another cord with a purse attached, which seems to have thrown light upon the matter.

Lord Ashton says, I hear, that there is an old story in his family that shortly after the battle of Aughrim two servant maids were sent by one of his ancestors from Woodlawn to Loughrea with a purse of money to pay an account. They never returned. One was a red-haired woman, the other black.

About three years ago, while cutting turf in the same bog and bank, but not so deep, only about six feet before mentioned, the skull of a red-haired woman was dug up. Rumour also has it that the body has been dug up again and sent to either Dublin or Galway.

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