From top: Ballycotton postcard, 1900s; item in the irish Times, March 16, 1901
‘Forgotten Irish Tricksters‘ is a new series by distinguished historical blogger Sibling of Daedalus exploring the absolute chancers that brought acting the maggot to an artform but are now barely remembered.
Number 1: ‘Mary Kate Hodges’.
The Reverend John Hodges, of Ballycotton, County Cork, was a very popular clergyman. So much so, that when his young daughter Mary Kate died tragically in 1888, the local fishermen gave up a day’s work to carry her coffin on their shoulders to burial.
But was she really dead?
In 1901, the Irish Times carried a story about an alleged daughter of the same Reverend Hodges, who claimed to have been the beneficiary of a miracle. After spending her childhood in a deaf and dumb institution in Dublin, she had recently recovered her powers of speech and hearing shortly after reaching her 18th birthday.
Miss Mary Kate Hodges attributed her recovery to having recently become a Catholic, and in turn, was happy to help others by offering up masses for their souls. She needed money from them, however, to pay for masses; otherwise she could do nothing.
A subsequent Daily Mail investigation questioning her bona fides silenced the story for a few years. It came up again in the news, however, in 1904, when the same Mary Kate Hodges, now married to an American by the name of Mitchell Drew, brought proceedings to evict another woman from her family home.
Great excitement was occasioned when, in the course of the proceedings, it transpired that Mitchell Drew was in fact Michael Buckley from Queenstown, and the ‘other woman’ was his lawfully married wife who had refused to leave after having been displaced in his affections by Mary Kate.
Her status as spouse did not help her, however. The jury, impressed with Mary Kate’s evidence of her miraculous recovery and respectable family antecedents, granted her an order ejecting her rival.
Possibly they may have regretted this fact when, a few days after the case, a letter appeared in the Cork Examiner from the Hodges family disclaiming any knowledge whatsoever of a daughter called Mary Kate.
A ‘wrong’un’ hidden away and disclaimed by her family or a cunning manipulative trickster?
Only YOU Can decide.