Written by Elizabeth Gale
I didn’t react well when I learned the truth. I can admit that now. What was I supposed to do? I’d just found out murder was in my DNA.
Not run of the mill murder, but mass murder.
I’d worked in Dublin for almost four months. I still couldn’t believe I’d earned an international internship in my grandfather’s birth country.
I fit right in in Ireland. No longer did my copper hair and freckle masses draw attention. Instead, I received accepting nods from the locals, acknowledging my ancestral roots. It felt like home.
I wanted to learn more about my family heritage while I was abroad.
I had no idea what kind of trouble it would bring.
“Okay, Miss, tell us again. Why is there an angry mob outside our gate?” The Embassy Official asked as he glared out the window at the unruly crowd below.
I did my best to explain. Sam, Julia and I had tracked down the small town where my grandfather was born – a quaint little town called Adare.
We’d arrived early and wandered the town for hours, eating and shopping. I was always looking for tiny treasures to bring home. I purchased a sterling silver sewing kit in an antique shop, but it was really information we were looking for. We asked around if anyone my grandfather’s name. “Peter Blayney, have you heard of him?”
At first, people were friendly and welcoming. The mood changed dramatically as our morning progressed. The real creepy part started when a man began to follow us. He was surprisingly nimble for his old age, effortlessly keeping us with us as we navigated village road. We tried to lose him, but couldn’t. Soon a woman with a creepy silhouette joined pursuit. We decided to head home, thinking we’d leave them behind, but they hopped in a car and followed us.
“Sam drove to the US Embassy and kicked me out of his car. He kept saying they were after me, but I have no idea why!” I told the Embassy agent.
No one at the Embassy knew what to do with me. Hours passed and I grew sleepy. The mob outside had not grown, but it hadn’t subsided either.
I dozed off. It’s exhausting running for your life in a foreign country, especially when you don’t know why.
When I woke up, a stack of newspaper clippings sat in front of me. The first headline was dated 1932. “ADARE MURDERESS HUNG IN TOWN SQUARE,” it shouted, followed by a smaller “Son disappears!”.
Not sure why these had been left for me, I read on.
The Adare Murderess, aka Moira Blayney, had poisoned her entire town of Adare. She dumped several pounds of arsenic into the Adare Well, a heavily used water source in the village’s town square. With one fail swoop, the Adare Murderess killed 116 people. She confessed readily to the crime was sentenced to death. She was hung in the town square, within steps of the well she had poisoned.
I leafed through the articles. Many speculated on motive, others on the whereabouts of her missing son. All agreed Moira had gone crazy. She was said to have been lead to the gallows mumbling intelligibly, her red hair wild and green eyes wide. No one knew why she’d killed so many.
“When you were going around town, name dropping your grandfather. Locals connected the dots and identified you. You look just like your great grandmother, the Adare Murderess.”
He poured a cup of tea and slid it toward me. “Drink.” he suggested, “you’ll feel better.”
I drank while he made conversation. He chatted about his dog, then about his job at the embassy, then about his own family. “My ancestors come from Adare,” he said as he watched me drink, “the ones who weren’t murdered,” he added.
That’s when I lost my cool. I told you, I’m not proud of the way I handled myself. I was sure this Embassy agent was trying to revenge poison me for my grandmother’s crimes. I panicked.
Unwilling to swallow another drop of poison, I spit my mouthful of tea into the agent’s face. He was shocked, and tried to grab my arm. I swiped the cup of hot tea onto his lap.
I had to get away. Everyone seemed out to get me.
I ran down the hallway, then down the stairs. I tried to find words to explain my fears, but they came out in a jumble. I was aware that I looked insane, but I couldn’t help it. My wild red hair bounced behind me and my green eyes were wide. Despite the chaos, I was acutely aware of my sudden resemblance to my great-grandmother as she was lead to the gallows. Would death be my fate as well?
The guards were shocked by my behavior. “Calm down!” one of the them shouted as they chased me outside. I was trapped between approaching guards on one side and an angry mob on the other.
I collapsed into a pile on the ground. Total mental breakdown. “I just want to go home,” I cried.
Within hours, I had boarded a plane headed for the US. I carried nothing but the silver sewing kit I had purchased in Adare. I opened the box and ran my fingers over the large silver sewing needle and thimble inside. Perhaps it had been used by my great grandmother, before she went crazy and killed her whole town.
As the plane lifted above the clouds, I felt like such a fool. I had wanted to learn about my family. I had wanted an adventure. All I’d managed to do was flee Ireland without a shred of dignity and babble incoherently under my wild red hair, like my grandfather and my great-grandmother before me.
At least I hadn’t murdered anyone.