A story in Life Magazine (1956)

On Mar 19, 1956, LIFE Magazine published an article on the controversial story of Bridey Murphy (“Here Facts About Bridey that Reporters Found in Ireland”, see p. 32).
A number of  inaccuracies stand out on a particular vignette within the main article. Consider the first one ~ according to ‘Fact’ #11:
—–
  • ‘Bridey: In Belfast, her husband taught law at Queen’s University and wrote a few articles for the Belfast News-Letter. Fact: There was no law school at that time. And there was no Queen’s College until 1849. Queen’s University did not come into existence until 1908. But there was a Belfast News-Letter, though its back issues disclose no contributions from Brian.’

Let’s get a closer look at the statements in bold. First of all, there is no certainty as to what precise time frame or period was assigned to the time in which the alleged husband to Bridey taught law or wrote for the News-Letter.

In “there was no law school at that time“, we have the same problem ~ what time are they referring to?

Further, we read, “And there was no Queen’s College until 1849”.

Yet on the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature’, Ninth Edition, Volume 23, edited by Thomas Spencer Baynes (published in 1891 in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons), we find:

(… The Queen’s Colleges at Belfast, Cork, and Galway were founded in December 1845, under an Act of Parliament “to enable Her Majesty to endow new colleges for the advancement of learning in Ireland,” and were subsequently incorporated as colleges of the university.’)

While the College was founded in 1845, it did not open until 1849. Now, from the ‘Report On The Condition And Progress Of  Queen’s University In Ireland, From 1st September, 1856, to 1st September, 1857″ :

    • ‘In October, 1849, the six Law Professors of the Queen’s Colleges met and drew up a course, which is the course now pursued in the College’. 
In Mary Mulvihill’s ‘Ingenious Ireland’, we learn that
    • ‘...Belfast was chosen over Armagh, when, in 1845, the Government set up the Queen’s University of Ireland.’.
And even further:
    • ‘…When Queen’s College Belfast opened its doors in 1849, it had 20 professors, 100 students and four faculties – Arts, Sciences (including Engineering), Law and Medicine.’.

Conclusion: Queen’s University did exist in Belfast since 1845 ~ that is, well before 1908. Also, there was a faculty of laws in Queen’s College, Belfast, where law courses were taught as early as 1849. These facts appear to be in direct contradiction with those presented by the reporters of LIFE Magazine (Bill Barker of the Denver Post and others).

No signs so far, however, of any contribution by a Brian MacCarthy on the Belfast News-Letter.

 

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