Pa’s Molly Maguires: Fact v. Fiction

Anne Flaherty presented this paper at the 33rd annual meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies-Western Regional [ACIS-West]. The theme of the conference, held in October 2017 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, was “Ireland, Irish America, and Work.”

Pennsylvania’s “Molly Maguire” history is such an odd blend of fact and fiction, it’s hard to know where to start. Anne Flaherty came to this work through her relationship to John Kehoe, alleged “King of the Mollies.” Anne’s mother’s family was descended from Kehoe’s eldest daughter, Margaret (photo left). Margaret was about ten when her father was hanged. To give an idea of the scope of this conflict, Margaret was one of at least forty-three children of alleged “Mollies” left fatherless after the executions (nine of the twenty-one condemned men were forty years of age or older).

Ms. Flaherty’s research has taken more than fifteen years and has yielded some startling and dramatic finds. She discovered that from 1871 to 1875, Pennsylvania’s Hibernians charged as terroristic “Mollies” had become a social, political, religious, and industrial force.