Griffintown is a borough in the city of Montréal along the Lachine Canal. This area of the city is known for being mostly populated with Irish immigrants at the beginning of the 19th century that continued well into the 1960s. The name Griffintown comes from Mary Griffin, who illegally obtained the lease to the land from a business associate of Thomas McCord in 1799 (talk about a rough start). This historic neighborhood has many gruesome stories to tell, no doubt, but amongst the most infamous is the murder of Mary Gallagher.
Mary Gallagher was a prostitute in the 19th century working in Griffintown. On June 27th, 1879, the town was shocked to learn that Mary had not only been murdered but beheaded on the corner of William and Murray street. Even more shocking, her best friend, Susan Kennedy, a fellow sex worker herself, was tried for the murder and found guilty along with a “companion” of Mary who was also present at the time of the murder, Michael Flanagan. Susan Kennedy was sentenced to hang on December 5th, 1879. However, her death sentence was over-turned, and she was released from prison 16 years later. The records of her whereabouts stop after that.
What about Flanagan? Well, as an article published by Vice in 2017 states,
“In an extraordinary coincidence, on Dec. 5—the day Kennedy had been sentenced to hang—Flanagan was working aboard a boat in the Peel Basin when he missed his footing and fell into the water. He disappeared beneath the ice and drowned.”Patrick Lejtenyi, 2017
That is quite the eerie coincidence, to say the least.
According to the same article by Vice, the town had not seen a murder in two years at that point, the last one being in 1877. Additionally, the brutality and the perpetrator of the crime have all had a hand in making this story infamous.
Since then, people in town claim that every 7 years on the anniversary of her death she makes an appearance. She is said to roam the streets, looking for her missing head.
Today, the corner of William and Murray looks a lot different than it used to when it was Ms Gallagher’s stomping grounds. The area has been gentrified and the house where Mary was murdered no longer stands, but that doesn’t mean that her presence no longer lingers.
Griffintown has undergone many changes since Mary’s time, but her story is still told and she is known locally to everyone in town. The last time she made an appearance was on the 140th anniversary of her death, which happened to be June 27th, 2019. Since she makes an appearance every 7 years, the next time she’ll be seen is June 27th, 2026.
Mark your calendars, folks.
Do you believe in the ghost of Mary Gallagher? Have you been lucky enough to spot her? Let me know in the comments down below.