Episode 178: Darkey Kelly - Witch, devil worshipper or Ireland's first female serial killer?
A new theory began to emerge that she was a serial killer after a newspaper report suggested that five bodies were found beneath the floorboards of her former brothel
Nicola TallantSunday World
Witch, devil worshipper and Ireland’s first serial killer are just some of the titles that have been bestowed on Darkey Kelly over the years.
Born in the 1700s as Dorcas, she ran a brothel on Fishamble Street in Dublin’s city centre.
And while not much is known about her life, the story went that she was burned at the stake for witchcraft after she sacrificed her baby to the devil in 1746.
But in 2011, researchers debunked the theory when they discovered that the sex worker was actually publicly executed in 1761 for the murder of shoemaker Patrick Dowling on March 17th the year previously.
However, a new theory began to emerge that she was a serial killer after a newspaper report suggested that five bodies were found beneath the floorboards of her former brothel.
In 2022, PhD researcher Shannon Hughes Spence, who has an interest in women, witches and murder, took it upon herself to investigate whether or not Darkey was in fact a serial killer.
Crime World's Clodagh Meaney chats with Shannon to discuss the King of Hell, public executions and the truth about the infamous murderer.