In 1879, a grisly murder occurred in Montreal’s Griffintown neighbourhood. Now, 140 years later, many believe the ghost of a beheaded woman will return, seeking her decapitated head and perhaps also to cause trouble.
Mary Gallagher was a prostitute; her lifeless body was found in Suzy Kennedy’s apartment on June 27, 1879 amid obvious signs of a struggle. Police apprehended Kennedy, covered in blood, at the scene. Michael Flanagan, a client apparently also present during the murder, was later picked up nearby by police, but released uncharged for the crime.
Prostitutes Gallagher and Kennedy
Gallagher and Kennedy had been out together on the St-Jean Baptiste holiday, looking for clients, when they encountered Flanagan. Gallagher succeeded in seducing Flanagan while Kennedy went home alone. Was Kennedy jealous of her older friend? Gallagher had greying hair and was 11 years senior to Kennedy; why did Flanagan not choose the younger woman?
Three days later, Gallagher and Flanagan dropped by at Kennedy’s apartment located at 242 William Street. Loud noises were heard by the downstairs neighbours, followed by blood dripping through the ceiling.
Things did not end well for either Kennedy or Flanagan. Convicted of murder, Kennedy was sentenced to be hanged, but her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. After spending 11 years in a tiny, unsanitary cell at Kingston Penitentiary, Kennedy died of pulmonary tuberculosis.
2019 Marks 140th Anniversary of Brutal Murder…
Meanwhile, five months after the murder, Flanagan fell through ice on the Lachine Canal and died. By strange coincidence, this happened on December 5, 1879–the very day that Kennedy had been scheduled to be hanged. Some suggest that Gallagher’s vengeful ghost pushed Flanagan to his death…
Many witnesses claim to have seen Gallagher’s ghost over the years according to Alan Hustak, author of The Ghost of Griffintown. The expectation is that she will make a special effort this year, the 140th anniversary of her grisly murder. A tour company named Haunted Montreal provides more information.
Montreal’s most haunted crossroads
“The spooky corner of William and Murray Streets is without a doubt Montreal’s most haunted crossroads,” says tour organizer Donovan King. “Today the area is undergoing rapid gentrification and the site of Mary Gallagher’s brutal murder in 1879, once a ramshackle tenement house on the south-east corner, is now a vacant lot.”
On June 27, storytellers will tell the infamous ghost story from 7- 10 pm, free of charge, in front of where Kennedy’s apartment stood. The story will be told in both French and English every 30 minutes on the hour. Tips for the actors are appreciated.
Or to find out more, you can join a Haunted Griffintown tour that runs for 90 minutes around the neighbourhood where Gallagher was murdered. King and his company also offer tours entitled: Haunted Downtown, Haunted Mountain, and a Haunted Pub Crawl. Most are 90 minutes in length, but the pub crawl lasts two hours. Tickets cost $24; tax included and can be purchased online.
“Our animators are professional actors and storytellers who are generally outgoing and dramatic, while also being friendly and attentive to clients’ needs,” continues King. “We are proud to pay local actors union-based wages.”