The Much-Maligned Mary Pike by Kieran Groeger

Post date: Apr 25, 2019 12:51:36 PM

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In Pursuit of the Heiress

– The Much-Maligned Mary Pike and Other Stories –

Mary Pike, a wealthy, young Quaker heiress, was kidnapped in July 1797 by a widowed knight, Sir Henry Brown Hayes, intent on forcing her into marriage and getting his hands on her fortune. She was rescued from his house, Vernon Mount, in Cork city.

He fled the country but, then decided that public opinion was in his favour and he challenged her to face him in court. He was shocked when Mary Pike won the case and he was soon sentenced to transportation for life in Australia, where the governor was a certain Captain Bligh, lately of the Bounty.

Sadly, the history books tell us that the subsequent ordeal was too much for Mary Pike – she suffered a nervous breakdown and died in a mental hospital.

In the recently published, The Much-Maligned Mary Pike: The Rebel County and '98, author, Dr Kieran Groeger, delights in stripping away the layers of documentation, analysing legends, old newspaper accounts, piecing together the clues to reveal a truly astonishing story.

The 1798 Rebellion of the United Irishmen features as backdrop to these events. To people who would ask, 'did nothing happen in Cork during this period?', the author’s unequivocal response is that a lot happened. The city is brought to life in this much anticipated volume.

The book will be launched on Friday, 10 May at 12.30pm in the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, where originals of illustrations featured in the book are on display. The event is hosted by Friends of Crawford Art Gallery and all are welcome to attend.

Kieran will also be speaking at the subject of "The Abduction of Mary Pike and that fateful night in Vernon Mount, Cork" at Dromana House and Gardens on Sunday, 5 May as part of a day-long programme of talks and lectures that runs from 10.30am to 4pm. Other speakers will include:

Julian Walton on "The Drawbacks and Dangers of Heiress Hunting"

Judy Brittain on "The Decorative Life of Marie Antoinette – the Glittering Road to the Guillotine"

Dr. Dagmar O'Riain-Raedel on "The Irish 'Wild Geese': In Search of Fortune in the Hapsburg Empire"

For enquiries bookings, contact Dromana House and Gardens:


Tel: 086 8186305


There is a charge of €70 per person or, €125 for two persons, to include morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

The Much-Maligned Mary Pike: The Rebel County and '98 by Kieran Groeger is published by The Manuscript Publisher and on sale now. It is available to buy online as well as in all good bookshops. RRP €14.99.

Dr Kieran Groeger is also the author of The Trial and Execution of James Cotter, the Little Book of Youghal, along with other books and articles on Irish and local history. He is a retired teacher, avid Francophile and regular cyclist.