Was the 'pig' Dublin's 'Jack the Ripper' ?

While the area known as "The Liberties" was always regarded as part of the real old Dublin, there was a time in the 18th century when it had its own dark story to tell.

Most of the older generation have read or heard of the London murders committed by an unknown murderer called "Jack the Ripper" who killed several women in that city. While the police eventually discovered that all the women killed were "Ladies of the Night" or to put it another way, prostitutes, the murders caused a panic in the city for a while and then stopped. It was never known who the 'Ripper' really was although several were suspected.

Now we will return to the story of the Liberties and Dublin. A woman had been found murdered and after a short time the police found who the alleged murderer was and he was brought to trial and sentenced to death. The man's name was Olocher and he cheated the hangman when he committed suicide in the prison. This caused uproar in the prison with the authorities questioning the prison officials on how it happened.

Within a few days, the prison staff had another worry on their minds. One of the sentry posts, a little removed from the main prison, had a sentry on duty every night and imagine the shock when he was found lying unconscious on the ground. He had been badly mauled and when he recovered his senses he told his listeners that he had been attacked by a big black pig. At first, no one believed his story but when he was stripped in the prison hospital, his wounds were so horrible that some began to believe him.

The prison staff was now on full alert and set to make sure nothing else happened but they had another shock coming. About a week after the happening to the first sentry, another sentry detailed for duty at the same lonely post was missing when his relief came to replace him. A search was at once organised and the man's clothes were discovered at the rear of the sentry box. His rifle was standing with the butt on the ground and his clothes, uniform, tunic, trousers and shirt were piled beside it. The news of the second strange happening in the prison spread quickly and now a fear of the night spread through the Liberties and well it might for woman after woman who was foolish enough to go out on their own were attacked night after night.

The fear that haunted the Liberties soon spread to other parts of the city and it was noticed that it was always young women who were attacked. The name used by people for the attacker changed to 'The Dolocher'. This name came from the things which had happened in the prison after Olocher who had a reputation for attacks on women along with other crimes committed suicide. (The prison, which was known as 'the Black Dog Prison" at the time stood on Thomas Street, not far from Brown's Castle).
Some of the girls who were attacked told that their attacker had the face of a pig. By this time Dublin was deserted city at night time, a city that trembled with fear as the long winter nights shrouded the unlighted streets of the Liberties and other parts of Dublin. Eventually, the long nights ended and with the coming of late spring and summer, the attacks ended. As the longs days and short nights began to end with the coming of late autumn, people hoped and prayed the evil monster that had prowled there last winter would not return. The nights of November saw their hopes dashed as on a foggy night another young woman was attacked and her cries for help were heard and the attacker fled. But the girl's story was that her attacker was "the black pig".

The fear that had been over the people the previous year returned and some families barred their doors at night time. A couple of weeks passed and a couple more women were attacked and then the weather took a hand. It was a late November evening but fine, and a blacksmith from the edge of the Liberties decided to take a walk to his favourite tavern in Thomas Street for a drink and a chat with his friends. Time passed quickly and the blacksmith decided it was time to go home. When he came out of the tavern, he discovered it was raining and as he had brought no coat with him, he returned to the tavern owner for the loan of something to keep the rain off him. The tavern owner gave him a long hooded cloak belonging to his wife. The blacksmith set off to walk home through the dark streets and alleyways of the Liberties. He had just reached the end of a dark alleyway when a figure sprang at him and attempted to punch him to the ground. In a flash, he realised that his attacker was the black pig, while the black pig realised that this was no frail woman as he had thought because he was wearing a cloak. In a few minutes, the blacksmith had his attacker on the ground and then he pulled off the skin of a black pig's head the man was wearing. By this time, three or four men had arrived on the scene and thinking that it was another attack on a woman had come as quickly as they could. They were in no way gentle with him as they dragged him to his feet and brought him to a police station. It was there the next morning that the man was identified. He was the soldier who had gone missing from his post in the prison.

Courtesy of Willie White and The Carlow Nationalist