Mary Jane Kelly

Today, a hundred and twenty five years ago, Mary Jane Kelly died. At 13 Miller’s Court. In Whitechapel. Ring any bells? Maybe her other names – Marie Jeanette Kelly, Fair Emma, Ginger, Black Mary? No? Now then, how about the name, nay, pseudonym of “Jack the Ripper”? Ah, now we are getting somewhere, shivers running down your spine and all that.

Indeed … Mary Jane Kelly is reputed to have been the fifth, last and most gruesomely mutilated victim of the Whitechapel killer.

Or killers. Or an opportunist. Or she might not have been murdered at all. She was the youngest victim, not quite fitting in with classical serial killer psychology. Neither does the reported fact that she might well have been the prettiest of all the canonical victims – relatively speaking, but leading to her being portrayed by actresses such as Edina Ronay, Susan Clark, Lysette Anthony and Heather Graham. All quite easy on the eye.

And, here we come to the reason for the inclusion here … Mary Jane Kelly might have been Irish. She claimed to have been born in Limerick around 1863. But she spoke Welsh. Which was explained by the family moving across the water when she was young. She was also Roman-Catholic. Which is definitely more Irish than Welsh. And she might well have had red hair, which proves … nothing. So there you go – Jack the Ripper’s Irish victim.

125 years ago her mutilated body was found in her lodgings. Launching a million conspiracy theories, the pseudo-science of Ripperology (of which, I admit, I am an amateur practitioner).

We are no nearer to a solution … neither will we ever be, despite the regular publication of the very final-ist of solutions to the murder mystery. Despite the efforts of Sherlock Holmes and Patricia Cornwell. Despite a huge playing field of possibilities and suspects. And all because there is no real evidence. Just an uneasy and often weird “consensus” of what the phenomenon “Jack the Ripper” should be. Starting with the canonical five victims. The last of which was Limerick lass Mary Jane Kelly.

Unfortunately also the victim that does not fit in with the while serial killer scenario.

Anyway, may she rest in peace … and act as a reminder that brutal murders of vulnerable humans are far beyond a modern thing. They have only been documented and publicised far and wide in recent decades. They have always been there.

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