Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago


O'Brien, Gillian-4- credit Alistair DanielAlmost 12,000 people streamed into the First Cavalry Armory on Michigan Avenue in Chicago on May 25, 1889 to view the coffin of Dr. P.H. Cronin, an Irish physician and political activist who had been savagely murdered.

“It was one of the first ‘sensational’ murders covered by the Chicago press and far beyond,” says Gillian O’Brien, author of Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2015; $17). “It wasn’t just the newspapers that were fascinated – there were Dime Novels written about the crime, waxwork reproductions were made of the body, the suspects and the horse that took the doctor to the scene of his murder was put on show at a Dime Museum. The house where he was killed was opened to the public for a fee.”

For O’Brien, a historian and Reader in Modern Irish History at Liverpool John Moores University, it wasn’t just the luridness of the crime that caught her interest but that Cronin, involved in a secret Irish American republican society, was murdered because he fell out with the leadership of the organization called Clan na Gael. She first learned about the murder while Blood Runs Greenresearching at the Newberry Library in Chicago and after running across numerous references to the investigation and trial she searched for a book about Cronin but learned that little had been written since shortly after the trial.

“The repercussions of the murder on the Irish in Chicago and the Irish in America more broadly were very significant,” she says explaining her reason for undertaking extensive research to and writing the book. “There was a backlash against the Irish with many arguing that a hyphenated identity was problematic. There was a feeling that the Irish could never be truly American because of their residual loyalty to Ireland. The fact that an Irish political murder took place on American soil was also a cause for great concern. It was the combination of the sensational crime and the impact of it on Irish America and on Irish republicanism that made it a very compelling story for me.”



Author: Jane Simon Ammeson

Jane Simon Ammeson is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, food and personalities. She writes frequently for The Times of Northwest Indiana, Mexico Connect, Long Weekends magazine, Edible Michiana, Lakeland Boating, Food Wine Travel magazine , Lee Publications, and the Herald Palladium where she writes a weekly food column. Her TouchScreenTravels include Indiana's Best. She also writes a weekly book review column for The Times of Northwest Indiana as well as food and travel, has authored 16 books including Lincoln Road Trip: The Back-road Guide to America's Favorite President, a winner of the Lowell Thomas Journalism Award in Travel Books, Third Place and also a Finalist for the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the Travel category. Her latest books are America's Femme Fatale: The Story of Serial Killer Belle Gunness and Classic Restaurants of Northwest Indiana. Her other books include How to Murder Your Wealthy Lovers and Get Away with It, A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana and Murders That Made Headlines: Crimes of Indiana, all historic true crime as well Hauntings of the Underground Railroad: Ghosts of the Midwest, Brown County, Indiana and East Chicago. Jane’s base camp is Stevensville, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. Follow Jane at;;;, and on her travel and food blog and book blog:

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