web analytics

Chicago May – the Mary Ann Duignan Story…

Court sketch of Chicago May on trial in 1907
Court sketch of Chicago May on trial in 1907
Mary Ann Duignan was the daughter of Francis Duignan of Edenmore in Ballinamuck where she grew up, and Ann Grey of Mohill in Leirtim. From a poor background she would rise - or fall as we may see it! - to being one of the biggest conwomen of her time, who would call herself the "Queen of Crooks", in time though, the law caought up with her and she died in poverty and obscurity. She was the Ronnie Biggs of her day...
Mary Ann Duignan was the daughter of Francis Duignan of Edenmore in Ballinamuck where she grew up, and Ann Grey of Mohill in Leirtim. From a poor background she would rise – or fall as we may see it! – to being one of the biggest conwomen of her time, who would call herself the “Queen of Crooks”, in time though, the law caought up with her and she died in poverty and obscurity. She was the Ronnie Biggs of her day…

 

Not for her the toil of the cold hard soil
The neighbours angry word, the calling agent of the landlord
The cries of hungry children and roars of drunken men
The cattle bearing the ribbonmens sword: a mother of many with more on board

Her? She saught freedom.

She asked her father for her share of the money she new was there
Angrily he replied, she was rebuked, denied
Prodigal daughter with greed did look, one night flight with the lot she took
With exhaustion her mother sighed as the first breaths of life her sister cried.

She took freedom.

To Liverpool she set sail and did not fail
Fabrics fair she bought the latest garments to wear
Only herself to please she took again to the seas
She did not care: no one would know here over there

She relished freedom.

But there with temptation of drink, money runs out quicker than you think
The crisis present is real, she learns quick to steal
On the wind a girl wont thrive: must do what she must to survive
This is the streets deal, hard hearts don’t feel

How high the price of freedom!

But better times and more high profile crimes
With lovers she took to her bed and not clients instead
The life of romance, the Telegraph raid in France
What a life she led from the one for which she was bred:

Drunk on the excitement of freedom!

But time in time saw the long hand of the law
Cut her down in the prime of her crime
One lover another shot, in the foot the bullet him it got
Fate strikes sudden and sublime: seventeen years was her time…

The pays the cost of freedom!

Her time done, her freedom again won
Markeiwitz she did meet who was happy her to greet
Long lost fer fame, once again on the game
Age and time did defeat the Queen of the Street.

What use now for empty freedom?

Reference:
* History Ireland – The Most Dangerous Woman in the World

* Wikipedia – Chicago May

* Her baptism cert

* Historical Heroines blog – more background story

Comments

comments