The sad and strange case of Virginia Tigh
John William Tuohy
In 1956 an amateur hypnotist named Morey Bernstein of Pueblo Colorado, busted into the headlines with the claim that he had contacted the dead.
Bernstein claimed that he had hypnotized a local woman named Virginia Tigh. (Sometimes spelled as Tighe)
While under her spell, Tigh transformed into a young Irish woman named Bridy Murphy who said that she was born in Ireland on December 20, 1798.
She said she was the daughter of a lawyer named Duncan Murphy from County Cork. She said that she had red hair and that she had married a man named Sean McCarthy, also a lawyer. She reported that she had a long and healthy life, dying at age sixty six after falling down a flight of stairs.
A local Colorado newspaper serialized the story. Bernstein wrote a book about Bridy Murphy which became a nationwide best seller. Bridy Murphy was now the rage of the country.
Then Life Magazine launched its own investigation. Reporters were sent to Ireland to find any trace or evidence that a person named Bridy Murphy ever existed. But she didn't exist. Nor did her father or husband.
A closer look at the whole story showed that there really was a Bridy Murphy...of sorts. Her real name was Mrs. Anthony Corkrell and Virginia Tigh had lived across the street from her in Chicago, when Tigh was a little girl. Whenever she Baby sat for her, Mrs. Cockrell had spun tales of Ireland for the Virginia Tigh.
As for Bridy Murphy's husband Sean McCarthy, experts concluded that Corkell's son, Sean filled that role. The fall down the stairs that killed Bridy Murphy turned out to be a duplicate description of a fall Tigh's sister had taken as a child. The tale of Bridy Murphy, it turns out, was nothing more than a stroll down the childhood memories of Virginia Tigh.