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The Story of Bridey Murphy

 The story behind the name Bridey Murphy is one of the most fascinating of modern American ‘fads’, and became one of the nation’s deepest infatuations during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Although the story captured the imagination of the entire nation for several years, the phenomenon occurred in Pueblo, Colorado – Jay Tonne’s hometown.  And when Jay recently returned to Colorado from Austin, he rediscovered his early childhood fascination with the story, as he had grown up next to the house where Morey Bernstein was raised, and the tale was an integral part of the neighborhood children’s imaginations. 

As the common story goes, Morey Bernstein, prior to the events, was a well-respected and very successful local businessman, partnered with his brother, based in Pueblo, Colorado.  Morey became interested in hypnosis as a hobby in the early 1950’s.  In 1952, at a small dinner party, Morey offered to entertain the guests by attempting to perform a hypnotic session.  Guest and local housewife Virginia Tighe volunteered, and Morey was astounded at how easily she entered a hypnotic trance and the clarity and details of her childhood memories.  With her and her husband’s permission, they then performed a private session, now recorded, during which Morey regressed Virginia past her birth and into what appeared to be a previous life – that of Bridey “Bridget” Murphy, a girl who lived in early 1800’s Ireland.  Several recorded sessions were performed and ‘Bridey’ continued to provide more increasingly detailed information as the sessions went on – the name of her neighborhood, her church, pastor, eventual husband, childhood games and songs, etc., etc.  She even began speaking in an apparently accurate Irish Brogue from the region in which she claimed to have been raised 

Virginia and her husband agreed to end the sessions relatively quickly, but within a year or two an article appeared in the Denver Post detailing the storyNow common, at the time it was the first recorded past-life hypnotic regression.  The Post’s story was immediately picked up by newspapers across the country and the event quickly became a national craze; with the population of mid-1950’s America becoming divided as to whether they believed, or even considered, the possibility of past lives the foundation of many major eastern religions and otherwise known as reincarnation or not and remained dedicated to the fundamental Christian idea that the souls of “good people” go to heaven after death, while the souls of the “bad”,  well ……. 

The Catholic Church immediately became heavily involved in disproving and ridiculing the idea and promoted jokes about the subject.  In the midst of the whirlwind and ongoing public craze, investigators from “both sides” of the issue – as well as objective journalists – traveled to Ireland to investigate Virginia’s, or Bridey’s, story.  Some of Bridey’s statements while under hypnosis were verified, others were not.  There were no birth or death records of a Bridget Murphy in County Cork, but that was not uncommon for the underclass as the English Anglican church destroyed many of the existing records when taking over the Irish Catholic Churches several centuries before. 

The Epilogue to the book, ‘The Search for Bridey Murphy, goes into great detail regarding the ‘investigations’ – how and by who they were funded and promoted, etc.  Much of the research was performed by professional objective journalists, while other research was performed by hired private investigators, and the sources of some the ‘facts’ reported as journalism by some of the investigators or their clients would not be revealed.   

Overall, critical aspects of Bridey’s story – mostly involving the local geography and place-names as well as the folklore shared by the common people of Ireland during the time of Bridey’s stated lifetime were clearly corroborated; while other issues remained more ambiguous or could not be verified.  

Morey quit hypnosis following the events and stated that although not all of her ‘memories’ were corroborated, many were, and no one could prove without a doubt Bridey Murphy did not exist.  Morey, who was already a wealthy businessman before the sessions, made relatively little to no money from the event, and Virginia Tighe eventually left Pueblo and legally changed her name.  They had both been harassed by christian activists at their homes. 

 Virginia did not like being the center of attention and was skeptical regarding reincarnation, having been raised a Christian, although she is quoted as saying, “The older I get, the more I want to believe in it”.  Both Morey and Virginia died in the 1990’s.  

Bridey Murphy

Artist : Bridey Murphy
Format : CD