In 1952, housewife Virginia Tighe, of Pueblo, Colorado was hypnotised by businessman and amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein, which sparked off startling revelations about Tighe’s alleged past life and her rebirth in the United States 59 years later. Allegedly, Virginia spoke in an Irish accent and claimed she was Bridey Murphy, a 19th-century woman from Cork, Ireland. Bernstein encouraged the past life regression and he hypnotized Tighe many times. While under hypnosis, she was said to have sung Irish songs and told Irish stories, always as Bridey Murphy. She gave a birth date of 1798, and described her childhood in a Protestant family in the city of Cork.
Tighe’s past life tale began in 1806, when Bridey was eight years old and living in a house in Cork. She was the daughter of Duncan Murphy, a barrister, and his wife Kathleen. At the age of 17, she married barrister Sean Brian McCarthy and moved to Belfast. Tighe told of a fall that caused Bridey’s death and of watching her own funeral, describing her tombstone and the state of being in life after death. It was, she recalled, a feeling of neither pain nor happiness.
She claimed she was then reborn in America some 59 years later, although Tighe/Bridey was not clear how this event happened. Virginia Tighe herself was born in the Midwest in 1923, had never been to Ireland, and did not speak with even the slightest hint of an Irish accent. The “facts” of the story related by Bridey were not fully checked or verified prior to the publication of a book by Bernstein titled “The Search for Bridey Murphy”.
However, once the book had become a bestseller, almost every detail was thoroughly checked by reporters who were sent to Ireland to track down the background of the elusive woman. It was then that the first doubts about her “reincarnation” began to appear. Bridey said she was born on December 20, 1798, in Cork and that she had died in 1864. There was no record of either event.
Neither was there any record of a wooden house called The Meadows in which she said she lived, just of a place of that name at the brink of Cork.
Indeed, most houses in Ireland were made of brick or stone. She pronounced her husband’s name as “See-an,” but Seán is pronounced “Shawn” in Ireland. Brian, which is what Bridey preferred to call her husband, was also the middle name of the man to whom Virginia Tighe was married.
Some of the details did tally. For instance, her descriptions of the Antrim coastline were very accurate. So, too, was her account of a journey from Belfast to Cork. She claimed she went to a St. Theresa’s Church. There was indeed one where she said there was, but it was not built until 1911. The young Bridey shopped for provisions with a grocer named Farr. It was discovered that such a grocer had existed.
The experts who examined the case of Virginia Tighe came to the conclusion that the best way to arrive at the truth was to check back not to Ireland but to Tighe’s own childhood and her relationship with her parents. Morey Bernstein had stated in his book that Virginia Tighe (whom he called Ruth Simmons in the book) was brought up by a Norwegian uncle and his German-Scottish-Irish wife. However, it did not state that her actual parents were both part Irish and that she had lived with them until the age of three.
It also did not mention that an Irish immigrant named Bridie Murphy Corkell lived across the street from Tighe’s childhood home in Chicago, Illinois. Scientists are satisfied that everything Virginia Tighe said can be explained as a memory of her long-forgotten childhood. The psychologist Andrew Neher wrote that as a child Tighe was a close friend to a neighbour whose life was very similar to Bridey Murphy’s. Neher cited cryptomnesia as an explanation for the case.
Virginia Tighe disliked being in the spotlight and was sceptical about reincarnation, although she said years later, “Well, the older I get the more I want to believe in it.” She died in Denver in 1995. Bernstein gave up hypnotism after the Bridey Murphy case.
By Paul Middleton, source: Ghosts, the paranormal, myths and legends