During a Celtic Attitudes show at Belmont Race Track this past year a great group of Irish kids told us to look up “The Irishman they could not kill,” about Mike Malloy. They all loved Billy’s designs and quotes, they bought many different items and we began telling stories. One of the more intriguing tales was about this hardy Irishman in New York City that a group of men could not kill. So we put our top notch research team on the case and the amazing case of Mike Malloy came to light.
The story of Mike Malloy is remarkable, cruel, funny and somehow inspirational. Malloy was an alcoholic homeless man from Donegal, living in New York city during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was known as Mike the Durable, Iron Mike, and the Rasputin of the Bronx for reasons you will soon discover. Every morning Mike would head over to Tony Marino’s speakeasy and begin his day of drinking without quarter, with his request of “Another mornin’s morning, if ya don’t mind.” Marino, along with Joseph Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg, later dubbed the “Murder Trust” by the local headlines, decided that Mike Malloy would be an easy mark for an insurance scam. His lack of family and friends, and the fact that he drank like he was going to the chair every day made him an obvious choice. A few years before Marino had killed a homeless woman by befriending her, then forcing booze down her throat and pouring ice water on her chest. Being a thorough kind of man, he then placed her passed out body on a bed by an open window, during a bitter night. She died as a result of Mr. Marino’s kindness and he collected 2,000 dollars of insurance money. A precedent of making easy money had been established and the fate of Mike Malloy began it’s strange journey.
The Murder Trust began their plan to kill Mike by having him sign, what he thought was a petition for Marino’s election to local office. In reality he was signing his own insurance policy and ultimately his death warrant. Now the Murder Trust put forth the first installment of their murder plan. They decided to give him unlimited credit at Marino’s speakeasy and a room out back so he could be near the source of his own demise. Apparently, drinking himself to death with only liquor seemed more challenging than previously thought. In order to speed up the process they substituted liqueur with antifreeze, but this did not work either. From antifreeze they moved to turpentine, yet he would not quit drinking the antifreeze or die. They decided on horse liniment; yet he still came back for more. Undeterred by any ethical concerns, they decided to put rat poisoning in with the horse liniment, but that too failed to stop Iron Mike.
The Murder Trust now had to turn to different forms of ingestible death. They soaked raw oyster in whiskey, but he belched and asked for more. Marino made a sandwich of rancid sardines and carpet tacks, that Mike heartily ate. Still nothing but his usual routine of drinking until he passed out every day. Durable Mike seemed impervious to anything ingested, so the Murder Trust had decided on a more drastic line of collecting their money. Since Marino was successful with the freezing technique of murder, they tried it on Malloy. One night after he had passed out they took him to the park and dropped him in the snow and poured five gallons of ice water on his exposed chest. The temperature was a frigid 14 degrees below zero. Surely this would kill Mike Malloy. He showed up at the door of the speakeasy basement the next morning complaining of a “Wee chill,” and of course got his free drinks from the bar keep, Murphy. It was rather obvious to these civic minded men that poison and hypothermia were not enough to bring Mike Malloy down.
It was now decided, because they were losing money with his daily consumption, that they would run him down in a taxi cab. The first attempt to run him over failed, as did the second. The third time was a charm and they hit him at an estimated 50 mph, with what Smithsonian Magazine described as “Two thuds, one loud and one soft.” Realizing Malloy’s ability to absorb punishment they backed over him to make sure he was dead. The only reason they fled was because of another car at the scene. After five days and no death notices, the Trust feared he still could be somehow alive. One day the door swung open and in walked Mike Malloy, limping yet game. Ironically, he said I am “Dyin for a drink,” and he did. The Murder Trust waited for him to pass out and stuck a hose in his mouth that was connected to a gas jet. Sadly, he died within an hour on February 22, 1933. Mike became a legend in Bowery lore, surviving the varied and numerous attempts on his life. His case was the first one investigated by the newly formed New York Medical Examiner’s Office. The paper’s all loved the durability of Iron Mike Malloy, the Rasputin of the Bronx! As for the Murder Trust, all but Green (he got life in prison) got the electric chair at Sing Sing.
-The Irish Senator