The Clancy Conspiracy

back to Family Stories, Spring 2020

What really happened to my grandfather?

Growing up, I had been told that my mother’s father—my grandfather—had died when my mom was just two years old when he accidentally fell down an elevator shaft. This is somewhat of an odd way to go but as a child I never questioned it; it was only as I got older and my friends pointed out discrepancies and I began asking questions of my cousins that I was filled in on the conspiracy of what some people believe really happened to my grandfather.

My Grandfather, Sonny Clancy

First, I am not even entirely sure what my grandpa’s real name is, but “Sonny” was his most common nickname. If you look at his gravestone where he rests with my Grammie, his name is Michael Clancy—presumably the J stands for John—but if you look at other documentation, a different name is listed. The marriage certificate from 1956 says that Dolores Morrissey, my Grammie, married John Clancy, my grandpa, and finally, an old work ID card had his name listed as Michael Thomas Clancy. These are all very common names particularly among Irish people, but we then asked my Grammie what his name was multiple times. On some occasions she would say John, others she would say Michael, and most times she would just tell us that everyone called him Sonny. My Grammie was a sharp woman until the day she died, this discrepancy was not the result of becoming senile.

Finally, after my grandpa died, the behavior of my Grammie was a bit strange from what I have been told by my family. The day after he died, my Grammie up and moved her 5 daughters to a different apartment building; in the process of moving, they somehow forgot almost all of my grandfather’s possessions including the majority of photographs. When they went back to get them, everything was gone, and no one knew where it had went. My Grammie never talked about my grandfather—she had a nervous breakdown that required hospitalization several years after he died, but whether or not that was related I am not sure.  

My cousins speculate that Sonny Clancy was involved with the Irish Mob, whether as a member or an enemy of them we do not know. The variety of names listed on different legal documents, the somehow misplacement of most photos he was in, death under odd circumstances, and my Grammie moving her entire family the day after a traumatic event all point to something out of the ordinary.  While it is very likely that all of these things are just coincidences and maybe he was just not paying attention and fell down an elevator shaft and the landlord tossed the boxes of pictures, my family likes to believe that Sonny dying at a young age must have been for a reason.