Saturday, February 3, 2018

'Recovered Memory' in Ireland - and Allegations of Child Abuse

Michael O'Brien, ex-Mayor of Clonmel and head of Victim's Group 'Right To Peace' Confronts Fianna Fail Minister Noel Dempsey on RTE,  25 May 2009


[ Unlike Satanic Ritual Abuse, "Recovered Memory" has played a significant role in allegations of child abuse in Ireland (although less so than in the UK and the USA, I believe). This article is mainly about the claims of Michael O'Brien, founder of the Victims' group "Right to Peace" but I also refer to actor Gabriel Byrne and his allegations against the Christian Brothers AND the late Patrick Galvin author of the book  "Song for a Raggy Boy" and later screen-writer for the FILM of the same name that told a rather different story! ]

Regarding Michael O'Brien, the above TV confrontation took place shortly after the publication in May 2009 of the Report of the 'Commission To Inquire into Child Abuse' (the 'Ryan Commission'). According to an Irish Times article on 27 May "Ex-Mayor Tells of Abuse by Order"  

Michael O’Brien, from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, told [Transport Minister] Mr Dempsey during RTÉ’s Questions and Answers that the Constitution should be changed to freeze the funds of the religious orders.

Mr O’Brien was a resident of St Joseph’s Industrial School in Clonmel, which was run by the Rosminian order, during the 1940s and he said he was sexually and physically abused there. He said that he and seven other members of his family were removed from their house before being sent to industrial schools. He was reunited with his brother on the Late Late Show some 40 years later. Mr O’Brien said he had voted for Fianna Fáil since he was 18, but that the party’s behaviour around the issue of child abuse was turning him away from it. He served as a councillor for the party in Tipperary and was elected mayor of Clonmel in 1993. 

In September 2004, repeated interruptions from Mr O’Brien and other past residents of St Joseph’s resulted in a hearing of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse being adjourned twice.....

My Reply re Allegations by Michael O'Brien

This video was shared during a discussion that followed a December 2015 article by Luke Gittos, Law Editor of the Spiked-OnLine website; he called the article  "No Justice in a Year of Moral Crusades" with subheading "But there are signs of a growing public scepticism about the child-abuse panic".

The video was posted by  "holliegreig justice" and I responded as follows:

Kilbarry1 [Rory Connor]: reply to  holliegreig justice
This is Michael O'Brien former mayor of Clonmel, stating on Irish national television in May 2009 that he was "raped, buggered and beaten" by priests of the Rosminian Order when he was resident of an industrial school. (RTE "Questions and Answers" programme) There is a complete transcript of his statement in the Irish Times here

What "holliegrieg justice" omits to tell us is that there was a very curious follow up to Mr O'Brien's public outburst - and it came from the leader of ANOTHER "Child Abuse Survivors" group, Christine Buckley.

An article in The Sunday Tribune a year later, (16 May 2010) is headed "Survivors at Loggerheads Over Denial of Sex Abuse" with subheading "Christine Buckley Questions Michael O'Brien's Radio Interview from 10 years ago"

Here is an extract:
Survivors of sexual abuse in religious-run residential institutions are embroiled in an increasingly bitter row over how some €680m in compensation from religious orders identified in the Ryan report should be shared out, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

The dispute took a dramatic twist this weekend when the Aislinn Centre's Christine Buckley criticised a decade-old radio interview with the former mayor of Clonmel, Michael O'Brien, where he claimed NOT [my emphasis] to have been sexually abused while he was incarcerated in St Joseph's industrial school, Ferryhouse.

This directly contradicts a highly-charged intervention on RTE's Questions and Answers programme in May of last year, where O'Brien detailed the extent of abuse he suffered, prompting widespread public sympathy and anger.

During the 1999 interview on a local radio station, O'Brien expresses sympathy for victims of sexual abuse who suffered at the hands of the notorious Rosminian abuser at Ferryhouse, Brother Sean Barry. He goes on to say: "But I must say, and I have to say it here and now, because I had to meet my family when this came out. And say it never happened to me, I never seen it happening, I never heard of it happening in my seven years in Ferryhouse. I never seen or heard of it."

Although O'Brien acknowledges in the interview that he was subjected to physical abuse and deprivation at Ferryhouse, he also pays tribute to the Rosminians and says that this was the state's fault, not Ferryhouse.

"We were left there to those brothers and those priests to become our parents, and look after us. And as far as I'm concerned, 99.9% of them done a good job... out of every group, no matter what organisation you're in, you'll find bad eggs, Ferryhouse is my home. And I will defend it to the end as long as I live, because I was reared by them." .....

Ms Buckley (who died in 2014) once made some truly extraordinary claims about her own treatment by the Sisters of Mercy - AND she supported claims that a nun had murdered a baby by burning holes in its legs with a red hot poker. Accordingly she cannot be accused of bias in favour of the Catholic Church. However the various leaders of "Victims" groups had fallen out about how vast sums of "compensation" should be shared - and for THAT reason, they were prepared to criticise each other.

holliegreig justice: reply to  Kilbarry1 
if you think he made that up clearly you need help.I mean its not like there are vested intrests to make it look like he made it up

Kilbarry1: reply to holliegreig justice 
The "vested interests" include Christine Buckley, an icon of the child abuse lobby in Ireland, recipient of the European Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009 and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Trinity College in 2012. (Presiding at the latter ceremony, was former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, in her capacity as Chancellor of the University).

If Mr. O'Brien didn't "make it up" in 2009, he must have done so 10 years earlier, in the radio interview where he emphatically denied having been sexually abused - or knowing of sexual abuse - when he was a resident of the Rosminian institution

Gabriel Byrne and "Recovered Memory"

In the new RTÉ documentary My Astonishing Self, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne explores the life and times of Irish literary genius George Bernard Shaw. Byrne's treatment of Shaw's political views - and specifically his attempts to excuse Shaw for supporting Stalin, Hitler AND Mussolini - attracted some hostile comment on the website. 

I pointed out that in a 1999 interview with the Irish Independent, Gabriel Byrne had claimed that he was "physically and verbally" abused by the Christian Brothers when he attended their school in Drimnagh in Dublin - and was later sexually abused by a priest in England. However in an interview with Gay Byrne on RTE a decade later, he claimed that the Christian Brothers had sexually abused him.  

Comment by "Wagmore"
Just watching Gabriel Byrne documentary on George Bernard Shaw on RTE. Typical guff. Usual suspects show up to champion the cause of one of their own. Diarmuid Ferriter, Fintan O Toole, Michael D and Daire O Brien etc. Shaw incredible ability to see the big picture. Told it how it was etc etc. Very little about the link below till about five minutes left when Fintan tells us that his support for Hitler and Mussolini shouldn't be used as a stick to beat him or to take away from all he contributed. Typical lefties----what's a few million slaughtered and oppressed so long as you're a card carrying Socialist. Gas, a clip shows Shaw's picture with a framed picture of Stalin on the mantlepiece. Don't remember the luvvies giving the same wide berth to Francis Stuart for his perceived Nazi sympathies during WW2. 

Byrne tells us his abiding sense when he thinks of Shaw the man is one of compassion, humanity and courage. I suspect the slaughtered millions would beg to differ.
How Shaw defended Stalin's mass killings
[Article in Daily Telegraph on 18 June 2003]

Kilbarry1:  reply to Wagmore
George Bernard Shaw differed from other Stalinists like Sean O'Casey, in that he had kind words to say about Hitler and Mussolini as well. Shaw was a supporter of Dictatorship AS SUCH - not just the left-wing variety. Still there is a certain logic and honesty about this approach that Gabriel Byrne himself lacks.

This is Gabriel Byrne in an interview with Stephen O'Brien of the Irish Independent on 9 August 1999

ACTOR Gabriel Byrne has revealed publicly for the first time that he was the victim of both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. The star of The Usual Suspects and Defence of the Realm said he was subjected to repeated physical and verbal abuse while a pupil at the Christian Brothers national school in Dublin's Drimnagh. [My emphasis]

And he told a Sunday newspaper he was sexually abused by a priest who was his Latin teacher in England after he had entered a junior novitiate (in preparation for the priesthood) at the age of just eleven. That man is now dead. ....

And this is him telling a SOMEWHAT similar story to Gay Byrne on RTE television a decade later - as reported by the Irish correspondent of The Guardian on 19 January 2010. There is however a rather important difference. 

Gabriel Byrne tells of childhood sexual abuse
Actor says he was abused by Christian Brothers in Ireland, and while training in England to be a priest

The Irish actor Gabriel Byrne has revealed that he was sexually abused by Christian Brothers as a child. [My emphasis] The actor also disclosed that at the age of 11 he went to England to train as a priest but was sexually abused by a member of the clergy there.

Byrne said he had struggled with alcoholism and depression in the past, and that he had been "deeply hurt" over the abuse he endured as a boy. The star of films such Miller's Crossing and The Usual Suspects spoke openly about the abuse to Ireland's most famous broadcaster, Gay Byrne, on a new show, "The Meaning of Life", on RTÉ television.

"Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse," he said. "It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him." "It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me."

Another priest sexually abused him when he was 11 at the English seminary. "It didn't go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment," Byrne recalled. .....

When he spoke on 'The Meaning of Life', was Gabriel Byrne suffering from Recovered Memory in relation to the nature of his "abuse" by the Christian Brothers? Alternatively did he just assume that Gaybo would not bother to do any research and certainly would not ask him any awkward questions?

Question by paddycomeback;
"he was sexually abused by a priest who was his Latin teacher IN ENGLAND after he had entered a junior novitiate"

Am I misreading? Both versions say the abuse was in England.

Kilbarry1: reply to paddycomeback
Both accounts say he was "sexually" abused in England by a priest. In his second account he claims to have been sexually abused by the Christian Brothers in Ireland as well. His first account [a decade before] only mentions "verbal and physical" abuse by the Christian Brothers.

Incidentally Gabriel Byrne is very comfortable praising a man who supported Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. HOWEVER if Shaw had been an admirer of Franco, Byrne would have loathed him. Franco was a Catholic and a pro-Western dictator and the fact that he killed a lot fewer people was irrelevant to hate-filled types like Shaw and Byrne. Shaw only favoured dictators who shared his own hatreds - and Gabriel Byrne appreciates that.

Patrick Galvin, 'Song for a Raggy Boy' and "Recovered Memory"

Comment by darkhorse3
You're nobody in the Arts world if you weren't sexually abused by a Priest

Kilbarry1 - reply to darkhorse3
True the film "Song for a Raggy Boy" released in 2003 is based on the "Autobiography" of Patrick Galvin ("Irish poet, singer, playwright, and prose and screen writer" as per Wikipedia) written a decade earlier in 1991. The culminating scene in the FILM features a boy being kicked to death by a "Brother in Christ". There is no such scene in the BOOK but Patrick Galvin is credited as the screen-writer for the film!

Like Gabriel Byrne, perhaps it took him a decade to "recover his memory"?

NOTE: I have an article on my website with the title
that goes into more detail on this issue. 

In an unpublished letter to the Sunday Tribune in 2006 I wrote:
.....I have read a number of mini-biographies of Patrick Galvin on the Internet and elsewhere. Either they don't say what industrial school he was in or they refer to "St. Judes" i.e. the fictitious school in the film. What institution did Patrick Galvin attend? And does "Song for a Raggy Boy" have the same relationship to truth as the Da Vinci Code?

However in 2007 there were media articles quoting Galvin as stating that he had attended St. Conleth's reform school in Daingean, Co. Offaly which was run by the Oblate Order of priests (and brothers). This is also stated in the Wikipedia article on Patrick Galvin. Daingean reformatory is well known in Ireland because one of its residents in the 1960s went on to become Ireland's most famous criminal - Martin Cahill also known as "The General" who is widely quoted as saying "If anyone corrupted me it was those mad monks down in the bog."  (Mind you he was sent there after his fifth criminal conviction!) Assassinated by the IRA in 1994, Martin Cahill was shortly thereafter the subject of two admiring Hollywood movies, The General  directed by John Boorman (1998) and Ordinary Decent Criminals starring Kevin Spacey (2000). So Patrick Galvin attended a well known institution - albeit three decades prior to The General! ***

OR DID HE? Because of the (literally) unbelievable allegations in the book - and even more so, the film - I once wondered if Galvin had ever been in any residential institution run by Catholic clergy. However I was recently told that the writer did indeed attend such an institution but that he was actually in St Patricks Reformatory in Upton, Co Cork which was run by the Rosminian  Order of priests and brothers. This makes sense as Galvin was born in Cork City, both Upton and Daingean were reform institutions for young people convicted of crimes (as opposed to industrial schools), but Upton was very much closer to Galvin's home than Daingean.

Note that the Rosminian Order was NOT very well known to the Irish public - at least until May 2009 when Michael O'Brien denounced an Irish Government Minister on live television, while claiming that he had been "raped, buggered and beaten" by priests of the Order. And that is where this article begins!


In all three cases, there was a the time-lag of about a decade between the original statement and the "enhanced" one that made allegations of child sexual abuse for the first time OR more serious claims than the original. During this period, the media whipped up hysteria about child abuse and encouraged an atmosphere of hatred against the Catholic Church in Ireland. Apparently sectarian hatred is OK if it is directed against Catholic clergy (although not against Jewish rabbis and least of all against Islamic mullahs!)

*** [Patrick Galvin suffered a stroke in 2003 aged 76, from which he never fully recovered prior to his death eight years later. In 2007 he could easily have imagined - or accepted a suggestion from admirers - that he had been in the, by then, "notorious" Daingean institution.]



    “Mr Chairman, I am surprised at the Minister now. First of all Minister you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time because I went to the Laffoy Commission and ye had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got an merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth. You don’t know what happened there . You haven’t the foggiest. You’re talking through your hat there, and you are talking to a Fianna Fáil man, and a former councillor and a former mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party that you are talking about now. You didn’t do it right. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise for doing that because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I have.

    You said it was non-adversarial. My God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide, [turning to his wife] there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide on my way down from Dublin after spending five days at the commission . They brought a man over from Rome – 90 odd years of age – to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasn’t beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body. My God, Minister.

    [Turning to Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar] Can I speak to you and ask your leader to stop making a political football out of this. You hurt us when you do that. You tear the shreds from inside our body. For God’s sake, try and give us some peace, try and give us some peace, and not continue hurting us.

    [Turning to his wife]

    That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me because I see these fellows at the end of the bed with their fingers pulling me into the room to rape me, to bugger me and to beat the shite out of me. That’s the way it is, and sometime, you know what, I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. It was mealy-mouthed but at least it was an apology. The Rosminians said in the report that they were easy on us. The first day I went there, the first day I went to the Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, the only home I know, he said you’re in it for the money. We didn’t want money. We wanted someone to stand up and say ‘yes these fellows were buggered, these people were robbed’.

    Little girls, my sister, a month old when she was put into an institution, eight of us from the one family were dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man, put into two cars and brought to the court in Clonmel. We were left standing there without food or anything and the fellow in the long black frock and white collar came along and he put us into a scut-truck and landed us below with 200 other boys. Two nights later I was raped.

    How can anyone, you’re talking about the Constitution, these people would gladly say yes to a Constitution to freeze the funds of the religious orders. This State, this country of ours will say yes to that Constitution if you have to change it.

    Don’t say you can’t change it. You are the Government of this State. You run this State. So, for God’s sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it. You are turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil, which I have done from the day I could vote.

    You know me Minister and you have met me on several occasions, so you know what I am like. Remember Wexford?”

  2. That is a fantastic video. I read about this on your website last year but I have to keep revising it all to commit it to memory. To say one thing first and then the very opposite. The hysteria is so powerful, though, that many would still believe him even if they knew what had happened earlier!

    1. Yes. At one time I believed that "Recovered Memory" was much less of an issue in Ireland than in the USA or example but I'm not so sure now. I think it is actually gaining ground and people may have been convicted here on the basis of that kind of "evidence"?? Anyway I intend to do a follow-up article shortly to be called "Satanic Ritual Abuse in Ireland (and the Absence Thereof)". It was suggested to me by the late UK cultural historian Richard Webster that the absence of an SRA panic in Ireland might have been due to the influence of the Catholic Church and its opposition to Freudianism. (Webster regarded Freud's ideas as the source from which the Satanic Abuse panic arose.) Contraiwise maybe the collapse of the Church's influence in Ireland from about 1990 assisted the rise of Recovered Memory here?

    2. I have just made a major addition to the last part of my article which concerns the late Patrick Galvin - author of the autobiographic "Song for a Raggy Boy" and screenwriter for the 2003 film. I think it demonstrates the mental mechanism (or mental gymnastics) on which the phenomenon of "Recovered Memory" is based!