[see also http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/priests-brother-investigated-sex-abuse-claims-162604.html. I am unable to post this article because software has gotten finnicky again, but a must read because from it we learn that the first sex abuse allegations against Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh were investigated by the then head of the Sacred Heart Missionaries, Fr Ciarán – Mac Carthaigh’s brother. ]
‘We have waited years for this to come out’
Friday, July 29, 2011
By Claire O’Sullivan
COLÁISTE an Chroi Naofa in Carrignavar was situated on a 300-acre lush farming estate, complete with dairy herd and manmade lake, 12 kilometres north of Cork city.
From September to May, the boarding school was home to hundreds of boys from around the country — coming from as far afield as Donegal and Sligo as the school had a stellar academic reputation and was lauded as a cradle for aspirant GAA greats.
Brochures for the school boasted to middle-class parents how the boys could enjoy life on an estate helping with the dairy herd, grading eggs and taking walks in the woods.
There was a swimming pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts, GAA pitches and boys were promised weekends on religious retreat in West Cork and Galway. The boys — some as young as 11— often spent up to three months away from their parents.
However, ever since the Kerry Senator, Mark Daly used Oireachtas privilege on Wednesday to shine a light on the real horror of life in the school during Fr Donncha Mac Carthaigh’s time, victims have been contacting the Irish Examiner to tell their tale. Some have made formal abuse complaints. Others haven’t and are now considering whether to. A number said they “wouldn’t be surprised” if Fr Donncha, the onetime principal and guidance counsellor, abused hundreds of pupils as his abuse was so blatant.
One spoke of the infirmary at the end of a 150 yard corridor in the school. A six-bed unit, it was used by the younger boys in the junior cycle.
“Genuinely very sick boys would be sent there and very often, there’d just be one boy in a room with six beds. Dinny Mac Carthaigh was always down there and the way he’d operate, he’d check your forehead, your chest and then somehow end up at your testicles. Sometimes those boys didn’t see a doctor for days,” he said. “Remember these were very sick children all alone in an isolated room. It was so quiet that you could literally kill someone.”
It appeared Fr Donncha had little interest in boys in the senior cycle, preferring to prey on the younger, more vulnerable boarders. Day pupils were never touched, former pupils say.
The first-year dormitory slept between 60 and 70 children. If Fr Donncha was on dormitory supervision, the boys would lie there in the dark petrified that the sound of footsteps would stop near them.
Even though the scene could not be more public, “he’d sit down beside your locker and start whispering away about GAA. All the time, he’d be abusing you” said another victim.
Another man, now in his 50s, said he had always felt for the boys who were “put in charge of things”.
“He’d put you in charge of things. It could be in charge of the swimming pool so you’d be in late at night checking the gas levels or cleaning up. Or else you could be in charge of the volleyball courts and then you’d again be there on your own, charged with locking the lockrooms.
“Our hearts all went out to those guys because we all knew what he was really up to,” he said.
“He was an absolute beast. It wasn’t all sexual. Many’s the night that I saw him belt a small boy across the face. He was the most brutal, physical man. He’d beat the daylights out of them. Here he was a pillar of the community and yet he was like a preying mantis,” he said.
After the headmaster of the school, the next level of the hierarchy were the deanery. One of these was Fr Tadhg O’Dálaigh who has been described as Mac Carthaigh’s ‘lieutenant’. When Fr Donncha’s brother, Fr Ciarán was celebrating his 40-year jubilee last year, it was Fr Tadhg was wrote his tribute at a special ceremony in Cork. Eleven years previous, Fr Tadhg had been convicted of 10 sample counts of indecent assault of a 12-year-old former Carrignavar pupil. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
When a newspaper published the story last year, the Sacred Heart Missionaries said they “sincerely regret the mistake and unreservedly apologise to anyone who is aggrieved”.
“There were young boys in Carrignavar who didn’t see their parents for months at a time. Those priests were meant to be there to look after us instead of parents. Instead, we were subjected to some of the most violent men that I have ever seen in my life. We’ve waited for years for this to come out and thank god, it now has,” one man said.