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IRELAND’S HIDDEN SURVIVORS

By Leanna Byrne

It is 20 years since the Republic of Ireland’s first state apology to children abused in Catholic institutions.

It is 10 years since a government-sponsored report exposed the sheer scale of the abuse carried out by priests, nuns and lay staff.

As the number of surviving abuse victims shrinks and the Irish state closes its survivors’ fund, many feel that they have been left without a plan to continue to support

William

Imagine two young brothers. One is visually impaired. His younger brother has brittle bone disease and is severely disabled. Both are forced to witness each other being sexually abused by two priests.

This is William Gorry’s story.
His worst experience was when he was 10 years old. His brother, Thomas, was six.

William’s brother, Thomas

Sitting in his living room, he shifts in the black leather couch and looks down at his scrunched hands.

He speaks slowly.

“For him to witness me being abused and for me to witness him, as my brother, being abused, especially with him being severely disabled, was horrific,” he said.

In 1974, his family fell into financial trouble. His mother left home.

There was nobody to look after the children, so they were sent to an industrial school.

In Ireland, these industrial schools were established to care for neglected, orphaned and abandoned children, according to laws at the time.

For 14 years, William was housed at the Mount Carmel Industrial School in Moate, County Westmeath, run by the Sisters of Mercy Catholic order.

Some nuns would hit him with sticks and wooden spoons, hard enough to draw blood, while certain members of the clergy or lay staff would molest him.

“There was a regime from Monday to Sunday,” he said.

“There were beatings. I was abused physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually.”

If you were called to see the head nun, said William, a shiver would go down your spine.

“You knew what was coming to you. You’d have a bloody nose and a sore face,” he said.

One Christmas, William was asked to help put up the decorations in one of the lay staff member’s bedrooms.

The man spilled water on William. He didn’t see it coming, William said, because of his visual impairment.

“It was made out to be an accident,” he said.

That was when he was asked to strip out of his clothes. The lay staff member started to wash him down, touched William and masturbated him.

“I was told if I said anything I would be sorry,” he said.

Later, he enrolled in a first aid course with a voluntary organisation which, at the time, was led by clergy.

William said that even there, the sexual abuse continued.

“It always happened when you were on your own,” he said.

“I once fell and cut my trousers, so they were cut off me.”

He said he was then raped by a priest.

“I was told not to say anything, only that my knee was sore and that is why I was late back to my living quarters,” said William.

William should have left the school at 16, but was so institutionalised that he stayed until he was 21.

“When I left, I could not cope.”

“My body felt dirty. I felt shameful, guilty, useless.”

Feeling hopeless and struggling with his sexuality, he ran away to Dublin.

“I felt messed up. I didn’t know whether I was gay, straight or bi. I wanted to find out my identity,” he said.

For many more years, William struggled. It was only in his 30s when he decided to start talking about the abuse he carried with him.

William, who is now 54, stayed in Dublin, where he still lives. Today he has a life, albeit not an easy one, he said.

“The trauma continues on. It’s hard to find those words for the pain and suffering,” said William.

“You’ll never get on with your life when you recall things like this.”

PAT SAYS

What a tragic story.

Two brothers used for sexual satisfaction by Catholic adults.

What indescribable suffering.

Where was God here?

He was in the abused children.

Is this the fruits of Roman Catholicism?

If so what rotten fruits.

Suggesting a rotten tree.

I hope the Good Lord avenges the horrible wrong done.

It calls for an eternity in hell for the abusers!

46 replies on “IRELAND’S HIDDEN SURVIVORS”

Sexual abuse is a crime. Have the “victims” gone to the Garda? Have you? Thought not. Because you are a liar and you are playing silly games on Buckley’s blog.

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“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
Composed by Bob Russell & Bobby Scott.
Sung by The Hollies
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…

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AT 10:14 am

(He ain’t heavy he’s my brother from Wikipedia with references.)

In 1884, James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, in his book ‘The Parables of Jesus’ tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied: “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”[3]

In a 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo, Trine titled The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit, he relates the following anecdote: “Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: ‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.’”[4]

The first editor of Kiwanis magazine, Roe Fulkerson, published a column in September 1924 carrying the title “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, the first use of the phrase exactly as it is rendered in the song title.
In the 1940s, the words, adapted as “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother”, were taken as a slogan for Boys Town children’s home by founder Father Edward Flanagan.[5]

(3). The parables of Jesus. Books.google.com. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
(4) Trine, Ralph Waldo (1918). The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit. Project Gutenberg.
(5) .ZipUSA: Boystown, Nebraska @ National Geographic Magazine”. Ngm.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 30 March 2014.

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Bishop Len & Co:
While you may see significance in your choice of lyrics, I find their regular appearances irksome on this blog and scroll straight past.

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Over the years in house visitation in parishes I have met some women and men, former residents of institutions now settled and living reasonably happy lives. Their stories of some of what they witnessed was horrendous by both clerical, religious and lay staff, including men who would deliver food and laundry bags. The particular people I met were very forgiving: they themselves did not experience any cruelty or harsh punishments and it seems there were categories of misdemeanour and also categories of those who deserved humiliation. Despite what they witnessed they held no grudges against the nuns, saying that some were very kind and caring, others not so, as if carrying out orders from the head nun. But, the people were very disappointed and almost uncontrillably angry that society as a whole failed them: the clerics, medics, judiciary, the gardai, psychiatric services, politicians. They were deeply saddened that a whole section of society ensured their incarceration. While they disapproved and were horrified at what they saw, they did not lay the entire blame on the religious. So many others conspired against them. I am glad for the men and women who managed to get on with their lives. There are far too many who did not succeed in rebuildingn their lives, like the man in today’s article. It is a shame on all our souls that we ignore the reality of so many who are broken, hurt and wounded by past cruel decisions made by others. We seem happy that an “apology” was issued, as if that was sufficient. It’s not and as a church and society, as a nation, we still have a responsibility to care for and embrace these people. Our indifference after apologies is hypocritical, shallow and utterly reprehensible, morally, ethically and spiritually.

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11.28: You dimwit and fool! The topic today is not about your sexual fantasies or depraved mind, but one which deserves seriius, thoughtil reflection. If your concern is for sexual thrill go and buy yoursel a top shelf porno rag. Otherwise, educate yourself on how to discern what to say and not say. You are crass ignorant in your stupid, infantile comment. I sincerely hope you are not a seminarian because you should be dumped. If you are an ex seminarian, go and see a psychotherapist – and soon!! Grow up.

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Originally termed Magdalene Asylums, the first in Ireland was opened in Dublin in 1765, for Protestant girls.
The first Catholic home was founded in Cork in 1809, some 44 years later.

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There are thousands of hidden survivors in Ireland.
They include survivors of State oppression; police force, judiciary, legal system, most criminals in Mountjoy
are from three or four districts in working class/underclass Dublin ;psychiatric system, violating fundamental human rights including physical abuse; abuse by professionals in professional work contexts,ongoing ;abuse of homeless people by the Social Welfare system..etc, Feel free to add to the list..

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12.22: I agree with you. The abuses inflicted on.people in the past are horrendous crimes against them. The pain, hurt and suffering continues for many of them. With advocacybgriups hopefully they will receivevjust compensation without adversial court hearings or arguments over who is and who shouldn’t be embraced under redress schemes. Justice must bevseen to be done. We all too easily focus on the past and rightly acknowledge the cruel, dark place it was. Today, we also have our hidden survivors andvmany for whom life is unbearable, one of hurt, depression and poverty. Many – too many are ignored by our government and state. We get spin analysis which underestimates the level of hurt, struggles, homelessness, those with special needs, elderly on trolleys for days on end, an unjust two tier health system. Yet we tolerate white collar crime, drug abuse by the elites who don’t care about the consequences of their reckless lifestyles, political nepotism, out of control perks given to our TD’s…..There are hundreds, if not thousands who quietly and in hidden ways live lives of misery. We applaud our generosity. Can we not also applaud our sense or real, effective justice too? Thank God for Fr. Peter McVerry, Br. Kevin, Alice Leahy, Sister Stan, St. Vincent de Paul and Simon…..great, tireless advocates for all who are broken….

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Evenin all hi. Some of this is like the Vietnam War There are all sorts of survivors who have been warped into subservience by a life of conditioning All they ever knew is how to serve and become willing lapdogs of the dominant. I’ve seen it in me own family. Good little meek and mild Christians they were BolliX! People like this need caring and tailored support. Setting out to fix their heads at this stage may cause more hurt than freedom. However I hope we learn to treasure the good things of church and faith and not dump everything in the name of renewal but

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Evenin fly hi. 6:23pm

Aye fly, there’s plenty of the walking wounded dying inside in bits and pieces shellshocked while battling alone to survive life following their War. But have all the War criminals been caught along with those who know the where and when of the War crimes along with the platoon leaders. What about those gone AWOL
Maybe reform includes a Nuremburg of sorts plus an amnesty like line in the sand while competent field hospital troops treat survivors bringing out army treasures old and new.

Bye bye fly hi.

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It’s curious, few members of the clerical fraternity commented on Ireland’s hidden survivors.
I wonder, why? 😷 ( Just askin, like)

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7:03pm + 8:47pm

A public apology to Almighy God, by the army, platoon leaders, troops,
followers and supporters, would be in order.

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7.30: What an inane, stupid comment to make. Out of 24 comments at this moment, how can you tell which are from priests and which aren’t? I’ve made 3 comments already. If you are expressing your observation by way of inviting vitriol, bitchiness and crossfire, you have failed abysmally. I know that many, many priests, like myself are appalled and outraged at the abuses of the past, probably more so than you. We encounter survivors in our parishes and are supportive, caring and attentive to their needs insofar as we can do anything constructive. Comments like yours reveal an empty heart and soul.

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Oh it’s Fr Whiter Than the Driven Snow again, being snarky about other people’s comments as always. And talk about hogging it with three comments already.
A big hand, everyone, for all the priests who are more outraged than 7:30 at the abuses of the past.
Fr’s comments are always intended to elicit sympathy for poor persecuted priests while firmly locating abuse in the past. If it was in the present Fr might be obliged to face the sad truth about the institution of which he is a minion.
7:30, you are of course right about the subjects on which priests mostly comment (ones to do with themselves) but the other reason they don’t comment on Monday is it’s the day after being rushed off their feet on Sunday. They’ve either been on the golf course, in the sauna or looking for it.

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9.05: Is that all you have to offer by way of response to this tragic story on the blog today? You are like jack in the box, jumping up occasionally making the same comment about some priest whom you seem to dislike. I’m sure you can find something more constructive or original to say about issues, you gombeen. God bless our good priests.

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9.05: You are making an idiotic fool of yourself with repetitive comnents. Shallow, meaningless, cynical, irrelevant. Let me assure you, fool, my conscience is clear about my commitments in ministry. I have every right to defend myself. But, your silly, deliberate misunderstanding of my posting is your problem, not mine. God will continue to be my strength in the face of crackpots like you who simply love to put others down. God will bless my work and all our GOOD priests. By the way, I did enjoy my Monday – are you jealous…?

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7:44

My heart and soul are far from empty.
Why is my post an inane,stupid comment?

I’m simply making an observation.
You’re probably the only priest to comment on today’s topic.

If the topic ,was priestly celibacy, or finance, or on a misdemeanor of particular priest,
there’s no reluctance on clerics to comment. ( Just sayin,like)😆

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7:44. 9:52
Whose doing the digging?
Lone priest poster to today’s (yesterdays) 😉 blog; did anyone suggest your conscience is not clear
or commitment to ministry questionable?( Think about it, don’t react).😳
We’re back to the good priests/bad priests spliiting! Black and white thinking!
Any, grey priests in ministry? 😂
I hope God continues to be your strengh, however, try to take a more detached
view, without becoming over-involved personally, when commenting.😇
And, don’t be calling people fools. 😠 We’re all Gods children! 💓

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That’s right, daddy-o, you’re always right and God will bless your work which consists of abusive comments on here.

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Sisters of mercy? What a joke. Sisters of terror. Even in our primary and secondary schools these brides of Frankenstein tortured our children. They along with the Christian brothers terrorised children. I was battered by the Christian brothers for the smallest of infractions .Oh how I wish they would even try it now with any of my children. They would learn a very harsh lesson. These animals used kids in these institutions as their slaves, their play things. Good old catholic Ireland turned a blind eye. Shame on all of us for allowing this to happen. Where are these monsters now? Holed up in some cosy dwelling? May God bless every man, woman and child who suffered at the hands of these despots and may He grant them peace. My heart is breaking at the blogs of the past two days. Those who carried out this abuse are scum who are still sheltered by the RC cesspit. They wouldn’t know Christ if he stood in front of them

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The stories of hidden survivors in today’s Ireland will be the topic of investigations, reports and blogs in 20 or 30 years time.

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Michael Collins is a complete disgrace and embarrassment to Bishop Fintan, Collins was asked to leave his Diocese and become Director of Formation in order to protect the reputation of the young lady from East Clare whom he was having an affair with.

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Pat what next, Paul Prior runs of to hide with the Jesuits, Donal O’Neill runs of with a married woman and then there is Michael Collins with his intellectual and behavior problems. Collins will soon run off to Scariff and announce his total love for your one.

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