Victims say priests passed them around “like pieces of meat”

By Sylvia Pownall The Mirror

Gardai probing a hostel for boys which operated in the 1960s and 1970s believe they’ve uncovered a paedophile ring run by clerics.

The half-way house – which opened under the name “The Boys Club” – is the subject of an investigation by officers attached to the Sexual Crime Management

One former resident, who has come forward to give a detailed statement, outlined how “hundreds” of priests visited the hostel on Eccles Street in Dublin’s north inner city.

They included evil predator Brendan Smyth, who is suspected of abusing more than 140 children over a 40-year period.

The man, now in his 60s, says he was raped at the age of 15 by a senior cleric who frequented the hostel and later took him on a “retreat”.

While there he was subjected to horrific abuse for four days and he attempted suicide in a desperate bid to end the torment.

He told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “During the three years I was at the hostel I estimate a couple of hundred priests and seminarians passed through Eccles Street to visit the boys, including senior clergy.”

The man was born in a mother and baby home and was sent to the hostel from an industrial school where he was raped from a young age.

He said: “The abuse that took place in the hostel was an extension of the abuse I suffered in the industrial school but it was far more intense and pressurised.

He added priests used the home as a “hunting ground” and “passed boys around like pieces of meat” bribing them with cigarettes and money to keep quiet.

The man claims he was also warned on several occasions to “keep his mouth shut” or he would “end up in the lunatic asylum in Dundrum”.

A typical ploy used by senior clerics was to send their car and chauffeur to the hostel to collect a particular boy who would then be driven to a nearby location and abused.

The victim, who is now 65, said: “A priest or seminarian tended to come with somebody who knew the hostel… they might depart with a boy.

“The seminarians would chat me up. If there was a disco going on I would dance with them and I would be groped. This happened even in the toilet.

“In hindsight there was a selection process. There were a lot of B&Bs in the area, it was close to Gardiner Street and nobody would dare stop a priest.

“There seemed to be a constant stream of priests and student priests coming in, this was normal to me.

“I get it now – it’s beginning to hit me. I denied it for years.”

Detectives are taking the claims seriously. Several of the priests who are implicated are still alive and are expected to be interviewed by gardai.

More than 700 vulnerable teenage boys passed through the hostel over the space of a decade and it’s feared most were preyed on by clerics.

Abusers included seminarians and their foreign visitors from Clonliffe, All Hallows and Maynooth as well as visiting priests and their “guests”.

The hostel opened in the early 1960s and was run by nuns on behalf of the Archdiocese.

It typically housed up to 30 teenage boys, aged 15 to 18, in dormitories.

There was a games room downstairs and a disco where priests would dance with the young boys.

There was also a private flat upstairs where abusers took their victims.

From 1972 it was known simply as “Our Lady’s Hostel”.

It closed in the late 1970s and the building now forms part of the Mater Private Hospital.

A second man, who was sent to the Boys Club in 1967 when he was 16, stated he was taken on a pub crawl by an elderly priest who got him drunk and raped him.

He said: “He had done this before, some of the boys said later.

“They all wanted to be our friends, to buy us stuff like ciggies, drink, food, movies or take us out on drives in the country for sex in their cars.

“[Abuse happened] maybe twice a week. I was drunk most of the time, it deadened the memories so that I didn’t care. They just wouldn’t leave us alone.”

Something ‘systematically wrong’ in the Catholic Church for failing to accept abuse of children, says priest

A third former resident said he was thrown out of the hostel two days after he punched a senior cleric who made unwanted sexual advances towards him.
Decades later he was in hospital after suffering a severe mental breakdown because he could not verbalise what had happened to him.

Fr Brendan Smyth – regarded as the most depraved paedophile in Irish history – used to stay at the girls’ secondary school nearby and visit the hostel on foot.

Institutional survivors’ advocate Fintan Dunne has set up a Boys Club Justice group on Facebook in a bid to uncover the truth and support victims.

He said: “Most victims of the Boys Club are all still deeply affected and largely abandoned to their ongoing psychological distress.

“What’s contributed to this is that somehow Ireland had remained oblivious to even the existence of the Boys Club or the depth of harm inflicted there.

“As a result, most of these men lack appropriate care and many are troubled by the unfinished business of justice.”


I think it is correct to say that this hostel was founded by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid? If not I’m sure someone will correct me.

McQuaid certainly visited there in the evenings.

I have never heard anyone claim that McQuaid abused boys there himself.

There have been stories told of McQuaid’s driver calling to that hostel and Artane Reformatory and bringing boys to visit McQuaid.

It seems that the boys in this hostel were inded a source of “fresh meat” for priests and seminarians.

I was in Clonliffe Seminary and there was an under current there of altar and other boys being brought around Clonliffe and abused as parr of their visit by priests and seminarians.

One man told me he had been abused in a room with ceiling to floor mirrors that Bishop Joseph Carroll used as his “robing room”.

This happened after Carroll had left Clonliffe.


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