It contained a two and a half page statement from the 1969 – 1970 intake class.

It was that class’ review of their first year in Clonliffe – which was called a formation year.

They all attended the Mater Dei Institute next door, as we did. In my year, 1970 – 1971 – 18 of us joined 160 nuns and a few lay students for formation.

MEN FROM THE LAND OF BROKEN DREAMS? Back row from left: Michael Murphy PP Dubllin; Kevin Doran. bishop, Elphin; Vincent Kenny not ordained; Des Murtagh left after ordination Second row .David Doyle USA; “Madame Bovary” ???; Paul Churchill, canon lawyer, Dublin; Barry Murphy RIP; ????? Third row: Gerard Deegan? Peter Reilly; ??????; Paddy Kavanagh, left after ordination; Front; Alex Conlan, PP Dublin; John Ennis, Dublin; Paddy Monahan; retired, row with DM? Pat Buckley; Paul Tyrrell, Dublin.

I personally enjoyed the year, even though at 18, I was dogged with emotions and insecurities, quite related my secret sexual orientation. Strangely, the only reprimand I had that year was about spending too much time with a young novice nun. Obviously, she or I were no danger to each other.

I’ll let you read the statement here;

Do you not think that the above statement is moving in it’s innocence and desire for spirituality and pastoral training?

Nothing at all of the homosexualization and orgy like ambiance of modern day Maynooth, Wonersh, Allen Hall and the Irish College in Rome.

I was aware of rare homosexual encounters there. Later I became aware that some altar boys had been sexually abused during visits there.

But the order of the day was prayer, study, recreation and there was an unnecessary level of strictness in the air.

But the inherent goodness and sincerity of most of the seminarians was palpable.

Of course there were some horrific bad apples, identified later, people like Bill Carney, Noel Reynolds etc,

What did my correspondent mean by “the land of broken dreams”?

I think he meant a number of things:

  1. The sad destruction of all the innocence and goodness we all entered seminary with.
  2. The abandonment of the renewing spirit of Vatican 11 that filled us all in those days by John Paul and Benedict.
  3. The soul destroying tsunami of sexual abuse and corruption in the church which has destroyed the confidence of good priests and which leave them wondering if they have wasted their lives.


I ask myself this question today?

I have wanted to a priest since I was 4 years old.

My early dreams were, as is normal, peppered with infatuation and romance and were immature and needed to be tested by time and trial.

I had no idea whatsoever what the clerical world was like and the reality of that world shocked me more and more as I went forward. I met some very good priests in the last 49 years but I have been shocked by many who were / are atheistic, agnostic, sexual abusers, rapists, alcoholics, gamblers, cynics, materialistic, viciously ambitious, etc.

There are two kinds of priest in the RCC:

There are those with the heart of a loving pastor.

There are those who have the non existing hearts / hard hearts of functionary CLERICS.

These clerics are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

My outlook on priesthood has changed and matured greatly.

I have ceased to be a cleric of the RCC. Alleluia!

I am now just a priest – with the two sided mission to love and serve God and love and serve people.

I am not the only one doing that. There are many others doing it too.

And I do it in my own imperfect way.

And, I find it hard to understand how anyone can do that from within an institution that has been so overwhelmingly overtaken by evil?

“How can a bad tree produce good fruit”?


Our primary dream is our dream of our journey with Jesus and our “dream time” with him in eternity.

I still have that dream, thank God.

The dreams I had in 1970 are, for better or worse, shattered.


More nonsense. Is this meant to inspire? Why are you so damn focused on yourself all the time? Pat, many guys made a pretty good go at priesthood and still do. You speak about broken dreams – sometimes we shatter our own dreams but dreams are shattered all the time: how many married couples have had their dreams broken? Thousands. There’s a sense in which clerics, including you Pat, tend to be very self preoccupied by their struggles and challenges. I look around me every day and see much brokenness and shattered dreams. Sometimes we just have to recreate a newness for each day instead of looking for pity and, like those with and for whom we work, get on with life, helping each other as best we can. Incidentally, why all the question marks after the names of seminarians??


Pat, I know and you know that, despite all the horrendous abuse, serious wrong doing and corruption, many, many priests serve God and his people with great commitment, care, generosity and fidelity, albeit in a very flawed way at times. Every time you repeat this story about you and priesthood, you imply that almost every other priest is some kind of a monster. You are most unkind, unjust and un Christ like in your attitude.


Pat, stop being so defensive. You make yourself so guilty. Why all this defensiveness?? There is more to come. The Arch in Dublin is pissing himself.


Pat, it is not often I disagree with you however today I wish to offer a challenge to your statement, “How can a bad tree produce good fruit”?
This presupposes that the Church is all bad. And indeed the churvh has produced bad fruit from top to bottom. I am no fan of the church and recognise that the church is it’s own worst enemy.
However; if it a bad tree? Or is it a good tree that has produced vile fruit (and thereby still capable of producing some good fruit). Indeed the garden of Eden tells the story of a God-made tree with sinful fruit.
On this basis I would be slow to dismiss all your peers who do good work from within the institution. They knowingly remain to minister to those without the strength to leave.


Having the dreams of youth shattered is called growing up. Most adults have had their dreams of youth shattered.
Having ones life shattered is another matter. Many victims/survivors had their lives ruined as a result of the trauma
of abuse. Survivors are not a homogeneous group. People’s experience of wounding differs in depth, intensity and damage, as well as in repercussions for their lives. Some go prematurely to their graves, some need medication for life, while others can make a good recovery with support.
Do priests give their lives to the Rcc institution or to the the Kingdom of God, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ?
If the latter, life is NEVER wasted. It depends on faith, perspective and whether a person has a deep spiritual life.


The victim mentality is a source of much needless angst. A seminarian who cannot sleep because a priest made a risqué remark (such as any man could have made) or looked at him “suggestively” or touched his waist, and who then demands official investigations of the “incidents” seems to be the typical fare of most victim-narrations.


The days of the Romanist-poof-paedophile-pervert are numbered. Down with these priest – scum. Just sayin’, like. Y’know.


Pat, as you so rightly point out, although the dreams of our youth have been shattered, we can still keep on dreaming. We can dream of a better way, and a new way. If we have the courage to try a new way, as you have done, we’ll get there someday. By “we” I mean humanity. You say you remain simply a priest, trying to love and serve God, and God’s people, our fellow human beings. Nobody needs another person’s approval to do this. Nobody needs a man to put their hands on his head and say he is a priest for a person to be such a priest. The more of us who realise this, the more of us will be happier. Any of us — atheist, theist, deist, Gnostic, agnostic, or religious believer — can take what was the dream of those idealistic young men in the photo with Pat and apply it to themselves, offering the sacrifice of uncontrolled appetite for the improvement of mankind as a whole. You don’t need to be male to do this, either.


A Pat Tis a tough one yr after in these the days a Christmas hi. The Spirit of the law vs the letter of the law. There will always be conflict Tis called progress. Who is the focus for the journey if Tis genuinely Jesus our Saviour and Guide on we go in hope and joy hi ho hi ho Happy Christmas yall


When in Clonliffe in the 70’s some of us were very idealistic about our vision for ourselves and about the Church and priesthood. The ideals weren’t always fulfilled or lived out but we felt that whilecwecreceived a goid academic, theological and philosophical formation, the spiritual and sexual formation by way of of information, awareness or growth was lacking and somewhat insufficient. These we had to discover pretty much for ourselves. We were fortunate to have the freedom to go out and about freely (but responsibly!), we had pastoral assignments which were very life enriching. However at the level of a deep, prayerful, spiritual and human formation, the emphasis wasn’t what it should have been. I cannot say that my dreams were shattered. I did not lose my enthusiasm or desire as I began.ministry in parishes as I was blessed to have worked with very inspiring priests, religious and many wonderful parishioners. I think many people in life are disappointed with their unfulfilled dreams and have to keep reimagining a fresh attitude frequently. As priests prayer is a must. I also know many priests who struggle at a very human level – the vagaries of life touch us all and therefore we are no different from others. All of us, irrespective of who we are, have to struggle to find true inner healing, equilibrium, peace and harmony. Pat, if you ever find the “secret” share it! Be less unmerciful with your fellow human beings. Please.

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Most priests lead, by any standard, a rather ‘odd’ life. Leave aside the overarching sense of being ‘set apart’ which is pedalled in the theology of priesthood which gives a rather distorted notion of self-importance and an elevated sense of a priest’s place in the Church and society. Most importantly, the lived experience of priests is one of ‘being alone’ in human terms, unmarried, unpartnered, without children and their own family. Oh, yes, I know, prayer and being a close friend of Jesus is supposed to make up for this, but we all know that is bollocks and it doesn’t make up for the aching sense of loneliness. So, priestly life, by definition, is one of isolation, without possibilities of reaching out and being touched by intimacy, affection, connectedness, bonds of family etc. And it makes us ‘odd’. And I count myself in that class. So, please, don’t try and spin me, anybody, a line about the joy of priesthood and celibacy and service and ministry. I can’t stand it when I hear priests telling me, and others, what’d a joy and a privilege and how liberating it is to be celibate. Such a gift ! I just think I’m hearing self-serving lies and delusion when I hear that kind of thing. Yes, it may occasionally have some satisfaction, and it is a noble duty and only occasionally a joy. For the most part, and for most of us, it is a bloody hard slog ! For most of us, we were sold a pup when we went to seminary in our idealistic youth. But, like me, many have stuck at it, even though it has not brought the promised joy. I’m waiting for that when I get to heaven. Or something like that. I expect I will be ravaged on this blog for being so honest about this stuff, and told that I should get out, leave, stop being such a misery. Usually it will come from the young traddies. My response to them is, come back in 30 years time, when you are my age, and you have got some time in and spent many a long night by yourself with no one giving a shit about you, not even your bishop who mostly just sees his priests as pawns or problems, and we will talk then. If they are still in harness, which most of them will not be by then.

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You will not be ravaged by me. You sound human and in touch and very honest.

My life and my priesthood has always been better when I have had a partner – and indeed sharing your life with someone has its own challenges.

I do think we all should try and have as much happiness and joy in life as we can. We all need friendship, love and intimacy and we get that in various ways.

I wish you well.


You give an unusually honest account, one which chimes with the frank experience of the few priests and religious I have respected!
You do have another gift, which you don’t mention but is very rare in all walks of life and is of huge value: you are in touch with yourself, your real emotions and experience. This is rare in all walks of life because we are all taught to perform roles. Even rarer is the ability to sit with this reality without running away or trying to ‘drown’ it in one way or another!


2.08: You should be more true to yourself and leave if you are in the depth of such loneliness and misery. (I am not being unkind but realistic). I have been in that dark place too. I still have such moments. There is a natural evolution of change that has taken place in the Church, in society, in priesthood which have impacted hugely on priesthood. We are, effectively, on the fringes of people’s lives. I don’t know the solution but I keep going in the belief that I have some meaningful role still in people’s lives. I look to my family and friends and witness their daily upsets, disappointments, challenges and struggles. Doing this puts my life in perspective. However, I agree that something needs to radically change in our understanding of priesthood, ministry, service, celibacy, Church…When our idealism which we had starting out takes a severe battering, which it has, it is very difficult to regain it. The only reason you might be ravaged and savaged is not because of your honesty (as a human being) but because you are a priest. And this itself tells its own story. Some caution: You will not receive much empathy or kindness from Pat and his merry band of Catholic priest haters!! I wish you well. Be wise and discerning in sharing your truth.



What about all the dreams you crushed on this blog? You are so self referential when it comes to your own dreams being crushed but not the dreams of those who you have personally hurt on here. That makes you a hypocrite!


There you go again, justifying your own behaviour while asking your readers to feel pity for the behaviour that was bestowed on you.
Double standards.


I once heard Niall Ahern (Middle Dean, Maynooth) tell a Cork & Ross First Divine that if he didn’t get his act together he’d end up like Pat Buckey. This was said in front of others in the corridor in Top Pats.

The student’s crime was going to Sunday Mass in Maynooth parish church rather than in the college.


Exaggeration for the sake of effect at 3:42.
A little nuance is called for to help you to differentiate between an infringement of a house rule and a crime.
Niall had an unenviable role, even an invidious one dealing with the likes of you.


Pat, after Mass this morning I picked up the 2020 Down & Connor Directory. It reveals that there are 111 priests in diocesan ministry, 48 are retired, there were no ordinations in 2019 and there are 3 sems.

No fewer than seven priests of the diocese are listed as having desk jobs: Fox, Fleming, Glover, Grant, McGee, O’Hagan, White. The daddy of all deskies, Tim Bartlett is now part-time.

Fr John Murray isn’t listed and Fr Conor McCarthy is officially disappeared.

Dean Kennedy is in it, with just an email address, and no postal address, not even a c/o Lisbreen.

Interesting 📘


Conor isn’t “disappeared” at all. He’s left the priesthood and getting on with his life. He’s teaching and playing music – often seen in Clonard Monastery playing the organ at Masses and Novenas. He was there during the summer at the “Big Novena” large as life. So not “disappeared“ at all at all. Why would he be in that directory if he’s no longer ministering through his own decision and choice?


I think that Conors swift departure from the priesthood was that it was a mistaken path for him. Thankfully for him he knew that quickly. He strikes me as a somewhat fragile and sensitive type that accords with his musical and creative gifts. He has a lot to offer and I wish him well in his new path.


Clonard is finished, a big barracks with a few OAP Reds shuffling about. I wonder if Adrian Egan was the preacher again at the gay carol service in the Non-Subscribing Presbyterians church up near the QUB chaplaincy?


Some people are just not ‘manageable’. They are very difficult for institutions to contain and it is almost impossible for institutions to harness their gifts, because they do have genuine gifts.
In my own work life I once worked in a team which was solely composed of these people, most of whom had been moved there, including me, because nobody else could cope with them. This was in a part of the organisation which had just developed without much planning. I loooved working there because everyone was incredibly competent and gifted, but it was a complete nightmare for management because all the staff were mavericks.
The trick for these people is to find somewhere they flourish, and sadly this is not usually in the church. That said I have known isolated cases where these people were used well – Ampleforth Abbey has a history of keeping mavericks out on the parishes, which seems to have worked well for many people.


Not for the poor parishoners having mavericks sent to them so that the monks back at Amplecash could have a quieter life.

An office full of mavericks would be intolerable.


Oh it genuinely seemed to work! In the days of more priests it gave the less containable monks outlet to develop their own ministry and there were more priests so the people would get a choice of priests. I am also talking about the sixties and seventies when it was uncool not to be a maverick.
That said a friend was a teacher in a school up there, loathed Piers Grant-Ferris the chaplain and was delighted when the police caught up with him.
An office full of mavericks is actually fun and the team developed things which made the national news and won awards. Actually nearly all of us have since left…


Pat you broke your dreams because of your sexuality.
You like many other clerics joined and abused the Priesthood because you are Gay.


My unacknowledged gayness was a barrier in my priesthood. My acknowledged gayness has been a source of inspiration and grace.


Ah now, he was making it up as he went along towards the end and his choice of stops left a lot to be desired 😏


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