I apologise for the delay in submitting the following, but between moving, work and other mattes, I had to check everything just to make sure that there is no reason to doubt the veracity of what is printed.
In 1994, 5 students went to St Patrick’s College, Thurles for training to the priesthood – 1 student from the Dioceses of Killaloe, Limerick and Clogher and 2 from Raphoe.
They began in September, and by Christmas, 2 had left, leaving just Killaloe, Limerick and 1 from Raphoe from the original batch.
It was well known that ‘pranks’ would be played on the new students – a seminary hazing shall we say.
As these students were newbies, they were responsible on a daily basis to ring the bell in the morning to wake everyone up, again for morning prayers, Mass, breakfast, each and every lecture, prayers, meals, study etc…short of ringing it for toilet breaks. Each student had a rotational week of doing this and only the newbies were to do it.
Within the 1st month of being in the college, the ‘medical exam’ was to take place, and each student was called to a room in which the local GP was present, and the explanation was that the medical was required (which was suspicious as one of the pre-requisites in the application process was an up-to-date medical exam – 14 days before going to the college) and it consisted of dropping the trousers and jox, at which point the GP felt the testicles and then signed a document which found its way into the office of the college president – then Fr Christy O’Dwyer.
The student was sent to Fr O’Dwyer by the GP, and the student then signed the official book of registered students – he could now do so having being medically assessed as being male (in line with Canon Law).
There were cliques in the college, and one of them was effectively the Presidential Pryers…..and they could take a dislike to a student, make up stories about them, report it as fact back to the willing ears of the President and inevitably that student could be summoned to the Presidential suite for interrogation etc….however the Pryers were never held accountable or otherwise for their shit-stirring lies, and indeed caused many a vocation to be lost to an Irish diocese.
It is interesting to note that out of the 5 that made up the Pryers at that time, only 1 of them has since remained in the priesthood, and from what I understand, he is as much a shit stirrer now as he was then, and also a bully, and has managed to continue in his ways.
Anyway, the ‘Henry’ as it is known, was coming up at the end of October, and before that, all students and only some of the priests would go to the fields to harvest the potatoes for the local Erin soup factory (with some for the college of course).
As many who have done this in their time know, it is a back-breaking job, tedious and if the weather is not good, it makes it a harder and dirtier job than perhaps it could be.
The new Dean of Formation was Fr Colin Bergin (now married) and he ended up being upended and having the clay dirt being poured all over him and at different stages throughout the day, the 5 new students also got upended and had the same done to them…but they were not allowed to leave and get washed or changed so they would be walking around with the dirt clay for the whole day.
This was considered good fun and shur didn’t everyone have to go through it as a form of initiation, and then there was the ‘Henry’ which can only best be described an act of public humiliation of the new students in front of the Archbishop, President and all other staff members in the college.
It was degrading, soul-destroying and the fact that it seemd to have the imprimatur of the hierarchs was also questionable and worrying.
In one week alone, one of the newbie students, only too well aware of the pranks carried out on all other students, decided to have his post held at the local post office in Thurles, and in going to the post office one day, was noticed by the Pryers.
It resulted in his room being literally cleared out of all that was moveable, and transferred to the college attics by use of the lift. When the student returned to the room, only with the kindness and support of another student did he manage to track his stuff down, and for the next 2 hours, brought it all down to this room in rote, as the rooms could not be locked.
2 days later, after evening prayer, same said student found a pigs head in his bed, and he eventually found out what he was being punished for….
His birthday was that very day (turned 21) and he decided he did not want it to be known as there would be possible theatrics etc, and so he had his post kept in the post office to avoid it being found out.
The Pryers had noticed and somehow obtained access to the personal (and supposedly confidential) files of thstudents and realised the birthday and its significance, and being pissed off at the thought of losing out on a prank, rewarded the student with a pigs head in his bed for his 21st…as you do.
Throughout the time that I was there, the immaturity of some of these priests-to-be was shocking, and the fact that they got away with it made it all the more reason to have cause for future concern.
Students who were spiritual/religious were disrespected and considered to be a nuisance and in many ways, were undermined, discredited and lied about to the President, and as we are aware heretofore, 1 was falsely accused of theft and had his name dragged throught he local Garda Station….and yet no reprucssions for the instigators.
No-one deserved what they got vis-a-vis the ‘punishment’ handed out by the Pryers, but it was an exercise in futility in making any form of complaint as nothing was done by the President, and if you said anything to your bishop, well lets just say there were plenty of deaf ears at episcopate level.
If this behaviour happened in a workplace, there would be criminal prosecutions left, right and centre…and rightly so.
By his inaction, at the very least, Fr O’Dwyer is culpable of negligence on so many levels, it is frightening to think what he could NOT be charged with….and that is before you would even start with the now retired (but never sober) former priest secretary to Bishop Eamon Casey, the insufferable buffoon that is Clifford.
It is rumoured (and not without basis) that he was so drunk at the ordination of 2 priests in the college, that the relevant bishop for each student quietly ordained them again just to make sure….
I recently became aware of two happenings with staff of St Patricks….
Fr Liam Holmes passed away, and he was an absolute legend to the students as he basically did not give 2 flying ducks for the authoritarianism of the place, and it is well known that of many a Sunday evening, he came back to the college well-steamed and let his non-religious language flow so as to mingle with the prayers of those of us in the Oratory and head Heaven-ways
May he Rest In Peace
Irish seminaries in the past, and even still, are places of inhuman cruelty and great dysfunction.
Thurles seems to have been the worst among them?
The biggest unexplained scandal of Thurles remains the TRAGIC DEATH OF OFFALY SEMINARIAN, MICHAEL DEEGAN.
His death cries from beyond the grave for TRUTH and JUSTICE.
For some reason ALL the records of Thurles Seminary have been destroyed.
Or so THEY tell us.
I believe a DEATH and a possible MANSLAUGHTER has been covered up the the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel.