Dear Bishop Cullinan,​

Below for your consideration is an e-mail sent to the Abbot General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Within the e-mail, I make a number of allegations against the current Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO. ​

Within the present correspondence, I asseverate those allegations in light of conversations that have taken place over the weekend. Again for the avoidance of doubt, I wish to make it unequivocally clear, the sexual act — consensual anal penetration between Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO and the ex-priest of the Diocese of Killaloe, was consensual. The said sexual act took place in the guesthouse of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, Roscrea, which is located in the Diocese of Killaloe. The nature of Dom Richard Purcell’s sexual activity can be legitimately characterised as an abuse of abbatial authority. And, that is a very serious matter.​

As will be asserted in a sworn affidavit, the current Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, confirmed in a conversation that the conduct of Dom Richard was known to him, and it was hoped it was a one-off. Nonetheless, in recent days, further evidence has emerged that Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, has been active on the gay scene for a considerable period of time. Sadly, this is a grave violation of his monastic vows; the promises he made at his diaconal and priestly ordinations, and contrary to the behaviour expected of any Cistercian Abbot.​

In light of a number of conversations from people who could be classed as whistle-blowers, it has emerged that the behaviour of Richard Purcell was “known” in the diocese of Killaloe.​

Question One.​

When, Dom Richard Purcell, was elected Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, a monastery that is canonically located within your jurisdiction — was his past behaviour brought to your attention either formally/informally? ​

Question Two.​

If the allegations concerning Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, was known to the Abbot General, do you consider it unacceptable for Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO to have “confirmed” his election as the Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey in accordance to the Constitutions of that Congregation?​

Question Three.​

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, you were the principal celebrant at a Mass to invoke God’s Blessing on the New Abbot and his abbatial ministry at Mount Melleray Abbey. When you presided at this mass — at that time — did you have personal knowledge of any allegation of past homosexual activity by Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO?​

Question Four.​

The photographs November 4, 2017 at Mount Melleray Abbey evidence that the Mass was attended by the now Archbishop of Cashel, Kieran O’Reilly SMA, previously the Bishop of Killaloe; the current Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, and the bishop emeritus of the diocese, Bishop William Walsh. Did any of these three (3) bishops formally/informally make you aware of any allegation pertaining to Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO?​

It is my understanding that Dom Purcell’s behaviour was known in the Chancery of the Diocese of Killaloe. It is my further understanding that this created a lot of angst in the Diocese, and pressure was put on certain persons to remain silent. But, the ex-priest spoke about what happened in the monastery guesthouse, i.e., Mount St. Joseph Abbey to a number of priests in the Diocese of Killaloe, so these assertions about Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO are not unfounded hearsay. And, it is a complex matter that is still unfolding.​

In any event, it raises further questions about the conduct of Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO that need to be addressed by this diocese of Waterford & Lismore. I am aware that canonically you have no jurisdiction over Mount Melleray Abbey, however, you do have responsibility for the pastoral governance of your diocese in which the abbey is located.​

Question Five.​

Have you granted by a Decree, priestly faculties to Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, to minister in the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore?​

Question Six.​

Will you upon the presentation of a sworn affidavit attesting to the behaviour of Richard Purcell, preventively suspend the priestly faculties (if they have been previously granted) and/or prohibit by a Decree (and publish same), the said Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, from ministering/functioning as a priest anywhere in the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore?​

Question Seven.​

It will be established in an affidavit that the allegations against Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO have been known by the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, since at least the 13th of September, 2020, and he has ignored same with alacrity. ​

Will you now write to the competent Dicastery, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to invite said Dicastery to begin an Apostolic Visitation of Mount Melleray Abbey, because the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, appears to have abrogated his responsibility?​

Question Eight.​

In light of the fact that so many people appear to know about Purcell’s behaviour, the fact, that he is ministering in your diocese with impunity — is it unreasonable to suggest there has been a cover-up of his behaviour in the Diocese of Killaloe? ​

Question Nine.​

Has anybody previously brought the allegations pertaining to Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, to your attention? If so, who? And, why have you done nothing about the situation?​

In conclusion, it gives me no pleasure to write this e-mail, however, now that you have been formally notified of the accusations; there is no excuse for inaction by the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore and/or the Abbot General. But, if there is anything that is untrue in the allegations, Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, can rely on the present to commence proceedings against me under the provisions of the Defamation Act, 2009.​

I would be grateful for an acknowledgement of the present correspondence, and a considered reply to by 5 p.m., tomorrow the 3rd of November, 2020.​


Robert Hourigan




Phonsie us a hypocrite.

He wants to control the bodies and sex lives of men and women.

But he is silent on the alleged sexual misbehaviour of an abbot in his own diocese.

Phonsie says “Do what we tell you but don’t do what we do”.

He even brings his diocesans for Family Day at Mount Mellerary!

If I was him I’d keep a close eye on the young husbands he brings there.

They might be offered an in depth tour of the cloister !