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Diocese not told island priest was abuser

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Date Published: 03-Dec-2009

THE Dublin Archdiocese successfully requested the transfer of a known paedophile priest to County Galway during the 1980s – without ever informing the local Catholic hierarchy that there were child protection concerns surrounding him.

Parishioners on Inisbofin were shocked to learn at the weekend that the clergy in the Tuam Archdiocese had no knowledge of potential allegations of abuse against Fr. Noel Reynolds prior to his appointment to the island.

The late Fr. Reynolds subsequently admitted abusing children on the island – however, there are no indications that any local children were targeted by the priest who was sent to the west from a Dublin parish.

During his life in the priesthood, he is said to have raped or abused more than 100 children and yet he was dispatched to the Tuam Archdiocese without any warning of a possible risk he might pose to teenagers.

In a statement from Archbishop Michael Neary – which was read out to parishioners on Inisbofin by Fr. Tony Lavelle over the weekend – he said that the priests in the diocese had no knowledge of a potential allegation of abuse against this priest prior to his appointment as curate on the island.

He went on to say that there were no indications whatsoever on record in diocesan files that the then Archbishop, Dr. Joseph Cunnane was aware that child protection concerns in relation to Fr. Reynolds existed prior to his ministering on Inisbofin.

Fr. Reynolds was the curate on Inisbofin from 1983 to 1986 and locals remember him as being “nothing out of the ordinary” and they never suspected him of being a child abuser.

He admitted abusing a female teenager while he was a priest in East Wall in Dublin while several complaints were made to the Gardai that he abused children during the 1970s.

According to the Murphy Report on clerical child abuse in the Dublin diocese which was published last week, Fr. Reynolds sought a transfer from the capital to an island posting in 1983 so that he could “be more in tune with the people”.

He told the Archbishop of Dublin that he wanted “to give away everything (or as much as possible) and separate myself from life in Dublin where there are far too many distractions”.

In July of that year the Archbishop told him that he had written to the Archbishop of Tuam with a view to finding an island home for him.

When Archbishop Dermot Ryan did identify Fr. Reynolds as the priest seeking the transfer, he assured Archbishop Cunnane of Tuam “that Father Noel Reynolds is a dedicated and devoted priest and will give good service to the islanders”.

No assessment was done of him prior to assigning him to Tuam.

In his interviews with the Gardai, Fr. Reynolds admitted to abusing individuals on the island but did not identify who they were.

It is thought that the victims were most likely to have been children from Dublin who came to visit the priest while he was ministering on Inisbofin.

See also stories on page 3 of The Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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