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Priest's Son on Drug Charge

Evening Herald, 22 October 2010

FR MICHAEL Cleary’s son has appeared in court on drugs and assault charges.

Actor Ross Hamilton was revealed as the cleric’s son by his mother Phyllis in an interview that shocked the nation.

The 33-year-old accused, of Whitworth Road, Phibsboro, Dublin, was charged following an alleged incident at Prospect Way, Glasnevin on October 1.

Mr Hamilton, a model and actor, appeared in court charged with possession of cannabis, assault causing harm, public drunkenness and using threatening behaviour.

He is also charged with violent behaviour at Mountjoy Garda Station on the same date. Judge William Hamill adjourned the case to a date in November. Hamilton was remanded on continuing bail until his next court appearance.

The actor came to prominence while still a teenager, when he was identified in 1998 as the son of high-profile cleric Fr Cleary, who had a relationship with Phyllis Hamilton after meeting her in 1967. Cleary died in 1993 and Phyllis Hamilton in 2001.

The Herald can also reveal that the son of the 'Singing Priest' is also an unlikely roommate of a member of one of Ireland's highest-profile dynasties.

Socialite Antonia Leslie (46), of 'Castle Leslie' fame, confirmed she was sharing a house with Hamilton when the Herald called to the property.

Hamilton is alleged to have committed the offences near the home he shares with Ms Leslie on Whitworth Road in Phibsboro earlier this month.

Ms Leslie, whose childhood home in Co Monaghan was the chosen venue for Paul McCartney's wedding to Heather Mills, insists that the pair are "just good friends".

Speaking to the Herald Ms Leslie said that Hamilton was in Belfast. She refused to comment on his assault charges.

The unlikely twosome were pictured together at model Glenda Gilson's 29th birthday bash in the Angler's Rest last March. Ms Leslie is keeping the details of their relationship under wraps, saying they have been friends for "some time now" and that they have been living together for "a while".

Hamilton was revealed as the son of the Ballyfermot priest through DNA tests in 1998.

His mother, Phyllis had a relationship with Fr Cleary, one of the country's best known priests, for 26 years. Their first child was given up for adoption, while their second son, Ross, grew up with his parents in a Church-owned house in Dublin.

After Fr Cleary died in 1993, Phyllis wrote a tell-all book in response to rumours that he had a secret son. A regular on The Late Late Show, he was also a TV and radio show host. He released albums as the 'Singing Priest' and introduced Pope John Paul II during his 1979 visit to Ireland.

Antonia Leslie has also spoken of her unconventional upbringing. When she was five years old, her father moved his mistress and their two daughters into Castle Leslie, leaving Antonia, her mother and two brothers to live in a nearby council house.