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Rory Connor wrote:
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 21:20:35 +0000 (GMT)
From: Rory Connor
To: Professor Vincent Comerford, Ronan Fanning,"Dr. Colum Kenny", Daire Keogh, Dermot Keogh,"Dr. Eoin O'Sullivan", Professor Irene Whelan, Editor History Ireland John Horgan, Louise Fuller Maynooth

In recent years there have been a number of child abuse "scandals" that have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. I have written about the case of a man who was banned from a pub and started to put up posters accusing the publican of being a child abuser, another case of a woman who fell out with her next door neighbours and accused their 14-year old son of  raping her 8-year old daughter etc. Some of my "liberal" friends claim this proves that there is no special animus against the Catholic Church and that everybody is equally at risk. I (naturally) believe that an anti-clerical witch-hunt has simply expanded to assault every kind of authority and even every male. (There is a strong FEMINIST sub-text here).

The case of Cynthia Owen and the "Dalkey House of Horrors" represents a kind of transition point between witch-hunts. Obviously this is predominantly a FAMILY tragedy but there are a couple of links to the Church and they are significant.

A recent article in the Sunday Tribune  points out that journalist Brighid McLaughlin was the first person to write up Cynthia Owens story for a national newspaper  Ms. McLaughlin describes how another long-term Dalkey resident called her a "fantasist" and told her to stop writing about Cynthia Owens.  He definitely had a point. [see (1) below].

On 22 December 2002 the Sunday Independent published a long article by Brighid McLaughlin regarding Mannix Flynn and Letterfrack industrial school which was run by the Christian Brothers.  Mr. Flynn (and Ms. McLaughlin) claimed there had been a "Holocaust" in Letterfrack with bodies buried all over the grounds and also a top people's paedophile ring. [see (2) below].

The Christian Brothers replied and pointed out that the last boy to die in Letterfrack was buried there more than 20 years before Mannix Flynn's time. [see (3) below].

I would say that Brighid McLaughlin's uncritical acceptance of Cynthia Owen's story is a natural result of her uncritical attitude to Mannix Flynn.

Rory Connor
22 March 2007


Is the tragic story of Cynthia Owen just the latest in a long line of Garda Scandals that Needs to be Investigated? [extracts]
by Justine McCarthy, Sunday Tribune, 25 February 2007

Off-the-record, gardai accept that Cynthia Owen was probably subjected to sexual abuse as a child but some are still sceptical that baby Noeleen was borne by her.   ..........

In 1973, Dalkey was not the 'Bel Eire' magnet for rockstars and billionaires that it is today, though it was a relatively comfortable suburb of the capital city. These days, pink convertibles and internationally recognisable faces might clog the small main street but a core community remains of generations-old Dalkeyites.

This fact was reinforced two years ago for the writer and artist Brighid McLaughlin, who was the first person to write Cynthia Owen's story for a national newspaper.

. She claims that, a few months before Cynthia's old garden was dug up by gardai, she was threatened by a man she recognised and warned off writing further about Cynthia's claims.

"I'm a member of the rowing club in Dalkey, " says McLaughlin. "An older member from previous years, in his 60s, who had rowed in his youth, arrived at the club one day and told me I was a fantasist and Cindy [Cynthia] was a fantasist and that if I kept writing about this I would end up in the sea. . ." She claims that some days after this incident "four or five dozen eggs" were thrown at her house in Dalkey and she believes both incidents are connected.

"It made me aware of how close I was to the truth, " says the writer. "Cindy Owen is one of the most impressive people I have ever met in 22 years' journalism. She is utterly, utterly truthful."


Mannix Flynn: To Hell in Connaught (from

There was a long article by Brighid McLaughlin in the Sunday Independent on 22 December 2002 about Letterfrack Industrial School, which was run by the Christian Brothers. It tells about the experiences of author and playwright Mannix Flynn who was sent there when he was eleven. The article contains accusations of mass murder by the Christian Brothers and also a massive paedophile ring. It is clear that the Independent deliberately published these claims three days before Christmas as an attack on the Catholic Church. It is even clearer that the sensational allegations are false.
These are extracts from the article:-

Sunday Independent December 22nd 2002
Mannix Flynn: To Hell in Connaught

By the time he was eight, Mannix Flynn was in court for stealing a box of chocolates. Ultimately he ended up in Letterfrack Industrial school where he was raped, beaten and abused. The talented actor and writer tells Brighid McLaughlin a tale of holocaust-style brutality and death in relatively modern Ireland . ...

I have absolutely no qualms about upsetting the Christmas spirit this Sunday. The things we've heard before abuse, violation of human rights need to be said again and again and again. Whether I start at the beginning, middle or end of his story, it makes no difference. We are now entering a Dickensian world, so fasten your seat belt. It's going to be a rough ride.  .......

I was eleven when I was sent to Letterfrack industrial school. Letterfrack in beautiful Connemara was this State's idea of a Special School for Special Needs. The only thing special about it was its exalted position as the monster terror hole of sub-human abuse of children. For me, it was a completely traumatic experience. The warrant for me to go to Letterfrack wasn't even signed. The whole apparatus for sending children to Letterfrack was illegal. A lot of lies and death certificates just disappeared.   .......

"It was like something out of Schlinder's List. You weren't just clipped on the ear, you were beaten until you were turned into whimpering simpletons," he says, "and to think that this was all enabled by the gardai. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The whole point for people to realise now is that hundreds of children were locked away in Letterfrack, hundreds of children were raped and murdered. It's a holocaust we're dealing with. In every bit of land around Letterfrack there is a child buried.   ........

"The gardai in Clifden, fair play to them, uncovered a massive paedophile ring and it ran from the low minions right up to the top. These gardai who investigated this took it upon themselves to work very seriously on it. It's unfortunate that their efforts have yielded such little return. I saw the incident room in Clifden Garda station myself. There were thousands of old files with corroborative statements. The public haven't got a clue what's really going on."   ..........

When you're in a place like Letterfrack, all past life disappears. Your soul and spirit are murdered in a matter of minutes. When you sleep at night you think of the young boys murdered in the grass below you. And their graves are everywhere. Kids murdered for no reason, and buried like dogs all over the 5,000 acres of Letterfrack wilderness." ...

We now know that the 125 headstones, with names and ages from 10 to 17, are only a fraction of those killed. Does anyone care in a State we call civilised? Will there be a tribunal? It is doubtful.  ...

I hope and pray that God will make the truth cry out and flail this deafening silence. Those little beaten and broken bodies, those bleached bones that lie buried in this wet canny land, our western place of great natural beauty demands it. ......


 Abuse: 'God will make the truth cry out'

Sunday Independent, 12 January 2003

I refer to the interview by Brighid McLaughlin with Mannix Flynn in your paper on December 22, 2002. It is not intended here to take from or dilute the many acknowledgements and apologies that the Christian Brothers have made for any abuse that occurred in institutions under their management, including Letterfrack. However, please permit me to make the following points.

It is not true for Mr Flynn to claim that he was sent to Letterfrack Industrial School under an "unsigned warrant". Two such "warrants" exist and were signed by a Justice of the District Court. It is also untrue for him to claim that "the whole apparatus for sending children to Letterfrack was illegal". Indeed, his appeal against sentence was withdrawn in open court and his original sentence was extended until he would have reached his 14th birthday.

It is certainly not true to state that young boys were murdered in Letterfrack. The claim that the Gardai in Clifden "uncovered a massive paedophile ring" in Letterfrack is also untrue. This can be checked with the Gardai in Clifden. It follows, therefore, that it is not true to say that "boys murdered" were "buried like dogs all over the 5,000 acres of Letterfrack wilderness". All who died are buried in the cemetery there or in cemeteries elsewhere. No boy died in Letterfrack while Mannix Flynn was there in 1968-1969. The last boy to die there was buried in the cemetery in 1942.

Surely it is fair to expect that journalists would check the truth of all claims. Your newspaper was supplied by the Christian Brothers with clear information concerning the boys who died and were buried at Letterfrack. The date, place and cause of every death are all fully documented. That information has been supplied to the Gardai and is available for every appropriate authority or person who needs access to it.

The Christian Brothers pray with the author of the article that "God will make the truth cry out". However, they also hope that the "deafening silence" to which she refers will continue to be broken by a fair presentation of fact and truth. In view of the falsehoods listed above, together with other matters raised in the article, every fair-minded person must ask what else is untrue.

Brother Edmund Garvey, Director of Communications, Christian Brothers, Dublin 7.