Email Us My Blog

Patsy McGarry - Religious Affairs Correspondent, Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry and "Murder of the Undead"
Patsy McGarry has been Religious Affairs correspondent for the Irish Times since March 1997. On 25 September 1999 he published an interview with Patrick Walsh, a leading member of SOCA (Survivors of Child Abuse) in which Walsh claimed that he had attended the funerals of boys who had died in Artane Industrial School after being punched in the stomach by a Christian Brother. The Christian Brothers pointed out that no boy had died in Artane while Patrick Walsh was there. Patsy McGarry also published articles in support of claims that boys had been killed by the Christian Brothers in Letterfrack Industrial school in Co. Galway.

A Salem Witch-Hunt for Our Times - Patsy McGarry in 2003
In late 2003 Mr. McGarry seems to have had a change of mind and published articles that compared such allegations to the Salem Witch-hunt of 1692. *** He also wrote in favour of a former Christian Brother who had been convicted of abuse and then had his conviction overturned. However within a year he had changed again and reverted to his original anti-clerical approach. The reason for this latter change of mind may have been the so-called "second" (actually the fourth!) major apology by the Sisters of Mercy in May 2004 - at a time when the media-generated hysteria regarding child abuse seemed to be in decline. The Sisters felt that their first apology in 1996 had not been sufficient and that a more abject one would promote reconciliation with "victims". This totally expected statement seems to have convinced journalists - including McGarry - that the religious were imbeciles and that there was no danger of a back-lash against the witch-hunt. (This impression must have been re-inforced by the retirement of Cardinal Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin in April 2004 and his replacement by Diarmuid Walsh).

By 2003/04 the child-murder allegations had been largely discredited and Patsy McGarry does not seem to have repeated them. Neither did he apologise or offer any explanation - although the 2003 articles that referred to Salem may offer a clue to his motives. Perhaps he feels that the witch-hunt is too strong and it is better to hunt with the hounds than run with the hares?

*** There were similar articles by journalists in the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday Times (Irish edition) in 2003/04 but they too reverted to type after the Sisters apology in May 2004.

Patsy McGarry, Bishop Willie Walsh and John's Life of Pain
In August 2010 the Irish Times published a series of three articles - the first two by McGarry - about "John" a middled aged man in the midlands who according to one headline lays his "Life of Pain" at the "Door of Three Clerics". Mr McGarry writes that in the early 1980s when ‘John’ sought advice from a local priest after his relationship broke up at the age of 20, it led to sexual encounters with that priest and two others. "John has been married and had four children before he separated from his wife. He has since had a daughter from a later relationship. He has had “countless” relationships. He has had “38 jobs and has lived in 31 different locations”, mostly around the midlands town where he is based. He has also been homeless. He has attempted to take his own life a number of times, twice in recent months".

Five years ago John contacted Bishop Willie Walsh. Bishop Walsh drove to the midland town immediately. Mr McGarry quotes John regarding Bishop Willie's attitude: “It was bizarre, surreal. He cried and cried. He also cried for many of the abuser priests, who he said had been abused themselves as children.He encouraged John to go to the Garda, which he had done and has done again recently. .... Bishop Walsh told The Irish Times he believed Fr T was “the worst offender in that he started it. But the other two did worse”, where John was concerned. He has been in contact with John “40 to 50 times” over the years and they had met “about nine times”. Apparantly the diocese of Killaloe has given "John" €40,000 although he never formally applied for compensation and the Bishop has paid out another €25,000 of his own money after the diocesan finance committee balked at giving any more.

This issue was discussed on the website at

While the posters on the site are usually anti-clerical this was too much to swallow. One of them commented:
I broke up a girl when I was twenty. I went to Amsterdam for a break. Whilst there I sought solace from a prostitute who not only used me sexually but also charged me for the privilege. So I went to another, with the same result. And then another. I lay my life of pain at the door of these ladies.

Another comment:
When reading his 'plight', I couldn't help but think of Mae West when she said ...
“I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”

A comment re Bishop Willie's largesse:
Does Willie have any money left? It's all coming back to me....

And comments regarding the Irish Times and Patsy McGarry:
It reads like the News of the World editor has been appointed to the Irish Times. A very odd story. Hard to take it at face value. AND
Very bizarre article for any newspaper, never mind the Irish Times, was Patsy McGarry drunk ?

The last of the three articles (on 20 August 2010) was not by Patsy McGarry. Perhaps he was on leave or just possibly was embarrassed?

Pope Benedict - "Smiling Gent Touches Hearts of People"
On 20 September 2010 Patsy McGarry wrote an article in the Irish Times on Pope Benedict's recent visit to the UK. The visit was widely expected to be a disaster but turned out to be a triumph for the Pope. McGarry's article was entitled "Ferocious Reputation Undone as Smiling Gent Touches Hearts of People".

Patsy McGarry seems determined to reflect the mood of the populace - irrespective of what that mood is.

Rory Connor

10 April 2011

"Murder of The Undead": Patrick Walsh and the Irish Times - September/October 1999

Responses to "Murder of the Undead": Patsy McGarry and Patrick Walsh - May to August 2004

Letterfrack Deaths of Boys: Call for Inquiry into Industrial School, Irish Times - 4 November 2002

Death of Joseph Pyke: Brother Quoted Selectively From Death Certificate, Irish Times - 7 November 2002

Ex-Brothers Concerned at "False" Claims, by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 3 October 2003

A Salem Witch-Hunt for Our Times by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 18 October 2003

Avoid Scapegoating The Christian Brothers by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 5 November 2003

Ex-Brother Says Life Will Never Be The Same Again by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 26 November 2003

Bishop Willie and the "Very Broken" John by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 13 August 2010

Life of Pain Laid at Door of Three Clerics, by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times - 14 August 2010

Killaloe Diocese Set Up €1.5m Fund to Aid Victims of Sex Abuse, Irish Times - 20 August 2010

Ferocious Reputation Undone as Smiling Gent Touches Hearts of People by Patsy McGarry - 20 September 2010