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Added to on October 13, 2007

Alliance Support

I refer to my recent article "Martin Cahill and the Oblates at Daingean" [7th October] regarding Frances Cahill's proposed appearance on the Late Late Show to promote her book about her late father "The General".

In May 2006 I wrote a letter to the Sunday Tribune (copy attached) about the film "Song for a Raggy Boy" and about Patrick Galvin who wrote the book AND the screenplay for the film. In view of the gross inaccuracies in book and film, I wondered what institution Patrick Galvin is supposed to have attended.

Since then I came across an article in which Patrick Galvin claims that he was in Daingean. That would explain why the book and film depict a religious order made up of Priests and Brothers (the Oblates). It does not explain why Patrick Galvin does not seem to know the difference between the two. Above all it does not explain why the film depicts rapes and the murder of a boy by a Brother, whereas there are no such allegations in the book!

Frances Cahill demonises the Oblates in her book "Martin Cahill My Father" which I have just bought. This depiction does not come from the experiences of her father at the time. It probably derives from films like "Song for a Raggy Boy" and the general demonisation of religious orders in the media. Detective Inspector Gerry O'Carroll has obviously read Paul Williams book (which includes the letter of thanks from Martin Cahill to the Oblates). He forgot about the letter in his Liveline interview because he too is affected by the climate of hysteria about Catholic clergy.


Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15
087 675 1169

Rory Connor wrote:
Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 13:15:02 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Connor
Subject: "The Da Vinci Code" vs "Song for a Raggy Boy"
To: Editor Sunday Tribune

Letters to Editor
Sunday Tribune

"The Da Vinci Code" vs "Song for a Raggy Boy"

The Da Vinci Code features a vicious albino monk who flogs himself as penance and murders people to protect the secrets of the Catholic Church. There are no monks in Opus Dei! Monks are members of an enclosed religious order whereas Opus Dei seeks to sanctify the secular world. I think that monks are the only Catholics who are NOT eligible to join Opus Dei!

Does it matter? After all everyone knows it is just fiction and fun. In that case why don't we have films featuring murderous Rabbis who seek to cover up Jewish conspiracies against mankind? Most people (though not all) would realise that this is fiction also.

In any case the Da Vinci Code is not unique. In October 2004, RTE1 broadcast the film "Song for a Raggy Boy". This features vile members of a religious order who rape boys and finally murder one. From an ethical point of view the film has a lot in common with the Da Vinci Code. For example;

1. The "Brothers in Christ" are led by a priest Father Damien. The name of the order is "Christian Brothers" backwards and the review of the film on the RTE website refers specifically to Christian Brothers. (So did a review in the Irish Times).

Problem: there are no priests in the Christian Brothers!

But perhaps the film is supposed to be about De La Salle/ Presentation Brothers etc? There are no priests in any order of Brothers. The word "Brother" means a [male]religious who is NOT a priest.

2. The mechanics of the story require Father Damien to be a sympathetic character because he hires the heroic lay teacher Franklin. However Father Damien had also promoted the vicious Brother John to the post of Prefect of Discipline. He explains that he had to do so because the Bishop ordered him.

Problem: the local Bishop has no control over religious orders in his diocese. These are subject to their own superiors and eventually to Rome.

Some people may say that these are just technicalities. The basic story is about child abuse and child killing and this story is fundamentally true. Actually when I made a complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC), RTE claimed as much. I quote from the BCC determination of my complaint: "RTE point out that the film is a work of fiction based on a memoir of actual events. Allowing for dramatic licence therefore, everything depicted in the film does not have to be fully accurate."

3. So naturally I went and bought the "memoir of actual events" on which the film is based. This is the book "Song for a Raggy Boy" published by Patrck Galvin in 1990. And I discovered something very strange. There is no sex abuse in the book and no boy dies of any cause. Certainly no boy is kicked to death. (There is physical punishment but even that is given a very odd twist in the film.)

It would be nice (in a way) to say that Director Aisling Walsh perverted Galvin's book. However Patrick Galvin is named in the film credits as a screenwriter. Moreover the mistakes about the Bishop who gives orders to the priestly Brothers also feature in the book. Mr. Galvin appears to know very little about the Catholic Church.

I suspect that the book is more "moderate" simply because it was written before our current child abuse witch-hunt. However the film was made in 2002 and obviously Aisling Walsh believed she could get away with anything.

A final comment. I have read a number of mini-biographies of Patrick Galvin on the Internet and elsewhere. Either they don't say what industrial school he was in or they refer to "St. Judes" i.e. the fictitious school in the film. What institution did Patrick Galvin attend? And does "Song for a Raggy Boy" have the same relationship to truth as the Da Vinci Code?

Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15

Martin Cahill and The Oblates at Daingean

Added to on October 7, 2007

Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2007 12:02:54 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Connor


Pat Kenny
Late Late Show

Dear Pat,

On a recent Liveline programme retired Garda Inspector Gerry O'Carroll furiously critised Frances Cahill's recent book about her father. At the same time he claimed that the General's tough upbringing at an industrial school in Daingean, Co Offaly, was probably responsible for his decision to turn to a life of crime.

Martin Cahill was sent to the Oblates in Daingean in 1965 following his fifth criminal conviction. After his release in 1967 he went straight for a year or two, got married and wrote a letter to the Oblates thanking them for helping him.

There is nothing secret about this - it is in Paul Williams potboiler book "The General" published in 1995. (By sheer co-incidence I put the letter on the website a few months ago).

I presume that Frances Cahill also blames the Oblates. If she is on the Late Late can you make sure she is questioned about the letter and her father's five convictions BEFORE he went to Daingean?


Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15
087 675 1169

Rory Connor wrote:
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 13:48:28 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Connor
Subject: Martin Cahill and The Oblates at Daingean

Joe Duffy

Dear Joe

I heard part of your interview with Gerry Carroll repeated in the early hours of this morning. I find it incredible that even Gerry Carroll does not seem to know that Martin Cahill wrote a letter of thanks to the Oblates after leaving Daingean. After having been convicted on five separate occasions before going to Daingean, he went straight for about a year afterwards, got a job and got married. Later when he decided to resume his criminal career, he blamed "the mad monks in the bog."

Were they responsible for his first five convictions? Why did he thank them?

The following is from the Alliance Support website - they support genuine victims of child abuse but they don't like liars who discredit their cause.


Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15
087 675 1169



Added to on May 20, 2007

In 1965 when he was 16, Martin Cahill the future "General" was sentenced to two years for burglary. This was his FIFTH criminal conviction. He was first convicted (for larceny) at the age of 12 but before he turned 16, he had spent only one month in detention - in Marlboro House in Glasnevin. This time he served his sentence in the industrial school in Daingean, Co. Offaly run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a religious order of priests and brothers. He was released in 1967.

In later years, AFTER he became Ireland's best-known criminal, The General used to say "If anyone corrupted me it was those mad monks down in the bog". This kind of thing was music to the ears of those who saw the Catholic Church as the source of all Ireland's problems - and they were not too worried about the four [should read five] previous convictions.

However a year after he left Daingean, Martin Cahill was planning both to get married AND to go straight and wrote a letter to one of the Oblate Brothers. The following is the text as Cahill wrote it - about March 1968:

Dear Brother,
Sorry for not writing sooner. I just wanted to let you know how Im getting on, for a start it took me long enuf to get a job but I got one, my flat wages are £11. Some weeks I earn £16 to £17 a week but its hard work and its okay.

I am getting over weight and pale, all I need up here is clean fresh bog air, and bog work to get my weight down. Anyway the money I got on the bog I put into prise bonds and I still have it and with a bit of luck, I might win a £100 this week. I have a great chance, well who knows.

I kept out of trouble so far, please god I stay like that, you know I did [not] for get what you done for me, you made me feel as do I was free, in other words needed, I just want to let you know how grateful I am you made my time fly in.

I have met some of the lads some of them seem to be doing well, but I cant tell, I don't pal with any lads. You know I don't mix much, out straight I don't trust them, I tink that I get better along on my own so far, I'm not stuck up or anything like that. Im going with a girl a very nice girl and I am very happy the way I am. I met Frances two years ago and I love her very much and we are getting married on 16th March next week.

I know it is very soon and you might tink that I should weight, but I tot very seriously about it, and its the only thing we want. I know there will be hard times and easy times but please god that we will be happy and I will go about it the way you would want me to go about it, thats what I want to tell you.

I hope yurself is okay, some of the lads there need a good bashing and don't give into them because you dont hear them talking. as you say you have to be cruel to be kind, and let some of the loud mouths beat you in a cople of games of handball on till it goes to there heads and then beat them and take them down a peg or two, when they need it.

I will close now, sorry about my writing, wright soon. I want you to know that we are saving money since I came out as well as my bonds.

(Its not much but you know what to do).

I remaine,
sincerey yours,

Martin Cahill.

The above is from Paul William book "The General: Godfather of Crime" (May 1995). Williams also wrote the following:

"In 1969, the year he turned twenty, Ireland was still a country where indictable crime was extremely rare and a much smaller police force boasted an almost hundred per cent detection rate. But Martin Cahill and his contemporaries were about to change all that. He was one of the prime movers in the new generation of hoodlum that emerged from the confusion and panic accompanying the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland".

John Boorman's film "The General" is based on William's book and won him the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. Boorman said that "The public (and my own) fascination with Cahill probably drew on something archetypal from the deep past, a relish and envy for the freedom of one who dares defy the might of society."

Martin Cahill was assassinated by the Provos on 18 August 1994 but the kind of society he pioneered is still very much with us. He has had plenty of followers whom people like John Boorman admire from a safe distance. They are not over-concerned with the people who have to live side by side with the present generation of "Generals".

Rory Connor
16 May 2007