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Extract from "On the Ferns Report" by Catriona Crowe in "The Dublin Review", no 22

The Report’s account of the diocesan response to Fr Fortune ends dramatically with his suicide. Two of his employees found him in a darkened house, lying on his bed fully clothed with a set of rosary beads in his hands. One of the employees found three letters, one titled ‘A Message from Heaven to my Family’, one to his brother, and one to the employee who discovered them. The letter addressed to her contained an instruction to give it to all the newspapers. In it, he denied all allegations against him and branded his accusers ‘a pack of liars’. He left detailed instructions about his funeral and requested that Bishop Comiskey not attend. He claimed that ‘Bishop Comiskey was responsible for all this as he had raped and buggered me’.

The recipient of this extraordinary missive did not give it to the newspapers. She gave it instead to her local curate, who kept it in a safe in the presbytery for two years and then burned it. The Inquiry, which was told about the letter by the curate, concludes that there was ‘no evidence to support the very serious allegations in that letter and [the Inquiry] does not believe them to be true’. Fr Fortune’s often-expressed threat to ‘bring Bishop Comiskey down with him’ did not succeed in the way he had imagined.