Posted by: gaiusc | 26 May, 2009

Voice of the victims: Michael O’Brien

I saw the video below and was in tears after. The man is Michael O’Brien and he’s a former mayor of Clonmel. He also passed through an institution run by a religious order when he was a young boy. Any apologists casting aspirations on the motivations of those who gave evidence to The Commission To Enquire Into Child Abuse or attempting to downplay the extent of the abuse that went on should be forced to watch it.

A transcript of the piece is available here.

While I have your attention, the reports of the Commission are available on their website. The Executive Summary is harrowing enough in itself.

To top all this off, not only are the clergy escaping criminal justice and having the taxpayer pay most of the compensation but the records of the commission are going to be destroyed. What kind of a democracy are we that such gross abuses are uncovered and then buried to prevent them from ever getting into the public domain. Who is the government really trying to help here? The church or the victims?



  1. This is not the country, society or culture i thought it was. i am shocked and sickened at this sickness which existed, has it even changed?
    Where they all cowards?

  2. Hopefully there will be charges pressed against those still alive and fair play to Mary McAleese for saying that publication of the report on it’s own is not enough.

  3. Michael O’Brien is my uncle, I am very proud of him and the courage it has taken to speak aloud to the world in order to make thousands of other voices heard….

    Its time for the Catholic church to stand up and take responsibility…

    • Catherine,
      I watched your Uncle Michael on YOUTUBE.COM referring to his life in the
      Industrial Home. I felt his pain. My father who was born in 1899 in Listowel, County Kerry. My father was placed in the Greenmount Industrial Home in 1910 after both parents died in 1910 of TB within 3 months of one another. My father was the youngest of 11 children. He was the only one placed in the home. The next oldest was 14. Some siblings came to the US. I don’t know why other members didn’t take him in. My father died at the age of 82. He had 11 children himself. My father never spoke to us only in a statement. He never sat down and had dinner with us. He would have bad rages. My father would come home and eat his dinner alone and then go into his bedroom. My father was a die hard alcoholic. Although, he went to work every single day of his life…that was about it. He never took responsibility for anything other then working which he did until he was forced to retire at age of 65 even though he still had young children. My father would abuse my mother and his children by ridiculing us and with beatings. I can’t tell you how many times my mother had a black eye and when he beat her so bad she would be on the floor with blood pouring from her nose and mouth. We weren’t allowed to touch her only walk over her. What normal person does this? Yet..there were times when my father would play with us and take us out to the ballgame to see the Yankees. He was like a Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. My father never ever spoke of Ireland or of the family left behind. He did have two sisters here in the US that I remember faintly as a child. They were about 15 years older than my father. My father never mentioned his parents..not once. The only thing that I knew was from what my mother stated and I remember it well her saying “your father was placed in a home because his father died young and the “Brothers” in the home would beat him all the time”. I always remembered what she said. Beatings? God else knows what happened to him. My father always drank and would beat us and my mother. Only god knows what pain he was going through.
      I always wanted to go to Ireland. Finally I made it in 2007 and when to the very land my father was born. It was on that trip that I found out about the Industrial Home scandal. Everything became clear to me. Finally after searching for 2 years…an organization called BARNARDOS.IE finally found a record showing my father in GREEMOUNT INDUSTRIAL HOME. Only 2 pages of the placement and discharge were sent to me. Time has passed and anyone who has passed before 1999 cannot charge them with anything. I know now the truth. What can I do for my father? Help!

  4. I watched your uncle on Q&A that night and just sat on the couch crying. I couldn’t sleep afterwards and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

    Reading about what happened in newspapers is one thing but to see a person and hear their voice is another. Everyone over the age of 21 should watch this – it might give us all a a more sympathetic and community spirited outlook on life.

    He was extremely eleoquent and came across as a very fine man. I hope his life has been a success since leaving that appalling place.

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