A Corner Of Ireland




Donegal (top) and Mary Boyle

 Yesterday a man was arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Mary Boyle in 1977.

It has put the spotlight on the existence of a possible paedophile ring that has operated in the South Donegal area for decades.

1977: Six-year-old Mary Boyle disappears while visiting her grandparents’ home near Ballyshannon. An intensive search of the area yields no results.

1998: Speaking to the Irish Independent in his capacity as ‘youth community worker’, Liam Adams, Gerry Adams’ brother, references a ‘very well-organised paedophile ring’, which may have links in Donegal.

2000: Eugene Greene, a priest from Gort an Choirce in the Raphoe Diocese, which covers most of Donegal, is sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment after being convicted of abusing up to 26 boys in a number of parishes within the diocese during the period 1965 and 1982.

2002: Denis McGinley, a teacher from Gort an Choirce, who also abused a multiplicity of victims, is sentenced to 30 months in respect of offences committed between 1978 and 1995.

2004: Allegations that up to 22 men had sexual relations with a 13 year-old Ballyshannon girl in various locations in Ballyshannon, Rossknowlagh and Donegal Town in 2003.

2006: In February, a teenage girl is raped in Bundoran.

2007: Following an almost three-year investigation 6 men are charged with sexual assault on the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl.

In March, another 13-year-old girl is attacked and raped in Donegal Town by a local man in his twenties. In September, a teenage girl is sexually assaulted by a 22-year-old man on the main street of Donegal Town while walking home from school. In the same month, another teenage girl is sexually assaulted in Bundoran.

Trials of six men charged in relation to the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl take place. Five men, aged between 22 and 34 years of age, are convicted, four of whom are sentenced to periods of imprisonment of between two and three years, with the other being given a suspended sentence., pleads not guilty, is convicted on two counts, and sentenced to 2 years and six months.. The sixth man successfully pleads genuine mistake as to age and is found not guilty.

2008: In September, a 16-year-old girl is attacked by an 18-year-old youth at the Harvest Fair in Glenties.

Retired Garda Martin Ridge, who led the investigation into Greene and McGinley, publishes a book about the investigation ‘Breaking the Silence’ (Gill & Macmillan). This book alleges that Eugene Greene was known to clergy in Raphoe as a paedophile at least as early as 1976.

2009: In April, a 57-year-old Bundoran man is convicted of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl.

2010: In June, it is reported that the gardai have files on 16 additional men who had sexual intercourse with the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl in 2003 but against whom charges were not brought by the DPP due to insufficient evidence. The girl’s diary records that she had sex 57 times with 22 men over a six-month period.

In July, paedophile William John Paden – one of Britain’s most wanted sex offenders – is arrested in Ballyshannon.

2011: A schoolgirl is raped by a schoolboy after the Ballyshannon Carnival. Two other girls come forward to allege rape by the same boy, whom the Mirror states is “believed to have links to a notorious pervert from the county who was jailed in the past for a sex attack”.

In June, the Irish Independent reports that the gardai have begun an investigation into an organized child sex ring in Donegal.

The following month, paedophile Michael Ferry is convicted of having raped four boys on the premises of an Irish language summer school in Gweedore. Ferry was allowed to carry out odd jobs on the school despite the management being aware of his past conviction for a sexual offence in 2002. Justice Minister Alan Shatter orders an investigation. One of the victims, Derek Mulligan, waives his anonymnity and expresses concern that Ferry – who took pictures of the boys when abusing them – may have been part of a paedophile ring operating in the area. Highland Radio reports that the Gardai are investigating claims against four other persons linked to Ferry. Two men are subsequently arrested and released in what are believed to be Ferry-linked investigations, although no charges are subsequently brought.

An unidentified source involved in social work is quoted in the Donegal Democrat as stating that child sex abuse is rampant in parts of Donegal and has been for many years. In August, the Guardian reports that new evidence has emerged of a lay paedophile ring in Donegal paralleling the church paedophile ring to be detailed in the forthcoming Raphoe Report, in which the Gardai was complicit, and in relation to which an investigation is now under way.

In November, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church publishes the Raphoe Report. This review of sexual abuse in the Raphoe Diocese purports to examine all case files from 1975 to 2010 to determine how allegations and concerns were dealt with. The report identifies 52 allegations against 14 separate priests in the diocese since 1975, eight of whom have left the priesthood or are no longer serving in a ministry and four of whom have been convicted of offenses against children or young people. The only priest named in the report is Father Greene. The Report was described as a whitewash by the local Tirconaill Tribune newspaper, which criticised the reviewers for not having spoken with the persons abused.

The same month, an abuse survivor, John O’Donnell of Flacarragh, demands a full state enquiry into alleged cover up of a 1970s Donegal paedophile ring. Mr O’Donnell alleges that his attempt to report his abuse by a lay church member to the Gardai in 1973 resulted in him being slapped and slung out.

The same year, the Gardai begin a review into the case of Mary Boyle.

2012: In February, a youth is arrested following a sexual attack on a 15-year-old girl in Ballyshannon.

In May, the BBC airs a documentary about clerical child abuse in Donegal “The Shame of the Catholic Church.” The documentary focuses on a secret church inquiry in 1975 when a 14-year-old Donegal boy, Brendan Boland, was questioned by the church after he had disclosed he had been abused by Fr Smyth during time spent by him in a parish Donegal. Three priests took part in the process, among them Cardinal Brady, then Fr John Brady – a canon lawyer, bishop’s secretary and school teacher.

In the documentary, retired Garda Martin Ridge is quoted as saying:-“I don’t believe a week went by in West Donegal where you hadn’t a child or a number of children sexually abused . It’s horrendous. Anywhere you look around here which is so hard to fathom: by-roads, side roads, churches, schools – the abuse here was something unbelievable, unbelievable. And the fact that nobody in the public spoke out about this after the total carnage here.”

2013: A 63-year-old man is convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for 35 charges of indecent assault on two young brothers in Ballyshannon between 1966 and 1971.

A 44-year-old Ballyshannon man pleads guilty to approaching schoolboys in their early teens, showing them porn and offering them money for sex.

Peter Cororan of Falcarragh is sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for the abuse of seven victims, some aged as young as 7, over the course of 16 years.

In October, Liam Adams is convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter, Aine Dahlstrom, over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983.

2014: In January, TG4 programme Micheál Ó Fearraigh: Feall i ndiaidh Fill airs. The programme states that, although an interim Garda report supplied to the Justice Minister in the months following Ferry’s 2011 conviction claims that gardaí had alerted both the school’s directors and the then North Western Health Board (now HSE) about Ferry’s first conviction shortly after it occurred in 2002, the Health Service Executive has yet to publish its own internal report into what actions it took after receiving this information from gardaí.

In April, Arline Murphy, aged 50, from Ballyshannon, publishes her story in the Donegal Democrat, detailing a history of abuse between the ages of 7 and 16 by a number of different Ballyshannon people, both male and female, known to one another.

Gardai investigating the disappearance of Mary Boyle inspect and take forensic evidence from a bowl-shaped area of land near where she was last seen, and where neighbours reported seeing what appeared to be a shallow grave some days after her disappearance. Although they informed the Gardai, no body was found in the spot by the time it came to be searched.

On October 21, it is reported that a 64-year-old man has been questioned about the kidnapping of Mary Boyle. The man, resident in the Ballyshannon area at the time of Mary’s disappearance, is currently serving time for indecent assault.

Mary Boyle: Man arrested over Donegal girl’s 1977 disappearance (BBC)

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100 thoughts on “A Corner Of Ireland

  1. ahyeah

    That makes for horrific reading… hard not to conclude that we’re a seriously f@*cked up little country. And hard not to lay a lot of the blame on ABM’s pals.

    1. rotide

      Are you serious?

      This reads like the entire county is raping children, for once the church is in the minority

      1. Alfred E. Neumann

        Two priests were linked to the disappearance of Mary Boyle. The investigation was hampered and then dropped. .

        1. ReproBertie

          The man currently being questioned by gardaí had not previously been a suspect in the disappearance of Mary Boyle.

        2. Mark Doyle

          Would just like to know what you mean by how did the priests effect the investigation.
          Was the priests house far away from where the girl went missing are the priests still alive.
          Today they would be a suspect but not back then cant see Mr Black having done it was the priest arriving as poor Mary got to the house n was told whatever by the priest i
          I read a former Garda Sergent now retired made similar statements of the case been compromised at the time without goin into detail,Very said how can her soul find peace until the truth comes out

      2. ahyeah

        “for once the church is in the minority”

        That should be applauded, should it?

        Might sound crazy but some people would say that it’s wrong for a priest to rape a child. Even once.

        1. ReproBertie

          Of course it should not be applauded but it reads like you are tyring to make this be about the church when it clearly is more widespread than that.

        2. ahyeah

          Hang on, this is Broadsheet. Rule #7: Where possible, everything should be blamed on the Catholic church.

    2. Goosey Lucy

      I cry bullshit on that remark. Blaming the church for all society’s ills in the 70’s/80s is a cop out . As someone who grew up in the 80s I feel angry that neighbours, adults, humans did nothing, noticed nothing, deferred to others.
      Was this culture of deference if responsibility so drummed into us that we should continue it into a new century?
      I abhor the crimes of the church in their cover up of sexual abuse- but I feel no less anger towards many, many of those in general society who covered up and thereby facilitated criminal behaviour.

      I have a friend from that area who was abused by a family member in the 80s- the solution?- no Gardai involved- just don’t speak to that individual again!!
      In my extended family, I can recount a similar case- again the Gardai were not called.
      I know of another lovely lady, in her 70s now, who bears all the hallmarks of abuse – she is much loved by her family – her nieces/nephews consider her a second mother – they all consider that “something happened”, but it is not discussed in the family, so they cannot know what/when.
      Consider now these crimes. Innocent children. Family members saying nothing so as not to “shame the family”- if those offenders went on to reoffend- and they v likely did- that is on the hands of those who knew and were silent, as much as it is on the offender.
      Being cynical, asking questions, questioning authority- that is your job as an adult- you are not a sheep

  2. Custo

    That’s horrific. The fact that Ballyshannon, Bundoran and Donegal Town have a combined population of about 7,000 makes it even more unfathomable.

    1. Sidewinder

      I was just wondering what the population there is. Horrendous reading. A lot to do with cycles of abuse going on there I’d say.

    1. ReproBertie

      Reading through that timeline lists 14 men that were arrested, convicted and imprisoned. You want to drop the cops that hunted them down and caught them into the ocean?

    2. Mr. T.

      I think you’ll find supporters of all political parties have been involved in sexual abuse. Most priests would be supporters of FF or FG. So your excuse to have a dig at just Sinn Fein is a bit weak.

      Considering the Catholic Church had it’s own ‘investigations’ and told victims to stay quiet about it, it begs the question why Fine Gael and Fianna Fail didn’t get so indignant about that but is all over SF for what members of the IRA did in the 90s?

      The Mairia Cahill situation is a cynical political game being played by Fine Gael. Disgusting.

        1. ahjayzis

          Of course it’s being used politically, but don’t degrade Mairia and her bravery for coming out just because she’s savvy enough to use Sinn Fein’s rivals to help her highlight her case.

          SF are disgracing themselves with their “I wholeheartedly believe the poor woman’s story about being raped by an IRA/SF member, but she’s a mischievous lying cow about the rest” stuff.

          I actually want to support the likes of Mary Lou, but my skin crawls when she’s positively cultish about Adams. When it comes to it their loyalty to their leaders is deeply troubling, it’s completely unquestioning and adoring. Not healthy.

          1. ahyeah

            “When it comes to it their loyalty to their leaders is deeply troubling, it’s completely unquestioning and adoring. Not healthy”

            Pretty much all political parties, no?

          2. Sidewinder

            True but not to the same extent. Martin may be a total scumbag but I don’t recall him ever justifying the murder of civilians.

          3. Mister Mister

            Absolutely. Many are too quick to look at this as a dig against SF by FG rather than for what it actually is.

            And who wouldn’t use whatever means possible to highlight what she went through, be they media or political parties north and south.

          4. ahjayzis

            The ability to convince yourself, in defiance of reason or evidence, that what your leader says is the truth no matter what is scary. The complete lack of ANY dissenting voices in SF over pretty much any issue is strange and far in excess of even FF. That they are all, uniformly, on the same talking points, at the same time, all the time. It’s a military unit and there’s something artificial about it all.

            @Mister Mister SF weren’t saying it was all political when Michael Martin was presenting his dossier on the guards to Enda. It’s a legitimate way in a democracy to challenge power when those in power won’t take your seriously – take your evidence to their enemies.

  3. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    I ended up skimming the last few paragraphs as I’d had enough. Cripes: if reading about it is tough, imagine the many many magnitudes extra which are involved in actually living it. Those poor children.

    1. ReproBertie

      It’s pretty soul destroying to read about this going on and on and on for years. How many lives have been ruined as a result?

      Last week my sixth class teacher was locked up for abusing boys in his classes for a number of years. The abuse was happening when he was my teacher and, given how many he abused and how well known it was in the school, it appears to be pure luck that I was not a victim. It really freaks me out to think that guys I was in school with had to go through this hell day after day through no fault of their own and with no adult willing to step in and protect them.

      1. Anne

        it appears to be pure luck that I was not a victim

        Who knows, but predators usually go after kids who they’ve calculated are the most vulnerable.

        1. ReproBertie

          I often wonder was it the active role my father took in the parents council and school fundraising that in some way protected me but then who really knows how the mind of this sort of predator works.

          1. Anne

            No doubt it did.

            They’re no idiots.
            It’s the insidious nature of these people and how they operate.

  4. Spaghetti Hoop

    Shocking. The scumbags clearly communicated the abuse to each other.
    It also sounds like investigations took / take far too long.
    Still, Mrs Boyle may eventually get some answers as to what happened to her daughter.

  5. The People's Hero

    There’s got to be some old redundant abattoir and incinerator where we can corral scum like this and put them our of our national misery….

    1. Brock Landers

      A proportionate and understandable reaction. You will find it difficult to actually find anywhere to go on holidays with such an attitude, but I’m sure you’re willing to make that sacrifice for your kids’ safety.

      1. Mister Mister

        I’m a proportionate, rational and understandable man.

        I doubt you’ll find too many small towns and villages with such a high proportion of child sex abuse around the world, unless you’re comparing it with some place called Rapesville ?

        1. Brock Landers

          Apologies, I didn’t realise you’d done such research before making such a remark. It just read like a knee jerk reaction, see?

        2. rotide

          A month ago you would have been more than happy to go there. Now you’re not but you’re claiming that nowhere else could possibly be like this.

          Ignorance is bliss eh?

          1. Mister Mister

            That’s like saying a month ago someone would have been happy to go holidaying in eastern Ukraine, until they were informed of what’s happening there at the moment.

            But as they weren’t aware of if happening before they were told, sure they should still go.

          2. rotide

            Actually jesus, it’s not like that analogy at all for a multidude of reasons.

            fml, need an edit button to properly abuse you.

  6. missred

    Could barely get to the end of that – how horrific. Mrs Boyle’s one wish is to know what happened to Mary before she dies, hope it happens for her, she has suffered for far too long.

  7. Starina

    So….have lost all interest in ever visiting Donegal, then.

    In all seriousness, though, this is why rape jokes aren’t funny — when paedos or rapists feel that other people are ok with it, they use it to justify their behaviour.

    Poor children :(

    1. JunkFace

      I think that their behavior comes from a sick/ sexual/ violent urge more than remembering the last time they heard a rape joke and so decided their action was justified.

      Rape jokes are wrong, but lets not lose perspective on it. You can’t blame this behavior on rape jokes

  8. RIGBY

    Hold on now… Was he charged? Or was he just arrested and is being questioned? If he hasn’t been charged, ye need to edit this lads

      1. RIGBY

        Yes, I know – but this Broadsheet piece refers twice to him being ‘charged’ with the kidnapping yesterday. As far as i’m aware no charges have yet been brought and this story should be amended to reflect that.

  9. singingdetective

    Just to say well done Broadsheet. I wasn’t aware of this story as a big picture until now. So horrific it beggars belief.

  10. Blonto

    It has always amazed me that there has never been a conviction of a serial killer in this country. With all the women/kids that have gone missing over the years you would have to believe that there was someone or some organised group out there.
    This timeline shows what’s really happening around the country. And if it’s happening in Donegal you can be sure it’s happening in other places.
    Absolutely horrific.

  11. Jack Ascinine

    My vote is to turn Donegal into a nuke testing ground. Get the women and kids out and just commence. Faster, cheaper, and more effective than all the bullshit investigations that never return any justice.

        1. Parp

          Another ignorant comment. It clearly states that women were involved in the abusing, and boys were abused. But sure blame this on men.

    1. Roj

      I believe some women were implicated into the abuse that was experienced over the years, as well as men. Lets just save the children then.

  12. Parp

    This is unbelievable. It reads like a script to a show like True Detective or a film like the Wicker Man. How is this real life? Seriously, the population of this area must mean that every single person knows and has always known about it. Absolute madness.

    1. donthaveanafro

      Hardly. The area covered in the timeline is huge. And the incidents mentioned are varying. It’s undoubtedly grim reading but do you really think a a school caretaker abusing boys in the 70s is linked somehow to a girl being sexually assaulted after a night out in Bundoran 30 years later? This made for depressing reading but as some sort of “exclusive” it lost it’s way by trying to suggest all these incidents are interconnected in some way.

      1. will-billy

        if i read it correctly it was not saying that at all. merely relaying the fact that all these events took place in a relatively small locale

    1. ReproBertie

      Obviously not. As the Irish Times reports “he became a suspect for Mary’s disappearance and presumed murder after his conviction for the crimes that he is serving a prison term for, which were committed in Donegal and were historical.”

      1. Dave j

        I’m suggesting that its the same man from 2013 (named in the article) who was imprisoned for historical abuses and is in jail who was just charged.

        1. ReproBertie

          And I’m saying that it’s not a coincidence because it is the same man and it was his conviction that prompted his inclusion as a suspect which lead to this questioning.

  13. Gav D

    “1998: Speaking to the Irish Independent in his capacity as ‘youth community worker’, Liam Adams, Gerry Adams’ brother, references a ‘very well-organised paedophile ring’, which may have links in Donegal.”

    Wonder how he found about it…

  14. JunkFace

    Jesus F***in Christ! That is a Grim report. Bundoran is full of headers, but I didn’t know Donegal had this horrific under belly. Shocking

  15. donthaveanafro

    Bundoran to Gweedore? Any idea how big a distance that is? Priests in the 60s to attacks by teenage boys a year ago?
    This is horrific reading but a ring? I don’t know. Doesn’t read like that at all to be honest. Reads more like a list of horrible incidents that are widespread in this fupped up little country every day. Depressing.

    1. cluster

      And ever country, big and small.

      If nothing else, all these scandals elsewhere (BBC, Elm Guest House, Rotherham etc. in our nearest neighbour alone) should have freed us from our obsession with our ‘unique’ Irishness and let us get on with dealing with these sorts of problems faced by humans – justice for what’s already happened & figure out how to prevent a reoccurrence.

  16. cousinjack

    The Great Western Way, Visit scenic abuse sites from Castle Island, Listowlm Tuam, Gweedore and beyond.
    Ireland a great little country to be an abuser (especiallly if you have a strong connection to the Catholic Church, a Political Party, Gardai, or Sporting Organisation)

  17. Markus

    The link between all these are a bit tenuous. Linking an attack on a 16year old by an 18 year old in 2008 to the disappearance of a child in the 60s?!

    all the stories are alarming but suggesting anything close to a paedophile ring is a stretch

    1. Salmon of Nollaig

      If not a paedophile ring, certainly a strong South Donegal culture of spontaneous hebephiles/paedophiles.

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