“It Is A Different Kerry”


This morning.

Kerry Today on Radio Kerry.

In this morning’s programme we will bring you details of the Garda press conference in Caherciveen, which saw Gardai conclusively state that Joanne Hayes is not the mother of what was known as the Kerry baby, and issue an apology to her.

The press conference also appealed for information in relation to the death of the baby, found in Caherciveen in 1984, known as baby John.

Before we do that we are going to do something we don’t normally do as a current affairs programme – maybe even as a society – we are going to pause.

We are going to acknowledge:

The emotions and memories stirred by the words “The Kerry Babies” is something that cannot be understood in any other county, in any other place, other than right here in Kerry.

The rawness that is felt, undoubtedly by all those still involved, but also collectively in Kerry, by a people by a place. The instinct, even by many of our listeners yesterday to leave it all alone, to let it lie, to question what purpose could be served in dragging it all up again.

I was seven years old in 1984, yet like many others of my generation, as well as those older and probably younger on hearing the words the Kerry Babies there was a collectively flinching.

An involuntary instinct to pain.

Why because it is a memory of a painful time in this county.

But maybe after yesterday, the words can finally take on a different meaning.

Maybe when now spoken of the Kerry Babies in time will represent a turning point in our society.

In 1984 some institutions of the state sought to make a criminal case partly using a very available and powerful weapon at that time – shame.

But ultimately through the courage of Joanne Hayes and her family and the people of Abbeydorney – it began a process which we are still seeing now – where citizens speak their truth and the shame is placed where it deserves to lie – with institutions and individuals who abuse their power in the name of the state.

At best well intentioned Gardaí were found to have feet of clay, to have made mistakes in a desire to solve a child’s death – at worst it was a time when power was knowingly abused by others who placed their careers ahead of search for the truth.

Can any apology – and my experience of the Garda press conference yesterday is that apology is sincerely intentioned – given 34 years after an event make up for the trauma is caused and the shadows it cast on the Hayes family. Only they can know that, they have asked for and they deserve privacy at this time.

There may be other people listening to us this morning for whom the review of the case is causing huge and silent distress – I hope I speak for all our listeners when I say it is a different Kerry, it is a different time – and you find support waiting.

Yesterday also changed maybe for the first time “ The Kerry Babies” to where its focus should have always been to the Kerry Baby – to baby John found on White Strand in Caherciveen on April 14th 1984.

Baby John didn’t deserve the death he was given.

He didn’t deserve to be alone.

And Gardaí are now seeking help in his name.

A name that has been too long forgotten, and someone replaced by the name Hayes 34 years ago.

Baby John also deserves a voice, someone to speak up for him, someone to give him peace.

Yesterday we saw an unprecedented apology, we saw an organisation say sorry, maybe The Kerry Babies legacy should teach all of us to have the courage to admit when we are wrong.

Maybe it can help create an Ireland where we seek answers before we allocate blame, we can be mature enough to understand rather than judge, and to support rather than sacrifice.

Radio Kerry wasn’t on air in 1984, but since we came on air in 1990 we have sought to be means by which the people of Kerry tell their own story, in their own words.

Maybe now in Kerry and beyond the Kerry babies case can stand for something else.

Radio Kerry broadcaster Jerry O’Sullivan this morning

Radio Kerry

Earlier: It Was I Who Went On Trial

35 thoughts on ““It Is A Different Kerry”

  1. Frilly Keane

    A different Kerry huh?

    since when?

    Since a parade of 50 + men, one a parish priest, formed a queue in the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee to shake hands etc with a convicted rapist, Danny Foley

    In front of the victim.

    Who he left beside a skip, half consious and naked from the waist down


    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      “The emotions and memories stirred by the words “The Kerry Babies” is something that cannot be understood in any other county, in any other place, other than right here in Kerry.”

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        Can I come to your beer party?
        Though considering you’re asking who Jerry is, I think you’ve been on the beer already.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            No—I like it, but only sometimes. I’m partial to a draught of Pilsner Urquell from time to time to wet the whistle.

    2. Andrew


      “The extraordinary scenes witnessed at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee, in which up to 50 people — the bulk of them middle-aged and elderly men — queued to shake Foley’s hands, pat his arm, hug and kiss him and wipe the tears welling in the convicted sex offender’s eyes, had never been witnessed in the Tralee courtroom……………..
      Fr Sean Sheehy said he shook hands with Foley at the instigation of the convicted man’s mother, Margaret.

      The victim sat looking at her hands, at times holding her stomach. She was accompanied by a young friend and Bernie McCarthy, a counsellor from the Kerry Rape Crisis Centre, who were at her side throughout the three-day trial earlier in December.”

      1. BobbyJ

        “A Sunday newspaper reported that Fr Sheehy still believes Foley is innocent and that the jury got it wrong. In relation to the victim, Fr Sheehy is reported as saying: “I don’t want to make any judgment on her at all, but obviously the whole situation must have been embarrassing, for the police to happen upon them and what-not. She’s the mother of a young child as well and, you know, that in itself doesn’t look great.”


    3. Martco

      Frilly what’s your feel on the why now aspect that all of a sudden this keystone corrupt atrocity is being re-energised?
      It’s a bit of a twist maybe but there’s a part of me thinking this is Garda HQ/State reminding everyone that no matter how corrupt their dealings are and in context of Sgt McCabe, nobody, not one, of their ranks will ever ever face any kind of actual real world justice no matter what the evil perpetrated

      1. Still, Frill

        a few things I suppose Martie

        One, its a diversion tactic, although that’s an easy one with Noirin up today n’all, but shur’ she’s a pensioner now, she could just say shag off to them all

        another; they want to put a bitta manners on some of their members and former members down there; like that Carroll fella loves the sound of his own voice – I’d say he’s only bursting to talk shy it about his former colleagues and stir it up a bit

        then; maybe the time is right, Baby John’s Mother, Father, Murderer ……. maybe they’ve passed on, maybe they have already made statements …

        Maybe its getting close to an election…. and some party people need a bitta reminding who’s the boss

        all I definitely know
        for sure
        is that NOTHING will compensate Joanne Hayes and her family

        and we were all victims of it tbh
        what we had to watch and listen to what they all had to say about Joanne
        and only months after Ann died
        Day in Day out
        whole front pages given over to it

        it was a horrible time
        a rotten time to be a teenage girl

        But I do find it interesting that the Kildare Gardai arrested some of their own lately

    1. GiggidyGoo

      You seem to forget that it was the Gardai and the Judiciary that perpetrated this injustice. Not the Healy Rae’s. And now look at the Mary Boyle and Fr. Molloy cases.
      Law and order my bottom

  2. Blonto

    They wish it is a different Kerry.
    Let’s be honest. There’s a reason for such a monumental bungling of the investigation. It stinks of a cover up. Who was being protected?
    This case is in the same category as Mary Boyle, Fr. Molloy, Shane O’Farrell, Cynthia Owens and all the others. Lets not forget all the women who inexplicably disappeared without trace – Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dollard, Fiona Pender, Deirdre Jacob and others – all in the 1990’s. No prosecutions. No court cases. Nothing. Another cover up?
    Its one are that the police force put a lot of time and energy into. Cover up after cover up. Shameful. Utterly shameful.

  3. Willie Banjo

    He lost me with “At best well intentioned Gardaí were found to have feet of clay, to have made mistakes in a desire to solve a child’s death ….”

    1. ReproBertie

      “Desire to solve a child’s death” should read “Desire to find someone to blame for a child’s death”

  4. stephen lane

    Baby John: Stabbed 28 times and dumped at sea.Perpetrator unknown.

    Baby Hayes: buried in a plastic bag in secret: Strangler and accomplices after the fact: known.

    The Garda bungling meant that neither baby got justice.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Baby Hayes never drew breath: Was stillborn, not strangled. The only “crime” was non registration of a death.

      I suppose it still serves a purpose to have a woman to blame, not the corrupt, inept Gardai who just wanted a conviction and let someone away with murder for the last 34 years.

      1. Still, Frill

        Slapping around a girl who had just lost a baby is a bit more than inept

        and language etc that could never be printed
        can you imagine what it was like for her
        and her pictures were everywhere

        1. Martco

          (and now the tech ensures they’re literally everywhere instead of just the mention on Reeling in the Years and long forgotten books)

          one thing I know off this, none of it being done to benefit poor Joanne Hayes and family or the babies

      2. stephen lane

        Unfortunately because the baby wasn’t registered and because a post-mortem (compulsory for all infant deaths then as now) wasnt done, we will never know if the baby was stillborn or not.

        Ultimately like many many cases, when the police/gardai try to fit someone up for a crime, nobody gets justice.

  5. phil

    Im from Kerry and was 9ish at the time, I dont know what that fella is talking about, but one thing people in Kerry are talking about is, how did the Gardai manage to extract a confession from 3 innocent people during that case? Seems the media are not interested …

    1. Andy

      GRA members did not generate false confessions.

      GRA members complied with demands from management and simply elevated the number of confessions.


      1. Lilly

        And Stephen ‘leading the fight against fake boos’ Rae obeyed orders and reported what they told him. GRAtitude!

    2. anne

      Probably threats of ruin, bit of violence thrown in for good measure and it tends to persuade.

      But yeah what’s being done about these confessions?

      Apology means diddly when you don’t make proper amends..

      1. nellyb

        Yes, even IONA’s Breda O’Brien would agree with your last sentence. And how often would you find yourself in agreement with IONA? :-) Times are really changing. Good one, Anne.

  6. Gay Tea Shop

    “The emotions and memories stirred by the words “The Kerry Babies” is something that cannot be understood in any other county, in any other place, other than right here in Kerry.“

    Just like Alabama.

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