RIC raid picks up IRA man – RIC patrol to Ahabeg – Allegations against Downy.
- Tall Northern Irish sergeant. Ian North. Yorks.—————————————-
2. Short Londoner soldier – blond sergeant aged 40. George Short. Anti Irish anti everyone—————————
3. Davies. Benedict’s. Benjamin David. Scotland. Not sectarian. Rangers fan—————————
4. Watkins. John Watkins. Wales—————————————
5. Tavi Moise. Octavian More. Southampton. Anti Catholic——————
6. swimming pool guy from school. Alexander Brokenshire. Liverpool. ————————————
7. Major Neil. Edward MacNeil. Geordie. Half Irish Catholic but raised Prod. ————————————–
8. Col Olley. Oliver Sergeant. Berks.—————————————————
9. Mike Cunningham. Mark Cunningham. Newcastle.————————————–
10. Relu Marichenano. Richard March. Lancs. Catholic————————————-
11. Richard chemistry pilot. Older officer. Richard Dixon. Suffolk.——————————
12. Louis Limtay. Born 1890. protagonist.—————————————————-
13. Williams Bulkeley. William Bulkeley.
14. Blairmore teacher. Blair Teacher anti Catholic. Scots.——————————
LOCAL R I C
- N Lupton. Mayo. Nick Lumley. spy————————–
2. Anthony FitzPatrick. Midlands. Tony FitzGerald.
3. Rick Forshaw. Wee North. Prod. Rick Forshaw.
4. Shaheen’s husband. Dubliner. Sean Groom. transferred—————
5. O’Kelly. invalided out ———————————-
6. Murphy. retired.————————————————
7. Bill Moore. sergeant (W C C)
8. Seamus Bolger (Spanish teacher) shot dead——————————-
9. Donal MacDonald (Alec Scott) wounded———————————
- Jim London. (JIM LSJ) ex soldier wants to be hangman. socialist. ———–
2. Vinny Conlan (Vinny Cochrane) actor. brainy. inquisitive. ———-
3. Gerry Nagle (G Nagle) insurance company salesman. conman.
4. William Hendricks. (Wesley Hendricks) builder. cousin killed in Easter Rising. ——–
5. Peter Lynne (Pearse Lynne) teacher——– Arrested.
6. Jonathan Wynn (Jonathon Roberts) painter and decorator. granny died in famine. hates blacks. ———————
7. Pascal Harrington (Causkey) labourer
8. Alex East (Alex Asgari) labourer. Pal murdered by UPA. ————
9. Damian Walsh (D W) farmer————————–
10. Roger Tooth (Roger Tooth) travelling salesman robber
11. Robert Johnson (J Roberts univ) chemist
12. Laurence Dale. (aMpleforth ex soldier teacher) ex soldier
13. Sean Tussock (Zhangir T) coal importer’s son
14. Niall Tussock (Nurzhan) coal importer’s son
15. Henry Tussock (uncle Hal) coal importer
16. Gabriel Tussock (coal importer)
17. Charles Williams (Will Charles) solicitor’s clerk. Irish lang enthusiast——-
18. Benedict Thompson (B Thompson) solicitor’s clerk. GAA——-
19. Kenneth Adams. ( A K ) farmer. religious reactionary——-
20. Michael English (Magnus) labourer. tags along. feeble. becomes informer
21. Seamus Simons (Simon I F ) barman————————-
22. Henry Brannock ( Henry W B) labourer.
THE RIGHT ADDRESS
Louis ran down to the dayroom where the others were tucking into a meal.
”I got the addresses – 13 Stream Street Ahabeg . Then the other is Mooney’s Farm east of Clountreem.”
”I know where Mooney’s is” said Moore.
”That is all he said just two addresses?” said Bulkeley?
”Yes just two. I got them out of him not Short.” Louis warned his hearers.
”Right – Short you can see what else you can get out of him. But on no account kill him. Limtay you have done your bit. You stay here and have some tucker. I will lead the men. Moore, Forshaw. Teacher, Cunningham, Sergeant and MacNeil. You are coming with me. The rest of you man the barracks. Stand too. If the bastards have any guts they will counter attack.” said Bulkeley. To have such actionable intelligence was a rare occurrence and Bulkeley was eager to make the most of it.
”I don’t think it likely sir we have got them on the run” said Moore. His range of experience gave his words some weight.
”We certainly have because we have taken the fight to them. This is soldiering now not policing. I think you have not realised this till now Moore” sqid Bulkeley in a tone of rebuke.
”You are right sir. The Irish Fusilier in me is coming out again” Moore said brightening. He felt a little ashamed that he had disagreed with an officer in the presence of the men.
It was nearly dusk as half a dozen men ran out of the barracks.
”We will flag down a dog cart” said Bulkeley.
”Sir isn’t it a big dangerous for us to be going around at night?”
”That is why it is the last thing they will be expecting. Really but the wind up the enemy.” said Bulkeley. He caught sight of a horse and cart on the far side of the square. A man was drawing up at the pub. Bulkeley. ”I say my man. We are commandeering your horse and cart. Defence of the Realm Act.”
Bulkelely dashed over and his men behind him.
The round faced man with light Brown eyes. He was in his 20s about 5 foot and looked nonplussed and worried ”Yerra sir tis my horse and cart you can’t be having it.”
”We are having it and that is that. If you resist you will be arrested.” said Bulkeley.
“Yerra mister I have to do the messages like” said the man looking persecuted.
”Now drive us to Ahabeg.” Bulkeley commanded in a tone that brooked no dissent.
”Sir if I am seen driving the peelers around the IRA will put a bullet in my head.” the man whined.
”Very well we shall drive it. What is your name?” said Bulkeley.
”Gavin Sullivan.” he replied meekly.
”Mr Sullivan we shall return it to this pub this evening. Now on your way. ” Bulkeley gestured for Sullivan to hop off this cart.
Sullivan shrugged his shoulders and jumped down from the cart. He handed over the reins to Bulkeley and hurried into the pub.
”Moore you know how to drive one of these traps?” asked Bulkeley.
”Yes I can drive the yoke.” said Moore
”You hop on them” said Bulkeley. Moore got on and took the reins. The others piled on the rear.
”Drive like hell” said Bulkeley.
It was not long before they pulled into Stream Street in Ahabeg as the light was failing.
”Quick surround the house men” shouted Bulkeley.
Three men ran around the alley way 100 yards down the street and to the rear of the house to cut off any escape. Bulkeley then hammered on the door.
”RIC. Open the door please or we will break it down.” said Bulkeley.
Moore was amused to hear a threat to smash the door and please in the same sentence. He saw on the drumlin behind the house there was an oak coppice. He looked at it carefully : were the IRA going to run away and conceal themselves there?
Bulkeley then said more impatiently ”Open in three seconds or we will smash it down. One, two three.” Bulkeley nodded to Moore who was holding an axe
Moore used his boxer’s muscles to lay into the black painted wooden door. He struck it blows around the lock – one, two , three – slicing into the wood and going right through. Soon there would be a sufficient aperture to put a hand in and turn the handle. Bulkeley considered shooting the lock off but feared injuring a civilian.
”Ok ok we shall open up; merciful lord!” a middle aged female voice cried out
A woman of 50 odd years with curlers in her hair and pink night gown on opened the door. There was a watchfulness to her that aroused Bulkeleys suspicion.
Bulkeley holding a revolver barged in past her. ”Sorry ma’am now where are the IRA men!” he yelled.
The woman almost fainted ”there are no IRA men here” she squealed. Her face turned white as Moore and Teacher came in too.
Bulkeley then turned into the front room with his revolver held out. Two little girls seated in there screamed.
”Sorry children” he said in genuine embarrassment. Teacher then burst into the back kitchen. It was sparsely furnished and the peeling brownish wallpaper had seen better days. The woman’s husband sat there – frozen in fear with a bowl of soup in front of him.
”You in the IRA?” said Teacher gratingly.
”No, sir I am not. I am a carrier. I deliver things on the horse and cart.” said the man fearfully.
”What’s your name” Teacher shouted with a tigerish gleam in his eyes.
”Paul Ogley” the man said fearfully. He had wet hair from a recent bath.
Bulkeley came around the corner. ”Arrest him. ”
”Hands behind your back” said Teachers gravelly voice. the man stood up and obeyed. Teacher snapped the handcuffs on.
”Who else is in the house?” said Bulkeley to the woman.
”My two little boys asleep upstairs.” said the woman.
”You only got four children?” said Bulkeley seeking confirmation.
”AH no my oldest boy is in Cork Gaol.” said the woman atremble.
”IRA?” said Bulkeley his eyes keen.
”Well yes but we are not. My eldest daughter is in Australia” said the woman.
”I don’t need the whole family history”, said Bulkeley.
Bulkeley lead the way upstairs. Then he turned to the woman. ”You come up. Now.. Please”
She walked cautiously up the stairs.
”Faster” he commanded and she obeyed.
”Open this door” he said pointing to one bedroom. She opened the door. He saw the outlines of one of the two boys sitting up in their bed. The other lay asprawl.
”Turn on the gas lamp. ” said Bulkeley. She did.
”Now get the boys out of bed. ” The boys sobbed and got up.
“Jesus, Mary and divine Joseph do I have to wake up my children now?”
“You could have men or arms hidden Under the bed I have seen that trick before! The IRA think Nothing of hiding behind children” said Bulkeley in irritation.
The woman did as she was bade.
”Turn the bed over – open the closet” said the officer. The woman obeyed. There was nothing out of the way
Bulkeley turned to the master bedroom. ”Open this door” he said urgently
The woman fearfully opened it. ”Go in and turn the gas lamp on” The woman hastened in and did as she was bidden. She grew more confident. She was a little accustomed to armed men being in her house.
”There is no one here I am telling you” she said
”We have it from the head of the local IRA that yours is a safe house. Now why would he say that?” asked Bulkeley. He was keen to destroy faith in Lynne.
”No idea” said the woman unconvincingly.
”Unconvincing. You are an IRA man’s mother. ” he continued. ”Open the drawers.”
Teacher came up the stairs . ”Teacher” said Bulkeley ”search these two rooms thoroughly.”
Bulkeley looked at the attic door over his head. ”Open the attic” he said to the woman. ”You will find no one there.”
”No one is there” she blinked and looked away.
”Open it at once” said the officer.
”I cannot I am too short.” said the woman.
”Open it now or I will arrest you and your husband.” said Bulkeley furiously.
”No one is there” she rubbed her nose.
”I have a good mind to shoot up through the attic trap door” said Bulkeley. He heard some movement above him.
The woman relented and fetched a stick that caught onto a handle on the door. She pressed the door up and that released the latch. The door to the attic opened fully and a ladder came down.
”Undo the ladder” said Bulkeley. The woman did as she was ordered. ”But no one is there” she tried to sound weary and she blinked frequently.
”Go up with that lantern” he said
The woman took the lantern from her bedroom and climbed the ladder
”DOn’t look up my dress” said the woman
”Oh please. At your age you think i would?” said Bulkeley. ” You flatter yourself”
Just then a voice from the attic said timorously ”Ok I am caught. I am caught. I am coming down now”
”A -ha!” said Bulkeley triumphantly. The woman came down the ladder. Bulkely ordered her to stand face against the wall. He covered the man as he came down. A slim, wild looking young man with sandy hair came down.
”What is your name boy?” asked Bulkeley.
”Charles Williams” said a man of 21.
”Lie down on the floor- face down” Bulkeley screamed. ”Teacher handcuff this man.”
Teacher came and did as he was ordered.
Mrs Ogley, Paul Ogeley and Charles Williams were all taken into custody. The children were left to be looked after by the neighbours. The RIC did not have time for a more thorough investigation of the house since the IRA might attack
Mr Ogeley and Williams were made to jog in handcuffs. Mrs Ogeley was permitted to ride on the cart. The RIC men took turns to jog beside the prisoners.
“You will be cooling your heels in prison for a good 20 years if we do not shoot you tonight. So enjoy the run while you can” Bulkeley taunted them.
The prisoners reached the RIC station after dark and in a state of exhaustion. They were already broken before interrogation began.
The six RIC officers led their prisoners in.
”Look what we got” said Bulkeley presenting the haul with a broad grin.
”Well done sir!” said Louis.
”I am bloody exhausted. Right – Limtay and SHort. You see to this lot. Mr and Mrs Ogley – sheltering a wanted man. and the young man is an IRA joker Charles Williams. At least that is what he said his name is. Got to see if that is his real name. ” said Bulkeley
Limtay went over to Bulkeley and whispered in his ear. ”Sir, please keep the woman down here. She will have the least valuable information. We will interview her last. Get the men first. But I have an idea. I want them to know that Lynne has been singing like a canary. Let me take them upstairs first.”
”Cerainly” Bulkeley nodded.
”Please blindfold the woman and make her stand. When she is jaded she will crack easily.” said Louis.
”Yes, good idea Limtay” said Bulkeley. He then sat in a chair and called for tea.
The prisoners looked glum and deeply apprehensive.
Limtay looked at Short and mouthed the word ‘blindfolds’ out of the prisoners line of view.
Short nodded and went to fetch three thick black scarves. These were tied around the prisoners as blindfolds.
Limtay then went to Short and whispered ”Lead them upstairs. I want you to blindfold Lynne. Get him to repeat his whole confession – names and address. Make sure it is their names. Ogley Mr and Mrs and this man Charles Williams. Once they see that Lynne had betrayed them they will tell us everything.” Louis knew this would leak to the wider community. That would set the cat among the pigeons. People would know that the head of the IRA had been broken. It would be a body blow to IRA morale.
”All right I shall. Nice” Short cackled. SHort then turned to the two men ”Right up the fucking stairs” he poked a revolver in the back of one then the other.
The men being blindfolded and handcuffed tread very warily. Short forced them to walk much faster than they were comfortable with. They stumbled but did not fall – up to the first floor. Short was eagerly looking forward to a busy time. He was confident that he could make short work of these prisoners.
They got outside the cell door. Limtay dived into a bedroom and got some socks. He put his fingers on the prisoners’ noses. They opened their mouths to breath and in went the socks. He took his fingers off their mouths – they could not talk. Limtay kept the two men out of the line of view from the door. He nodded at Short. Short took it as a signal. He went into the cell
”All right Lynne” said Short ”Now that confession. I want it again.”
”But I already told you three times. You had your pal writing it down.” said Lynne sounding tired.
”You did not tell me exactly the same thing again every time. Tell me the names and addresses or you get the treatment.” said Short.
”All right” he said weakly and breathed deeply – he resented himself ”Jim London is the head honcho. Vinny Conlan is another key member. Gerry Nagle and Roger Tooth are also in the IRA even though we know they are robbers. Fr Downy comes and blesses us. We got Charles Williams”
Charles WIlliams shuddered to hear his name. His courage suddenly eluded him.
Lynne went on ”Benedict Thompson. Damian Walsh and more and more. Over 20. Don’t even remember all the names. Some of them just joined and do not come that often. Pascal Harrington.”
”That;s enough names for the minute. Now where is your caches?” asked Short.
”Well Bridget’s Bothy which you raided. Will you please tell me which fellows you killed?” said Lynne.
”I ask the questions sunshine. But thanks to you we put a few bullets in their flesh. Shut up. Thanks for that information. Thanks to you we killed some of your pals. Now more hiding places.” said Short with relish. Lynne was beginning to Wonder why Short was to eager to hear this yet again.
”Well like I told you the unbaptised graveyard. The Ogely’s house on Stream Street” said Lynne.
At this Mr Ogely felt a tremor run through him. So the RIC knew he had not been intimidated. he considered saying that he had only let Williams in at gunpoint – trouble was Williams did not have a gun when he was arrested. Ogley knew that Lynne really had dobbed him in.
”Then there is Mooney’s farm” said Lynne ”Then at Grainne’s field – there is a dell behind a copse. He bury stuff there. Then there is a house abandoned since the famine in flowery vale…”
The list went on for a couple of minutes. Short was smirking. Lynne found that SHorts elation chafed on him.
Limtay then banged on the door. SHort looked through the grill and opened up. Lynne was still blindfolded. Limtay removed the blindfolds of the two men. Then he gestured to Short to take Lynne’s blindfold off. The door was unlocked for a moment.
Lynne saw them and they looked back at him. The horror and hatred in their eyes overcame their fear. Lynne was aghast and looked away in self disgust.
Limtay then put the blindfolds back on the men. He ushered them into a bedroom and called down the stairs.
”March come up here. ” said Louis.
March came running up.
Louis whispered into his ear ”right you take Ogeley and work on him. Softly. If he resists we hand him over to Short. At the moment I think sugar will work better than shit.”
”Agreed” said March.
March took his prisoner Mr Ogeley into one bedroom.
Louis took Williams into another bedroom.
Louis sat him on a chair and removed the blindfold.
”So Charles, I may call you Charles?” asked Louis.
Williams was formal and preferred Mr Williams but did not demure. ”Yes it is all right.”
”Good then. Well nice to meet you – sorry about the circumstances; My name is Jack.” Louis smiled and Williams smiled back instinctively. He wondered whether this was somehow treasonable but he was in no position to offend this policeman. This was life or death he told himself. He had not choice. He welcomed the amicability.
Williams face expressed incomprehension. He had expected the beating of his life – maybe summary execution and this man was pleased to meet him? Williams was discombobulated.
”Nice to meet you” Williams mumbled – he could not believe what he had just said. But it was instinctive.
”My name is Jack. Wish we could shake hands” he giggled. Louis was minded to take the prisoner’s handcuffs off but he was alone in an unlocked room. Better not to in case Williams tried to grab the revolver in Louis’ belt. He could take the cuffs off and interview him with a gun pointing at Williams but that would defeat the purpose of being convivial.
”So Charles” Louis continued ”As you can see Lynne is a rat. He is supposed to be head of the local IRA. He has betrayed you so why should you be loyal to him?”
”I am loyal to Ireland” Williams said with expression.
”Well me too – I am Irish too. Half Irish. And Catholic – Credo in ecclessia catholica sanctum romanum…” said Louis with well pretended conviction.
Williams was taken aback.
”Let’s end this war. Then you can have Home Rule – maybe a republic. I don’t care. I just want peace. You joined the IRA with the highest of motives but it has not turned out that way. Brutes like Lynne and beating up old men and stealing money. So you help me – I help you. That way you can go free and I can go back to England. Sounds like a deal?” said Louis.
”Sounds good but I cannot betray the IRA.” said Williams.
”Charles you are smart. Do not be stupid. The IRA already betrayed you. A police officer was murdered last month. Lynne said you did it. That is not true is it?” he looked accusingly at Williams.
WIlliams’ courage deserted him ”No it is not true I know who did it!” he imagined a noose around his neck
”Who?” asked Louis trying not to seem to eager.
”London. Jim London did it . Hendricks was with him/” said Williams.
”Yes, we knew that anyway” Louis lied. ”See you were not betraying the IRA – just being smart and saving yourself. Lynne is a shit of the highest order. He is supposed to be your commander and he ratted on you to save his miserable skin. As you heard we raided a few of your dumps. We killed some of your comrades today. Others wanted to kill you but I said no. Williams is a decent guy. Arrest him – don’t hurt him.”
”Wow- thanks Jack.” said Williams
”You are very welcome Charles. I saved your hide. Now you got to help me. Where are the other arms dumps/” said Louis
”Jack I cannot tell you that.” said Williams
”Oh yes you can – you are going to tell me” said Louis.
”Please. I cannot.” said Williams
”Charles what is your job?” said Louis
”I am a bank clerk.” said Williams
”I knew it. Lynne told us” he lied ”You are far too brainy to be in a stupid outfit like the IRA. Because you are smart you are going to tell me where the weapons are hidden. Then you can go on to be bank manager. ” said Louis
”I am sorry Jack. I cannot do that. I swore an oath…” said Williams
”To hell with your oath” said Louis with sudden anger ” I saved your life you ungrateful bastard. My mates out there want to hang you in the courtyard right now. Not a long drop but a slow strangulation. It is the most I can do to stop them. So you are going to tell me where the guns are stashed or I will not be able to hold the others back.”
”Ok, ok I will tell you – there are more hiding places. That old abandoned Protestant church outside Ahabeg – behind what used to be the altar – there are some loose stones about a foot above the ground. Behind that there is a long metal box. There is sometimes a rifle hidden in there.” said Williams
”Very good” said Louis taking notes.
”The other hiding places. All the ones I know are the ones that Lynne just told you.” said Williams
”And where might the men be hiding? Other than the places that Lynne mentioned?” said Louis
”They might have fled to Kerry. There is a house a mile east of Rathmore – Tynan’s. They sometimes hide out there. ” said Williams
”Any more addresses? ” asked Louis
”Yes some go down to Bantry. Number 5 the Square.” said Williams
”is that it?” said Louis
”That is all I know.” said Williams
”We are friends now. So you had better be telling me the truth. If I find you have been sending us on a wild goose chase I will not be your friend any more. Then Short will have you and his methods are not as civilised as mine.” said Louis.
”I am telling the truth.” said Williams
”Nothing you want to change? Last chance now? Nothing you want to add?” asked Louis. He studied Williams face and was tolerably sure that that man spoke true/
”Nothing else” said Williams.
Mr Ogeley gave out plenty of information. He warned them “The IRA are not easily caught. They will not be taken alive” He hoped to dissuade the RIC from going after them/ He wanted the IRA to get away for their sake. He was also petrified as being the source of the information.
“Thank you Ogeley you have been a mine of information” Bulkeley said to him; Ogley signed a several copies statement in his own hand with names and addresses.
“If we have any trouble from you then I will make sure this statement gets into the wrong hands” said Bulkeley ” and you will end up down a bog hole; The IRA s methods are mediaeval compared to ours and they have the cheek to call us brutes.”
The woman was interrogated too. She was made to stand and listen as her husband and then Williams and then Lynne repeated their confessions. She saw they had spilled the beans. When she was questioned she held nothing back. It turned out that she had nothing to add.
The prisoners were then told to write all they knew. These signed confessions were very useful. Moore found it much more gratifying than an anti poaching operation. He was getting back at bad men the type who had killed his comrade.
Mr and Mrs Ogeley were put in a cell with Williams.
Lynne was then brought down in his clothes to the day room.
”Thanks for this confession” said Bulkeley sitting at the table after supper. They other RIC men laughed raucously at Lynne. ”I see how brave you are” he said with sarcasm. ”Your IRA chums would find this confession very interesting indeed. Perhaps we should give it to them? Then release you. Leave you to the tender mercies of the IRA?” They all chuckled.
Lynne blanched and felt his knees wobble.
”Your IRA heroes would tear you limb from limb” said Bulkeley ”at least when we kill a man it is quick and clean. So you had better co operate or we will set you free. Prison has never seemed so attractive” said Bulkeley grinning. ” I am not sure what to do with you” he said cryptically.
Lynne found their chuckles very disagreeable. Lynne was then put into a cell with the others. He was very eager for company. They did not reprove him for cracking. He was at pains to convince them that he had been horrifically tortured and even the gallantest hero woudl have cracked Under such sadism. They did not believe him as he had only a few bruises.
Fr Downy said a midweek evening mass. His family went
”Dear brothers and sisters – Ireland is in a state of war. The Catholic people are subjected to bestial attacks. Catholic Ireland is being attacked by Protestant England. Which side shall you choose? This is a war for morality. We have a new lot of English Protestants in our town. One of them is a half caste. The English, the negro, the Jew and other enemies of the Catholic Church plot to destroy our race. Be on your guard against Orangeman, Freemasons and other agents of satan. Some heroes defend Ireland. Remember the Penal days and the Famine. Ireland is a nation dedicated to the virgin Mary. A sinful race attempts to stain our honour. We shall fight on. This is a holy war. Be in no doubt. ”
Fr Meagher was in the presbytery. By the fireside he was reading a copy of Joyce – smuggled from Paris.
There was a knock on the door. Fr Meagher went to answer it.
A middle aged woman was there with her 12 year old daughter.
”Mrs O’Grady – Fionnula?” said Fr Meagher. ”How very nice to see ye. Do come in.” There was Something positively uncanny about her facial expression.
He was very surprised to see these callers at this time of night.
The woman and her daughter came into the drawing room.
”Now ladies may I offer ye some tea?” asked Meagher.
”Ah no – no thank you” said Mr O’Grady a hefty woman in her late 30s.
”Ladies please sit down” said the priest. He knew the girl to be Strange tongued.
They sat on a sofa opposite him.
The brunette woman breathed deeply and looked down then up. ”Fr Meagher – we have something very important to tell you but very hard to tell you.”
He had perceived that it was not a social call. He sensed something grave had occurred. Surely Fionnula was too young to be pregnant.
”Fr Meagher it is about Fr Downy” she said
He guessed the woman would complain about the man ‘s vociferous support for the IRA.
”Fr Downy” said the woman ” he has been…. interfering;;; with Fionnula” said the woman looking sick. ”Now darling you have got to say what he did.” she struggled to ask.
”I cannot” said the girl in pigtails. She looked down and wept
”Please Fionnula – tell him what he did” she said to the youngster.
Fionnula looked at the priest and said ”He – in confession. He” then it all spilt out ” he asked me did I think of this and of that and of a boy’s…. thing … did I touch my, my… private.. my woman’s thing. Then he told me to stand and that he must touch it and I must say if I felt any pleasure and he made me show him my, my… chest. He said he was a priest and I had to do what he said or he would put horns on me. It is a sin to disobey a priest and I am a slut because I might want to get married one day. And I am disgusting and sinful and I have to do exactly as he says” she lowered her head and wept uncontrollably. She buried her head in her mother’s chest. ” He said I was like a beast”
”Oh my God. I have had people hint at this. Rumours. In fact one girl accused him last year but not of something quite so serious I will not say quite what”
”Please father” said the woman ”you have got to believe us. My daughter does not lie especially about things like this.”
Meagher knew the woman to be very prim and credible. She hated scandal and was not one to invent bogus stories. But could this be an untruth?
”Why would she lie when almost no one would believe her? The word of a child against a priest. Even ten children against a priest. But priests are not all good” said Fr Meagher. ”I know Fr Downy and he has … weaknesses. How many times did this happen?”
”Three times” said Fionnula looking up her face red ”He said I had to come to confession every week or it was a sin. This time I did not go. I coiuld not face it so I am telling you. He has done it to two of my friends as well but they said they are too afraid to tell you. One of them did not even tell her mother. She is sick of herself – says it is her fault and she is filthy.” she said in a tone of alarm;
”Believe me it is not your fault” said Meagher ” it is a sin what he has done. A grave sin against God. And it is a crime. I could tell the RIC but they will never arrest a priest even for murder.”
”All the police here are Catholics. But there are some Protestant police in town now” said the woman/ her face glistening with tears of angst and indignation. Meagher could see the girl was psychologically wounded;
”They would not the town would be in uproar” said Meagher ” I can report him to the bishop. I have had to do this with another priest once before but the man was only moved to another parish. That is what happens. However many allegations however believable they just get moved from one parish to the next. If it gets really bad they can be moved to the far side of the world to America or to China. They never get thrown out of the priesthood. Now Fionnula – you have done the right thing. You have been very brave. People almost never have the courage to say what happened. You are no sinner but he is. You can have your confessions with me. I am not a man who wants women. Your mother can probably tell. A woman gets a sixth sense for a man who likes women or is bad to them but she will know that I am not”
”Yes” said the mother.
”All right Feather Meagher” said Fionnulla drying her tears.
”That is all we must go now.” said the woman standing
”I shall confront him” he said firmly. He was still startled by the news.
Fr Downy came in
”Father” said Meagher ” I have had a very serious allegation.”
”I did bless the IRA’s guns so what?” said Downy
”Not that/ Something for which you cannot claim there is any moral justifcation.” said Meagher seriously.
”Oh yes” said Downy hands on hips
”Three girls accuse you of improper behaviour in the confession box” said Meagher.
”What is that?” said Downy defiantly.
”Sexual molestation.” said Meagher
”It was there fault the sluts. They led me on. I am a priest but also a man. They flirted with me the young trollopes.” said Downy.
”One of them is 12 years old” said Meagher accusingly.
”Ah so what they could marry at 12 in biblical times” said Downy.
”Not now it is 16” said Meagher.
”Ah so what. I am a sinner too” said Downy “No one says priests are perfect. I confess to another priest Fr Bolton in Ballyvourney. He does the same as me. wE GIVE each other absolution. So we lapse from time to time. God has forgiven us and that is all that matters; I spend nights prostrate in prayer and my sins have been paid off I can do it as much as I like so long as I then pray.”
”From now on you will not take the confession of any girl under 16. I shall” said Meagher.
”Why 16?” asked Downy.
”Well if a woman wants to be touched by you let her. You can disgrace the priesthood but not commit a crime against children” Meagher said with snarling disgust.
”All right then” said Downy with a laugh
”if I could have you defrocked I would. I could report you to the bishop I would but it would do not good. AT least people in this parish are starting to know you are no safe with underage girls. If they moved you to another parish you will just reoffend. You disgust me” said Meagher
”I am not perfect” said Downy ”I pray for forgiveness”
”You have urges for women . That is honourable. Leave the priesthood and get married. That is not harming anyone” said Meagher; “If you cannot control yourself get married”
”I have a vocation.” said Downy
”No you do not otherwise you would resist these criminal urges” said Meagher
”I am a priest and I always will be” said Downy
”Very well I am announcing in Sunday mass that I will take girls ‘ confessions.” said Meagher.
Downy did not dissent but found it astonishing. He knew plenty of his priest friends who did the same and they always got way with it.
“Don t you go telling what I did though. I will deny it. I can say the girl is thinking of converting to Protestantism which is why she is saying this. It is the devil possessing her/ She is making up sick stories about her own fantasies. Little slut! Priests never molest children. It is an English lie to smear the Church>. The whole thing is a huge conspiracy”