Friday, September 22, 2006

The final blow for 'Kathy's Story'? - media battle.

There are various serious annomolies in the publishers Mainstream's claim that they have 'carried out stringent checks'on the book 'Kathy's Story'.Mr Campbell, Mainstream M.D is on record two weeks ago as stating he's extreamly surprised this controversy is only starting up now, 18 months after the books publication, yet he's on record july 05 - two months after publication as defending the book and stating 'there is no question of pulling the book'.

As founder of the Let Our Voices Emerge charity, I will not tolorate any move Mr Sherridan makes to discredit me personally, or the work we do. Our charity stand fast in the call to Mainstream, and Mr Sherridan to produce the evidence they claim they have to verify the allegations in the book,or remove it from sale.We will not allow any efforts they make to distract us from this.

1) Rape by two priests: Kathy has claimed she recieved a settlement for the same. Mainstream claim they contacted the Dublin Archdiosesis and recieved no substansive reason not to publish this.If the Catholic Communications office state they have made no payment to a Kathy O'Beirne, who else did Mainstream verify this with. The Archdiosesis is the only one they've quoted.
Contact: Martin Long:086-1727678.

2)Internment in the Magdalene Laundries: Mr Campbell states they communicated with all the orders that ran the laundries, and recieved no 'legal challenge', and no substantive reason not to publish..In fact once a person wasn't named, there could be no legal challenge as religious congregations can't sue.

The reply from the congregations was that Kathy O'Beirne, following an intensive search by a professional archivist, did not exist in any of their records.
Neither has Kathy produced any documentation that she is on record as claiming she has, as proof.

In actual fact, when the religious congregation concerned informed Mainstream, pre publication, that Kathy was not in their laundries, but was six weeks in one of their childrens homes at eleven years old, they recieved a curt reply from Mainstream that they had no right releasing private information on Kathy without her permission.

3) Birth of a child 'Kelly Anne' as a result of rape in a laundry when Kathy was 13. Despite the ease of access to birth and death certs, these have not been produced.

4) Mainstream state they have taped evidence of a nun and also a child care worker that proves Kathy was in a magdalene laundry, have they spoken to the nun and childcare worker involved to verify the contents of the tape?. What efforts have they made to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the conversations were actually confirming her claims.

5)Mr Sherridan and Mainstream have tried to claim they only verified Kathy's allegations of abuse by her father with one brother because of 'a bitter dispute over the family home'. Would it not have been necessary to contact the other seven members of the family, to even acertain if they would support the allegations.
Besides the obvious fact that this is an effort to discredit the family's incentive for supporting their father, a dispute over the home would be no reason not to support Kathy's allegations of abuse.

6)All allegations in Kathy's book were investigated on the request of the Sisters of Charity, and the file was closed last year with no significant result, and no prosecutions eithir against the nuns or priests.Our information is that Kathy refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
Contact: Garda Detective branch in Harcourt St: 01-6669500.

7) Perhaps the most significant proof is the fact that Kathy attended Scoil Mhuire primary school until she was 22 and a half years old. The only time missed were days mitching, and the 6 weeks in St Annes Childrens Home.

This makes it impossible for her to have been in a childrens home from 8 -10 years old, and a psychiatric hospital from when she was 10-12 years old.The refutation of the magdalene laundry stands alone, she constantly states she has it, yet consistantly refuses to show it. The stay in the first laundry, with the subsequent rape and birth of a child was when she was 12 - 14. The role book for Scoil Mhuire has her attending 142 days out of the required 183 when she was 12 - 13!.

For any other information:

Florence Horsman Hogan: 086-8762148.
Eamonn O'Beirne: 086-8186983.

Author accused of literary fraud says: 'I am not a liar. And I am not running any more'

Story of rape and brutal childhood is 'truthful'
Dispute with siblings follows property battle

Esther Addley
Saturday September 23, 2006
The Guardian

It is a tale of almost unbelievable horror - rather too unbelievable, say her critics. Don't Ever Tell, Kathy O'Beirne's memoir of childhood rape, physical abuse and incarceration in Ireland's notorious Magdalene laundries, has sold 350,000 copies around the world and reached number three in the British non-fiction charts. But this week the book attracted charges of fraud, when five of her eight siblings apologised to her readers, saying large chunks of the book were fantasy.

In her most revealing interview since the story broke, Kathy O'Beirne insisted to the Guardian that her story was true, and produced documents that, she said, would back up parts of it. She says her family are trying to discredit her because of a property dispute. Her publishers, who say they went to great lengths to verify her story, are also standing by the book.
Meanwhile, one of her other brothers has spoken out in support of her story, insisting that the other siblings are lying. Joseph O'Beirne told a Dublin newspaper that Kathy's account of a brutal home life was accurate and that he, too, had been raped as a child by an older boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Don't Ever Tell details a cruel childhood; savagely beaten by her father, raped and sexually abused by two older boys from the age of five, Kathy was placed in a succession of brutal, Catholic-run children's homes and psychiatric institutions. After years of further appalling cruelty she was finally incarcerated with other fallen women in a Magdalene laundry where, after being raped again, she had a baby girl at the age of 13.
Her family says it is all lies: "Our sister has a self-admitted psychiatric and criminal history, and her perception of reality has always been flawed," said Mary O'Beirne, the author's younger sister. "We can understand that many people will now feel hurt and conned."
But the author defended her book this week, saying: "I'm not a liar. I'm a truthful person. And I need to speak out because I owe it to my readers. People can say what they like about me. I don't care any more. Like my brother doesn't care. We're not running any more."
Kathy's story is so bewilderingly complex that it would be impossible, without many hours and a detailed knowledge of the case, to verify every detail. But while she is clearly a very damaged woman, physically shattered by the stories she recounts and frequently close to tears, she insists she is not a liar or a fantasist. She is also, perhaps surprisingly, funny and immensely charming.
"[Some people] have said, 'Sure, who will believe you?'", she says in her scattergun Dublin accent. "'You were classed as mad years ago.' Well I'm not mad. I know that. Never was. Never was."
Stories like Kathy's are not unknown in Ireland: about 150,000 children were interned in church-run industrial schools between the 1920s and 1980s. But while the country is transfixed by an apparent literary scandal, at the heart of this public spat may be a much uglier private grievance. The siblings have been in dispute for five years over the house in which they grew up, which was left equally to all nine after their parents' death. Kathy, who had been living there caring for their mother, argued that she should be allowed to stay on as recompense for her appalling childhood. Her siblings wanted to sell.
The case ended up in court this year; according to Kathy, the details of her abuse were discussed as part of her argument. The judge ruled in her favour. "He said it seemed to him that I had always had to fight my corner, and so I deserved it," she said. It was then the other siblings began to claim Kathy's story was a lie.
Among the documents seen by the Guardian are police statements she made about her childhood rapes by an older boy and legal documents relating to a recent out-of-court settlement the man made with her.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, one of the orders that ran Magdalene laundries, has issued a statement saying that no records exist of a Kathy O'Beirne in any such institution. However, Kathy played the Guardian a taped conversation that she believes supports her claim that she was there. She also pointed to well-publicised cases in which religious orders have been exposed as having destroyed or failed to keep proper records.
The O'Beirne siblings' appeal against the court ruling will be heard in the next few months in Ireland's high court. Kathy says she hopes the case will allow a further examination of the truth, which she insists will vindicate her. "I'm just sick and tired of it," she said. "All I want to do is finish [the case] and get on with my life. Get a bit of happiness."

Don't Ever Tell by Kathy O'Beirne; Mainstream Publishing, 6.99
Like all little girls, I was desperately looking forward to my first Holy Communion. It seemed like a ray of light in the darkness of my existence, an opportunity for a cleansing, even temporarily, of the dirt that I felt I had become. At least I could dress up like all the others, in the lovely clothes that my mother had scrimped and saved to buy me.
The evening before my First Communion one of the boys who had been sexually abusing me went further than he had ever done before. This time he held me down and seemed to be trying to push himself inside of me. Now I know that the word for what he did is rape but back then I didn't have any way to describe or understand what he had done. I just knew it was wrong and that the pain was worse than anything my father had done to me.
The next morning, all dressed up in my lovely white dress and veil, I remember everyone saying how pretty and nice I looked. But I did not feel pretty and nice; I felt dirty and soiled. My dress was white but my body underneath was coal black. It hurt just to put one foot in front of the other but I couldn't let on why I was shuffling about. And I thought God knew. God had to know because he knew everything.


The Times
September 23, 2006

'New book proves my story of abuse'
By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

A WOMAN who wrote a controversial bestseller about a violent father and sexual abuse by Irish priests says that she will answer her detractors in a new book that will reveal further shocking details.
Kathy O Beirne s Don t Ever Tell has sold more than 300,000 copies but her claims that she was raped and tortured in Ireland s Magdalene Laundries for fallen women have been dismissed as fabrications by the religious orders that ran them, by a woman who claims that they knew each other while living at a hostel, and by seven of her brothers and sisters.

O Beirne told The Times that she had documentary evidence proving her story but when asked to present it she refused. She said that her new book, The Aftermath: Who Am I, would vindicate her. I have ten abusers in all. There s files on all of them, she said.
A spokeswoman for Mainstream, which published Don t Ever Tell, said that although no contract had been signed for the second book we would love to do it .
O Beirne s family said this week that their sister was a troubled person who had been exploited by her publisher. They produced a copy of her birth certificate to show that she had not, as the book claims, been adopted. One of the orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries is considering taking legal action.
Erica Wagner, literary editor of The Times, said: This will be by no means the last confession memoir we see whether this is true or false has no bearing on the matter. The plain truth is that confession memoirs shoot to the top of bestseller lists, and publishers will follow the money.

Publisher Expresses Confidence Despite Controvers

The authenticity of a memoir about a childhood of sexual abuse and survival at an infamous Magdalen laundry has been challenged in the English and Irish media. Greystone Books, the North American publisher of the book, Kathy's Story, issues a statement.
Vancouver, Canada (PRWEB) September 23, 2006 -- Greystone Books is the North American publisher of Kathy's Story: The True Story of a Childhood Hell inside Ireland's Magdalen Laundries, by Kathy O'Beirne (Greystone, ISBN 1-55365-168-5, $24.95 CDN/ $16.95 USD, trade paperback). This memoir was originally published by Mainstream Publishing in the United Kingdom and has been released this year as Don't Ever Tell. As a result of a family dispute, controversial remarks are currently being published in the English and Irish media questioning the book's authenticity. Greystone Publisher Rob Sanders states, We have confidence in the work done by Mainstream to ensure the appropriateness of the book for publication.

The Magdalen laundries were thrust into public consciousness with Peter Mullan's 2002 film, The Magdalene Sisters. Girls considered promiscuous or at risk were incarcerated in these notorious workhouses, which operated in Ireland throughout the twentieth century. Kathy O'Beirne was one of these girls.

As Kathy O'Beirne recounts her horrific story in unflinching detail, the strength of her character shines through. It's this strength that has enabled her to survive, led her to champion a campaScots publisher linked to 'second made-up book' as author accused

THE family of an Irish woman who wrote a best-seller claiming she was the victim of repeated physical and sexual abuse in a Catholic institution yesterday accused her of making the story up.

Kathy O'Beirne's book, published in Ireland as Kathy's Story and in the UK as Don't Ever Tell, was largely fabricated by a "deeply troubled" woman, they claimed.

The book was published by Edinburgh's Mainstream Publishing, which defended its contents yesterday. Five years ago another book published by the company, Jihad!, which was the purported story of an SAS officer serving in Afghanistan, saw its author exposed as a fraud.

In her book, O'Beirne, now 49, claimed she was tortured and raped in a Magdalene laundry where she worked for 14 years, giving birth to a child. The institutions were set up to rehabilitate "fallen women".

She also claimed in the book, published 18 months ago, that she was beaten and abused from the age of seven at the hands of her father.

Seven of O'Beirne's brothers and sisters, all originally from Clondalkin, Dublin, came together at a Dublin press conference to tell what they said was the family's real story.

"The anger and frustration we feel at seeing our father branded worldwide as a horrific abuser is indescribable," said Mary O'Beirne, 40. "The allegations are untrue. We can't go on living like this, we can't eat, we can't sleep."

She added: "If people tell lies for long enough, people will believe it. We want to get on with our lives and remember our mother and father. They were good to us."

The family did not stop at protecting their father yesterday. They displayed Kathy O'Beirn's birth certificate, saying she was not adopted as she claimed.

"Our sister was not in a Magdalene laundry, or Magdalene home," Mary said. Instead, she had been in children's homes, a psychiatric hospital and a prison.

"Our parents placed her in St Anne's Children Home for a brief period when she was 11 because of ongoing behavioural difficulties," Mary said.

The family claimed Kathy was living at home with them when she says she was in a Magdalene home during the years 1968 to 1970 from the age of 12 to 14.

In 2005 the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity insisted O'Beirne did not work in any of their laundries and wrote to Ireland's Department of Justice requesting an investigation.

"Our sister did not have a child at the age of 14 that she alleges died at the age of ten," Mary said.

In a statement signed by seven brothers and sisters - Oliver, Eamon, Mary, Margaret, John, Tommy and Brian O'Beirne - the family said there was no evidence to support Kathy's claims.

"This woman has broken our hearts, especially the hearts of our now deceased parents," Mary said.

"We are deeply sorry for all of the people who have bought this book believing it to be fact."

The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity said they wrote to Mainstream and the book's co-author, Michael Sheridan, last year.

The letter stated that the only time O'Beirne spent with the order was six weeks spent in a reformatory school. Mainstream responded to requests for interviews by issuing a statement.

"Mainstream took steps prior to the publication of Don't Ever Tell and were satisfied that the memoir was appropriate for publication," it said. It included working closely with O'Beirne and asking the Archdiocese of Dublin to submit any proposed changes.

"Don't Ever Tell was put under considerable media scrutiny upon initial publication without any content being found to be untrue."

Fiction writer? Kathy O'Beirne:
Natalie Clarke.Daily Mail Saturday September 23rd. 06.

The rape took place one Sunday within what was supposed to be the sanctity of a convent. Kathy O'Beirne's attacker was a visitor who had befriended her. He took her for a walk through the grounds and, when the nuns could no longer see them, he led her into a shed, put his hand over her mouth and forced himself on her.

Nine months later, aged 14, Kathy gave birth to a daughter whom she called Annie. Despite the harrowing circumstances in which she had been conceived, Kathy was a besotted mother — but the nuns took the baby away when she was three months old, leaving Kathy bereft.

This and many other deeply disturbing experiences are recounted in Kathy's book, Don't Ever Tell, which caused a sensation when it was published and has been on the bestseller list for many months. To date, 350,000 copies have been sold in Britain and Ireland.

Ms O'Beirne has become a heroine for other survivors of childhood abuse and suffering. It has been said that Oprah Winfrey is eager to interview her. At least one film company is trying to secure the rights to the book.

There will be no shortage of fire and brimstone in the film. 'The Devil himself could not have dreamed up a better hell than the Magdalen laundry,' Ms O'Beirne writes in the memoir. But perhaps he did not need to. For there is mounting evidence pointing to the likelihood that Ms O'Beirne has done it for him.

This week, her two sisters and three of her six brothers came forward to describe the book as a 'hoax publication' that was destroying their lives. They said they have no recollection whatsoever of her harrowing claims.

What has caused the siblings the most anguish are Ms O'Beirne's assertions that she was mercilessly beaten by a cruel and sadistic father who seemed to take pleasure out of inflicting extreme pain on her. They are demanding that the book be removed from the shelves.

So what is the truth? Is Ms O'Beirne really a victim, or is she a calculating liar who has managed to pull off a cynical scam on a gullible publisher eager to capitalise on the highly popular 'misery memoir' genre? There is, it seems, no end to the public's appetite for tales of abject woe and horror.

So could it be that the book is actually a work of fiction? Ms O'Beirne certainly talks a convincing game. 'I feel my story had to be told,' she said recently. 'It was like a volcano inside me, always ready to explode. So much evil was done there, and there was a voice inside me shouting “Justice”.'

A Mail investigation has cast a rather different light on Ms O'Beirne. What is true is that she clearly had an extremely troubled childhood. At one point she was placed in a home for problem children. There were spells in a psychiatric hospital and in prison.

But her family insist all these problems were brought on by Kathy herself. According to her sister Mary, she is, and always has been, a compulsive liar. As a child, she was a 'tearaway' who was constantly getting into trouble and was expelled from school.

'Kathy is lying about all this — just like she has lied about things all her life,' says Mary. 'She is very convincing, though, and that is what makes her so dangerous.'

The family say she can't even be truthful about her age, claiming to be 45 when they say she is in fact 50. At a press conference this week, the family dismissed another of Kathy's claims — that she was adopted — by producing her birth certificate. Kathy's account of the abuse levelled at her by her father at the family home in a working-class suburb of Dublin is profoundly shocking.

She writes: 'To the outside world, my father Oliver presented an image of respectability. He was a handsome man, well-built at 15 stone, who dressed immaculately. A builder's labourer, he went to Mass every day and, to the people on our estate, he appeared to be a highly religious pillar of the community.

But inside our home he became a cruel and violent man who subjected his family to a terrible life of mental and physical abuse. He regularly beat my eight brothers and sisters and me with his belt. The buckle would cut into my legs and the flesh wounds often turned septic. 'He would put our hands in the crack of the kitchen door and press it with his foot until we passed out with pain.

'One night, when he was in a particularly bad rage, he held my hand in a pan of hot grease. The pain was unbearable. I closed my eyes and screamed, so he threw me outside the back door while he ate his dinner.' Her sister Mary's recollection of life in the O'Beirne household is rather different. She says their father was strict but kind, and that he worked long hours to ensure his wife and nine children were fed and clothed.

'My father never once lifted his hand to us. Never,' she says. 'Yes, of course we were chastised if we had played up, but he never hit us. It was a normal, happy childhood. We would go for days out in the mountains and had such fun up there. He was a very proud, good man and it breaks my heart to see the terrible lies Kathy has written about him.'

Far from Kathy being beaten by her father, it was actually the other way round, she says. 'I was told that one day Kathy laid into my father, kicking him over and over again, when he was sitting in his chair with a bad back and barely able to move.

'She caused no end of misery to our mother and father. She was always in trouble and a constant worry to them.'

'I remember my father standing up in court and bailing her out for something she'd done. It was shaming for him to have to be in court, but he did it for her — and this is how she repays him. The shock when the book came out was indescribable. She didn't give us any warning. I only found out when a friend told me. I've read some of it, but I find it just too upsetting reading these terrible invented slurs against our father.'

Not content with a character assassination of her father, Kathy also claims she was raped by a boy on the eve of her First Communion. In fact, the entire book veers from one horrendous tale of extreme suffering to another. As one reviewer put it (with more prescience than they perhaps realised at the time): 'Her story is so horrific, it is almost unbelievable.'

According to Kathy, she was placed in a children's home at the age of eight by her parents who could no longer cope with their problem child. This, at least, her family does acknowledge. But Kathy goes on to claim that while in the home she was subjected to sexual abuse by a priest. The family's response? If she was, they haven't heard about it until now.

According to Kathy, after the home she is sent, aged 12, to a Magdalen asylum. And it is Kathy's claim of her teenage years in a Magdalen laundry — homes run by the Roman Catholic for the rehabilitation of 'fallen' women — that has become the most contentious aspect of her story. Needless to say, it offers more woe, misery, cruelty and horror.

The so-called penitents and inmates of these laundries — often admitted against their will by their families or priests — were required to work, primarily in laundries. Inmates were required to be silent for much of the day and some women spent the rest of their lives in the asylums. (The last Magdalen institution in Ireland closed in 1996.)

In the book, Kathy describes her first day at the laundry. 'I was handed an overall and led to what looked like a huge shed. Inside, the clanking, churning machinery was overwhelming and there were clouds of steam swirling around. The place stank of chemicals, detergent and sweat and was unbearably hot.

'I was 12 years old and had just been delivered to hell. After a day in the furnace-like atmosphere of the laundry, I would collapse into bed exhausted. We were on our feet literally all day, while mice and rats scuttled around us.'

It is an intensely vivid description of life in the notorious laundries, where she says she was beaten with 'a special thick piece of rubber' by the nuns. But did it ever happen? Not according to her brothers and sisters, who maintain that at no time was she placed in one of these institutions. Nor are they the only ones to insist her tales are fabricated.

Before the book's publication last year, a few small articles appeared in Irish magazines about Kathy, written by the ghost writer of Don't Ever Tell, Michael Sheridan, giving an account of her incarceration in a laundry run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

The Order was deeply upset by the content and checked its records for a Kathy O'Beirne. Nothing showed up. A meeting was subsequently arranged between the Order and Kathy, in which they told her their checks had confirmed she had never spent time in one of their institutions.

The Sisters of Our Lady Charity wrote to Mr Sheridan in April last year stating categorically that Kathy had not been resident at one of their Magdalen homes, and to inform him that the only time Kathy had spent with them was a six-week period in a reform school.

The letter was also copied to the book's Edinburgh based publishers, Mainstream. 'We have spoken to Sisters, lay staff and women who worked in the laundries and there is no recollection of Kathy O'Beirne,' says a spokesperson. 'In fact, we know all the women who worked in our laundries in later years — and Kathy O'Beirne is not one of them.'

This did not stop Kathy, after the book came out, claiming in an interview that she had been resident at a laundry run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. The Order was forced to issue a statement saying it could 'categorically state' that this was not the case. The Order is now consulting lawyers over whether to sue. And what of Kathy's baby, Annie? Surely there must be some evidence of the child's existence?

According to Kathy's account, after being taken from her at three months, Annie was placed in a home run by nuns. She was allowed to see her child on occasional weekends, but Annie suffered from a disease of the bowel and died when she was just 10. Heartbreakingly, she said, to this day she does not know where her little girl is buried.

Yet, strangely, no birth certificate, or indeed a death certificate, can be found. Nor do her family have any recollection of Kathy ever being seen with Annie, or indeed even mentioning the fact that she had a daughter.

'Until this book came out, she never once mentioned it,' says Mary, 40. 'There was never any mention of it in our household as we were growing up. There is no birth or death certificate. There is no child.' Ms O'Beirne and Mr Sheridan claim they have evidence that Kathy did give birth — but no evidence has yet been forthcoming.

Mr Sheridan insists: 'It is no surprise there is no birth certificate. The nuns would not get one because of the circumstances in which the child was conceived. It was all hushed up.' He also said that Kathy had shown him photographs of Annie — but no such picture has yet been produced in public. 'As for there being no record of Kathy's stay in the laundry, the nuns used to falsify names to prevent the girls' parents getting to them,' he says.

'They did this because if someone came to try to collect their daughter, they could say they had been discharged, and there was no evidence to prove otherwise because the girl was now listed under another name.' The spokesperson for the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity says, however, that this is 'utterly untrue'. 'It's a pathetic attempt to cover up the fact that no research was conducted for the book.'

Mr Sheridan also claims that he spoke at length to another woman who remembers being in a Magdalen home with Kathy. 'Unfortunately, she died in a psychiatric hospital some time after we spoke,' he says. 'She is another victim, just like Kathy.

'The real story of Kathy O'Beirne's family life is ten times worse and more horrendous than was portrayed in the book, but cannot be published for legal reasons.'

As for the row between Kathy and her siblings, Mr Sheridan says it is not about the book but a dispute over the family home. After their father's death nine years ago, the house was supposed to have been sold and the proceeds divided. But a judge ruled that Kathy could keep the home because she had cared for her father in his last years.

Yet again, this does not quite square with what Kathy has said. If her father was such a terrible man, why did she want to nurse him?

Mainstream is — so far at least — standing by the book. In a statement, the publisher said: 'Mainstream took steps prior to the publication of Don't Ever Tell and were satisfied that the memoir was appropriate for publication.'

But Kathy's siblings will not give up the fight. At a press conference this week, Margaret, 38, Mary, 40, Brian, 45, Eamonn, 48, and Oliver, 52, were united in their condemnation of the book. A statement released by them was also signed by two other brothers, John, 51, and Tommy, 60. Only one brother, Joe, has supported Kathy's claims.

The siblings said that at various times during her life Kathy has been resident at St Anne's Children's Home in Kilmacud, St Loman's Psychiatric Hospital, Mountjoy Prison and Sherrard House, a shelter for the homeless. But she was not, they say, ever at a Magdalen home.

'I have no idea why she is doing it. It can only be for the money,' says Mary. Don't Ever Tell is not the first 'misery memoir' to come under scrutiny. Has Ms O'Beirne climbed on to a growing bandwagon of 'victims' who have spotted an easy money-making opportunity? If so, she cannot be accused of lack of imagination.


The Sunday Times September 24, 2006

Kathy’s co-writer admits a lack of facts
Hermann Kelly

THE ghostwriter of Kathy’s Story, the bestselling memoir of childhood sexual abuse, has admitted there is no documentary evidence Kathy O’Beirne was ever in a Magdalen laundry or had a baby.
Michael Sheridan’s admission will further damage the credibility of the book, which has been challenged by religious orders and was described as a fabrication by members of O’Beirne’s family.

Asked yesterday what documentation he had seen proving O’Beirne had been in a laundry, Sheridan said: “I’ll tell you the evidence we have. There are no documents. Those documents are either falsified or destroyed. There is no evidence or records of Kathy in the two Magdalen laundries. There never was.”

This statement contradicts what Sheridan told RTE Radio’s Liveline programme last Monday. Then he said: “I saw mounds of documentation that Kathy has. She’s a punctilious keeper of documentation.”

Joe Duffy, the programme presenter, asked Sheridan if he had seen evidence O’Beirne was in a laundry.

He replied: “I have. And I’ve seen evidence of interaction with Kathy and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in the Bishop’s House.”

Sheridan said yesterday he had been thinking on the spot, and documents he referred to showed interaction between O’Beirne and the nuns at Bishop’s House. He has, for instance, seen letters to O’Beirne from her mother sent when she was in St Anne’s children’s home in Kilmacud for six weeks. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity says this is the only time O’Beirne was in their care.

Kathy’s Story claims that O’Beirne, who is believed to be 50 although she claims to be 45, was raped and had a baby at the age of 14.

No evidence of the child can be found and Sheridan says the nuns did not register the birth of the baby, Annie, or get a birth certificate. The book, which has sold 350,000 copies, claims Annie died at the age of 10.

O’Beirne has claimed to have proof of her story and all the necessary documents. They have not been produced in public since the row started, however.

Sheridan says his publisher in Edinburgh, which is standing by the veracity of Kathy’s Story, says it gave the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin six weeks to comment on the contents of the book and there were no objections.

The archdiocese says it commented on those aspects of the book that were within its direct knowledge. “(Our) response did not address other issues that are the principal subject matter of the book,” it said.

'I have no idea why she is doing it. It can only be for the money,' says Mary. Don't Ever Tell is not the first 'misery memoir' to come under scrutiny. Has Ms O'Beirne climbed on to a growing bandwagon Catholic News Watch
October 15, 2006

Mark Alessio

Did “Magdalen Sisters” Inspiration Fabricate Stories of Abuse?

( “An author whose memoirs recount a harrowing childhood of torture and rape while working in a Roman Catholic religious order is at the centre of a dispute over the accuracy of her claims,” reports The Telegraph (UK, Sept. 19, 2006).

Kathy O'Beirne's account of her early life, published as Don't Ever Tell in Britain and Kathy's Story in Ireland, became a bestseller with 350,000 copies sold in Ireland and Britain. In the book, O’Beirne claims to have suffered 14 years of forced labor in the Magdalen laundries, a Catholic institution which was originally set up to rehabilitate fallen women. She says that she was beaten by her father and sexually abused by two boys from the age of 5 before being sent away to an institution. She also claims that, at the age of 10, she was repeatedly raped by a priest and whipped by nuns, and later forced to take drugs in a mental institution.

However, O’Beirne’s own family are speaking out about her allegedly factual memoirs. Her older brother John O'Beirne, 51, denied the book's allegations of sadistic abuse by his father, describing the sequence of events outlined by his sister as "a jigsaw puzzle and nothing fits." He said that his father was a loving man, who held down two jobs to provide for his family. "Kathy has hurt a lot of people and it's now time for the truth to be told," he said. Another older brother, Oliver, 52, has stated that, “I read the book and I can’t figure out where she is coming from.” Adding that she did not have a good relationship with her family, he said, “I think she needs help.”

A younger brother, Eamon O'Beirne, 48, said he had "no memory whatsoever of Kathy ever being in a Magdalen laundry." He also denied her assertion that she bore a child after being raped by a male visitor to the laundries. "To my knowledge, she never had a child,” said Eamon O’Beirne, “and my father did not abuse or torture me. The stuff as alleged in this book did not happen in our house."

In addition, several women have come forward to say they lived with Miss O'Beirne in the 1970s in the Sherrard Street Hostel for girls in Dublin. During their time in the hostel, which has not been included in the book, they claim that Miss O'Beirne never mentioned having had a child or of working in a Magdalen laundry. Celine Dempsey, 47, said, "Kathy never spoke of being in a Magdalen laundry. How could she? She was in Sherrard Street."

The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the religious order running the laundry, has denied that Miss O'Beirne stayed in one of their homes or laundries. According to The Times (UK, Sept. 19, 2006), the sisters invited an independent archivist to study their files after nobody could remember Kathy O’Beirne. No record has turned up of her attendance.

Florence Horsman Hogan of the Irish charity “Let Our Voices Emerge,” established by people who spent time in religious institutions and who are now dedicated to defending their careers, told The Times: “By her own admission Kathy has had psychological problems from an early age.” She said that the only record of O’Beirne having been in a Catholic institution was when she spent six weeks in St. Anne’s Industrial School in Dublin in 1967.

Comment: What makes this story especially interesting is that Kathy O'Beirne's alleged “memoirs” of abuse at the hands of priests and nuns was the basis for the 2002 film, The Magdalen Sisters, directed by Peter Mullan. Steven D. Greydanus of the Decent Films Guide made this observation about the film:

Mullan’s black-and-white (or rather black and more black) depiction of clergy and religious is absolute: Not a single character in a wimple or a roman collar ever manifests even the slightest shred of kindness, compassion, human decency, or genuine spirituality; not one has the briefest instant of guilt, regret or inner conflict over the energetic, sometimes cheerfully brutal sadism and abuse that pervades the film.

Mr. Greydanus also accused the film of “viciousness, exaggeration, and lack of nuance or moral honesty.” Similarly, Film Journal International claimed that “the only real point of the script is that nuns are venal, priests lechers, and the inmates all innocent victims.”

“Garbage in, garbage out,” goes the old computer axiom – if invalid data is entered into a system, the resulting output will also be invalid. The director of The Magdalen Sisters, Peter Mullan, is a rabid Church-hater. Imagine that. At the Venice Film Festival, where The Magdalen Sisters was awarded the top prize (the “Golden Lion”), Mullan compared the Catholic Church to the Taliban, on the pretext that, “in the context of Ireland in that period, they were doing exactly what the Taliban were doing fifty years later." According to the Decent Films Guide article cited above, “Peter Mullan was raised Catholic but in interviews has stated that he has considered himself a Marxist from his teenaged years, and has described belief in heaven and hell as ‘nonsense’ and ‘the whole notion of celibacy’ as ‘nuts’ and ‘perverse’."

With all those stony, sterile, subhuman priests and nuns to ooh and ahh over, you can bet Mullan saw a hit before filming started on day one. Let’s face it, nothing gets the popcorn flowing like cartoon villains. Snidely Whiplash, Lex Luthor, Auric Goldfinger, a priest, a nun. Cheer the heroes and boo the villains. If the villains are Catholic – all the better.

Garbage in ... garbage out. It appears that the same axiom applies to Miss O'Beirne's “memoirs.”