Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 12 — Salthill

Show Contents

Sexual abuse


Some months after the incident involving Tom Murphy, a Brother in the Community, Br Rique,19 was able to give some further information about Br Dacian’s time in the Dublin school, which he recorded in a note entitled ‘To Whom It May Concern’. There had been press publicity about the case, which was of great concern to the Christian Brothers and to the Murphys. When the story was published, Br Rique’s sister appeared to know more about it than he did. Her source was another relation, Patrick Walsh,20 a teacher in the Dublin school where Br Dacian had been Principal. This teacher had expressed surprise to the Brother’s sister some two years previously, on learning that Br Dacian had been appointed Principal of a primary school, because of allegations made against him in Dublin that he had molested a boy and also because of other rumours about him. Br Rique asked Mr Walsh about these allegations. He said that the Vice-Principal of that school had spoken to each of the teachers individually about the matter. One of the teachers became aware of allegations against Br Dacian, who admitted to the teacher and one boy’s mother that he had sexually abused the boy. Had he not done so, they told him, the matter would go public. Confirmation of what happened at the time appeared in a letter written by the teacher in the mid-1990s, seeking reassurance that the Brother was no longer involved with children. He wrote: A few years ago [Br Dacian] was involved in an assault of a sexual nature on a child. As a result of this he was taken out for treatment etc. This was done with the agreement of the family.


Br Dacian’s personnel card recorded a break in service of approximately 10 months between his time in the Dublin school and his appointment to the school where he abused Tom Murphy.


During this intermission, Br Dacian spent time in the Cistercian Abbey in Roscrea, the retreat centre to which he again moved when the events regarding Tom Murphy came to light. He had in fact spent time on retreat there even before this, although the circumstances of that first retreat are not known.


During his second stay in the Cistercian Abbey (after leaving the Dublin school), he was referred to a Jesuit Priest for assistance with his problems and, it would seem, for assessment on behalf of the Congregation. The senior Brother who arranged the referral included in his letter to the Priest some background information about Br Dacian: I believe his present problem may have had a bit of a history. There certainly was an incident some twenty years ago. What has happened in the intervening years I just don’t know. I just fear that there may be more than two isolated incidents separated by twenty years or more. Perhaps my fears and feelings arise from being too long in office!


The Jesuit Priest gave a reassuring opinion about Br Dacian in a letter to Br Agrican21 at Cluain Mhuire: I am confident that there is no risk of a recurrence of such an event in the near future – by which I mean over the next few years – he has had a severe shock. If the measures suggested are taken I am confident that there is no serious danger of a recurrence especially as a Director would enable him to recognise warning signs and take remedial action.


There is no record available of the measures that were suggested or of what the ‘Director’ was to do. Early 1980s – incident in Gaelteacht


Further information about Br Dacian had emerged some four months before the Murphys made their complaint about his conduct. A memorandum in the records of the Brothers contains an account of information given by a father as to Br Dacian’s offensive sexual activities with his son, Peter Brady,22 when the boy was in the Gaelteacht one summer in the mid-1980s. The matter came to light when the Principal of a Christian Brothers primary school in Dublin contacted Br Agrican and then another senior Brother, whose note recorded the information. The Principal heard the allegations from Mr Brady and thought it was important to notify the Congregation at senior level. He said that he was concerned about recommending groups of boys to go to the Gaelteacht in view of what Mr Brady had reported to him. He arranged for a meeting between Mr Brady and the senior Brother at Cluain Mhuire.


Mr Brady complained that, after Peter’s first two days in the Gaelteacht, Br Dacian, who was teaching there, brought him to his room every night and sat him on his lap and fondled and kissed him and stroked his penis. Br Dacian would arrive when all were asleep and shine a torch in Peter’s face and bring him to his room. One night, Peter tried to evade him by going to another bunk, but he was located by Br Dacian and brought away. Peter said that he was ‘scared stiff’ all during the holiday. Mr Brady had suggested to Peter that Br Dacian was very friendly and maybe that Peter was exaggerating, but Peter insisted on the details as described, and recalled another particular incident when boys were waiting for presents they had ordered and Peter asked Br Dacian when they were coming. The Brother brought him outside and asked him if he really wanted to see him about the presents or did he want to see him himself. Mr Brady said that Peter had written to the family saying that he wanted to go home. The Bradys visited him on two weekends and found Br Dacian very helpful and friendly, and Mr Brady brought cigarettes as a present for Br Dacian but Peter objected, which struck Mr Brady as strange, but he did not follow it up.


When Peter came home, he received a letter from Br Dacian inviting him to visit the Brother at his Dublin school, enclosing a map showing how to get there. His parents thought that Peter should accept the invitation, but he would only go if he was accompanied, and his mother went with him but Br Dacian was not there.


Mr Brady did not wish to press charges, nor did he want Br Dacian to know the details or the source of the information. He was concerned that other boys might have been affected. Mr Brady made a favourable impression on the senior Brother who made the record.


After his second time on retreat in the monastery (following the allegations made in respect of Tom Murphy), Br Dacian went to a Residential Therapy Centre for Religious Clergy in England. The Provincial, Br Travis, wrote to him there with information about the progress of the investigations. Br Travis apologised for the delay in writing and expressed the hope that Br Dacian was finding his stay helpful and looked forward to visiting in a few weeks’ time when ‘I will be able to have a chat with you then’. He went on to describe the state of the inquiries: I have had two further meetings with the Western Health Board and they have now concluded the investigations. They will not be following through with any proceedings, thank God. I have now to meet Mr and Mrs Murphy ... I hope this will be the final meeting. They still require an apology in writing which, on reading, they will immediately destroy in my presence. It should be brief and to the point. On the basis of legal advice I enclose a draft. I also enclose some of our own Cluain Mhuire notepaper on which you can write the apology in your own handwriting. However, write this apology only if you feel you should. I would need it to hand by Wednesday, [two days prior to my meeting with the Murphys] at the latest. When I meet you on ... I will bring you up to date on what has happened at all of these meetings. I am confident that it will all die down now with the help of God.


Br Dacian wrote the apology as requested by Br Travis: Dear Mr and Mrs Murphy, My purpose in writing to you is to apologise for my behaviour with Tom and any upset I may have caused to you, his parents. I regret it sincerely. I am pleased to hear that Tom is back at school and faring well. Yours sincerely,


Br Dacian wrote to the Provincial expressing his gratitude and appreciation that ‘the whole affair is coming to a satisfactory conclusion’, which he thought was due to the Provincial’s ‘delicate dealing of the matter’.


The documents in this case revealed, incidentally, other unrelated instances of sexual abuse by religious and lay teachers.


In his first meeting with the Provincial and the Superior, Mr Murphy stated that interference with boys was going on in the School for many years, going back 25 or 30 years, and mentioned a Br Nathaniel.23 The Provincial recorded that he and the Superior said they knew nothing about it, and noted that Br Nathaniel was a Christian Brother in the Community in the early 1950s who had later left the Congregation. The story of Br Nathaniel, as revealed in the Congregation’s Rome Files, was that, in the mid-1960s, he sought and obtained a dispensation from his vows because of his trouble with the vow of chastity, although the record did not confirm that his sexual interest was in boys. The Brother had informed his Superiors that he had not been able to keep the vow of chastity for years. He was proposing to seek a job as a teacher in England. The authorities were keen to facilitate the Brother and, because ‘it would make matters too pointed if he was now taken off’ a course that he was to do, it was proposed to move him to the O’Brien Institute and have the dispensation executed from there.

  1. This is a pseudonym.
  2. This is a pseudonym.
  3. This is a pseudonym.
  4. This is a pseudonym.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. This is a pseudonym.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. This is a pseudonym.
  24. This is a pseudonym.
  25. This is a pseudonym.
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period. See the Department of Education chapter for a discussion of her role and performance.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a reference to the Gardaí.