Thursday, 21 January 2016


I was a curate in St Peter's cathedral Belfast from 1978 until 1883 - a period of five years.

The administrator in my time was Father Vincent McKinely an ignorant Ballycastle man and addicted gambler. One day he told me lost £2,000 on the horses. That was in 1979 !

Father McKinley seriously assaulted me on one occasion and threatened me on others.


The Senior Curate was Father Joe McGurnaghan who spent all day and all night listening to classical music.

Joe McGurnaghan

This was my daily routine during that time:

Celebrate Mass at either 10 am or 7.30 pm.

Slate Street - now demolished.

Alternate visits to primary Schools - St Joseph's Slate Street, or St Comgalls or St Louise's College - 11 am to 12.30 pm.

St Comgalls Divis Street
or St Comgalls or St Louise's College - 11 am to 12.30 pm.

The old St Louises

Visits to St Peter's Secondary School - 2pm to 3.30 pm.

The old St Peters

Visit parishioner's homes - 4 pm to 5 pm.

Have some prayer time in the cathedral - 5 pm to 6 pm.

See callers in interview rooms at presbytery - 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

Attend youth club - 7.30 pm to 9 pm.

One night a week go for a beer with youth leaders to The Star social club in Ardoyne - 10 pm to 11.30 pm.

Old Star Social Club Ardoyne

One night a week go for a beer with the parish youth leader Gerry Reynolds to the Rossa Club on the Falls Road.

Rossa ob Falls Road

On Saturdays I had Mass, the occasional wedding or funeral, heard confessions from 12 noon to 1 pm and from 5 pm until 7 pm. I also prepared my Sunday sermon and gave a copy to Father McKinley from which he would preach on Sunday and went for dinner to a family in Belfast I was friends with.

On Sundays I had several Masses and if I was on call I stayed in the presbytery all day.

On the Sundays not on duty I took the youth club bus and brought Divis Flats kids for trips to Newcastle in County Down.

This routine was broken every fortnight by an overnight trip to Dublin to visit my parents and family.

I took few holidays in the five year period with the exception of the Lourdes Pilgrimage with parishioners Paddy and Billy Mallon.

Every night at midnight I took a walk around the parish boundaries to see everyone was Ok. My route was Divis Street, Falls Road, Grosvenor Road, Durham Street, Albert Street.

After midnight I would have patrolled the area and Divis Flats trying to stop the so called "Joy Riding".

I also ran a WEEKLY PRAYER MEETING, a WEEKLY SELF HELP GROUP and managed to clean up Divis Flats.

These 5 years were among the HAPPIEST and BUSIEST years of my life :-)


  1. Daily routine of a modern priest . Get up say mass smile at the old bags . Go to the gym chat up the instructer . Play golf . Dinner at the club house . Get massage and nails buffed . Home to walk the retriever . Have a shower and if this is the boyfriends night down get the good aftershave on . Out for a meal . Home with bf for bottle of wine . Switch phone off and go to bed ..... just a joke not all priests are like that but I've known a good few who are

    1. Vincent McKinley spent the day watching the races and placing telephone bets.

      Joe McGurnaghan, apart from meal times stayed in his room listening to classical music and sipping cognac.

      Jimmy Mc Cabe was a good school and home visitor. He and McKinley had shared a dining room for 14 + years and never spoke.

      Peter Donnelly played golf most days and had "visitors" at night.

      Sean Crummey liked visited old ladies and spent the evenings drinking whiskey and doing Irish dancing on his own.

    2. Bishop Pat,
      Your busy routine over the five years you spent at Divisminster is a mirror of the daily grindr of our soon departing Dean this last ten years.

      Did you know, by the way, he has been given a part in Eastenders???

      Yes. He will be appearing in the early summer as Dot Cotton's long lost daughter, Harriet.

      The plot runs - and this is an exclusive - that Dot had Harriet when she was just a slip of a girl and baby Harriet was spirited orf by Dot's Aunt Lena.

      So Harriet comes to the Square seeking her long-lost old Mumsie. Except Harriet is no longer a Harriet. Having been on HRT for some years - and having recently underwent a series of sex reassignment surgeries - 'Arriet - a female to male trans - is now an 'Arry.

      Furthermore, 'arriet is, in fact, the Very Reverend 'arry Arfur Cotton, a renegade Anglican clergyman with underworld connections.

      Poor old Dot. Barely recovered from Nasty Nick's demise, she is now about to have another spectacle turn up on her door-step, drawling - 'Ello Maw'.

      The Dean was spotted by talent scouts, on the Minster webcam, during one of his many stellar performances and it was unanimously agreed - 'thats our woman/man'!!

      He will make his debut in early summer as he needs time to read himself into the part, learning the old Cockney lingo.

      Rev' Arry Cotton will have a wife - a male to female trans - Nigelabella - a music hall strumpet and a bit of a lush - with whom he has many drunken brawls - often throwing her out of taxis in the middle of Walford.

      Very early into his part, Rev 'arry gets involved in a feud with Phil Mitchell over a dodgy motor.

      It promises to be a plot of nail-biting twists and turns and the Christmas episodes will be - shall we just say - explosive!

      The dean's fond parishioners of the Minster are just glad that he has, at last, found well-deserved fame and that a local treasure is now set to be a national treasure.

      Big Lil' is busy organising the fan club and preparing for the many sightseers who will now, doubtless, descend upon our wee neighbourhood to see where it all began.

    3. I am so pleased and relieved to hear that the Dean will now be gracing the silver screen of my favourite soap, particularly now that I can no longer look forward to my weekly appointment with him, on a Sunday morning, via the webcam of Divisminster.

      The plot of Easties has been rather solemn and serious of late and a bit of burlesque - the Dean's field of expertise - should lighten things up considerably.

      What a guy! Being able to combine his rigorous activities with the young rascals of Chelsea, his exacting schedule with the Canonesses, along with putting to good use his wonderful acting abilities, is surely a super-human feat! Is there no end to the man's talent?

  2. Well Pat your daily routine schools etc was not unlike my own. Must admit only in recent years have I come to value personal prayer morning & evening prayer and a bit of study for their true worth. Drink with the lads was most nights. Being extra busy brought results but was also a means of escape. Being busy at work now is a necessity to keep the fekin bank manager at bay

  3. I was 26 to 31 at the time. Loads of energy with undimmed optomism.

  4. Your experience with Vincent mcKinlay was not good. Many of us were aware of the situation at the time but I had a similar situation with my new boss at that time.
    One Saturday night after confessions I came back into the house to the sound of an almighty smash in the kitchen. I went in to find the PP lying full drunk on the floor.
    I tried to help him up but got dogs abuse. He referred to the Bishop (Daly), the other curate and the housekeeper as everything but ladies and gentlemen!
    I phoned another priest friend to seek advice as to what I should do. "Let the f....r lie there" was the suggestion. I did.
    Next morning he was up and about and on the 11am Mass and preached on temperance !!
    Some time later I spoke with a former curate and told him about the incident. He laughed and said it would become a regular event. He then asked "Was she there as well?"

    1. You had your own purgatory. All part of a deep unhappiness that still goes on.

    2. Only nowadays when the PP falls on the floor or falls into bed with he or she there are no curates to pick them up or relate the tales.

      PP D&C

    3. Priests (in the past...?) were very limited in how they could express frustration, personal preferences & normal humanity.. My escape was DRinKK Had my on the floor moments-not a nice place to be

    4. Very honest Sean. But at least you got off the floor permanently and got your life together.

      Its the ones who stay down that are the tragic ones.

  5. I have only been aware of this site in the last few days as have many others here in Westminster. It's causing much talk about this priest Kennedy. If it didn't before then his reputation certainly goes before him now. In fact over the last few days his anticipated arrival has been causing much amusement among many priests I know. Is he really THAT pompous and conceited ?
    West London Priest

    1. Pompous and conceited among other things, Fr....

    2. West London Father,

      Can you tell us why Vinnie Nichols who seems so strict to keep his priests in line is taking Fr Kennedy into Westminster ???

      PP D&C

  6. Dea D&C PP,
    You are right Vin keeps a very tight eye on all matters and personnel. Everything comes back to him or Martin Hayes the VG.
    I should say that there is very little chance of Kennedy ending up on the cathedral staff. Im not being snobbish but I would imagine that the liturgy as arranged by Kennedy at Belfast Cathedral would be somewhat well down the scale compared to Westminster. There are many more talented individuals in the liturgy field here who would be less than pleased if Kennedy parachuted into Victoria Street.
    There is a rumour, only a rumour, that the new Auxillary here, Paul McAleenan, a native of Belfast is supposedly a good friend of Kennedy. Talk is he spoke up for Kennedy. He will be very much a probationer for some time here. He will need to be on his best behaviour before incardination even comes on the horizon.
    Vin's spies are already briefed.

    1. I wouldn't be surprised if the rumour is true. The "dean" collects people like Paul NcAleenan (normally, though, he would look down his nose at a former "St Gabe's boy" and a graduate of a "hedge school" like Thurles to boot!).

      In the past, "dean" Kennedy would have seen Bp-elect McAleenan as maybe useful in getting his own big ass onto the episcopal bench.

      Nowadays, it has probably dawned - even on one so thick as the "dean" - that his episcopal ambitions ain't gonna be realised and, having balls up massively his time in the Cathedral in Belfast, Bp McAleenan's usefulness lies in getting him a nice cosy number, in London, among the Sloane Rangers.

      In any case, Bishop-elect McA should be wary of getting tainted by association with this approaching liability.

    2. Some years ago, bumping into a very senior British Knight, I tried, "You must know our Father Hugh Kennedy?" "Don't you mean Monsignor Kennedy? Or Canon at least?"

  7. I wouldn't be surprised if that rumour was true. Hugh is well known for his sociopathic behaviour. If folks have potential to feather Hugh's nest then he'll use them if not they'll be given very short shift. That said I also believe Hugh will realise that his status as priest has gone its distance. No mitre, no purple socks. I think once Hugh gets the feel of London he will be off. One never knows he might end up chaplain to Princess Michael of Kent. She is only half a mile up the road. The big Dean might be eminently suited to such a posting. Lol

    1. I'd say big Hughie has had the feel of London long ago lol

  8. Chaplain to HRH, The Princess Michael of Kent. Now I could just imagine the Former Dean of Divisminster in that role. And of course he would be accorded the title Monsignor by the Vatican and as a chaplain to the Royal Household would soon be appointed by the Queen, KCVO, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. And of course his involvement around Kensington Palace would mean he would be introduced to other "members" of the household. .......and then Hugh woke up!!

  9. I'm wondering if the time has come to let the matter of Fr HK settle. He has been the subject of quite a bit of speculation and innuendo in these columns of late. Some of it no doubt has substance to it, and it is clear that he is viewed suspiciously by a number of people who use this site. He probably is pompous and conceited. But, now that he is moving to a new phase in life, is it not worth giving him a chance and seeing how he gets on ? As previous correspondents have said, he will be kept a close eye on in Westminster by the all pervasive controlling watch of +Vinny and his spies. I don't think I would like to work in Westminster under that kind of Stasi style scrutiny. I think I have more difficulty with +Vinny than with HK. At least with HK what you see is what you get. With +Vinny its much more refined and subtle, but essentially he is an ambitious self-serving man who is very effective in many ways, particularly in the business of public presentation, but I have always had the sense of a man who is interested in himself and where he is going. If you are useful to him, he is all over you. If he doesn't need you any more, then he just looks through you. Sounds a bit familiar ? Maybe HK and +Vinny will get along fine, at least in sharing a modus operandi ! I say, good luck to HK, and he is welcome to Westminster and +Vinny !

  10. I have known +Vinny for some time and I agree with your poster 11.03. It's the "all about Vin show" at Wesrminster. It's hardly a secret that big Cormac did everything in his power to block his path to the See of Westminster. In view of there being no other suitable candidate (Conroy was considered but already under suspicion and 2 other possible contenders were deemed too old) Vin got the shout although he had to wait longer than normal before he got the red hat.

  11. In the Year of Mercy is there sufficient charity in our hearts to call an end to the fox-hunt of Rev Hugh Kennedy? To the extent he may have failures, is he the only one? Now that he is setting off in a new direction would it not suffice to wish him well and let that be an end of it?
    Former Parishioner of St Bridget's.

    1. How about, as a gesture for the Year of Mercy, Hugh Kennedy renounces his latest prideful further ego-trip to London and consigns himself to a monastery for the rest of his life, to save his soul and make reparation for the opprobrium his scandalous behaviour has heaped further on the priesthood?

      A life of quiet prayer, well away from any "lovely guys" whatsoever, for him, would be a merciful act to the Canonesses, the archdiocese of Westminster and the students of More House.

  12. As a student I lived at More House for two years in the 1980's. Fr Hugh will find it a stimulating environment. In those days the two male chaplains were Fr Wilfred McGreal (later the British Provincial of the Carmelite Order) and Dr Michael Winter (who later left the priesthood; he was chair of the Movement for Married Clergy). As well as providing Mass, Confession and pastoral support, the chaplains arranged for eminent British Catholic lay people - viscounts, newspaper editors, lawyers, MPs, and similar - to give Sunday evening talks to the students who were a mixed bunch of medics, engineers, musicians and scientists. They were mainly white but not exclusively. I had a room next to a Palestinian engineering student, a devout muslim, and occasionally he woke me with his recitation of the fajr (dawn) prayer. Periodically a barn dance was organised in the mews behind More House by a young man, now a Dominican, whose father was responsible for the business affairs of the Rolling Stones. On cold winter evenings, Fr Winter would pile us into the back of his battered white mini-bus and we would do a soup run to the rough sleepers in Lincoln's Inn Fields, many of whom had harrowing stories about the twists and turns of fortune. The Canonesses were lovely ladies, some of whom were Irish with bright sparkling eyes and silver hair.
    Former Parishioner of St Bridget's

    1. The last thing Hughie needs is "a stimulating environment" among young students. A more suitable setting, given his proclivities, would be chaplain to the elderly.

      He would really have been much better, for the sake of his immortal soul, denying himself this latest egotistical, contrived and artificial self-calling, to "minister" to the young and privileged.

      No true priest "chooses" where he is called to serve - that is self-delusion - and Hughie is a master of mistaking his own will, wants and drives, for the "call of God".

      But, at least, he is being watched. Perhaps, he will learn, long-in-the-tooth as he is, to control himself and show decorum and self-discipline.

      Thankfully, the dreadful fiasco at St Peter's Cathedral is now, at last, at an end.

  13. I am interested in your experiences with Fr Vincent McKinley, can you please expand? Have you heard of any sexual abuse in which he has been named?

    1. I can assure you that Fr McKinley had no interest in boys!

      I have other thoughts but would only share those for the right reasons and with the right people.

      If you have a genuine reason for asking get in touch.

    2. Genuine reason for asking: yes. He was PP in Rasharkin a number of years ago and was very "over-amorous" (shall we say) with the females, including myself. He then moved to Ballymoney Parish and again I had an experience of him that was extremely disconcerting for me. I wish I had done something about it at the time as it is haunting me now years later and I now feel guilty as it would seem I am speaking ill of the dead. Just wondered was I an isolated case.

    3. No you are not. Call me 07900 287283