Tuesday, 8 March 2016



PADDY WALSH has just celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. It is one of those occasions when we may, if we wish, assess a man and his contribution to life.

My earliest memories of Paddy is of him being a teacher and the president of Saint Malachy's College in Belfast. In honesty I have to say that I have never heard a former pupil or teacher speaking kindly of him and his time in Saint Malachy's :-(

St Malachys

He seems to be remember for his aloofness and harshness there - which involved a penchant for discipline - physical and otherwise?

Strangely enough he was very nice to me when he was in St Malachy's. He invited me to give several retreats to the Sixth Form there and always entertained me to afternoon tea in his office. Others find it hard to believe he was that nice to me.

I can remember him as president taking walks with Bishop William Philbin on clergy conference days. Philbin seemed to like him?

Willy P
All the priests of the diocese at that time were convinced that Paddy Walsh wanted to succeed Philbin as bishop. On one occasion after a Mass at Drumalis Retreat House Paddy made a show of kneeling in front of Our Lady's statue in front of Philbin and the priests. The clerical character, Father George McLaverty sneaked up behind Paddy and said out loud:"Lord, please make me a bishop". Paddy was furious.

"Paddy, there's more to being a bishop than having Christmas lunch with Monsignor Bartley

Paddy Walsh became an auxiliary bishop to Cackle Daly in 1983. One time Daly was away and Walsh wrote to me in Kilkeel saying that he had received a complaint about me criticising the UDR for beating up Catholic teenagers. I replied giving him the details of the dispute and quoting Cardinal Heenan of Westminster who had said: "The only priest of my diocese I would worry about was the one no one complained about". Paddy wrote back to thank me and said that he would be praying for me :-)


I think Paddy was delighted to get D&C when Daly went to Armagh in 1990. My impression is that many if not most of the priests did not like him?

I remember talking to one priest who said that Paddy had been very unkind and uncaring to him around the time the priest's father had died.

Paddy had his favourites - people like James Donaghy who is presently in Maghaberry Prison for sexual abuse. Donaghy, in his turn, says that he has "something" on Walsh?

I know that Walsh made it very hard for me - for 10 years - to get justice for Donaghy's "Victim A" - a former seminarian. 

One time Wash sent Canon Raymund Fitzpatrick to me in Larne to see if the diocese and I could be reconciled. Raymund and I had 6 meetings and I produced a 15 page document for Walsh as to how it might all happen. Having received the document, which Raymund thought was wonderful, Walsh started to threaten to "suspend" me. I let him know what I thought of his threats by being consecrated a bishop illicitly. 

Paddy Walsh said Mass last Sunday in Twinbrook. After Mass a young man I know who likes the company of clergy went to see Paddy in the sacristy. Joking the young man said to Paddy: I was sorry to see you lose the DD (Doctor of Divinity) after your name when you retired and had it replaced by CD". Walsh said: "What does CD mean"? The young man cheekily replied: "Coffin Dodger". Paddy was not happy. In fairness even I thought it was a bit near the bone?

What is my opinion of Paddy Walsh? I think that poor Paddy:

1. Has a very unfortunate personality or lack thereof.

2. He seems to have a very strange and weird spirituality.

3. He seems to neither possess or display any kind of warmth or happiness.

4. I fear he may have (or have had) sadistic tendencies. 

5. He is an out and out "company man" who has had his reward and must now live in fear of judgement.

Quite simply, I would hate to be him or have had a life like him. 

My opinions may be wrong and unkind. I stand open to be corrected by those who see him in a different light.

Some D&C priests have told me that the current crisis in D&C started with Paddy?


  1. I often have wondered over the years as I have spoken to and observed Bishop Walsh, has he ever known love human/spiritual ?
    To live a life devoid of love would indeed be a tragedy. Perhaps he was tempted to exercise control & power, rather than risk love ? I hope for his sake I am wrong!

    1. If what you say is true that means he has never known the REAL GOD!

  2. Pat,
    If we accept that God is love, then what you say is true. Perhaps he saw God as a Policeman who had to be placated, rather than a loving merciful father, who desires only that we love him. (Bishop Patrick's father was a police officer )
    A dutiful Priest with no love in his heart, is not what God wants of any man.


  3. I think that Paddy and Raymund Fitzpatrick loved each other. I attended Raymund's funeral and extended my sympathy to Paddy.

    1. How did he react?

    2. A faint human look appeared on his face.

  4. Paddy Walsh was the leader of that select little group "The Garron Tower Mafia". They were a small group of clergy who taught there or were students there and who seemed to look out for each other. Other notable members are/were Monsignor Tom Bartley, Tony Farquhar,Donal McKeown, Raymund Fitzpatrick,the brothers O Hagan and their co-star Daveboy Delargy and of course the redoubtable Charlie Agnew!

    1. Yes Charlie - who later went on to dabble in genitourinary medicine in West Belfast.

  5. Did Charlie hold these clinics on Donaghy road north? Was a junior practitioner there a certain James Donaghy?

    1. Yes on both counts

  6. A few reminiscences sparked by the posters' response to Paddy's 60th.

    Tom Bartley (The Bart) was one of Paddy's closest friends - whether they "loved" each other, in the conventional or any other sense, I don't know.

    I always used to think that if you dressed "The Bart" up in a flowery apron, furry boots and a hair net - with his high squeal of a voice - he could have been anyone's wee granny.

    Charlie Agnew was Paddy Walsh's "spiritual director" and used to refer to Paddy (when he was auxiliary bishop) as "My Lord Ros Cré (Ros Cré was Paddy's titular see as aux bish before he got a "real" diocese).

    Aul Charlie, as well as examining the wedding tackles of husbands-to-be, out of his anxious desire for brides-to-be not to be disappointed on the nuptial night (his pastoral interest and zeal knew no bounds), is also fondly remembered, by Garron Tower boys, for his character-forming discipline.

    Having to take their trousers and pants down, so that Charlie could administer a well-deserved thrashing, never did any of them a bit of harm.

    In his more tender moments, Fr Charlie loved to have boys sit on his knee. After all, beating their bare bottoms used to hurt Charlie more than it hurt them.

    Having listened to many St Malachy's boys who were under President Walsh, I would definitely conclude that Paddy had sadistic tendencies. He gleefully enjoyed humiliating the boys. I am aware that some past pupils have confronted him with his past behaviour.

    Looking at Paddy now, a sad and friendless old man (coffin-dodger), you can only feel sorry for him. I do not think, for all his cloying "piety" that he ever really knew God. Probably, he didn't even have a genuine vocation to be a priest.

    It is often said that he sold his soul for a mitre. Other episcopal wannabes should take how Paddy has ended up as a cautionary tale.

    Paddy Walsh made his choices. He was conceited, arrogant and scheming. He was not beyond telling whopping great lies when it suited his purposes.

    My hope for him, after he dies, is that he will discover that God is kind and that, despite everything, Paddy will get to Heaven too. He will probably have an interesting assignment in Purgatory first though.


  7. Paddy was a regular visitor to the Irish College in Rome in my day. Aloof-sat at the top table and generally did not mix with the commonality to the best of my recollection

  8. I do not recognise the portrayal of Fr Walsh. I served as his altar boy on a few occasions before he became a bishop. But I never attended St Malachy's. So I have no experience of him as a teacher or headmaster. As a kid altar-boy he seemed to me to be a very nice priest, always appreciative of the service of the altar boys. He was never nasty, mean or intimidating. He never complained about any mistakes we made. He was encouraging and complimentary. I liked him. He was not a 'touchy feely' person. None of the priests I knew or served for were like that. As ministers of Christ they kept an appropriate distance. The flaws in some priests, identified in Bishop Pat's blog, arose when appropriate distance was not kept. I met Fr Walsh a couple of times as an adult through certain shared academic interests. He was unaware that I had been his altar boy, and I never reminded him. But I found him to be exactly the same as he was when I was a kid: intelligent, professional and very nice.

    1. Yes, I, too, found him kind, understanding and helpful. I was a seminarian in 'The Wing', and I never found any cause whatever to dislike the man.

      On one occasion, during a sermon in the seminarians' oratory, he made a surprising and honest admission: he wondered if his motivation for becoming a priest had simply been a desire to save his soul.

      Given the environment of fear and trepidation in which Catholics were raised,
      his admission shouldn't have surprised me at all.

    2. Well shock horror shock horror!! What a scandalous "admission" by Paddy??? I'm sure the seminarians left the oratory in stunned silence and walked around in a daze for the rest of the month!!!

      ARE YOU FOR REAL? Anonymous at 00:34, March 10 - what planet do you inhabit? Who are you trying to kid? Paddy Walsh was a bad aul' bastard. His nickname among diocesan priests was "the ice queen". A man utterly consumed with himself, his legacy is to be seen all around us.
      Former seminarian.

    3. "On one occasion, during a sermon in the seminarians' oratory, he (Paddy Walsh) made a surprising and honest admission: he wondered if his motivation for becoming a priest had simply been a desire to save his soul".

      Wow! I bet that was a real show stopper! How did they ever manage to keep that revelation from the front of the Irish News???

    4. Of course he became a priest to save his soul! What Paddy should be worrying about now is - "what shall it profit a man should he gain the whole world and lose his own soul".

      Did he become a priest to save his soul and then, to gain honour and prestige in the Church, go off and sell his soul? Will Paddy's attempt to "save his soul" be a success?

    5. Anonymous, 9th March at 19:30: your observations only go to show that every dictator has a "nice" side.

    6. So Paddy wondered if his motivation for becoming a priest had simply been a desire to save his soul?

      Always knew him for a selfish old sod.

    7. So, due to "the environment of fear and trepidation in which Catholics were raised", poor old Paddy became a priest so as to "save his soul"??

      That explains it all! What a sacrifice! What a man! What a tragedy!

      It would make you weep to think that Paddy Walsh - instead of marrying Debbie from Dunmisk and having 9 or 10 kids - which was what he really wanted to do - felt compelled instead to join the priesthood coz he was afeard of going to Hell. That explains why he's so sad and miserable all his life! Poor old Paddy.

      Ah well, Debbie and the Andytown gene pool's loss was the priesthood's gain, I suppose.

    8. I too became a priest in order to save my soul - just like Paddy.

      I, too, willingly sacrificed my burning desire, to sire a tribe of childer with comely wenches, so as to finally squeeze through them Pearly Gates.

      However, it has been furthered revealed to me, by a series of revelations, that if I really, really, really want to save my soul, then I really, really, really MUST become a bishop - just like Paddy.

    9. Anon. at 08:29, I take people as I find them, and I never found any cause to dislike Paddy Walsh.

      The fact that my memory of the man needles you so much makes me wonder about your behaviour towards him. What did you do to have him
      treat you so badly? To leave you with such a reeking memory of him? Did you offer to keep him warm one winter's night only to be spurned? He must
      have got up right up your nose, given the heat and bile of your post. Or perhaps you're just one of those obnoxious pricks (I remember the type
      from my time in the 'Wing') who gets right up everyone's nose, in which case chum, look closer to home to explain why you habitually don't get on with people.


    10. That's right, "Asshole" @ 14:37. I offered to keep him warm one night, out of the goodness of my little heart.

      It was during the Big Snow of 1996 I do recall. As you rightly guessed - Paddy spurned me and I have never gotten over it.

      He said he was happy enough with his leaky hot water bottle. I was crushed.

      I will now look closer to home as you have advised. Thanks Asshole.

      Obnoxious Prick.

  9. It strikes me forcefully, as a priest of Down and Connor, that the foundations of this diocese are filthy, rotten, corrupt and perverted.

    Pat Walsh and his cronies (most of whom are now dead) spent a lot of time tittering into their lace handkerchiefs. Walsh gave a lot of prominence to undesirables like James Donaghy.

    Walsh enjoyed his ride but now the party is over and the account books, on the Other Side, will soon be opened.

    This diocese needs a purifying fire from Heaven to move through it. An old Pentecostal hymn puts it thus: "Let the Fire from Heaven fall... from the Glory of Thy Presence, let the Pentecostal Fire descend".

    1. Well said that man !

    2. To Anonymous at 22:44