Sunday, 30 October 2016



There has been some talk on this blog about cranky priests who makes the lives of others - fellow priests and lay people - a HELL.

I have come across my fair share of those in my 40 years as a priest.

When I first went to Wales in 1976 I was appointed curate to the PARISH PRIEST FROM HELL - a certain FATHER BERNARD DRISCOLL of Bridgend parish.

I was 24 at the time and just ordained. This is a summary of how he treated me:

1. He hated Irish people and told me at every meal time that I came from "DIRTY DUBLIN".

2. I had to be in my bedroom at 9 pm every evening.

3. I was not allowed any visitors (including family) to visit me.

4. He gave me £5 a week pocket money which even in 1974 was small.

5. He forbade me to visit parishioners in the maternity ward of our local hospital as he said: "IRISH MEN HAVE A THING ABOUT PREGNANT WOMEN".

6. He decided what and how much I could eat at meal times.

7. He constantly told me that: "IRISH MEN'S BRAINS ARE BETWEEN THEIR LEGS".

8. I was forbidden to enter the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea - the kitchen was the sole territory of the housekeeper MISS "HOPE" !!!!  For me it was NO HOPE.

9. He sat at all my Masses to to watch me and criticised all my sermons.

10. He had a massive radio positioned between himself and me on the dining table. I could see the back of the radio.

11. He spoke to me in Latin all the time. 

12. He bullied all the altar boys, Catholic school teachers, parents and parishioners.

13. He was locked in his room all day drinking whiskey.

14. The presbytery and church were in shambles as he would not spend anything on repairs. 


After a few months I complained to  Archbishop John A Murphy who told me that my PP was a saint and would make me one. 

When I persisted the archbishop sent me to a psychiatrist who said there was nothing wrong with me and that I needed to be removed from an abusive situation.

Murphy insisted that I stay there. 

I gave Murphy my notice, a few days to respond and having heard nothing packed my bags and went home to Dublin.

Murphy issued a document saying that i was a CANONICAL FUGITIVE !!! a FUGITIVUS :-)

After a few months at home he sent for me and appointed me to a new parish where I spent a year or so.

I was happy in that parish but after a year a scandal broke out in the parish involving another priests and a woman.

Murphy cleared out the parish and sent me to a CANON PATRICK CREED - a native of Tipperary, in Cardiff who was worse than DRISCOLL in Bridgend. 


This time I stayed a short time and parachuted out of Wales for good.

Many curates in Cardiff at the time were suffering the way I was. Some left the priesthood altogether. 

There has been centuries of abuse by parish priests of their curates and their parishioners. 


I suffered such abuse not only in Wals - but in Down and Connor under Fathers VINCENT MC KINLEY AND JOE MC GURNAGHAN during my 5 years in St Peter's Cathedral.


I still suffer nightmares about my time in St Peters - 1978 to 1983.

McKinley and Mc Gurnaghan tortured me mentally, emotionall. On one occasion McKinley punched and kicked me in the priest's dining room. 

They both stood, drunkenly, kicking my bedroom door, night after night swearing at me, signing sexually charged songs and using the most profane expressions and language.

While this was going on I was in my mid and late 20's and lay in bed in the dark distressed and crying.

In St Peters dining room the conversation at mealtimes was all about vaginas, cocks, spunk, the gussets of knickers, bras, bandy legged "ould dolls" etc - absolutely foul and immature. Many visiting priests left in shock. 

Driscoll, Creed, McKinley and Mc Gurnaghan have obviously left a negative scar on my psyche that seems to emerge only in nightmares !

To this day I wake up in a cold sweat thinking I'm back in St Peters.

They were unhappy and frustrated men. They should NEVER have been ordained. 

When I related my stories to the then bishop - Cahal Daly - he simply called me a liar.

There is far more abuse in the Catholic Church than child abuse. For a long, long time, priests have been abused by other priests. 

PS: I could not find a picture of Bernard Driscoll. 



  1. Pat we have spoken about this before, but in the not too distant past, in a school in Belfast, we had a priest as a teacher. No bear in mind these were recent enough times, he would bring a leather strap to class and smack it off the desk, saying he wished it was the good old days and he could use it on us. It one class, where a pupil had a very bad stammer, he screamed at a fellow pupil calling him a retard and asked why he was so retarded. On other occasions he would grab the black board that was on a stand and try to smash it. At concerts he would grab and throw music stands of the stage in bad temper, while giving out to students. He was the only priest who wore a full cassock every day to class and used this image of himself as a hard line priest to terrorize pupils. To this day his behavior still causes me nightmares. This was in the 2000's!!!

  2. Pat, i'm genuinely surprised none of these men has been canonised. I don't think you were unlucky in the dives of presbyteries you found yourself in, foul-mouthed and abusive have always been fine and the blame put on anyone who dared to complain.
    But those who criticise you on here or suggest your actions are driven by a chip on your shoulder should remember that you are still living under the shadow of (mainly psychological) abuse, and should realise the long term effect it has on its target.
    Now wait for someone to comment that you should have manned up, thus abusing you all over again.

  3. What can I say. I find this shocking and sadly believable. Looking back on my own situation I could say I was on the receiving end of psychological negativity. How much of this was intentional and how much was the result of frustration I cannot judge. I believe when priests take out anger on curates it is a result of unresolved issues in their own lives. This is not an excuse and I hope it would not be tolerated nowadays. I wonder if the perceived "do what ya like lads" mentality we see reported on here is the antithesis of those days. I can only say I am glad to be where I am now but I often wonder where I might be had I handled things differently. However we can only move forward. Where one finds oneself in the present moment is the only realistic starting point

  4. I agree. And I resolved that I would not allow these people to take my priesthood from me.

    I lived in 3 other presbyteries where I was not abused.

    But when Daly sent me to Larne I insisted on having a premises of my own and did not have to live with other priests.

    I do think that some of this abuse still goes on today in shared presbyteries.

    1. As an aside have you ever commented on the role of the "housekeeper" or lay parish official who "owns" the place while clerics may come and go

  5. While this is an interesting post, and I really do empathise with your sufferings Pat, I wonder how much you were responsible yourself for the activities of those priests towards you? I can't speak for the Welsh situation, but I can for the Down and Connor as both Fathers Vincent and Joseph were friends of mine. I believe them to have been good, if somewhat limited, men and priests product of their own homes and upbringing, who certainly tried to get on with you in the early months of your time at St Peter's Pro Cathedral. The problem may have been their jealousy of you, but you too didn't help yourself with your arrogant and supercilious attitude and above all your insatiable appetite for self promotion and publicity. Long after you had gone, these men too were having nightmares of your time with them. I know, because they shared that with me. Father Vincent would often say that "Pat Buckley was a nightmare". I wonder looking back can you accept any responsibility for how you mis treated these men. Sure you wanted to side with the parishioners, the poor and the downtrodden of Divis Flats, and that is admirable, but these men were your brothers too. Charity begins at home and you certainly weren't charitable to these priests. I would be interested in what you say. Please no self serving justification of how hard done by you were, try and accept responsibility for clearing the rubbish on your own side of the street. Retired PP Down and Connor.

    1. Fr, Thank you for your comment.

      It will take a thoughtful answer and I will blog about it tomorrow. Pat.

    2. 11:34 makes a point regarding your experience in D&C and it doesn't surprise me. Sadly today in the priesthood many of the senior clergy blame every I'll in the Church on younger priests. Here in Clogher we have several assholes as PP's. They refuse to communicate with their curates, they believe that their word is always right, they are jealous of the younger priest in the parish and do everything that they can to undermine him, they lick the bishop's arse at every opportunity and several have refused to retire at the mandatory age or move on to another place when they do retire.
      The Church is filled with horror stories of abusive priests. We in Clogher are awaiting a new bishop - let's hope the next man doesn't get taken in by the sweet talk of these senior clergy, who have done more to destroy the Church than any outside forces could ever do.

    3. MourneManMichael30 October 2016 at 13:31

      Yes, indeed very interesting comment by the retired PP. There were obvious personality clashes and differences of opinions. Pat's blog though does refer to very specific actions, like clerical colleagues drunkenly kicking his door, swearing and singing profane songs, and vulgar innapropriate sexual talk. It would be useful for those of us considering the issues if the retired PP could provide any specific and concrete examples of Pat's misbehaviour, innapropriate actions etc, either from his own observations or those related to him by his priest friends.
      It could be said that in the absence of such instances, the criticisms of Pat by the retired PP's priest friends might simply be personality clash driven differences of opinion.
      Never having met Pat, nor any of the others mentioned I cannot venture a knowledge based opinion. But from this blog, and Pat's books, I'd guess that as a young man he probably was quite opinionated, albeit with good intentions, and hadn't as yet developed the 'management skills' to deal with crusty old PPs, and their limitions. While that inevitably will have led to the friction from differences of opinions, nothing however justifies the hostile and vicious specific behaviours he has referred to.

    4. I think that Retired Priest doth protest too much,Pat, prob cut from the same cloth as the 2 who were not civil
      to you
      And I really dislike when anyone blames someone's upbringing....that in itself is a cop out

    5. MMM I appreciate your comments.

      But in truth I don't think that Jesus Christ himself would have had the "management skills" to deal with some of these folk.

      What management skills prevents you being beaten up?



      Maybe. But is the evidence not out there to tell us that the more you submit to bullies the more they will abuse you?

    6. MourneManMichael31 October 2016 at 01:44

      Very valid observations Pat.
      I made that comment on 'management skills' from an awareness of how, in my own 20's, young, fresh from Uni, and full of enthusiasm to improve things, I too, probably like you, felt frustrated by the reluctance (of older established professionals in my then hierarchical employment system) to even consider better more effective ways of working. So I too at that time, in making suggestions for changes, experienced "differences", but certainly not to the abusive level you have related.
      So in my comment I consciously put the words management skills in parenthesis to perhaps indicate the questionable value of such 'skills'.
      I certainly agree with your final comment that the more you submit to bullies the more they will abuse you. I experienced that too, and looking back, was fortunate in removing myself from that situation.

      A big reality though in the 'social' employment sector related to social outcomes, is the difficulty of objectively quantifying successful outcomes, especially on a long term basis. By contrast, in the commercial world, it can seem relatively easy to quantify 'success': does selling more products mean success; or balancing the books and making a profit all that counts?
      But in delivering interpersonal 'products', whether religious pastoral efficacy, or successful social care interventions, regrettably it seems that the currently predominant short term bean counter mentality focus is simply concerned with simplistic cause and effect equations capable of showing immediate 'profit'. It is particularly difficult to 'quantify' successful social outcomes, as regrettably those who have been most helped and supported are often less able to forcefully articulate and quantify the 'value'[ie the 'savings' to the public purse] they have received.

  6. So let me get this right. According to the above statement/rant you were in your mid 20s to late 20s while you were with McKinley and Mc Gurnaghan. this is after you time in Wales. So what age were you ordained? It would appear to be in you teens by the account you've written above. Might I suggest your honour that the recollections of Buckley are not accurate and should be thrown our as they are merely hearsay evidence.

    1. I was ordained in June 1976.

      I was in Wales from 76 to 78.

      I went to St Peters in July / August 1978.

      My recollections are perfectly accurate.

      I left St Peters in 1983 aged 31.

    2. You getting a hard time toda Pat
      A lot of frustrated PPs still around

    3. I have heard several curates in the UK say how bullying their pps are. The Church has no concept of human rights or dignity at work. Elsewhere they would be sacked.

    4. I expect those 2 years in Wales and the time at St. Peter's
      Must have been a nightmare for you Pat.

  7. Early 30's is not the same as late 20's. If you are going to take the character of the dead, you will have to be more accurate in you still hearsay evidence. If this were a court case your accusations would not be thrown out.

    1. 12:44 and 13:46 - stop acting the D**k!! You are probably some w***ker of a D&C PP who treats/treated his curate(s) like sh**!

    2. 16:55. Lovely language. I guess fact is of less interest than fiction. You are so childish with your use of **. There are many levels of violence once your argument is lost, the first is to use foul language, and when that fails you can move on from verbal violence to physical violence. You Northerners know all about that, you are sad sad people.

    3. 12:44, 13:46 and 20:40 - ah jaaaaysus, would ever feckin' lighten up LOL! Away and bully yer curate ya stupid auld bollox :)

    4. If you had listened to Pat's interview, you wd know that he has a problem with dates(years)
      It does happen especially where a person has suffered abuse, months can seem like years
      Time only flys when you enjoying yourself
      You know the song
      ''Time Flies''

  8. I too was tortured. In my case it was by Donal O'Neill in Maynooth. He abused me publicly to his friends and in front of other seminarians; he abused his authority over me as a dean by treating it as a master/slave relationship. For two solid years I was wrong in both action and in my existence. I was told I wasn't allowed friends outside of the seminary. When I got a good pastoral placement report he said the praise was for the collar and would never be for me. By the time he was done with me I had planned my own suicide, but I survived by developing defensiveness - that makes formation near impossible and that is my bit of negativity to interject into an already dysfunctional relationship. He is now married so I assume he had his own struggles - perhaps if Donal took his own advice and had no friends outside seminary/clergy than he wouldn't have met his wife?

    Afterwards the psychologist said it was clearly a non-constructive environment incapable of supporting young men in their discernment.

    At another point in my life I lived in a parish. In our presbytery at one point were two priests, a transitional deacon, a seminarian and a man discerning going to seminary. What an absolutely joyful existence we had. Our day was based around gatherings for praying the Office, but only after we had had an hour of exposition in the morning. We minded each other, talked things out, supported each other and gave each other space. We each had one day off and typically went away for the day to see family, friends, hillwalking etc. As a house we also had an occasional meal out, bottle of wine, game of bowling, trip to the cinema, etc. The door was always open and parishioners welcomed into the common areas of the presbytery, via the sacrasty. My experience covers both the very very bad and the very very good.


  9. A leopard doesn't Change its spots.
    Mrs o Neil Might have a few tales to tell too.

  10. Mrs Donald
    O neill

    1. I think that's a reference to Mrs Donal O'Neill. If he was an abusive, controlling formators than he will likely be an abusive, controlling husband. Time will tell.

    2. Thanks 18 .40....of course she may reeducate him..miracles do happen.
      Or to put it more crudely...put manners on him.

  11. Pat, Am I not the quare boy sitting up here this dark night with a big glass of bush just thinking about a story told to me many years ago by a friend. He was once a curate in a Belfast parish. One Saturday night he was coming back into the presbytery with a bottle of vodka he had just bought. He met his boss who was well known in the diocese as a cantankerous oul bugger. He was a pioneer. He give off blue hell to my friend about the evils of drink and how he would prefer my friend didn't bring any liquor into the house. He was quite colourful in his condemnation of both alcohol and my clerical friend. This was not the first time this type of encounter had taken place.
    My friend had had enough and rounded on his PP. He told him that as his own father( the PP's that is) had owned a couple of pubs in Belfast that it was the proceeds of the sale of drink that through his young years had put food on his table, clothes on his back and paid for his education in St Malachys and then Maynooth. For good measure the curate also informed him that his oul boy had taken the last penny off many a drunk man knowing full well that those men had a wife and children at home who would have to do without because of their drinking to excess in his da's pubs.
    The PP skulked off and never raised the subject again.
    Dalriada Dick

  12. Your story is true Dick but you didn't tell it all. My brother was also a curate in the parish at the time and often told that same story. But there was more to it.
    The administrator ( he was not PP) had a habit of going up into the gallery to look down on the congregation to see if one lady in particular was in attendance at the service. If she was the Adm would strategically position himself outside the door she was most likely to exit from and engage her in conversation. While It was suggested that the encounters were nothing more than mild flirtations on the Adm's part Dick's friend raised it with his boss more than once. This led to a bit of friction between the two culminating in the showdown about the drink carry out.
    What Dick didn't tell us, perhaps he doesn't know, was that sometime later the same lady and the good old tea total clergyman were seen coming out of a bed and breakfast in Bray.
    Im sure it was a totally innocent coincidence they just happened to be there on the same night.

  13. I remember been on a summer placement in an English diocese as a seminarian and the PP and Curate having a huge screaming match one night. I was really embarrased and left the room. They both came individually the next day to me to apologize.

  14. Christ, Bishop Pat! You're a f****n', living saint!! God pardon me the times I've been less than charitable towards you.

  15. Agree M C...except for the bishop bit
    I think we should live without them