Former priest guilty of indecently assaulting boy in 1980s

Tadhg O’Dalaigh remanded on bail for sentence as complainant prepares statement

Fr Tadhg O’Dalaigh has been convicted of indecently assaulting a boy while teaching in a boarding school in Cork in the 1980s.

Fr Tadhg O’Dalaigh has been convicted of indecently assaulting a boy while teaching in a boarding school in Cork in the 1980s.


A 74-year-old former priest has been convicted of indecently assaulting a young boy while teaching in a boarding school in Cork in the 1980s.

Tadhg O’Dalaigh, a former member of the Sacred Heart Missionaries, had denied the single charge of indecently assaulting the boy at the Sacred Heart College in Carriganavar in Co Cork on a date between September 1st, 1980 and January 28th, 1981.

But the jury of nine men and three women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court took just one hour and 50 minutes to find O’Dalaigh, with an address at Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin unanimously guilty of the charge.

The complainant, now a man in his 40s, had told the court how he was boarding in the school and was staying in the New Building, which catered for first years, second years and third years when he took ill and ended up in the school’s sick bay around Christmas time in 1980.

He was in bed in the sick bay when O’Dalaigh came to check on him and he first of all checked his temperature but putting his hand on his forehead and then his chest before continuing under the bedclothes where he touched his genitals.

“He put his hand down and touched my testicles and penis. He did that. I just lay there. I didn’t know what to do. It was probably a minute, a minute and a half. That is a long time when he is at me and then he just stopped and left. I was left lying there - that was basically what happened.

The man said that he never told anyone at the time as he didn’t know how to process what had happened and the first time that he told anyone about it was in 2011 when he told the One in Four support group. He later told a garda after reading reports about a case involving O’Dalaigh in 2014.

Cross-examined by O’Dalaigh’s counsel, Shane Costelloe SC, the complainant said he became angry when he read a court report involving another complainant where O’Dalaigh denied abusing a boy in the sick bay so he went and made a statement to gardaí outlining the assault.

“I went because it was being denied (by the defendant) in the paper. It made me angry… I read something where he denied something. That spurred me. It made me angry,” said the complainant before confirming he made the complaint three days after reading about the other court case.

Mr Costelloe said O’Dalaigh had pleaded guilty to abusing one boy in the sick bay, contested a similar complaint in 2014 and was convicted by a jury only to have this second conviction quashed on appeal but the guilty plea clearly showed he was willing to admit abuse.

He questioned why in such circumstances where he was willing to admit one case of abuse that he should so vehemently deny abusing the complaint unless it never happened but the complainant said he was absolutely certain it happened and as he had described it.

Following O’Dalaigh’s conviction on the second day of the trial, Judge Brian O’Callaghan adjourned sentencing until May 11th allow for the preparation of a Victim Impact Statement and he remanded O’Dalaigh on bail to appear again in court on that date.