Wexford house where children abused by priest now a creche

Victim of Fr Seán Fortune feels it should be demolished

Fr Seán Fortune leaving the Circuit Court in Wexford in 1999. He faced 29 charges of sex abuse against young boys, perpetrated in the parochial house in Poulfour, Co Wexford. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fr Seán Fortune leaving the Circuit Court in Wexford in 1999. He faced 29 charges of sex abuse against young boys, perpetrated in the parochial house in Poulfour, Co Wexford. Photograph: Eric Luke

 


A man who was abused as a child in Ferns diocese by the late Fr Seán Fortune has expressed his shock at discovering that the parochial house in Poulfour where children were abused by the priest is in use as a creche.

The man, who does not wish to be named, said he had visited the house on July 23rd last with photographer Kim Haughton, who is working on a project involving such places of abuse, and it was only then he discovered there was a creche on the premises.

It was, he said “a house of horrors”. At the scene that day, he “lost it. I really did. The priest who took over from Fortune in that parish refused to live there and they built a new one for him.”

He added: “Fortune is still there, if you know what I mean. He’s still hanging over the place like that house in the Psycho film, the house on the hill. You can see, you can smell him there. They should’ve knocked it. It’s so wrong. It’s not right.”

Fr Fortune took his own life in March 1999.

Colm O’Gorman, who was abused himself by Fr Fortune in the house in Poulfour and who took part in a documentary during which he revisited it, said he could understand how people could see it as a house of horrors. For his own part, however, he was “quite delighted” to see it being put to other uses.

When he was there for the documentary he saw that the bedroom in which he had been abused was then a meeting place for women who were making a tapestry. “I loved the idea. I don’t think we can allow buildings to become monuments to a dark history,” he said.

He understood such buildings “can be a reminder” of what took place in them but he felt there were “other ways of dealing with that. Knocking a building down is not going to change the past.”

Ferns diocesan communications officer Fr John Carroll said the house in Poulfour was “a multipurpose facility” that was used for many purposes. Though owned by the diocese, it was made available by the parish.

However, its uses were “open to discussion, if someone wants to discuss it”.

He asked, however, “if it is knocked, where do the children go?”