You may remember the controversy about Kathy O'Beirne and her 'memoirs'. It was referred to here several times, notably on 20 September 2006, a post which, thanks to the peculiarities of Google, has attracted nearly 90 comments.
In brief, Ms O'Beirne wrote an autobiography/memoir about her early life in Ireland. This book is known in the UK as Don't Ever Tell, and in Ireland, Australia, and the USA its title is Kathy's Story.
In this book, Kathy O'Beirne claimed, among many other things, that she was beaten by her father and sexually abused by two boys from the age of 5 before being sent away to an institution. At the age of 10 she was, allegedly, repeatedly raped by a priest and whipped by nuns. Later she was forced to take drugs in a mental institution.
Subsequent to the publication of Kathy's book, her family went on record to deny, fairly comprehensively, Kathy's account of these events. 'There is not a shred of evidence,' they said, 'to support such outlandish claims.'
The O'Beirne story has been subject to extensive discussion, not least in the Irish media, because the book paints such a dark picture of Irish society in general. Now an email from Florence Horsman-Hogan, forwarded by Rory O'Connor, alerts me to what happened when Kathy O'Beirne was interviewed live on the Irish TV show Ireland AM on Tuesday this week.
Ms O'Beirne found herself up against one Hermann Kelly, who claims that her book is a fraud and has written a book of his own to prove it. (An extract from Kelly's book appeared in the Daily Mail in October. Title: Kathy's Real Story; published by Prefect Press; wholesaled by Gardners.) You can read all about what happened next in the Irish Independent, but basically it was Jerry Springer with an Irish lilt to it.
My email information says that 'Mark Cagney asked Ms O'Beirne about her accusation of sexual abuse against a priest in her book - Fr Fergal O'Connor. Not only did Ms O'Beirne deny such an allegation, but for some strange reason went totally berserk and started hitting Mr Kelly on the head and body with a copy of the book, and newspapers.' The director went to an unscheduled commercial break.
Florence Horsman-Hogan, by the way, is a leading force in L.O.V.E. (Let Our Voices Emerge), an organisation which was set up in 2004 to 'promote a more positive image of religious orders in their orphanages and industrial schools.'
L.O.V.E. has campaigned against the O'Beirne book since its publication, warning that Ms O'Beirne was not a well woman, and arguing that Mainstream publishing, in taking on her story, and Michael Sheridan, the co-author, were taking advantage of a very vulnerable person.'
You don't have to read much about the O'Beirne saga, and about organisations such as L.O.V.E., to realise that these are brutally controversial areas of concern, and that the rows and disputes which they generate can inflict serious damage on the participants. You enter these waters at your peril. Here's just a taste. And another. And more. And on, and on, and on....