DUBLIN (Reuters) – Harrowing tales of physical and sexual abuse at the heart of a best-selling memoir about growing up inside Ireland’s Roman Catholic institutions are simply not true, the author’s family said on Tuesday.
The brothers and sisters of Kathy O’Beirne, 50, whose autobiography "Kathy’s Story" has sold 350,000 copies in Ireland and Britain, say the book should be withdrawn or at the very least reclassified as fiction.
"Absolutely all or nearly all of this book is false — I don’t understand why she’s saying this," her older brother Oliver O’Beirne, 52, told Reuters following a news conference.
He said he and his other seven brothers and sisters had been forced to challenge Kathy’s account, set in the 1960s and 1970s, to clear his father’s and the family’s name of her abuse claims.
In the book, published as "Don’t Ever Tell" in Britain, O’Beirne writes about being beaten by her father and later about the torture and rape she suffered during 14 years in one of Ireland’s Magdalen laundries — church-run institutions for ‘wayward’ girls and women that became synonymous with brutality.
Her brother Oliver said she had been at a church school for girls in Dublin for about six weeks and later spent some time in a psychiatric home. He had never heard the Magdalen laundries mentioned in the house while growing up.
Claims that he and his siblings were abused by his father were "fiction, not a word of truth", he said.
"We are just ordinary working people and we’ve been put in a situation we didn’t want any part of and it has to come to an end. Today is about cutting the cord," he said.
Questions about the events portrayed in "Kathy’s Story" — subtitled "A childhood Hell Inside the Magdalen Laundries" — surfaced in Ireland earlier this year.
Last month an order of nuns threatened to sue state broadcaster RTE after it ran an interview with O’Beirne in which she identified an institution at which she says she was abused.