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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Abbey for sale, with pervert priest's grave included

JEROME REILLY

Published 06/04/2008 | 00:00

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Kilnacrott Abbey and 44 acres of land, including the grave of the notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth, is for sale.

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The property just outside Ballyjamesduff could fetch in excess of €3m for the Norbertine Order, who will build a new residence in the area.

In a statement, the order they say that after much consideration they had decided to dispose of Holy Trinity Abbey and surrounding lands of 43 acres.

The order failed to say if any of the money raised would go to the dozens of victims of the deviant priest, who fled to Kilnacrott when he was on the run from the RUC for paedophile crimes committed in the North.

"We will of course continue to offer support and maintain contact with those people who were so wrongly abused by one of our priests," the Norbertines said.

The order said that they had to plan for the future, as an ageing community, "and deal with all of the challenges this presents in the years ahead".

"We want to assure people of this local area, who have been so incredibly supportive to us in the challenging times that we will be staying in the area -- and will hopefully continue to provide services well into the future," said the spokesperson.

Auctioneer Padraig Smith, who will handle the sale, described the property as "a purpose-built abbey comprising three-storey over basement, constructed in concrete with single-storey administrative wing".

There is also single-storey guest bungalow and three lock up garages and five open car ports.

Two years ago it was revealed that some people regularly visit to pray and lay flowers at the grave of Brendan Smyth.

The word 'Rev' was removed from his headstone after somebody made a direct plea to the order.

The dates of his birth and death and the date of his ordination remain on the headstone.

The priest was buried in the Norbertine plot amid some secrecy and the grave lay unmarked for some time before a headstone was erected.

He died of a massive heart attack just a month into a three-year sentence for sex crimes against children.

He had pleaded guilty to 74 charges of indecent and sexual assault committed over 35 years.

The Norbertines had banned Smyth from celebrating Mass or administering the sacraments, but reserved a burial plot for him at the abbey.

Before imprisonment in the Curragh, Smyth had served a four-year sentence in the North.

The Brendan Smyth affair affair brought down a government.

The seven-month delay in extraditing him to Northern Ireland ended the Albert Reynolds-led coalition in November 1994.

Sinn Fein councillor Pauline McCauley has made a call for the abbey to be kept for public use.

It could provide an excellent facility for use by the voluntary, community or public sector, she said.

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