Wednesday 20 September 2017

Diocese to help woman in Cleary claims

Felicia Irwin, an American-born woman who was adopted almost 30 years ago believes that she is the biological daughter of singing priest Father Michael Cleary. Inset: Ross and Phyllis Hamilton with Fr Cleary
Felicia Irwin, an American-born woman who was adopted almost 30 years ago believes that she is the biological daughter of singing priest Father Michael Cleary. Inset: Ross and Phyllis Hamilton with Fr Cleary

Geraldine Gittens

A KEY Catholic Archdiocese has pledged to provide assistance to an American woman who claims to be Fr Michael Cleary's third child.

Felicia Irwin (29) revealed in the Irish Independent at the weekend that she is attempting to find out if she is his biological child.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Dublin yesterday said: "If the Diocese can be of help it will assist where it can."

However she said: "The Diocese hasn't received any information on this so far, other than what has been reported [in the media]."

The Diocesan statement follows a call made by well-known priest Fr Brian D'Arcy, who was a friend of Fr Cleary, urging the Catholic Church to provide "all necessary support" to the American woman.

Ms Irwin is currently making plans to travel from Florida to Ireland to prove she is not a "child of rape".

She is hoping to meet with family and friends of the late Fr Cleary for the first time.

Ms Irwin plans to undergo a DNA test and will be requesting help from anyone who had close ties with Fr Cleary, or who may be aware of whether DNA samples belonging to the late priest still exist.

Ms Irwin was given up for adoption two years after Phyllis Hamilton gave birth to her in Florida almost 30 years ago in January 1985.

Ms Hamilton, who died in 2001, claimed in her 1995 biography that she fell pregnant with her daughter after being raped by a trainee priest. But she later said in a media interview that she couldn't be sure who Felicia's father was. Ms Irwin, a mother-of-three, says she believes that Fr Cleary is her father and is hopeful tests can be carried out

Fr Cleary and Ms Hamilton's first son was given up for adoption, and their second son, Ross Hamilton, lived in the house with his mother and the priest.

Irish Independent

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