News Irish News

Saturday 23 September 2017

Timeline of events

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
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

1934: Fr Michael Cleary is born

February 28, 1950: Phyllis Hamilton is born

August 1967: Phyllis and Fr Michael Cleary meet for the first time at a charity night in Marino in Dublin. They develop a friendship, fall in love, and the pair 'marry' in a wedding ceremony of sorts officiated by Fr Cleary. No witnesses are present.

March 20, 1970: Michael Ivor Cleary (now Doug Boyd Barrett) is born.

November 3, 1976: Ross Hamilton is born .

September 30, 1979: On his visit to Ireland, Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass at Ballybrit racecourse, Galway. Some 300,000 people attend the event, and Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary are the 'warm-up' men.

May 1984: Phyllis is allegedly raped by a trainee priest.

January 18, 1985: Felicia Hamilton is born at Broward General Hospital, Florida.

Summer 1985: Baby Felicia comes to Ireland with her foster mother. Phyllis meets her daughter again. Eventually she decides to let her friend adopt the baby.

1990: Phyllis and Ross visit Florida. A young Felicia, innocently asks if Phyllis is her mother.

May 7, 1992: The story breaks that Bishop Eamon Casey fathered a child with Annie Murphy. This turned out to be the first, but by no means the worst, sex scandal to rock the Irish Catholic Church. The bishop quits his post and flees the country.

December 31, 1993: Fr Cleary dies of throat cancer.

July 2, 1995: Phyllis Hamilton goes public and tells her story for the first time in The Sunday World

January 1999: Annie Murphy and Phyllis Hamilton appear on RTE's Later With Clare McKeon talk show where they're interviewed about their lives and relationships. This leads to another flurry of publicity.

February 5, 1999: A court rules that Fr Michael Cleary was Ross's father. The court ruling is made on the basis of DNA tests. DNA tissue that had been found in St Vincent's hospital belonging to Fr Cleary matched Ross's.

January 25, 2001: Phyllis dies of ovarian cancer.

2001: Bishop Eamon Casey returns to Ireland for the first time. He returns to the parish of Shanaglish on the Clare-Galway border. Over the next few years, Bishop Casey's health deteriorates.

May 2014: Ross Hamilton, now an actor, attends the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of a new film Running to Stand Still in which he takes the starring role. Ross now lives in Dublin.

In the past, he has described his religious beliefs as more Taoist than Catholic.

June 2014: In the Trinity Sunday parish newsletter, Fr Arthur O'Neill, the parish priest of St Brigid's in Cabinteely, Dublin, challenges named journalists, including Paul Williams, to prove that Fr Michael Cleary fathered children with Phyllis.

July 2014: Felicia contacts independent.ie ready to tell her own story.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News