Sunday 26 May 2019

Brendan Gleeson reveals abuse by Christian Brother

Holy: Brendan Gleeson in John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary
Holy: Brendan Gleeson in John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary
Calvary star Brendan Gleeson (left) with the film’s director, John Michael McDonagh

Hollywood star Brendan Gleeson has revealed he was molested as a child by a Christian Brother in primary school.

The actor told a US radio talk show that a cleric "dropped the hand" on him once when he was a youngster, but maintained he was in no way traumatised by the incident and never told his parents.

Gleeson, who is in America promoting release of Calvary with writer and director John Michael McDonagh, described the sex attack as “just one of those things where something odd happened”.

“Yeah, it’s odd,” Dublin-born Gleeson told the National Public Radio’s Bob Edward’s Weekend show when asked if they knew anyone who had been abused.

“I remember a particular Christian Brother dropped the hand on me at one point. It wasn’t very traumatic and it wasn’t at all sustained, it was just one of these things where something odd happened.”

“I remember that was in primary school and, I frankly, I was not traumatised by it at all.

 “It was just a bit weird and obviously the vibe was he never came at me again.

“The same guy was in secondary school and I remember a couple of us starting trading stories and really that he was a bit off wasn’t he.

“But nobody ever thought to tell anybody, nobody ever thought to tell even my parents, who would have been enraged and would not have taken it lightly. I never even thought about telling them.”

In Calvary Gleeson - who was once a teacher in a Catholic school - plays a priest in a rural parish and is under a death sentence from a man abused as a child by a priest.

Following on from its €1.6 million Irish box office haul early this year, the critically acclaimed film from John Michael McDonagh was released in the US earlier this month. It is playing in a small number of art house venues and has already taken up to €260,000 at the box office.

“I think one of the great triumphs of this film is that we feel and we understand that abuse is a lifelong sentence, this is not something that you just toss aside,” Gleeson added, despite his own experience which he described as minimal.

“Abuse is a horror, it’s a lifelong sentence. It cannot just be forgotten.”

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