HOLLYWOOD star Gabriel Byrne has revealed how he was "deeply hurt" by sexual abuse inflicted on him as a child by the Christian Brothers.
The film star opened up about the abuse in the first show of Gay Byrne's 'Meaning of Life' series on RTE television last night.
The actor talked frankly about his battles with alcoholism and depression in the past and expressed shock at the drinking culture among Ireland's young people.
Byrne was an altar boy during his childhood in Dublin and went at the age of 11 to train as a priest in England.
"Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him," he said.
"It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me."
Another priest sexually abused him when he was 11 at the English seminary.
"It didn't go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment," Byrne recalled.
"Again I didn't think it severely impacted me at the time but when I think about my later life and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that."
Byrne said he left the priesthood four and half years later because of his love of women.
"I went down to London during a break and we got on the bus and I walked up the stairs behind two girls in mini-skirts and that was the end of it for me," he said.
The actor, who has been open previously about his experiences with alcoholism and depression, said he had gone through very black periods in his life
He believes alcohol is linked to depression and is shocked at the amount of alcohol consumed by young people here.
"I think we've a huge problem in this country with alcohol and depression, they are often intertwined," Byrne said.
"I walked down Grafton Street a couple of months ago on a Saturday and it was scary beyond description."
The actor said it was "really sad to see young people vomiting in doorways".
"There is this plague of binge drinking where the idea is to get as out of it as you possibly can as quick as you can. That's alcoholism. Part of the disease is to remove yourself from reality as quickly as possible."