July 2022

Notorious ‘singing priest’ Tony Walsh sentenced to another four years in prison

Notorious paedophile and former “singing priest” Tony Walsh has been sentenced to another four years in prison for indecent assaults of three schoolboys in the 1980s.

Judge Martin Nolan described the crimes of Tony Walsh, who was defrocked in 1992 and formally dismissed from the priesthood in 1996, as evil.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Thursday that Walsh (72) was a curate in Ballyfermot, Dublin, and a chaplain to De La Salle school in Ballyfermot from 1978 to 1986 when he abused the boys.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Walsh has spent about 20 years in prison since 1995 when he was first convicted of indecent assault and that the three victims in the charges before the court were “in a long line of victims”.

“He has done many terrible things over the years. He abused the innocence of these young boys for his own purpose. He was grossly and morally reprehensible.

“He has caused a huge amount of harm emotionally and psychologically. What he has done is evil,” Judge Nolan said

Last January Walsh, who is currently serving a sentence in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, pleaded guilty to indecent assault of a child at a lane in Ballyfermot and indecent assault at De La Salle school on unknown dates between January 1983 and June 1986.

This victim told gardaí that he was aged around eight years old when Walsh would come to the school, “we all loved him, he wasn’t a teacher, he was nice to us kids”.

The victim said on he had been put out of the class when he met Walsh in the school corridor. Walsh followed the boy into a toilet cubicle and orally penetrated the boy before sending him back to the class “dazed and afraid”.

On another occasion he anally penetrated this boy in a laneway, telling him afterwards that if he told anyone about what happened the child would get into trouble.

Walsh also pleaded guilty last month to indecent assault of a 10-year-old boy in 1982. The boy’s great grandmother had recently died when Walsh brought him to the parochial house and indecently assaulted him.

Finally he pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault at De La Salle school in Ballyfermot on unknown dates between September 1980 and June 1984. The victim was aged seven to 10 when Walsh repeatedly molested him and indecently assaulted him.

This victim told gardaí that Walsh would come to the school and perform Elvis impersonations and sing songs. He would also hear confessions from boys in a spare classroom and it was during these hearings that he molested and anally penetrated this boy.

Reading from his own victim impact report, this victim, who is now aged 49, told the court that his life changed drastically as a result of the sexual abuse by Walsh at the school. He said Walsh would visit the school and call boys out of class for confession in a spare classroom.

“One by one we would go in to give confessions. This is where the sexual abuse and rape started. I don’t remember what I did to invite this man to think it was ok to strip me of innocence and childhood.

“What I do remember is the shock, pain and confusion. What has never let me is the shame.

“The shame of being violated, degraded, humiliated, dehumanised, of not having the understanding or strength to make it stop.

“The shame of feeling and believing what happened was my fault. To this day I still carry this shame. This sexual abuse and rape continued for the next four years; four years of darkness and pain,” he said. He said that during his time in the school “my emotional and physical wellbeing suffered”.

“I was exposed to an adult world I didn’t want any part of, a world that brought me nothing but pain,” he said.

He told the court that the abuse meant he only achieved a fraction of his academic potential and it affected his progress throughout his life. He continues to suffer nightmares and flashbacks and he said his wife and children have also suffered because of the effects on him of the abuse.

Since 1995, Walsh has been convicted of 28 counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and five of buggery. In 2010 he received a nine-year prison sentence for the indecent assault and buggery of a number of children.

During his interview on some of these offences Walsh told gardaí he had certain medical complaints which would make it difficult for him or impossible to perform the alleged acts. He later told them that he was attracted to young boys aged between 10 and 12 and “that was always the case”.

Imposing a four-year prison term, Judge Nolan said Walsh was a man who took advantage of the trust placed in him and that these offences were part of serious cumulative behaviour.

“But for the intervention of the defendant these boys’, now men, lives would have been completely different. He has caused them much harm,” he said.

July 2016

Paedophile ‘singing priest’ raped boy with crucifix but faces just two years behind bars

A paedophile priest faces two years in prison for raping a boy with a crucifix, a court has heard.

The 62-year-old predator Tony Walsh committed the offence and two other attacks on the same victim.

However because the offences were committed before the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act came into effect in 1990, the maximum penalty the judge can impose on each offence is two years.

He was charged with indecent assault as that was the crime which existed at the time

Walsh forced the child to have sex in the parochial house and in the Phoenix Park.

During a three-day trial the shamed cleric, formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, told the jury last month he never knew the boy and never assaulted him.

He had denied five counts of indecently assaulting the boy between January 1980 and December 1982 when the boy was aged between 10 and 13.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court returned verdicts of guilty on all counts.

In court yesterday Garda Tara Corrigan told prosecutor Fiona McGowan that Walsh has 17 previous convictions, from 1995 to 2015, for sexually assaulting boys and one girl.

He is serving time and is not due for release until 2021.

Before Judge Elma Sheahan adjourned the case defence counsel Ciaran O’Loughlin said as the victim had made a statement to gardai in April 2011, it could have been dealt with at the same time as Walsh’s most recent case last year.

He suggested to Judge Sheahan there was likelihood the judge would have imposed a concurrent term.

During the trial Walsh, who had performed as an Elvis impersonator, told the jury his child sex abuse started in 1980 and continued to 1986.

He said a number of the children told their families what was happening and he was called in by the Archbishop in 1986.

Walsh added he was sent for six months treatment in the UK and on his return home he was made a hospital chaplain.

He said he first came to garda attention in 1995. In 1997 he admitted to offences involving five boys in the period 1980 to 1986. Asked why he admitted it, Walsh replied “Because I was guilty”.

He was sent to prison for 10 years, reduced to six on appeal. He was released in 2002.

In 2010 the pervert pleaded guilty in two further cases and not guilty in one case but was convicted.

In 2013 he pleaded guilty to two more cases.

June 2013

‘Singing priest’ sentenced for abusing boys

A former priest who is serving a 16 year sentence for the rape and abuse of school boys has had 15 months added to this sentence for abusing two other boys in the 70s and 80s.

Tony Walsh, who was known as the “Singing Priest”, is due to have the entirety of his sentence reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeal next month.

Walsh (59) formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecent assault on January 01 and April 4, 1979. The victims were aged between ten and 11.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Walsh had worked his way into the confidence of the families of the two victims with “cold blooded intent”. He said the sexual assaults were aggressive and incredibly frightening for the children involved.

He said that the abuse has had serious and long term effects on the victims.

Remy Farrell SC, defending, said that Walsh had already received a substantial sentence of 16 years for other offences and that it would be unduly punitive to add to this sentence.

Judge Nolan disagreed and said he would “unusually” impose a sentence consecutive to the existing prison term in order to recognise the seriousness of the offences and the harm Walsh had done. He said that the latest sentence should go before the Court of Criminal Appeal next month when Walsh’s current sentence is appealed.

Garda John Barrett told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that the first victim was aged 11 when Walsh caught him eating sweets outside the church before taking Holy Communion.

The boy told the priest he was having a “mixed grill” and this comment angered Walsh. Walsh took the boy into the priest’s house and sat him on his lap.

He told him that his parents would be angry at him for not going to mass. He then pulled the boy’s trousers and pants down and masturbated the boy.

The victim said he got a fright because he had never ejaculated before. Walsh then put his penis between the boy’s thighs. He told the boy he wouldn’t hurt him and began pulling the victim into him until he ejaculated.

The victim told gardai later that he didn’t understand what was happening and that afterwards he pulled away in total terror and started crying.

Walsh told him that his parents would not believe him if he told them. The abuse only came to light in 2008 during bereavement counselling after the victim’s father had died.

The second victim was aged around ten or 11 when Walsh abused him on Good Friday 1979. The boy knew Walsh was involved in the “All Priest’s Show” and was excited to be offered a chance to travel in the priest’s white BMW one afternoon.

He said he felt special to have been picked for the treat and thought they were going to visit some other friends. Instead Walsh took the boy to the Parochial House.

He put the boy on his lap and the boy said he could feel the priest’s penis and genitals. He said he was in total fear of what was going to happen to him. The priest was rubbing his penis against the boy and was touching his genitals.

The priest had a hold of the boy’s buttocks. The boy was struggling to get away but Walsh kept pulling him back. The victim said he felt confused and didn’t know what to do.

After the assault Walsh took the boy to a nearby hotel and bought him a drink and a fry-up.

The victim didn’t tell his mother about the abuse until he was 14. He did however tell her about the hotel visit and she was shocked that the priest had bought a fry on Good Friday.

Mr Farrell said his client was in his mid 20s when he carried out these offences. He said he apologised to his victims and had entered an early plea of guilty in both cases.


December 2010

Paedophile ex-priest sentenced to 16 years

A former Dublin priest who was previously jailed for sexually abusing six boys has been sentenced to 16 years for abusing a further three victims.

Tony Walsh (aged 56) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin church between November 1978 and April 1979. He pleaded guilty to a further charge of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin school between January 1984 and December 1985.

He was convicted by a jury last month of a further nine counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery on the third boy between June 1, 1979 and June 30, 1983. He had denied all the charges.

Judge Frank O’Donnell called Walsh a “serial offender” who had inflicted a “life sentence” on one of his victims.

“It is difficult to imagine more reprehensible circumstances than a priest in confession setting about the sexual abuse of a young boy”, the judge said. “This is a gross breach of trust, and that’s putting it mildly.”

He sentenced Walsh to terms ranging from four to 16 years, all to run concurrently. He suspended the final four years of the 16-year term because of a report stating he was unlikely to re-offend.

Walsh was previously put on the sex offenders register and will undergo two years probation supervision on his release.

Walsh told the judge, “thank you” before being led away by prison officers.

Walsh of Bunratty Road, Coolock tied up one boy with the ropes from his vestments before raping him.

When the boy started to cry he turned up the music to drown him out. Afterwards, he told the victim he would “burn in hell for all eternity” if he told anyone what had happened.

One victim, now an adult, told the court that as a result of the abuse he became mentally ill and made his first suicide attempt at 16. While the abuse was on-going he confided to his uncle what Walsh was doing to him. His uncle then raped him.

On hearing his evidence, Judge Frank O’Donnell commended the man; “I’ve listened to you being cross-examined, you’re an absolute stalwart.”

The court heard that when one boy told his parents about the abuse they viciously beat him and asked: “How can you say that about a man of God, a man of the cloth?” They then sent him back down to Walsh who again molested him.

Walsh committed the majority of the abuse of one victim while he was at confession. Walsh would sit him on his knee and molest him before finishing the confession. On one occasion he abused the boy before taking him to see an All Priests Show where Walsh performed as an Elvis impersonator.

The court heard the now defrocked priest expressed remorse and accepted the gravity of some of his offences but still denied the most serious instances of abuse.

In 1996 he was convicted after trial of 19 counts of abusing six victims and sentenced to 10 years in prison. This was later reduced to six years on appeal.

Walsh’s defence counsel, Mr David Keane SC, said his client had been out of work since his release from prison and living alone. He submitted Walsh had not come to garda attention since and now had no connection with the church.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin later issued an apology this evening to the victims of Tony Walsh for what they endured, and for the way in which the diocese failed them.

Archbishop Martin said his thoughts are with the victims and their families this evening and he hopes the finality of the legal process will help bring them some sense of justice, healing, closure and hope for the future.

He says the Archdiocese of Dublin failed these children by being too slow in recognising that Tony Walsh was a predatory paedophile and that the diocese is committed to doing everything possible to ensure no one like him is ever allowed to minister in Dublin again.