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25 Jan 2022

Death of Offaly priest to be examined in new documentary

Death of Offaly priest to be examined in new documentary

Fr Niall Molloy was found badly beaten in the home of Richard and Teresa Flynn in 1985

A new documentary on the events surrounding the death of Fr Niall Molloy 36 years ago in Clara is due to be aired by RTE.

Fr Molloy was found badly beaten in the bedroom of Richard and Teresa Flynn at Kilcoursey House in Clara in 1985.

Originally from Roscommon he was the youngest of nine children. He was highly regarded in show jumping circles. He served as army chaplain at Custume Barracks in Athlone and was deployed to Cyprus in 1962. Having served 4 years as army chaplain he was appointed to Castlecoote in Roscommon.

He developed a friendship with Teresa Flynn through show jumping circles and became a regular visitor to Clara where he was often seen on his horse. They had a joint bank account.

On July 7, Fr Molly went to the after party of  the wedding of Flynn's eldest daughter Maureen to Ralph Parkes. He didn't officiate at the wedding as his first responsibility was to his parish of Castlecoote.

A marquee had been erected at the side of the house with politicians including Fianna Fail’s Brian Lenihan Snr invited. A number of  celebrities also attended as Teresa Flynn's sister was married to singer and entertainer Brendan Boyer.  Fr Molly arrived at Kilcoursey House at around 7pm and stayed for a number of hours before returning to Castlecoote to celebrate Mass. He went back to Kilcoursey on Sunday afternoon to attend a lunch hosted by the Flynn family.

Evidence shows that Fr Molly along with Teresa and Richard Flynn later travelled for drinks to Douglas Goodbody's house at Cork hill in Clara, leaving at 9.15pm. The younger members of the family stayed back to look after an older family member. On their return Teresa is said to have taken a sleeping tablet and retired to bed leaving Fr Molly and Richard Flynn chatting downstairs.

Richard Flynn then suggested that they continue talking upstairs in the bedroom. Teresa Flynn said she awoke to find Fr Niall Molly sitting at the end of the bed and Richard in bed beside her. Teresa asked Richard to go back down to get a drink but he refused suggesting she had enough to drink.

Richard Flynn said Teresa and Fr Niall then got up and attacked him and he defended himself and in doing so hit Teresa knocking her unconscious. Fr Niall was also hit but he got back up again.

Richard Flynn said he hit him again this time knocking him unconscious. When Richard Flynn realised they were both unconscious he went into the ensuite bathroom and splashed water on them both. Teresa is said to have recovered at that point but Fr Niall didn't.

Richard Flynn rang Fr Deignan who was the parish priest at the time to administer the last rites. However, there appears to have been a substantial gap before this happened.

Fr Deignan rang Dr Dan O'Sullivan who was a family friend and GP based in Kilbeggan but Dr O'Sullivan didn't answer the phone. So Fr Deignan and one of the Flynn daughters travelled to Kilbeggan to wake up Dr O'Sullivan. When he returned to the house he said Fr Niall was dead.

Teresa Flynn became hysterical and was given a sedative. Maureen, who had been married that day, tried to calm her down and took her to Tullamore hospital.

It was 3.30pm before Fr Deignan went to the gardai and woke up Garda Kevin Forde asking him if there was any way he could keep it quiet, to which he was told no. When Garda Forde came to the house he found Fr Niall lying close to the door and a long streak of blood between the bed and his body. Richard Flynn admitted he was responsible.

He was charged with the assault and manslaughter of Fr Molloy. The trial that followed lasted just four hours before Judge Frank Roe directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.

This came after the state pathologist Dr John Harbison revealed that Fr Molloy had a heart condition. The prosecution asked Mr Harbison if this could have been the cause of Fr Molloy's death to which he said it could have but it wasn't his opinion that it did.

However, the case was dropped including that of assault and Richard Flynn was allowed to walk free from court.

The investigation by the gardai led Fr Molloy's nephew Henry McCourt to lodge a complaint with GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission]. However, GSOC concluded that it was prohibited from investigating as the gardai involved had since retired.

The RTE two-part documentary will follow Fr Niall's nephews as they revisit the events that led to Fr Molloy being killed and re-examine some of the evidence. It will air as part of its Autumn schedule.

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