My mother felt the stain of Fr Penney’s crimes spread to herself, her faith, her parish

Irish Times

September 4, 2019

By Catherine O’Flynn

Fr Penney’s decades of abuse were already known by the Archdiocese of Birmingham when it moved him into the lives of more children

After settling in England, my dad, like many immigrants before and since, became a shopkeeper. In 1961 he took over a newsagent business in a part of inner city Birmingham called Nechells. The former owner sold him shelves of ancient, worthless stock and then disappeared fast before the tide of first slum clearances and then factory closures swept away most of the customers.

Those who remained were a mix of Brummies, West Indians and Irish. Alongside the English papers we sold the Clare Champion, the Roscommon Herald, The Irish Times, and the Echo. Upstairs in the living room we listened to scratchy 45s of the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers, and the Ludlows. Outside lay empty factories and wasteland.

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