Russell Shorto

The Irish Affliction

The New York Times Magazine

by Russell Shorto

February 09, 2011

Andrew Madden is one of a relatively new breed of Irish celebrities who would just as soon be less well known. He was among the first people in Ireland to go public about being sexually abused by Catholic clergy — one of those who set off the intense bout of soul-searching that has racked the country lately. When I met Madden last fall in Dublin, the early rumbles of the collapse of Ireland’s economy were shaking the country, and throughout much of a pub lunch he talked about the failures of the government and the banks. It was only later, once we were driving around his old neighborhood, past the pebbledash house where he grew up and where his parents still live, that he began to talk about his childhood. As we sat in his car in front of Christ the King Church, where he spent much of his youth as an altar boy and a choir member, he outlined the four years of torment he suffered in the late 1970s at the hands of the Rev. Ivan Payne, one of the infamous serial sex offenders among the Irish Catholic clergy whose stories have transfixed the country over the past year and a half.