TWO Ballyroan sisters have broken their silence after some 40 years and revealed the extent of the trauma they suffered at the hands of a former prison guard who indecently assaulted them as children.
Ms Lilly Murphy and Ms Nora Fitzgerald were present in Portlaoise Circuit Court last week, where victim impact statements were read out detailing the anger, shame and fear they still feel having been assaulted by Roderick McGrath, of Crubbin, Ballyroan.
65-year-old McGrath was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault against the women at a jury trial in May, in relation to offences which were committed between 1969 and 1977. Ms Murphy was eight years old when the first incident occurred, while Ms Fitzgerald was around 14 or 15.
In a statement read out by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, Ms Murphy said McGrath had robbed her of her innocence, leaving her feeling “soiled, angry, ashamed and embarrassed”. Ms Murphy said that she was afraid of people seeing “the real me, the dirty me” following the assaults. She said she has kept her “terrifying secret” for 42 years and has had to put on a brave face to hide it, but she has been left with serious trust issues.
“I’m still fearful today of a certain type of man,” she said.
Ms Murphy currently lives next door to McGrath and she said she is worried about her own children being so close to him. She described her own sex life as a disaster, due to the many flashbacks to the assaults she has experienced. She said that she often suffers with sleepless nights and when she does sleep she is subjected to nightmares.
“Many times I’ve gone to bed hoping never to wake up,” she said.
Ms Nora Fitzgerald also said McGrath had robbed her of her youth and innocence. In her statement, Ms Fitzgerald said she had been a normal, happy child who had looked up to McGrath, but since the assaults her guilt has been unbearable.
“I’ve had to endure it many more times and I’ve had to blank it out,” she said. “I was unable to share it with anyone, I couldn’t tell anyone, I felt ashamed so I kept it to myself.”
Ms Fitzgerald said that she could not trust anyone and has been left with a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. She said that she always feared that people would judge her for what happened and she has been left feeling violated and devastated.
“Having to go to court to relive the whole thing has been very traumatic,” she said.