Legal issues with Kathleen O'Beirne cause Mainstream and Hodder Press to drop her.
From The Sunday Times
October 26, 2008
Sequel to Kathy’s Story sparks new furore
Calls for new tale of cruelty to be banned
IT’S Kathy’s Story, part two. But should it be filed under fact or fiction? Kathy O’Beirne, whose bestselling account of her abuse in a Magdalene laundry was described by her family as “a figment of her imagination”, is writing a sequel.
O’Beirne and a co-writer are working on Always Dancing, a follow-up to Kathy’s Story, which sold almost 400,000 copies worldwide. Although her first book (entitled Don’t Ever Tell in the UK) was dismissed as “fiction” by her family, the sequel will continue its theme of struggle and suffering. The blurb says it will chart Kathy’s anorexia, suicide attempts and the story of “hundreds of children she rescued and fostered”.
Promotional material adds that it will recount “Kathy’s ‘care’ by the nuns, cruelty by her father, lonely years in foster homes and a terrifying ordeal in a psychiatric hospital in which she was used as a human guinea pig in ECT experiments”.
The book, to be published by Hodder Headline, is set for publication next year. Breda Purdue, spokesman for Hachette Books Ireland, Hodder’s Irish associate, said it would be thoroughly vetted. “We are coming to this project with a fresh perspective. Hodder has a reputation for being very careful and meticulous in checking facts.”
Mainstream, publisher of O’Beirne’s first book, said last week that it had been outbid for the sequel. The ghostwriter of her first book, Michael Sheridan, has been replaced by Diane Taylor, a British journalist and author. Sheridan admitted in 2006 that there is no documentary evidence for O’Beirne’s claims but that he believes her account.
Hodder says the book’s publication has been delayed due to O’Beirne’s recent ill-health.
Eamonn O’Beirne, Kathy’s brother, said he had “huge reservations” about the sequel. “Kathy has no credibility,” he said. “There is no evidence that she spent her childhood in a Magdalene laundry. Last time her target was the church and the book came out at a time of revelations about nuns and priests,” he said. “When I saw her complaining about the health service in The Irish Times, I thought, here we go again. This time it will be the hospitals, doctors and nurses.”
Eamonn said she had never fostered a child and had a history of instability. “Who on earth would allow her to foster a child? I would call on the publishers to speak to Kathy’s family before going ahead.”
Florence Horsman Hogan, founder of Let our Voices Emerge (Love), a charity to reflect the positive experiences many had in industrial schools, said: “Those of us who have been in the industrial schools in Ireland and have been genuinely abused as children, and those who have been falsely accused of abuse, are extremely angry with Ms O’Beirne.”
O’Beirne had told “horrific and highly improbable tales” that had “damaged many innocent people”, she said. Records showed she was in school until almost 13, despite claims to have been savagely abused in industrial schools and a Magdalene laundry since eight, she added.
Hermann Kelly, who wrote Kathy’s Real Story, a rebuttal of O’Beirne’s first book, said he is “disgusted” that O’Beirne is publishing a sequel. “I have just written to Hodder Books in the UK sending them a copy of my book and requesting that they “cease from publishing what could be another work of fiction masquerading as fact,” he said.
O’Beirne contends that she was abused by her father and raped in a Magdalene laundry, after which she had a baby who died aged 10.
The Sisters of Charity, which ran the laundries, says it has no record of O’Beirne.
Her family say she spent time in a hostel for homeless girls in Dublin, St Loman’s, a mental institution, and Mountjoy jail, where she was imprisoned for petty theft.
From The Sunday Times
July 26, 2009
Publisher dumps sequel to Magdalene story
Bestselling author Kathy O’Beirne forced to shelve plans for second book
Her first book was described by her family as a “figment of her imagination”. Now Kathy O’Beirne, the bestselling author whose account of her abuse in a Magdalene laundry sold 400,000 copies, has been forced to shelve plans for a sequel after her publisher cancelled the contract.
Hodder Headline had planned to publish Always Dancing, a sequel to Kathy’s Story, later this year, but decided against going ahead with the book after “failing to resolve legal issues” with the author.
Last week the publisher said that it had initially pushed the publication date back to 2012 to allow time to resolve matters with O’Beirne, but had now decided against publishing the memoir at all.
While her first book was dismissed as “fiction” by her family, O’Beirne planned to return to her childhood suffering in Always Dancing. The blurb promised that it would chart the author’s anorexia, suicide attempts and the story of “hundreds of children she rescued and fostered”.
It also promised to recount “Kathy’s ‘care’ by the nuns, cruelty by her father, lonely years in foster homes and a terrifying ordeal in a psychiatric hospital in which she was used as a human guinea pig in ECT experiments”.
Eamonn O’Beirne, Kathy’s brother, said he wrote to Hodder Headline to inform the publisher that the O’Beirne family had dissociated itself from the writer’s first memoir.
Hermann Kelly, the author of Kathy’s Real Story, a rebuttal of O’Beirne’s first book, wrote to the publisher as well urging it not to bring out a sequel.
Kelly also sent Hodder a copy of his book, which claims to highlight inconsistencies in O’Beirne’s account of her childhood.
O’Beirne stands over her story and claims to have taken a number of lie-detector tests proving that she is telling the truth.
The new book was to be co-written by Diane Taylor, a London-based journalist and writer. Last week Taylor, through an agent, said she had no comment to make about the book’s cancellation. O’Beirne could not be contacted for comment.
Mainstream, the publisher of Kathy’s Story in 2005, bid for the rights to publish the sequel but lost out to Hodder. It also refused to comment last week, saying that O’Beirne was no longer one of its writers. It has been steadfast in its support of O’Beirne’s first book. “We have made our own investigations and are convinced this is a legitimate account,” it said last year.
O’Beirne contends that she was physically and mentally abused by her father and raped by priests during a 14-year stay in a Magdalene laundry. She also recounted in Kathy’s Story how she had given birth to a baby while living in the laundry but claimed that the child died at the age of 10.
The Sisters of Charity, which ran the laundries, claims to have no record of O’Beirne apart from a six-week stay in a reformatory school for young people.
Her family say she spent time in St Anne’s Children’s Home, Kilmacud, St Loman’s psychiatric hospital and Sherrard House for homeless people, describing her as a “troubled child”. She also spent time in Mountjoy, where she was imprisoned for “petty theft”. Her family also deny O’Beirne’s claim that she was adopted.
After the publication of Kathy’s Story, her family held a press conference where they described the book as “a horrific miscarriage of justice ... in the interests of financial gain” and criticised its publisher, Mainstream, for not carrying out “the necessary rigorous checks”. “If they had,” the family said in a statement, “this book would never have been published.”