Parishioners using a short cut that passes by the front door of the house at the top of Convent Hill in Mitchelstown expressed surprise to hear he had returned.
“We didn’t hear anyone in the town mention it, but maybe people didn’t know,” one woman said.
Dr Magee had been in hiding since July, when the Cloyne Report was published. The report, which examined the handling by Church and State of allegations of clerical sex abuse, found Dr Magee responsible for his diocese’s failure to tell the civil authorities about nine of 15 allegations of child sexual abuse against a number of his priests.
One woman who spoke to the Irish Examiner yesterday felt Dr Magee should have stayed and faced the music. “He should have stayed, I suppose, and faced up to it at the time. It’s worse now I think. It’s only right for him to come back.”
Dr Magee apologised to victims and accepted the Cloyne Report in its entirety in July. This was re-iterated in a statement to a Sunday newspaper at the weekend after a reporter tracked him down to Mitchelstown. According to the report, Dr Magee’s older brother, who was with him, said he would be making a statement shortly. Dr Magee denied having been in Rome or America in the period since the report was published.
Yesterday Carnmeen — the two-storey house put at Dr Magee’s disposal after he vacated the Episcopal seat in Cobh in 2008 — was empty. In a different league to the spectacular Bishop’s Palace, the house is nonetheless impressive and has an air of faded grandeur. While the exterior, with its three bay windows overlooking Mitchelstown, is in need of a makeover, the interior tells a different story. A downstairs room fitted out as a bedroom in one of the bays was fresh and spruce-looking with pristine white duvet on a single bed, a couple of armchairs, modern carpet and floor to ceiling bookcases bearing many religious titles. The room was hung with a number of religious pictures and statues of various saints stood atop the bookcases.