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Triumph Over Tragedy - Eilish Enright

Thursday, 16 November 2006


Eilish Enright from Co. Kildare was arrested, charged and found guilty of child abuse against her seven children.  It took another decade before she was cleared of any wrongdoing and reunited with all but one of her children. She's here to tell us her story.

About the Book
Eilish Enright tells her story of a miscarriage of justice in the newly released book, Triumph over Tragedy by Trina Rea.  The book tells the stories of 8 women who recount how they overcame tragedy to turn their situation into something inspiring and positive.  Those included in the book are Anne McCabe, wife of murdered Garda Detective, Gerry McCabe, The McCartney sisters from Belfast and Marie Gough whose daughter was murdered by her husband.

Eilish's Story
Eilish Enright was a married woman with five children. Her husband was a wife beater who even beat her whilst she was pregnant on her fifth child.  After this, he went on to commit suicide in their back shed, and their child, Richard, actually saw his dad's body being removed, a fact which Eilish says went on to damage him so much that he needed to be put into residential school.

Eilish went on to meet another man, Pat Murphy, and had two more children.  A short time later, the family moved to Wales where Pat got work as a bus driver.

In Wales, their home suffered a fire and, as a result, their children had to stay with neighbours. It was at this point that some of her daughters alleged that their brother, Richard, was pulling their pants down when he came back at weekends from residential school. The neighbour alerted social workers and following an investigation, her husband was arrested. Her children were then taken and put into care and one of them, Micheal 11, was sent to a mental institution even though he had no mental problems.

Five weeks later, whilst at home, police arrived at her door and announced that she was being arrested on suspicion of child abuse.  One detective accused her of being involved in a paedophile ring.

She was sent to a remand centre and her family stood by her. Pat, her husband, was sentenced to 15 years. Eilish was then charged, along with the milkman who the kids worked with, of serious child abuse such as putting cigarettes out on their skin, raping them and assisting the milkman to rape them.

In court, her kids testified against her.  Their stories did not match though, and one child's story seemed rehearsed, something that the trial judge commented on. She was found guilty of one charge and was sentenced to 9 years while the milkman got 15 years. She was sent to Cookhamwood Prison in Kent, a prison with serious offenders such as Myra Hindley. Her appeal was rejected.

Two thirds of her way through the sentence, she was allowed out Friday - Mondays.  As her dad had died whilst she was in prison, and she had not been allowed home to his funeral, she came back to Ireland.  She decided not to go back to prison and spent the next few years as a fugitive in her own country. No extradition was sought by the British Authorities, which surprised Eilish.

She met a man in the mid 1990's and formed a new relationship.
Then her daughter Joanne contacted her and asked to visit from the UK.  Richard and Michael then came home as well. One of the most emotional elements to this reunion was when Michael asked one thing, ''can I call you Mammy''.

Three years passed and she applied for a council house.  It was at this point that she was discovered by the social worker and she was arrested by Gardai and taken to Mountjoy. She says of the prison that she would spend ten years in UK prison for even a day in Mountjoy. She got bail when her sister put her house up as security, but signing at a Garda station for 2 years, she knew eventually that she would be sent to prison, and not wanting to go back to Mountjoy, she asked to be sent back to the UK and she returned to Cookhamwood - they even had a party for her leaving!

She then applied to the Criminal Cases Review Committee to have her case re-examined. It took five years for them to come back to her, during which time she finished her sentence and returned to Kildare.

Finally, in 2003, an appeal was granted.  It was another two years before the end of the matter when the CCRC told her that the social workers involved refused to give evidence.  As a result, on Oct 13th last year, her conviction was quashed.  (An appeal was also open to the milkman that was convicted with her but she is not sure what has happened to him).

For more information
Triumph Over Tragedy, compiled by Trina Rea, is published by Gill and MacMillan and is priced at €12.99