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Dark secrets Horrific abuse of children in Dalkey House of Horrors led to suicides

And it was behind the walls, where it has been claimed a newborn baby was stabbed to death, where teenage girls went untreated for miscarriages and where rape and abuse became commonplace.

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Cynthia Owen (Murphy) as a child

Cynthia Owen (Murphy) as a child

Cynthia Owen (Murphy) as a child

A mother sits solemn faced against a wall, a toddler on her knee.

Beside her the little girl, aged just 10, casts her eyes to the ground.

No hugs. No smiles. As the camera clicks a frame, 10-year-old Sindy Murphy is frozen in time forever in the haunting image, shoulders slumped, her face devoid of childish mischief.

Within a year she is pregnant and the secrets of a House of Horrors were being threatened with exposure by her swelling belly.

The photograph is yellowing and dog eared from time but the child is a woman now and she is here to tell her tale, one last time, in the hope for justice and closure from the brutality of her past.

Cynthia Owen’s story is one of child sex abuse that starts in the 1970s in the wealthy suburb of Dalkey in south county Dublin where her family lived at 4 Whyte’s Villas.

Her father, Peter Murphy Snr, was the town hall caretaker and her mother Josephine was the daughter of the local abortionist.

They reared six girls and three boys in the tiny two-bedroom council home.

And it was behind the walls, where it has been claimed a newborn baby was stabbed to death, where teenage girls went untreated for miscarriages and where rape and abuse became commonplace.

Despite all the allegations nobody has ever been charged in relation to anything that happened there.

Files repeatedly sent to the Director of Public Prosecution came back again and again with no prosecutions recommended.

There is no doubt the children were uncared for, dirty and shown no love. The house was filthy and haphazard. In school the Murphy kids were bullied for being smelly and they never had a lunch.

Every evening, Peter Snr spent his time in the pubs of Dalkey. When he went home he shared his bed with a child, raping them during the night and urinating in a bucket in the corner of the room.

By the age of 11, Cynthia says she was being raped by three men, one her father and two others who are still alive.

One day she came home from school with a pain in her belly and her mother told her she was going to have a baby.

On the night of April 4 in 1973, she would later tell gardai, she gave birth on the floor as her father lay in bed.

In statements she made in 1995 she said she remembers giving birth to a girl with soft hair and pink skin. Then she claims her mother snatched the child, repeatedly stabbing her in the face over and over again.

She claims that a panicking Josephine ran downstairs and tried to stuff the baby in the oven but took her back out again and stabbed her in the neck and chin.

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The laneway in Dun Laoghaire where an unidentified infant was found

The laneway in Dun Laoghaire where an unidentified infant was found

The laneway in Dun Laoghaire where an unidentified infant was found

Eventually, she says, her mother forced the newborn infant into a green polythene bag and ordered Cynthia out the door, walking her as far as Dun Laoghaire where they dumped the bag in a laneway.

The following day the bag and its contents were found by two local children who reported it to gardai. As a nationwide appeal for the mother of the newborn baby was launched, Cynthia returned to school at Loreto Abbey in Dalkey.

Investigating officers went on Garda Patrol but within five days the body of the infant was buried in the Angels Plot in Glasnevin cemetery and the investigation into her murder was shelved, unsolved, in a matter of weeks.

In an inquest held in 2007 it was ruled that the unidentified murdered baby in the Dun Laoghaire laneway that died as a result of stab wounds was Noleen Murphy — the daughter of Cynthia.

The garda file on the Dalkey House of Horrors contains a dossier of claims.

Of the six female children raised in the Murphy house, five have said they were either abused or knew about the abuse.

One, a niece, Theresa, who was reared by her grandparents, died by suicide in 2005 but left a 32-page note detailing how she was raped along with her brother Micheal, who was found dead more than two years after he disappeared.

Another brother, Martin, also died by suicide in the family home after telling relatives he couldn’t cope with the abuse.

Cynthia went on to make further claims that she was abused by a network of paedophiles in the area who came to her house. Often, she alleges, her mother would bring her to theirs.

Online Editors


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