A Co Longford priest at the centre of false claims he raped and fathered a woman’s child in Kenya almost 30 years ago has spoken of his joy at returning to official duties as a parish priest in Galway.
Lanesboro native, Fr Kevin Reynolds said he was overwhelmed at the reaction he received from parishioners last Sunday when over 600 well-wishers gathered inside St Cuan’s Church in Ahascragh, Co Galway to greet his return.
In an interview with the Leader on Monday, Fr Reynolds admitted the past four months had taken a deep personal toll.
“It has been a nightmare for sure. But I am very happy to be back in Ahascragh. I have been here for six years and the people have been so very good to me, I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
Fr Reynolds stepped down from his duties as a priest in May following the Prime Time broadcast which incorrectly claimed he had raped a woman in Kenya in 1982 and fathered her child.
RTE last week issued a lengthy apology to Fr Reynolds after a paternity test proved his innocence. Fr Reynolds told the Leader that the fact legal proceedings were currently before the High Court effectively meant he could not discuss the matter.
Fr Reynolds heaped praise on all those who stood by him as he battled to clear his name.
“I got tremendous support from my family and parishioners,” said a clearly relieved Fr Reynolds, whose father Thomas Reynolds hailed from Ballinalee with his mother, Mary Kate Bannon originating from Ballyconnell in Cavan.
“It was a wonderful source of strength for me, that I have to say,” he added.