House of Prayer Thursday, March 19, 2009 R

No prosecution against prayer house



THE DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided there should be no prosecution against the House of Prayer on Achill Island, Co Mayo, following a lengthy Garda investigation into its activities.

Complaints had been made to gardaí by a number of people who donated money to the centre, founded by Christina Gallagher, a housewife from Knockmore near Ballina.

Supt Patrick Doyle, head of the Westport Garda District, confirmed that the DPP has decided that legal proceedings should not be initiated against Mrs Gallagher.

Large sums of money – totalling up to €250,000 – were returned to donors who had second thoughts about their contributions to the House of Prayer when newspapers reported allegations of Mrs Gallagher “amassing great wealth”.

The House of Prayer was set up by Mrs Gallagher in the old convent on Achill Sound in July 1993, following her claims that she was visited by Our Lady and was given messages from her for the people of Ireland. It was initially approved by the Archdiocese of Tuam, in which it is located.

However, a committee of inquiry set up by the Archbishop of Tuam Most Rev Michael Neary, concluded in 1997 that there was no evidence of “supernatural phenomena of whatever kind” there.

It also found that none of the evidence presented proved beyond reasonable doubt the occurrence of supernatural phenomena there, “other than that of faith”.

At the time, the archbishop spoke of “the force for good” of those associated with the House of Prayer and said there was no reason to question the sincerity or orthodoxy of those involved. His chief concern was that it be integrated into the life of Achill parish and the archdiocese.

Towards both ends, and by agreement with Mrs Gallagher and her associates, the House of Prayer was to become a private association of the Christian faithful.

Members of such associations operate in conformity with the church’s code of canon law.

It was to submit statutes to the archbishop for approval, which would include a clear and unambiguous statement of the purposes of the association and the means of achieving them.

The new association was to be subject to the archbishop’s authority in all matters concerning funds and how they would be used.

If a spiritual director was required, members could choose one from among those legitimately exercising ministry in the Tuam archdiocese, subject to the archbishop’s approval. However in February of last year, the archdiocese emphatically dissociated itself from the House of Prayer, stating that its activities were “entirely of a private nature” and carried “no ecclesiastical approval whatsoever”. It said efforts to integrate the work of the House of Prayer with the archdiocese had met “with a disappointing lack of success”.

The archbishop banned Masses there and wrote to all Catholic parishes in Ireland and the US, advising them that activities at the House of Prayer no longer had Church approval.

His public statements on the House of Prayer are available at

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times (c)

5 Responses

  1. Dear Keith,

    As you feel so strongly about this I will reply to you in a private email to address your concerns with a copy to my web master.

    @ anonymous please don’t comment without using your real name it’s a very cowardly act.

    In regard to your comment it shows a lack of understanding of how a blog works. The very nature of the medium is to allow people space
    to say what they wish anonymously. It is not cowardly it goes with the territory. You might have been better to have written directly to us rather than on the open forum. Could I ask you why it took you three years to find our breach of your copyright. You did not happen to get notification from the House of Prayer?
    Will write later


  2. Dear Mr. Garde,

    At the end of this article you have the symbols (c).

    I can only assume that this is meant to be a copyright symbol ©.

    You have not linked to the article in the Irish Times who commissioned and paid for my work, you have in fact imported the entire article including my copyrighted image into your own site.

    Please don’t try and argue the point with me, I have read the Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and I suggest you do the same.

    A quick email or telephone call to the owner of an image can do wonders before you infringe on their rights.

    Every time a website owner lifts a photograph from another website who have licensed the image for that use he is devaluing the work we as photographers do.

    Yours faithfully,

    Keith Heneghan

    @ anonymous please don’t comment without using your real name it’s a very cowardly act.


  3. Am disappointed that a gentleman like Mr. Heneghan would make such an issue.


  4. Dear Keith,

    I have looked at the picture concerned. It was published as part of an article in the The Irish Times which we linked to.
    You must have seen it to have written a comment about it? It clearly states that it was an article in the Irish Times!

    As we are a non profit organisation whose only purpose is to assist people affected by groups which have had a bad effect on them.
    We are in fact the only way that an archive is retained. We have no interest in your photograph as such and will delete it asap.
    The text is our main priority so people needing assistance can GAIN AN UNDERSTANDING of cultism.
    Do give me a call after the 22 of the month to discuss this as I am currently away.

    Yours Sincerely
    Mike Garde
    DI Director


  5. It has come to my attention that you have used my image of people at the house of prayer in Achill above. I do not have any record of having issued you with a licence to use this image. I would be grateful if you would provide me with any evidence that you have been issued with a licence by myself for such use.
    Subject to that, as it appears that you have breached my copyright I require you to provide me with information about where you sourced the image, the length of time that you have used the image, and any other usages that you may have made of that, or any other image that you may have reason to believe may be mine.
    Unless you have a licence from me for use of the image I require you to remove the image immediately, and will be requiring payment for use of the image to date. If you would like to make use of the image for the future, any such future use would only be permitted subject to negotiation with me of a separate additional licence and payment of a licence fee at my rates.
    Yours faithfully,

    Keith Heneghan


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