Efforts at understanding Elder Abuse
[Editor's note: Ontario, Canada continues to be far and away the most serious and progressive jurisdiction regarding Elder Abuse. See ONPEA. We agree with Dr. Wolfe's assessment made in 2003, in that he is referring to the US and Canadian efforts. We consider that at the present time, Ireland remains about 25 years behind the curve concerning Child Abuse, much further behind in regards to Elder Abuse. See for example Who Is Required to Report Elder Abuse.

Dr Wolfe's comment is taken from the excellent resource, Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America, Richard J. Bonnie and Robert B. Wallace, Editors, Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect, National Research Council, 2003. Access it here. ]


Sophie's efforts to sort out Ethan were not effective in freeing Dolores, or even mitigating the isolation and abuse she was suffering from Ethan. It is believed the real reason for Sophie's call to Saoirse was an attempt to make Saoirse think that things were on the right track and getting better, that she could stop trying to help her Mom. That was also unsuccessful.

Following Sophie's reported conversations with Ethan, he quickly acted to both keep Saoirse away and to isolate Dolores even further. This was the time period the first letter to the HSE was issued, Dolores' solicitor was instructed to send out letters to a certain few of her children, and Dolores was instructed to call Saoirse and give her a message. That call is the subject of this page.

After Ethan had taken these steps, Sophie reiterated her view of things in a text a day after Dolores' call to Saoirse:

“He has agreed to stop all mails, texts, and childish behaviour and wont be spending much time in rosslare. If he doesn't comply, myself and mom are going to talk to her doctor about getting him professional help. He is aware of all his behaviour as I pointed everything out. I didn't want to get involved but know im the only one they will listen to or open up too. Mom is very happy about this progress too. No prob at all getting in touch with her now.”


Saoirse and her family had spent Friday, New Year's Day, 2010, with her sister Emily and her family. Saoirse found Emily and her husband unwilling to consider Dolores' situation. [Editor's note: This in spite of themselves having been witnesses and targets of Ethan's abuse and violence. ] So, it seemed there would be no help from Emily, either. Returning home late that night, Saoirse discovered a voice mail message from her Mom, wanting to talk to her. Saoirse decided to be ready to record this call. Dolores spoke to her the following afternoon, January 2. Dolores didn't make the call. Dolores didn't dial her phone. That was done for her. Perhaps Ethan was trying to keep Saoirse's phone number from her. Whatever his reason, the bizarre way this call happened served to illustrate even further the amount of control he exerted over even the simplest, most commonplace things in Dolores' life.

It began with a call from Ronan:

Saoirse: Hello
Ronan: Saoirse?
Saoirse: Hey! How's it going?
Ronan: Not too bad. Mom's supposed to ring you up from her house tonight, so when Ethan's gone too [or ‘to’] (unintelligible) we'll (unintelligible), so you'll answer her, will you?
Saoirse: Oh I will, yeah, yeah…
Ronan: She's just about to call you
Saoirse: OK, sounds good
Ronan: I'm going to hang up and she's going to call you
Saoirse: Ok, sounds good
Ronan: So stay put, OK?
Saoirse: OK, I will. I'll be right by the phone.
Ronan: OK
Saoirse: OK, alright, bye.


This intial call by Ronan was followed almost immediately by another call from him, in which he hands the phone over to Dolores, to allow her to deliver her message to Saoirse:

Saoirse: Hello
Ronan: Are you there?
Saoirse: I certainly am, are you there?
Ronan: Yes…Mom's here.
Saoirse: Alright, sounds good, bye.
Ronan: Bye

[Editor's note: This tortuous and convoluted prelude to the simple act of a mother calling her daughter on the phone can only be described as bizarre. We see again Ronan acting from Ethan's directives. It doesn't seem that Ronan was acting willingly. A series of texts from him to Sean on December 28 gives an indication of his attitude towards Ethan during this time:

“Its not my fault Ethan is he way he hs
Unable to stop him
Dont u know u dont tell Ethan what to do
Dont u know he wont change”

And in a text to Nathaniel on December 31, Saoirse describes finally reaching Ronan by phone in Rosslare:

“Just chatted with Ronan this morning. He says Ethan is due in Rosslare this weekend. Yes, I think anything we can do to let him know we're in his corner would be good. He said something needs to be done that this isn't the first time Ethan has done this. He isn't sure how Ethan accomplished it. but says a solitors letter needs to be sent. I think something far more reaching etc. so am continuing on my journey. Will keep you updated.
And watch what you say to Sophie. Because I'm sure it's going back to Ethan.” ]

The quality of the recording of this phone call is poor. What follows is a faithful transcription with Editor's comments. Copies of the original audio are available to members of Dolores' family upon request.


Dolores in the late 1970's or early 1980's. From a private collection, used by permission. Ethan's transparent attempt to convince Saoirse that things were fine and that Dolores was in no danger were unsuccessful. The bizarre and convoluted way this call was made to her, and the careful “script” Dolores seemed to be following concerning Ethan, her safety, visiting, etc. only served to confirm Saoirse's fears.

The imminent return of the HSE Elder Abuse Caseworker, Geoffrey Blair, gave her some confidence and hope that her mother would soon be safe. Surely with the events of Christmas 2009 it would be plainly seen that Dolores was in trouble and her safety and well-being would be fast-tracked by the agency set up specifically to deal with these issues.

Saoirse spoke to Dolores again on January 5, three days after this call. In June of 2010, Dolores would call Saoirse and deliver a six word message. Saoirse would not hear her mother's voice again until October, 2010 in Wexford General Hospital.

Christmas 2009 ended. Ethan's control of Dolores' life in all aspects continued to accelerate. Dolores had less than nine months before she was admitted to Wexford General for the final time.

[Editor's note: We conclude  A Christmas Story  with  Notes and Comments.

As always, we seek and encourage anyone with knowledge of Dolores' life and/or the events presented here to contribute to this site. Memories, anecdotes, photos and documents are more than welcome. Clarification or alternative views are encouraged and welcomed. Submissions ]


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day UN Declaration of Human Rights European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity Towards a Society for All Ages