Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ross Hamilton: 'I'm trying to put everything behind me and move on'

Ten years after he was identified through DNA tests as the son of the late Fr Michael Cleary, Ross Hamilton no longer wants to live in the shadow of his father.

The celebrity priest died of cancer in 1999, a year after revelations that his friend Bishop Eamonn Casey was the father of a son in the US.

In February 1998, DNA tests confirmed Ross Hamilton (31) was the late priest's son.

"The day I found out, it was a big anti-climax. I already knew I was his son. I went for a sandwich and a pint after I found out and then went home, there was no celebration," he told the Sunday Tribune.

"My mother was quite ill at the time. After the RTÉ documentary [At Home With The Clearys, 2007] I said I'd never talk about it again. It's redundant, really. I'm trying to put everything behind me and be my own person rather than always be defined by this."

Fr Cleary fathered two children with Phyllis Hamilton, his housekeeper, whom he began a relationship with when she was 17 years old and he was 34.

Their first child was given up for adoption but their second, Ross, was raised by them as they lived the life of husband and wife in church-owned properties in Dublin.

"The relationship he had with my mother was a tumultuous one. He was like my friend and we got on great together. He died long before I could address the situation," he added.

Fr Cleary was one of Ireland's best-known priests and played the role of "warm-up man" for Pope John Paul II during his 1979 visit.

After Fr Cleary's death, the Church allowed his former housekeeper and her son remain living in his parochial house, but after Phyllis died in 2001, the church decided to take possession of the house in Mount Harold Terrace.

Since the RTÉ documentary aired, Hamilton, who has added Cleary to his surname, has been writing screenplays and has also been doing some acting. "I'm just like everyone now, these are scary times at the moment."

He was 10 years old when his mother confided in him that Fr Cleary was his father.

He has said he felt a little ashamed of him and did not want him to be his father any more than Fr Cleary wanted to officially recognise him.

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(Source: ST)

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