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Palmarian Catholic Church cult 'destroyed Breda' - Nephew of Wexford recluse who lay dead in home for two months

Published 30/11/2015

Bridget Crosbie in her late 20s. During the Swinging Sixties she worked in hotels in London and the Channel Islands but a decade later her life took a different outlook
Bridget Crosbie in her late 20s. During the Swinging Sixties she worked in hotels in London and the Channel Islands but a decade later her life took a different outlook

The heartbroken family of Bridget Crosbie, the 84-year-old woman who lay dead in her Wexford home for two months, has blamed a secretive religious sect for “destroying the sweet girl we once knew”.

Pleading with others to keep away from the Palmarian Catholic Church - a secretive Spanish sect that broke away from the Catholic Church in the 1960s – Ms Crosbie’s family said they had been left “ruined” after the church had forced her to cut all links with them.

“They took her away from us and destroyed her,” nephew Michael Crosbie told RTÉ’s Liveline earlier today.

“It was such a loss to her family because they were such a close group beforehand. It ruined them to lose her.”

On November 20, Ms Crosbie’s body was found in the bedroom of her home in the Faythe in Wexford Town.

It is believed she may have laid undiscovered in her home for up to two months.

Her nephew said that his aunt had gone to the UK in the 1960s to work as a nurse but that when she returned towards the end of the 1970s she was “a different person.”

“Breda loved life. She loved arts, music, and her family,” he said.

“She was the typical everyday Irish girl - she went to dances, she worked, she had boyfriends, she did everything every other young girl would do.

“But when she returned home, she had become indoctrinated into the Palmarian Church’s teachings.

He continued: “They brainwashed her. She refused to come to any family occasions. She cut all ties with us because the Church told her to – they teach that Palmarians can not interact with non- Palmarian family members.

“Loads of time we tried to make contact but we couldn’t bring her around. It broke all our hearts.

“She refused to answer the door to us, saying she couldn’t be seen speaking to us because we weren’t part of the Palmarian Church.”

The group, which featured in a TV3 documentary called Ireland's Secret Cults, is said to have about 300 members in Ireland.

Despite Ms Crosbie’s refusal to engage with her family, her nephew said that her sisters and brothers continued to keep tabs on her to make sure she was ok.

“I’ve heard people criticising the family for not being there for but we were. My aunt Joan was the one who discovered something was wrong hours before they found her body.

“She was in town and noticed something different about the house… that the letter box was slightly broken.

“That’s not something Breda would allow so they went in on Friday to see if she was there.

“Once they couldn’t get in or hear anything they called the Gardaí and that’s when they found her.”

Also speaking to host Joe Duffy, neighbour Paddy Mulligan described Ms Crosbie as a “grand woman who was always smiling”.

“Anytime I spoke to her – she always had a nice little smile on her face… I don’t know if there was more going on behind it but she always seemed happy.

“If you spoke to her she would talk about the Palmarian Church all the time, and say anyone who wasn’t Palmarian wouldn’t get into Heaven.”

Asked if he had seen any Palmarian members come to Ms Crosbie’s house before she passed away, Mr Mulligan, who handled the 84-year-old’s funeral arrangements, said no.

“No, nothing – I’m not sure if they gave up on her or what, but all I know is that when she needed them, they weren’t anywhere to be seen.”

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