'I have the strength I wish I had when I was eight' - Aoife Farrelly speaks out

Cian Farrelly was jailed three years for the rape and sexual assault of his sister
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.41 1 Jul 2022

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'I have the strength I wish I...

'I have the strength I wish I had when I was eight' - Aoife Farrelly speaks out

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.41 1 Jul 2022

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A woman who was abused by her older brother when she was a child says she now has the strength she wished she had when she was younger.

Aoife Farrelly waived her anonymity so that her brother Cian Farrelly - of Oldcastle, Co Meath - could be identified.

On various dates between December 2007 and May 2009, Cian Farrelly raped and sexually assaulted his sister in the family home in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath.


She was just seven-years-old when the abuse began, he was 15.

The abuse ended when she told their parents what was going on.

He was jailed for three years earlier this week.

Aoife told The Hard Shoulder she believes it's important for survivors to speak out.

"I think it is very important for survivors to waive their right to anonymity and to call out our abusers.

"It's very difficult to go through, and the fact that I had to stay silent for so long, it really made a difference.

"Having that choice whether I wanted to or not, it really, really made a difference to me.

"I can't but urge anybody that may be in my position, or has been in my position, to do so as well".

'He's getting what he deserves'

She says she was very sure of herself before this happened.

"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy at all - but it began when I was six, and unfortunately it continued on a daily to a weekly basis for the guts of two, two and a half years.

"It was awful to have to live through: I was six, I was a very, very young child.

"At the time I was very happy, very independent, very sure of myself - and Cian absolutely stripped everything from me.

"He genuinely just stripped me back to nothing, but I'm just so glad now that I have the strength I wish I had when I was eight-years-old.

"It was absolutely horrific, it was vile, it was disgusting what he did to me... he made me believe that it was normal and that it was OK for him to do what he was doing.

"Even when he admitted to it, and even when he spoke to me in court - when he addressed me in the letter that he wrote - he knew what he was doing.

"It's sick and twisted, and he's a sick and twisted person, and I'm just so glad that he's finally getting what he deserves".

'It's absolutely horrific'

She says her brother would move to reassure her "that I was a good girl for keeping our secret.

"Every few minutes, every few seconds, he would constantly tell me I was a good girl - he'd pat me on the head or he'd rub my shoulders or he'd give me hugs and kisses.

"It's absolutely horrific".

Aoife recalls: "The mere sound of his door opening, or the creek of his floorboard just put the fear of God into me.

"It absolutely made me sick to my stomach, it was absolutely so traumatising and re-triggering.

"Even when I was a teenager I used to have to sleep fully-clothed, and facing the door in case he came in.

"Even if he passed by it would absolutely just send me into a spiral.

"It was exhausting having to live with him for 14 years, but again I'm just so glad I got out of that situation.

"I moved out in August of 2020 and I haven't spoken to him since probably March of 2020".

'I don't blame them'

Aoife says the abuse ended after she confided in her mother when she was eight.

"She spoke to my father and the two of them confronted Cian, and straight off he kind of admitted to it - but also said 'That's it, I'm going to kill myself' [and] ran out of the house.

"Like the coward he is, he made it all about him again and again he manipulated the situation - and unfortunately it was never really spoken about again.

"It was kind of just swept under the rug, that was the week before my Holy Communion.

"The week after I made my Holy Communion and he was just allowed slot right back into my life."

But Aoife says she does not hold blame or resentment towards her parents.

"I don't blame them, they never laid a finger on me.

"They always made sure that we were looked after and we were well provided for.

"He is the one to blame in this situation, and I mean it when I say that I don't blame them.

"I don't hold a grudge for things that happened anymore, I did for so long.

"I resented them and the house and that place for so long - but I am trying to heal and with that is not holding a grudge over my parents".

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact The Samaritans on 116-123 or email, or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1-800-77-8888. In an emergency, call 999

Main image: Aoife Farrelly speaking to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, after her brother Cian was jailed for three years. Picture by: Frank Greaney/Newstalk

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