A series of articles by Father Thomas V. Dunlea
in the Dublin Evening Mail in 1946.

Fr. Tom Dunlea article (1) Dublin Evening Mailę

Friday, October 4, 1946

An  extract from this first article.


Visiting Clergyman Impressed By Work Of Mount St. Club.

Rev. Thomas V. Dunlea, Tipperary-born Parish Priest of Sutherland near Sydney, Australia.

He is the founder and director of Australian Boys' Town, the only equivalent in the world to Father Flanagan's institution in America.  He is also a co-founder of a branch of the Alcoholics Anonymous Society in Sydney, which was formed to help suffers from alcoholism to overcome this weakness and return to work.A series of articles by Father Thomas V. Dunlea in the Dublin Evening Mail in 1946, Number 2.


Dublin Evening Mailę
Saturday, October 4, 1946

The Society of Alcoholics Anonymous, to which he belonged, would very much liketo see a branch opened up in this country, said the Rev. Thomas V. Dunlea, parish priest of Sutherland, near Sydney, Australia, in an interview with an Evening Mail representative in which he described the work being done in his parish to help alcoholics.

A native of Tipperary, Father Dunlea is founder and director of Australia's BoysTown and is touring America, Canada and Ireland to learn all he can of the social work being done in those countries.

Though our representative tried to draw Father Dunlea out he refused to criticize any aspect of Irish social work, holding that it is not for him to criticize or hurt anyone's feelings.


The Society was started in America in 1934 by two addicts who formed a club for their fellow suffers. For the first year there were three members and in the second year they had five.

In the succeeding years they recruited their members successfully that today there are more than 50,000 addicts formed into loosely knit societies or clubs in America, New Zealand, Australia and England.

In October, 1944, when Boy's Town was just three years old, Father Dunlea found time to found a branch of the Society in Sydney with Dr. Minogue, a famous Australian
psychiatrist, and Mr. A. McKinnon a Scottish officer of a Sydney mental home.

A remarkable point about the two Homes which Sydney now posses is the fact that people who work among addicts and seek to cure them of their complaint are fellow suffers who have benefited from the Homes.

In the words of Father Dunlea "The Society believes that only an alcoholic can cure an alcoholic, as it is only a fellow suffer who can open a line of transmission to the heart of the patient."

The different clubs or societies as they are usually called come together to discuss each other's problems.

The only qualification for membership is a sincere desire on the part of the alcoholic to abstain from drinking. These clubs are purely convalescent homes and not institutions where members can stay indefinitely.

Once they show signs of recovery and the drinking has been arrested they are sent back to their old jobs. If they should fall back into their old ways again one of the workers goes out and bring them back -- or if they are very bad to send them to hospital.

There are no hard and fast rules in the clubs and no president or committee to run things.


The members live together, doing more or less as they please, while the workers, who can speak from experience, gradually talk them out of the highly strained and nervous condition to which they become prone. No temperance advocates are admitted to the clubs nor what are known as controlled drinkers.

Ministers of religion, doctors and social workers can all help, but like all other non-alcoholics, they must keep severely to their own duties and never mention the subject of drink.

Any subject which might upset the convalescent peace of mind, such as that of politics, is carefully kept out of the conversation.


The sufferers are taken from mental homes, jails, and street corners and usually kept in the clubs for two or three weeks. The first man with whom Father Dunlea came in contact had been in a mental home eight times.

He said that alcohol addicts were usually clever people in professional occupations which called for a creative mind.

Quite a number of women were included among them. The war had been a great factor in increasing the number of alcoholics in the world, while a shortage of liquor had worsened the condition of those who had already been sufferers.


Father Dunlea said that in the history of the world there was probably never such a great a amount of alcoholism as existed today.

It presented a national problem, and he considered the movement that had started in Australia as proverbially timely.

In America a clinic to deal with the subject had been established by Yale University, and a wealthy personage had endowed a campaign to educate the  public in the disease.

Alcoholism, he said, was one of the four main health problems facing the worldtoday, taking its place with T.B., cancer, and V.D. and it was one that the average person knew practically nothing.


There were two characteristics to be found in nearly all alcoholics. They were hyper-sensitivity and ego-centricity. When an inebriate first tried to give up the use of intoxicants he passed through what were known as "dry horrors". His mind became increasingly a prey to anxious thoughts and even delusions and obsessions.

Those could be relieved altogether by two or three strong doses of alcohol. But the inebriate could not stop once he had felt the effect of these doses and became a helpless slave, going on and on until he found himself under restraint.

A person usually took a drink to that extent to get away from some wrong which was troubling him.


They became very sensitive and had to be treated very carefully.

To them a non-alcoholic was like a back seat driver who did nothing but state the obvious to the driver.

They were sick people and had to be treated as such. So the Society concentrated on that and made no criticism of the amount of drink taken by people and made no effort to close public houses.

All the workers kept their names secret from the public, hence their title-Alcoholics Anonymous.

A great spirit of friendship was engendered among all the members and workers  andthe Society could claim to be one of the few on earth, if not the only one, in which God could be discussed by Jews, Protestants and Catholics in a manner which hurt no one's feelings.


Dublin Evening Mailę
Friday, November 1, 1946

An effort is to be made in Dublin to help the sufferers from alcoholism to overcome the obsession which compels them to drink against their will.

The method to be used is known as Alcoholics Anonymous, about which little was known in this country until the recent visit here by of Father Dunlea, an Associate member of the organization in Sydney, Australia who outlined the scheme to the Evening Post on Oct, 5th. Since then a member of the Society in Philadelphia, U.S.A. has arrived on a visit and yesterday told an Evening Mail reporter of the great success which it has achieved in America and of what it has meant to him personally. Born in Roscommon, he emigrated to America 17 years ago.

[This was Conor Flynn, from Nancy Olson]


For the first seven years of his life in America he drank practically no alcohol, but after two years  of social drinking he suddenly went on a two day drinking bout. Immediately after this he took a pledge for one year. After one year of sobriety he felt that he could safely drink normally again only to find that after a few short weeks of social drinking he was out on a four-day drinking bout. The next two years of his life were spent in periodic drinking bouts during which time the periods of sobriety gradually became shorter and less frequent.

During this time h visited many sanatoria and hospitals and had the attention of the best doctors and psychiatrists, only to find that very little could be done to control his drinking. All this time he had been a successful business man with a nice home and was happily married. He could find no reason for his abnormal drinking.


While in one of the hospitals he was contacted by a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He had no reason to believe the Society could keep him sober, but as he has tried everything else without success and had an had an honesty desire for sobriety he decided to give it a trial. After joining the organization he was amazed to find that it was composed of happy members who had been many years sober and had rid themselves of their alcoholic obsession.

After 3 1/2 years in A.A. he found he no longer had any desire to drink an now states that if he had the choice between drinking normally again and his presentexistence he would prefer sobriety and the association of A.A.

All that is necessary to become a member is a sincere desire to stop drinking. No charge is made for joining the Society, and there are no paid workers, everything being done by the members, who look upon it as an avocation.

The Society does not cater for controlled drinkers, its only aim being to help those who have an obsession for drink.

Full information will be given freely to those who apply through the box number at the end of this article. It is the hope of this gentleman that by December nucleus of workers will have been formed here to carry on the good work. True to the name of the Society he desires to remain anonymous.

Will those interested write for free information to Box D554.


Dublin Evening Mailę
Saturday, November 23, 1946

The Alcoholics Anonymous Association, formed to help sufferers from the dreaded disease of alcoholism, has recently established a small group in Dublin.

Several private meetings have already been held as a result of which those who attended have derived considerable benefit and have become convinced that they have not been able to find any other way.

The first public meeting of the Association will be held on Monday at 7:45 p.m., in the Country Shop, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Three of the speakers will be alcoholics and members of the Dublin group.


In addition, a doctor who is one of Dublin's leading psychiatrists and who has made a deep study of alcoholism, will give the meeting the benefit of his professional knowledge on this important subject.

True to the name of the Society all will remain anonymous. It is hoped that all who have a sincere desire to stop drinking and to lead a normal, useful life will take this opportunity of learning what the Association offers as a constructive policy of recovery.

It is also hoped that any who are interested directly attend with the object of hearing what the Association has done and is daily doing for alcoholics.

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