The Padre: The True Story of the Irish Priest who armed the IRA with Gaddafi’s Money


Jennifer O’Leary

The incredible true story of Fr Patrick Ryan, the Irish priest who raised finance and acquired bomb-making components and explosives for the IRA during the height of the Troubles.


August 2023


For almost two decades, Father Patrick Ryan evaded intelligence agencies across Europe and was, for a time, one of the most wanted men in Britain.

In The Padre, award-winning investigative journalist Jennifer O’Leary exposes the exploits of this notorious former Irish priest and active IRA supporter. Revealing sensational details divulged to her during exclusive secret meetings with Ryan, the book lifts the lid on the true extent of the priest’s involvement with the IRA and its campaign of terror across Europe, Britain and Ireland – from being a trusted link between the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA, to his involvement in improving IRA explosive devices, which made possible the almost successful assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet in Brighton.

The Padre tells the truly remarkable story of this man of the cloth, who, decades on, is still unrepentant about his ruthless zealotry in pursuit of money, weapons and assistance for the IRA’s violence. Indeed, his one regret is that he wasn’t even more effective.

Praise for The Padre

‘Remarkable and eye-opening.’ – Sean O’Neill, The Times

The Padre is a superb piece of investigative journalism, formidably researched and efficiently told.’ – Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post

1. The Showdown in Rhodes
2. A Mother’s Love
3. Mission to Africa
4. Out of Africa
5. The Sculptor and the Colonel
6. ‘A boot up the transom’
7. The Sleepers
8. Our Man in Tripoli
9. On the Move
10. Swiss Timers
11. Benidorm
12. Christine
13. ‘A major calamity’
14. Lion of the Desert
15. Switch and Switch
16. Hyde Park
17. The Ducks of the Green
18. The Ryan Affair
19. ‘The bird had flown’
20. A Very Wicked Man

About the Author
Jennifer O’Leary is a writer and award-winning investigative journalist best known for her work on BBC NI’s current affairs programme Spotlight. As a freelance journalist, she has also written feature articles for numerous publications, including the Sunday Business Post and Irish Examiner. She lives in Belfast.