SAN FRANCISCO - A former Catholic priest who spent five years working in Northern California has been released from jail in his native Ireland after pleading guilty to several child-abuse charges there.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Margaret Heneghan gave 77-year-old Patrick Joseph McCabe his freedom over the weekend based on his age, statements of contrition and the fact that he had served 21 months of a maximum 2-year sentence.

McCabe was extradited to Ireland in June 2011 to face charges that he had sexually abused young boys there in the early 1970s and 1980s.

He was sent to the United States to work after abuse complaints surfaced, and worked in Eureka, Guerneville, Sacramento, Eureka and Stockton before leaving the priesthood in 1988.

At least four former California parishioners have sued church officials in the U.S. and Ireland alleging McCabe abused them as boys.