The only time that eavesdropping was any use was when it was some wean who'd made their First Confession within the last month or so. The wee crater would be shouting out their innocent sins...
I was cheeky to my Mammy. I forgot to say my prayers. I stole sweeties.
Then the priest would say, Three Hail Marys and an Our Father.
The older Penitent was a different matter. No matter how hard you tried to hear all you'd get was a pisssswissssswissss as they uttered their transgressions to the father. Your only hope of a bit of scandal would be if the priest was a loud sort who might shout out the penance. Three Hail Marys was standard. An Our Father was for stealing sweeties. Ten Hail Marys and extra Our Fathers were always indicative of heavy duty sinning but when the Father dished out the entire Rosaries you knew the culprit had been doing some pretty bad stuff. The only person I can remember getting the Rosary was a fellow, in his teens then, owns a pub in Randalstown now. Hardly surprising he'd come to that sort of end.