Industrial Memories takes a closer look at Ireland’s legacy of institutional child abuse.

This website is a response to the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009). The content of this Report is emotionally challenging and users should be aware of this when accessing this site.

The Ryan Report & the 20th century


1936 Cussen Report published, critical of the institutional system of childcare
1936 1.98% of all children under 14 in the care of the State
1937 Irish Constitution
1939–45 World War Two (the ‘Emergency’)


1944 Children’s Allowance introduced (restricted to collection by father)
1946 Population in the schools peaks at 6,660 children
1946–48 Publication of Father Flanagan’s critical report on select industrial schools
1945 Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrenders August 15.
1945 World War II officially ends on September 2.
1947 October – The sound barrier is broken.


1951 6,272 children in Industrial Schools
1952 Adoption Act begins to lower numbers in Industrial Schools
1954 Letterfrack changes from Industrial to Reformatory School
1953–54 Introduction of free ante-natal healthcare
1957 European Common Market established with the Treaty of Rome
1958 TK Whitaker's Economic Development plan published


1961 6,173 children in industrial schools
1960–69 Increased economic prosperity leads to decrease of children being sentenced to Industrial Schools
1961 Construction of the Berlin Wall
1962 Pope John XXIII calls the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church


1970 Kennedy Report published. Report's criticism leads to the closing of several large single-sex residential institutions
1970 Artane, the largest and one of the most abusive boys’ schools, closes
1970 Health Boards established; move to social work model and away from institutionalisation
1971 1,653 children in Industrial Schools
1973 Marriage bar removed for women working in the public service
1974 Mothers allowed to collect Children’s allowance
1974 Minister for Health given primary responsibility for child care


1980–89 Investigations at Cabra school identify problem of physical abuse; these problems persist into the 1990s
1981 Hunger Strikes begin. Bobby Sands and nine others die
1984 Ann Lovett dies after giving birth in a religious grotto


1991 Child Care Act replaces Children Act of 1908
1995 Salthill, the last Christian Brothers Industrial School, handed over to the Western Health Board
1995 Dear Daughter about Goldenbridge, directed by Louis Lentin.
1999 States of Fear RTÉ series, by Mary Raftery
1999 Taoiseach Bertie Ahern apologises for institutional child abuse
1990 Marital rape defined as a crime
1992 The X case ruling allows women to travel to the UK for abortion
1996 Ireland's last Magdalen Laundry closes


2000 Establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse
2009 Publication of CICA (Ryan) Report
2000 Direct Provision system of institutionalising asylum seekers established
2004 Citizenship Referendum restricts Irish citizenship
2012 Referendum Relating to Children
2014 Tusla Child and Family Agency established

Echoes from the Past helps listeners to imagine what it was like to be a child in one of Ireland’s industrial schools. Read more here