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Chapter 10 — Carriglea

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In 1954, there were 176 boys resident in Carriglea. They were transferred to other industrial schools as follows: 122 boys were transferred to Artane, eight went to Upton, seven to Greenmount, 20 to Tralee, and 19 to Glin. These transfers took place on 21st June 1954.1


At the same time as the decision to close Carriglea was made, the decision was also made to confine admissions to Letterfrack to boys convicted of offences that would incur imprisonment if committed by an adult. This decision is discussed in full in the Letterfrack chapter. It met with strong opposition from the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and members of the Judiciary. The objections all focused on the unsuitability of Letterfrack because of its isolation and distance from Dublin, from where most of these children came. The Christian Brothers were adamant, however, and Letterfrack was designated in 1954 as the Christian Brothers’ industrial school for all convicted children under 14.


Clearly, it would have been a better decision for the children in care to close Letterfrack and keep Carriglea open. There was no record of such a suggestion being put to the Provincialate by either the relevant Departments or by District Judges. The fact that the Brothers owned the schools meant they were entitled to do what they liked with their own property. Irrespective of whether the property had been donated2 for a particular purpose, or had been purchased through fund-raising, once the legal title was vested in the Congregation, the Department of Education was powerless to influence the decision.


The accounts in Carriglea were not well kept for much of the period because the Brothers’ house accounts and the Institution accounts were not maintained separately until the mid-1940s. Instead, the various items of income and expenditure for the Institution and the Brothers’ residence were maintained in the one account. The poor state of book-keeping was criticised by Congregation Visitors, one of whom remarked in 1940: Should a Government Auditor ever come to audit the Carriglea Accounts there would not only be confusion but a very bad showing up of our methods of keeping Accounts.


A few Visitation Reports looked in detail at the issue of finance and, from them, some important information may be gleaned.


In 1938, the Visitor made a number of observations about the financial position of the Institution. There were 258 boys in the School in that year, and the total income from all sources including capitation grants was £8,256. A total of £1,600 was paid to the seven Brothers in the Carriglea Community by way of salary, which represented approximately £228 per Brother. Out of this, £500 was paid to the Baldoyle Building Fund and £320 in Visitation Dues. The salary paid to the Brothers did not cover housing expenses or food, which was paid for out of the overall budget of the Institution. Thus, £820, approximately 10% of the School income, was paid to the use of the Congregation.


The Visitor strongly recommended that separate House and School accounts should be kept, and this system was eventually put in place. A surplus of about £900 was recorded in 1943.


A loss in the running expenses of the Institution was recorded in 1947 and 1948, but it began making a profit again in 1949, and it continued to make a profit until its closure in 1954. In fact, by 1953, Carriglea had managed to accumulate £11,000 in its school bank account and had a further £4,000 in the Building Fund. The Visitor for that year recommended that: By some judicious method this £11,000 should be transferred to the Building Fund. To transfer it all by one cheque might not be desirable, as the Government – and possibly other parties also – seem to be anxious to probe into the financial position of industrial schools.


A ‘judicious method’ was obviously found because the total of money in the Building Fund for 1954 was recorded as £16,000, together with bank credits of approximately £8,000. It does not appear that Carriglea benefited from this Building Fund over the years. Basic maintenance was paid for out of current income and, although major improvements were undertaken by the Resident Manager in 1953/1954, these were of limited value to the boys, as the School closed within months of these improvements. It continued as a residential institution and, in 1956, opened as a juniorate for young boys wishing to join the Congregation.


The Congregation have acknowledged that, at the time of its closure, the surplus funds in Carriglea amounted to £25,255. The Christian Brothers in their Submission gave a number of explanations for this surplus. First, they said that the building was not old and therefore not in need of major renovation while the school operated. It is difficult to reconcile this explanation with the fact that Carriglea Park Industrial School was a 19th century building requiring the same level of maintenance as other Christian Brothers’ schools, and the condition of the buildings was consistently criticised by Visitors from the Congregation. Secondly, they pointed to the figure for repairs and maintenance for the period 1940 to 1954 which amounted to £4,798 and was, they said, a low sum. Thirdly, the Christian Brothers pointed to the fact that the maintenance grants increased in 1947 and 1948, and this factor they attributed to the accounts moving from the red into the black. Fourthly, they said that the purchase of additional farmland at Clonkeen considerably increased the farm in Carriglea and contributed to the surplus.


Sufficient funding was provided to meet the basic needs of the children in Carriglea, but it was not entirely devoted to that purpose. The Christian Brothers spent money on Carriglea just before it closed as an industrial school and opened as a juniorate for the Order.


Br Seamus Nolan, a member of the leadership team of St Helen’s Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, provided the Investigation Committee with an Opening Statement in regard to Carriglea. In his statement he described life in the Institution and outlined the Congregation’s view as to how the Institution operated. Br Nolan submitted that Carriglea remained in the shadow of Artane for a significant part of its existence and was compared unfairly to Artane. He added: the strength and individuality of Carriglea Park lay in the fact that it was small by comparison with its supposed parent, and while it practiced the same type of control, the staff, mainly Brothers, were accessible to the boys, befriended many of them and remained their mentors long after their stay in Carriglea Park.


Br Nolan referred to the various inspections carried out by the Congregation and the State, which ‘brought every aspect of life under scrutiny’. He stated that Carriglea fared well in these inspections and that ‘general provision for the pupils, medical care and especially education were highly praised’. Br Nolan referred to the annual Visitations to the School by members of the Provincial Council, which he believed were the most thorough and insightful of the inspections. He stated: ‘here again satisfaction and praise were the most common outcomes of the visits but censure and demands for improvement were not spared if failures were noticed’.


Br Nolan repeated the Congregation’s apology to any person who had experienced abuse by a Christian Brother in one of their institutions, but cautioned that it was important not to forget those who did not fail in their duty and gave generously of their time and service for the children committed to their care.


The Investigation Committee heard evidence from five complainants and one respondent in private hearings held over two days on 13th and 14th March 2006.

  1. 121 boys in Carriglea who had been committed through the courts were transferred to Artane (106), Upton (8) and Greenmount (7). There were 55 voluntary admissions and they were transferred to Artane (16), Tralee (20) and Glin (19).
  2. As in the case of Letterfrack .
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  9. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period. See Department of Education chapter for a discussion of her role and performance.
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  11. Br Ansel was also sent there for a few months around the end of 1945.
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  22. Review of Financial Matters Relating to the System of the Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and a Number of Individual Institutions 1939 to 1969.
  23. Córas Iompair Éireann was a State-owned public transport company.