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Chapter 10 — Carriglea

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Physical abuse


The leather strap was normally used to inflict punishment but a witness who was in Carriglea from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s alleged that a T-square was also used. He described how Br Luc19 inflicted punishment with this implement: He would tell him to bend over the stool. He used get the T-square, T-square that you had on the thing. Then he would pick out a match that was played that particular weekend, and it would always be the hurling, always the high scoring games used to with in the hurling in them days with the Tipperarys and the Corks and the Wexfords and all that, what he would do he would take the T-square out and he would ask the class what was the score of the game yesterday. It was 2-3 to 1-15 or whatever it would be where you got – he used to – I don’t mean just tap you, he used to just swing it like a hurley stick at the boy’s backside and he would give him a smack for every point and three for a goal. Now, that’s what it was.


This complainant absconded, and recalled that, when he was eventually caught, he was beaten severely and his head was shaved. Part of his punishment also entailed having to stand outside in the bandstand for an hour each day and read the catechism. It was winter and particularly cold. He said that he suffered this penance for three weeks.


1 .When discipline became a real problem, the Congregation sanctioned the appointment of men with a known propensity for excessive corporal punishment, who instilled fear into the children and the result was a more easily managed institution. The Congregation saw this as a legitimate means of controlling the large number of children in Carriglea.

Sexual abuse


The Christian Brothers submitted in their Opening Statement that ‘sexual abuse of a child was a rare occurrence and one that was sure to initiate an immediate response from the authorities once they became aware of it’.


They outlined the procedure for dealing with reported cases of sexual abuse, as has been discussed in the General Chapter on the Christian Brothers. This procedure led ultimately to the dismissal of a Brother who was known to be a sexual abuser.


This procedure remained in place until the 1970s. The Christian Brothers accepted that, judged by present-day standards, their approach was ‘seriously inadequate’ and did not take account of the impact of the abuse on the child. However, they argued that the approach was in keeping with the level of awareness at the time on issues such as recidivism, paedophilia and the serious damage caused by abuse. They submitted that the inadequacy arose through lack of awareness and knowledge, rather than through neglect. The moral failure of the Brother and the danger of scandal were regarded as the primary matters to be addressed when cases of abuse arose. If a Brother was found to have abused a child, he was ‘adjudged unworthy of being in charge of children and if dismissed was not given a reference for a teaching position’.


Br Tristan spent over 10 years in Dublin before being transferred to Carriglea in the early 1940s under a cloud. The reason for his transfer is unknown, except that the matter was sufficiently serious to warrant being brought to the attention of the General Council in Rome.


It was not long before Br Tristan once again came to the attention of the General Council. Less than a year after his arrival in Carriglea, he was issued with a Canonical Warning and was swiftly transferred to Artane. Once again, details of this incident are not available.


In 1944, Br Tristan was implicated in sexual abuse of boys, along with three other Brothers in Artane. The abuse came to light after ‘a series of accusations by boys of the school indicating criminal or indecent assault’. The written complaints made by the boys and investigated by the Superior of Artane revealed ‘long continuance and frequency of wrongdoing on the part of Br Tristan’. He was tried by the General Council in Rome on 16th October 1944, where he denied ‘some of the matter of each charge’. Br Tristan was found guilty, and the unanimous vote was in favour of expulsion.


Br Tristan requested an interview with the Apostolic Visitor and one was granted. After their discussion, Br Tristan decided to apply for a dispensation from his vows. The dispensation was granted immediately by the Apostolic Visitor ‘whose powers enabled him to do so where he deemed it wise’.


There is a strong indication that Br Tristan was known by the General Council to be an abuser. He was that he was probably abusing boys throughout his 15-year career in the Congregation. Their solution to the problem was to move him on and to keep him within the industrial school system. The record of his trial by the General Council made it clear that the allegations amounted in their view to ‘criminal or indecent assault’. This was at odds with the submission made by the Christian Brothers to the effect that there was no appreciation at the time of the gravity of sexual abuse, and that the moral failure of the Brother and danger of scandal to the Congregation were regarded as the most significant repercussions of sexual abuse. The Christian Brothers referred to this incident in their Opening Statement and submitted that ‘it transpired, later, ... that he had also offended while in Carriglea Park’. This implied that the Carriglea incident only came to light some time later. This was not the case, as the minutes of the General Council meeting revealed that Br Tristan was reminded at his trial of the reason for his removal from both Marino and Carriglea.


Br Lancelin spent a short time in Artane in the early 1940s and was transferred to Carriglea in 1944. It would appear that he was transferred from Artane as ‘suspicion had been aroused by a tendency to particular friendship with a boy in Artane’. The Christian Brothers added in their Opening Statement that the evidence against him was inconclusive and he was cautioned before being transferred to Carriglea. It wasn’t long before he once again came under suspicion. A number of boys submitted written statements accusing Br Lancelin of ‘immoral conduct’. His record noted ‘one offence occurred on Xmas day 1944, though he made vows on Xmas morning’. The matter was investigated by the Provincial. He had previously given Br Lancelin ‘advice and caution’ regarding his dealings with boys, but the circumstances of this earlier episode are not known. The statements were read to Br Lancelin at a hearing before the General Council on 19th January 1945, and he admitted the substance of the allegations. As he was still on temporary vows, a dispensation from final vows was not necessary and he was dismissed from the Congregation.


In this serious case of sexual abuse, boys made written statements of complaint, which would have been an unusual course in the 1940s. The language used in the records included reference to ‘offences’, ‘charges’ and ‘guilt’. It is clear from these references and the nature of the hearing before the General Council that there was an awareness at the time of the criminal nature of the allegations and that their significance extended beyond moral failing of a Brother.


The documents revealed a high level of sexual activity between the boys. These records have been dealt with in the section ‘Management Issues’ The Christian Brothers submitted in their Opening Statement: The phenomenon of sexual activity of one kind or another among the pupils in industrial schools and indeed in boarding schools generally seems to have been a feature of life in these institutions and called for constant vigilance on the part of the staff.


Although some of this activity may have been consensual, children as young as 11 were engaged in this, and they were in all probability victims of predatory behaviour. In failing to supervise, management failed to protect younger or weaker boys from sexual abuse by their peers.

  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.