Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 13 — Cabra

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The only detailed reports available to the Investigation Committee were the annual inspections carried out by the Christian Brother Visitors from 1938 to 1989.


Although some parents did pay fees for their children in Cabra, most of the costs were covered either by the State or by the Catholic Institute for the Deaf. The Hospitals Act, 1939 made provision for deaf schools to get funding from the Hospitals Commission, subject to a number of conditions, one of which was the entitlement of officials in the Department of Health to inspect the School. Annual capitation grants were provided by the Department of Education and the equivalent department in Northern Ireland. The School today receives some funding from the Department of Education and the Catholic Institute.


The Visitation Report of 1945 set out the position: The income is derived from Farm, Capitation grants and a grant from the Committee. A new arrangement has now been entered into between the Brothers and the Governing Committee as to method of payment. By this agreement the Brothers are to get £44 per head for each boy in the school. They are to meet all expenses from this source, along with this they may also retain the Capitation grant and the net income from the farm. The Pro-Rata last year was £50. Two accounts are kept. No1 for school. No2 for house. In the former there is an overdraft of £612 at the end of Dec. last. In No.2 there was a surplus of £3,015. With judicious management the new arrangement should provide sufficient funds to support the Institution.


This proved to be a correct prediction. The following year, the Visitor commented: The financial state of the Institution is very sound and the funds are carefully disbursed.


The healthy state of the House accounts continued and, in 1954, the Visitor noted: Finances are simple from the Community point of view. The Committee feeds, clothes and lodges the Brothers even to the extent of buying their cigarettes. Vacation, travel, alms and Provincial dues are paid out of the Brothers’ salaries as National Teachers. One Brother is recognised for every 14 pupils ... The balance is considerable, and the question is what is to be done with this balance. The committee should certainly get some of it.


In 1958, the Visitor stated: The Financial position of the establishment is sound and with the increased Capitation Grant there should be a marked improvement in the surplus income even in this present year.


This position continued into the early 1960s and, in 1962, the Visitor noted that, between the capitation grants and the salaries paid to the Brothers, ‘there is a considerable income to the school’.


From 1959, the Congregation developed a new secondary school for boys in Cabra West, St Declan’s, and for the first number of years this school was directly and indirectly supported by the Community in St Joseph’s, Cabra.


Indirect support came in the form of accommodation to the Brothers working in St Declan’s, who did not acquire their own separate monastery until the 1970s.


The situation was summed up by a letter from the Provincial Council in 1963: Your finances are sound throughout the school for the Deaf but all monies should be well spent as there might be a change over-night. St Declan’s could not support a Community on what is over from the Secondary Balance. You could probably send us £3000 from the Brothers’ account in payment of loan due to Building Fund on St Declan’s.


By 1970, St Declan’s had become a viable separate institution, and a monastery for the Brothers teaching there was recommended. In 1970, the Visitor noted: ‘To date St Joseph’s carried the expenses incurred in the building of St Declan’s’.


Numbers in Cabra continued to be high into the 1970s. In 1973, there were 160 boarders and 120 day pupils. Although the Institution showed a loss of £3,361, the House accounts for the same year showed a credit balance in the bank of over £47,500.


The premises were not owned by the Congregation, and the maintenance costs were paid by the Committee. In 1954, the Visitor noted: The property belongs to the Committee which finances the establishment. The Superior keeps the place in repair and submits the accounts to the Committee. He is expected to keep expenditure within certain limits, but he need not get the Committee’s approval for minor repairs in advance. In general the place is in good repair, and the boys keep it neat and clean.


Although Visitors were in general positive about conditions in Cabra, criticism was made of some matters that directly affected the boys. The boys’ dormitories, kitchen and refectory all came in for criticism in 1949. In 1954, the Visitor commented: Many of the faces seemed pinched in contrast to the rosy, chubby faces of the Artane boys. This could be partly explained by the serious illness of some in the past ... but I think some of the blame lies in the feeding ... The boys never get milk except what partly colours the tea. Indeed half the farm milk supply goes to the boys, the other half to the Community! In general the quality, quantity, variety and service of the food could be improved. They have aluminium dishes and no knives at dinner. The main trouble is £.s.d. The grants are £61 per boy (except for boys from Northern Ireland who get £84). In contrast 30/- per week is paid on Industrial School boys in Eire, and even the authorities admit that this is not sufficient.


According to the Visitor, the Committee was loath to increase the funding to the School and stressed that ‘the school is a charitable institution’. This Visitor was the same Brother who also commented in the 1954 report on how the surplus funds in the House accounts could best be used.

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