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Chapter 7 — Artane

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Physical abuse


The boy whose arm was broken is now deceased. The only witness available to the Investigation Committee was Br Michel,26 who was involved in the incident with Br Cyrano. Br Cyrano made a statement at the time, in which he said: As I was asking Br Michel something about the Easter tests he mentioned that a boy ... had caused him trouble that morning. He asked me what should he do and I told him that it would be better to give some punishment as he would only cause trouble again. I closed my door and began writing on the black board. During this time I could hear the boy talking and saying “I won’t give in if you keep at me for a week”. The boy was making remarks similar to this but I could not hear them to make them out. My own class stopped their work when they heard the noise next door. I knew from this that the boy was resisting punishment. I continued writing on the board and suddenly the door was opened in a hurry. A boy from Br Michel’s class entered saying that [he] wanted me immediately. I dropped the chalk and went in. As I entered I saw Br Michel and the boy in a corner. Br Michel was holding the boy who in turn had a brush raised as if to hit [him]. I lost my temper and in the spur of the moment I caught the brush and hit the boy. But how often or where I hit him I can’t say for definite. Then I gave the brush to another boy and told him to leave [it] at the far end of the room. As I was going back to my own room again I noticed the boy looking at his arm. I asked him to bend it which he did. I then left the classroom and went back to my own.


Following the incident, a fellow pupil took the boy to the infirmary. The infirmary record read as follows: ... Injury to arm (Accident in schoolroom) Iodex dressing and crepe bandage. Head dressed and bandaged. Taken back to school by boy who brought him to the infirmary.


This treatment indicates that the boy had lacerations to his arm and head, in addition to the fracture that was later diagnosed. The severity of the beating must have been obvious.


A doctor did not see him until the next day, when the entry in the infirmary record read: ... Examined by Dr [name] – sent to Mater Hospital. X-rayed. Result: fracture. Put in plaster. To return [date]. Admitted to Infirmary.

Physical abuse


The boy continued to attend the Mater Hospital on a daily basis, and he was finally discharged two months after his first attendance.


Had the mother not written asking for an investigation into the matter, these two infirmary records would have been the only written evidence of the incident. It was simply recorded as an ‘accident’, and no Brother was mentioned as being involved.


Six days after the mother’s letter of complaint was written, Br Cyrano, who had struck the blows, wrote to the Provincial of the Congregation: I am very sorry for all the damage I have done to the Brothers of Artane Community and to the Brothers in general. I have been very much upset and worried since it has happened. I will never forget it all my life. I would like if you would give me a change, as I would never really settle down again in Artane. As a favour I would be very much obliged if you considered my case, in making the change ...


These two contemporary documents within the records of the Congregation contain no details at all about the nature of the incident and the personnel involved. The infirmary record wrongly described it as an accident, with no indication that the fracture was the result of a deliberate blow, and the Brother’s letter expresses concern about the damage done to the Congregation rather than concern about what had happened to the boy. Even so, the fact that he was so upset and worried, and felt he would never be able to forget it, did not accord with Br Reynolds’s assertion that the attitude of the times to such incidents was not to view them as seriously as they would be viewed today.


This document also revealed that Br Cyrano was transferred out of Artane at his own request, because he felt he could never settle down there again. The assertion that his transfer was the result of action taken by the Congregation, to remove him from his position in Artane, misrepresents what actually happened.


Br Michel, the other Brother involved in the incident, appeared before the Investigation Committee and also expressed his remorse, describing it as ‘one of these things that I have to carry with me to the end of my life’. He said: ... a thing happened which I have found very difficult to bear ever since. It is 51 years ago now. In the classroom one morning, a young lad and myself – he wasn’t responding to the slaps that I was giving him, as far as I can recollect it now, and I was a young man, he was quite a hefty fellow. At any rate he decided to rush to the side of the classroom and grab a brush and went to strike me with it. Now I was absolutely nervous, didn’t know what to do and did the wrong thing, unfortunately. I called in another Brother, and he grabbed the brush from this young man and it all happened on the spur of the moment, regretfully. He did strike the young chap and he caused some injury to him. The matter was investigated at the time by the inspector for industrial schools and, regretfully, that other man was transferred out of the place.


This Brother did not know that the transfer was made at the request of his colleague and thought it followed the Inspector’s investigation. Under questioning, he added: It happened very very suddenly and in actual fact I didn’t realise there was any harm done, if you know what I mean, at the time until sometime afterwards, some days later.


This young Brother had seen a boy hit several times with a brush, causing visible injuries to his head and arm and he ‘didn’t realise there was any harm done ... at the time until sometime afterwards, some days later’. This simple statement indicates how a violent incident did not seem to be extraordinary in Artane. The extent of the harm done only emerged after the complaints had been made.


Br Michel blamed himself for the incident. He said, ‘I was young, I was timid. I hadn’t the control I should have’. He then uttered the following apology, ‘I wish to apologise profusely to people that I offended and I feel I have done my best to put that before the Commission’.


Neither of the Brothers escorted the boy to the infirmary: a fellow pupil took him. Br Cyrano, who struck the blow, appears to have suspected a fracture, because he wrote in his statement that he saw the boy looking at his arm and asked him to bend it, but he did not pass on that concern to the infirmary. The obvious severity of the injuries should have resulted in a full medical history being taken and a thorough examination.


The TD who raised the matter in the Dáil took up the case as a solicitor and wrote making a claim. In correspondence, it was suggested that a payment could be made to the parents by way of settlement. The Christian Brothers at the time were willing to make a settlement in order to avoid proceedings, but they were advised that a payment would not prevent a claim being made when the boy reached his majority, and that payment should not be made to the parents. No agreement could be reached, and the matter apparently ended without any payment being made.

  1. Report on Artane Industrial School for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse by Ciaran Fahy, Consulting Engineer (see Appendix 1).
  2. Rules and Regulations of Industrial Schools 1885.
  3. Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934-1936 chaired by Justice Cussen.
  4. Dr McQuaid and Fr Henry Moore.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym. See also the Tralee chapter.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. Br Beaufort had previously also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. From the infirmary register it appears that while the boy was not confined in hospital he was due for a check up the day his mother called to see the superior so he may well not have been in the Institution when his mother called.
  24. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  25. It was in fact the Minister for Education who used those words. See paragraph 7.117 .
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. This is a pseudonym.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a pseudonym.
  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. This is a pseudonym.
  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
  37. This is a pseudonym.
  38. This is a pseudonym.
  39. This is a pseudonym.
  40. This is a pseudonym.
  41. This is a pseudonym.
  42. This is a pseudonym.
  43. This is a pseudonym.
  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
  47. This is a pseudonym.
  48. This is a pseudonym.
  49. Dr Anna McCabe (Medical Inspector), Mr Seamus Mac Uaid (Higher Executive Officer) and Mr MacDáibhid (Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in Charge of Industrial Schools).
  50. This is a pseudonym.
  51. This is a pseudonym.
  52. This is a pseudonym.
  53. This is a pseudonym.
  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
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  60. This is a pseudonym.
  61. This is a pseudonym.
  62. This is a pseudonym.
  63. This is a pseudonym.
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  65. This is a pseudonym.
  66. This is a pseudonym.
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  68. This is a pseudonym.
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  70. This is a pseudonym.
  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. This is a pseudonym.
  74. This is a pseudonym.
  75. This is a pseudonym.
  76. This is a pseudonym.
  77. This is a pseudonym.
  78. This is a pseudonym.
  79. See General Chapter on the Christian Brothers at para ???.
  80. He went there after many years in Artane.
  81. Dr Charles Lysaght was commissioned by the Department of Education to conduct general and medical inspections of the industrial and reformatory schools in 1966 in the absence of a replacement for Dr McCabe since her retirement the previous year. He inspected Artane on 8th September 1966.
  82. See Department of Education and Science Chapter, One-off Inspections.
  83. The fact that they were tired is noted in many Visitation Reports.
  84. Council for Education, Recruitment and Training.
  85. This is a pseudonym.
  86. This is a pseudonym.
  87. This is a pseudonym.