Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Physical abuse


Another witness, at Artane in the mid-1960s, described being hit after being accused wrongly of tearing a blanket: We heard [Br Lionel] saying “who tore this blanket?” ... I answered him and I says “we don’t know” you know. He didn’t seem to take the answer too well, you know, and he called me down ... he asked me again ... So I gave him the same answer I gave him the first time, we didn’t know who tore the blanket. He didn’t seem to take that so the next of all he gave me a blow across the head there ... with his fists. He had a bunch of keys in his hand. The mark is there on my head if you wish to feel it or if any of your friends. The mark is there, yes. My head bled. I fell to the floor that day and going down I walloped my head off one of the bed legs there. There was rows of beds like in the other dormitory. I hurt my head as well falling to the floor because I wasn’t a very strong boy in them days ... I got hearing trouble through the blow afterwards, as life went on.


An ex-resident from the 1960s described the punishments that ensued every Thursday, following the inspection of underpants for soiling: ... when they were to be collected every Thursday night, and you were issued with a clean pair, you would stand by your bed with the underpants in your hand and the Brother would instruct another boy to go around and see who had soiled their underpants. If you came across somebody whose underpants were soiled he would raise his hand and you would go up to top of the dormitory and get a hiding.


He said that it happened more in dormitory number one, because that is where the younger boys were. When asked how the boys were punished, he replied: The punishment always started with facing the wall, because you faced the wall at the top of dormitory. Then when it came to your turn you put out your hands and you would get slapped.

Physical abuse


The number of slaps depended on whatever Brother was in charge. He said that the same Brother wouldn’t be in charge seven nights of the week and it wouldn’t necessarily be the same Brother every Thursday.


Two Brothers confirmed that this degrading underpants inspection and punishment of boys did take place. One of them conceded: ‘If [he] says I put him facing the wall I will admit that. If [he] says I slapped him on the hands I would also admit that’. Although the Brother claimed that the reason for these inspections was because of complaints from the laundry staff about soiled underwear, there was no evidence from complainants that they were required to wash out their underpants if they were soiled, which would have addressed the problem. The Brother also accepted that boys who soiled their underwear did not do so on purpose, and added, ‘I do not think they deserved to be punished’.


Many former residents complained of punishments that were excessively severe and violent. One witness, at Artane from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, described seeing a classmate being beaten. John51 was a very slow learner, but the Brother teaching Irish was not aware of this. He kept asking him questions, and persisted until he got the right answers, even though the boy had no idea what the questions meant: We started tittering laughing. I think Br Laurent52 thought we were laughing at him. He asked him again. Poor John kept guessing and always getting the wrong one. Eventually Br Laurent just blew his top. He hit that lad and got his head and smashed it ... on the bench. The ink wells went up, he was covered in ink, snots, blood, everything. He spent the entire half an hour, three quarters of an hour beating this lad until John eventually had a run of luck and picked this out three times in a row. With that when the bell went or the whistle, Br Laurent just slumped down exhausted from beating this lad. While we were, in the beginning, tittering, some of the lads were crying, we were frightened that he was going to kill him. We made way for him at the door. It was ghastly. The Brother at the other end, one class faced that way and the other faced that way, never intervened once to come down. That wasn’t like Br Laurent but he just lost it that day. He battered this poor lad, he was in bits. So don’t tell me there it was isolated cases, that Brother at the other end should have done something about it but he didn’t.


One witness, at Artane in the 1960s, had reported a Brother for sexual abuse, and he described the purging of ‘badness’, the Artane term for sexual activity, that ensued following his reporting the matter: After that happened, the next day I was brought out of class and I was questioned about who I was committing badness with ... Because I didn’t name names at that particular time, but because of the beating I was getting, I was giving names of other boys who I had committed badness with and those other boys were taken out of class and they were beaten until they gave names. It was just one vicious circle that kept going on for two – for three days. I had been taken out because other boys started giving my name back again. It was even said to me, but who said it I don’t know, “you should have kept your mouth shut and none of this would have happened”.. But for three days I was systematically abused, both outside the classroom, in the dormitory, anywhere where I went within those environments. I was taken to a music room just off the corridor to the right of where the classes are and I had been beaten so much that I went to the toilet in a bin and another boy seen me and told a Brother that I had done that and I was taken back out and flogged again because I had done that. We weren’t allowed to go to the toilet; we were being punished for something that I had started.


Another witness described an occasion when a Brother struck him on the genitals in the course of a beating, and the boy protected himself with his hand but the Brother took his hand away: “What’s the matter with you? Those are no good to you anyway”... With that, he had me against the wall ... He put his fist between my legs and pushed me upwards while I was leaning back against the wall. He had his other hand on my chest to make sure I would fall forward and then he took his hand away.


A former resident who was there in the 1960s described the punishment given to boys whose shoes were ‘cast’. He explained: what cast means is they were cast out, thrown away because they were absolutely gone beyond repair. Depending on the state of your shoes ... would depend on the severity of the clattering you would get.


He then described the punishment: If your shoes were cast you knew you were going to the wall. You would go and face the wall until they finished the inspection on all the children and then you would receive slaps. With Br Karel53 he could use a hurl, he could use a leather. Br Raoul54 the same, leather, hurl ... At times a hurl, at times a leather. At times an open palm. At times, as far as I was concerned a closed fist, pulling of the sideburns, being lifted by your sideburns. The particular instant that would frighten me and still does today was ... The chap in front of me at the time was a guy called David.55 When we were going up to get the boots examined you could see that ... there was no sole left in the boot and when he got up in front of him, he turned up the boot and I know now I didn’t know then that ... Br Raoul was just being totally sarcastic and he said “They’ll do you another week ...” and David – it was a relief, he was too young to understand, so was I to what was going on, but when David turned to walk away with his boots, thinking that’s great, he suddenly got a belt of a hurl on the back of – the back, then he was beat up and down the dormitory with a hurl.


Some punishments were peculiar to Artane. Several witnesses described the practice of putting boys ‘on a charge’.


A former resident of the 1940s described what was involved: Artane, people don’t realise, it was a prison in itself. You were surrounded by gates and you were surrounded by big buildings. If you done something wrong in my time there was a 30 foot wall. I don’t know how anyone was going to get over a building. But you got a little patch to mind and you had to stand minding that wall.


The boys were left there until ‘Whenever they’d feel like coming back for you’.


Another resident who was there between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s said: I was fairly regularly on a charge in Artane. You were put in charge of a building or a gate and you walked up and down. Br Armande56 would go from gate to gate often passed us and he said to me, “You seem to be in a lot of trouble”.


He explained further: by the church there was the wicker gate, you were on a charge, it meant you stood by that, you didn’t let anyone out. Then there was another chap on the main gate. Then there was somebody on the building, which was usually me in the last few months. You had to parade up and down there, you couldn’t play ... Br Cretien always had a stick up his sleeve. He always beat you with a stick and then you got the charge.

  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.
  57. This is a pseudonym.
  58. This is a pseudonym.
  59. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  67. This is a pseudonym.
  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.