Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


A complainant resident in the 1950s alleged that, when supervising the showers, Br Verrill used to require the boys to bend over, to make sure that they were clean. He said that, on a few occasions while doing this, he used to put his hands on the boys’ testicles and say ‘did you like that?’. The complainant said that he got so used to being humiliated that he accepted it and did not regard it as unusual at the time.


Relationships between Brothers and boys were unlikely to be the subject of complaint in the same way as violent or forced incidents of abuse.


One witness who was in Artane in the 1940s described a sexual relationship with a Brother that he said was different from what happened with other Brothers. This relationship was a sexual affair with affection and reciprocity. It is scarcely necessary to add that it was a case of serious sexual abuse: ... I had sexual relations with him. That is the way I look at it. I will say the others abused me, but with him I would be kinder with the words because the man did look after he me, but I did do things with him that today people would stand up and scream about. But he was kind. He was probably the only person in my life up to that time. Probably the only person in my life up to that time that would give me a hug, look after me. Anyone, nobody could get to me. You know, he kept the others away. Monitors never reported me because they knew I would report them. Simple. He looked after me, I looked after him. As simple as that ... sexual abuse did take place. But at that time that was mine, I now know that it was wrong. But at the time, if he had asked me to eat his head, I would have eaten his head, as simple as that.


When it was suggested to him that this relationship appeared to form a large part of his memories of Artane, he replied: It does, actually, because as I said, he was probably was the one person I loved at that point. I did love the man, you know. I know he done that, but I loved him. I have very fond memories of the man. But now I am 68.


In contrast, he named four other Brothers as having been sexually abusive of him. This complainant said that, at the same time that he was being sexually abused, the Brothers were emphasising the evils of sex: They screamed about the dangers of badness and yet they were practising it on us.


Another complainant spoke about a lay teacher’s behaviour that he saw as coming into a different category from other sexual experiences in Artane: He used have his cloth over him and he kind of took my hand and placed it on top with the cloth covering it in case anybody came in. I touched him like that ... He carried on ... and then sent me back to my place. That’s all [he] ever done, he was a fondler more than anything. He didn’t ask you to undress or anything like that.


He confirmed the statement that he had made to the Commission: All boys liked [him] because he was a gentle kind of man.


He said that the teacher looked after the boys and that they put up with him for that reason. He said: We weren’t idiots. Boys at that age were aware, I was anyway, that some of the teachers and some people were like that.


He continued: he was good to us ... He wasn’t cruel like some of the Brothers. I personally found him very nice and also he always brought a newspaper in every morning. When he was finished the lads would get it. Some of us were avid readers. In that way he was a man’s man, if you like. I know he was a groper but he was a decent man in every other way.


A number of witnesses, who did not themselves claim to have been sexually abused, stated that they believed that other boys were sexually abused in Artane. Almost all of these witnesses acknowledged that they had not actually seen sexual activity taking place, so their evidence and recollections were based on mixtures of surmise, hearsay and deduction. One witness explained: The way I reckoned it was that when I was being abused, I know other boys were going through the same doors, going through the same classroom doors, going the long hall ... I saw them. I saw boys going through the doors ... I mean down to classrooms. I saw them going into classrooms when they shouldn’t have been in the classrooms.


He added: The reason why I think it odd was because the classrooms, any time I ever went into one when I shouldn’t have been there, it was for that reason. That is the only places they could take you. So I reckoned that if it was happening to me in there and Brothers were taking them in there, that it was happening to them. I had seen many Brothers go in there with children, and then I would hear children crying when I was in the dormitories. I knew what they were crying for, because I had done a bit of it myself. I knew boys, that when I was keeping – watching Brothers on the Parade, and I was hiding from them and seeing them hiding from them, I knew what they were hiding from.


Other witnesses testified that they had seen boys going into Brothers’ rooms at night in the period after bedtime and before the night watchman came on duty.


Respondent witnesses gave evidence as to their awareness of sexual activity in Artane. Four Brothers testified that, during their training for the Christian Brothers, they had been instructed about the possibility of inappropriate sexual activity between Brothers and boys.


Br Saber stated that: I would say the best instruction we ever got was before we left the training college. Before we left the training college, we got a talk from our Superior on sexual abuse, right. The attraction of a kid – of a Brother to a young fellow, right. He would be very clear and very specific minded, be careful of it, avoid it ... Some other Brothers would say to me that it didn’t mean much to them because they never encountered it. Right? It did, it meant something to me, I can honestly say that. To most people it did. There was an outbreak in Artane previously seemingly of some Brothers being accused.


Br Gaspard stated that there was a general rule that Brothers should not be alone with boys. One of the reasons for this rule was that it provided a defence for Brothers if accused of abuse. However, he stated that this rule was not rigidly enforced. He informed the Committee that he was always conscious of the rule: I mean that I went out of my way to make sure that I never gave any, never did anything that would be sexually incorrect in my dealings with the boys in Artane.

  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.
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  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.