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Chapter 7 — Artane

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Emotional abuse


For the sake of ‘the care and after-care of the pupils’, Cussen recommended that Artane should be divided into separate schools of no more than 250 pupils.


In paragraph 80, the Cussen Report commented on the effects of institutional life: In some schools monotonous marching round a school yard took the place of free play at the time for recreation. Such drill-like exercise, especially if prolonged, becomes a dreary routine deleterious to mind and body, and it should be replaced by free play and organised games that will develop in the child alertness of movement and individual confidence, and thus help to compensate in some measure for the lack of initiative and individuality that are characteristic of children reared in institutions.


Concerned to prevent this institutionalisation, the Cussen Report, in Recommendation 15, advocated that: Reasonable contact of pupils with the outside world is desirable and should be permitted to a greater extent that is the case at present.


Cussen’s recommendations were not put into effect. Indeed, in the 1940s the numbers in Artane swelled to 844.


Some senior Brothers questioned the regimented lives in Artane. In 1952, the Visitation Report contained the following observations: The presence of over 700 boys in one establishment with all kinds of social background necessitates a great amount of regimentation and vigilance, and these have been developed in Artane to the n-th degree so that it would be almost impossible to find a loophole in the system. From Rising Bell till “lights out” the boys are regimented under the watchful eyes of Brothers who are experts in their various duties – so that it becomes almost true to say that the boys are never called on to make decisions for themselves even in small details except at one moment in the day – the moment when they must decide to go or not to go to the altar for Communion. And then one begins to wonder if it can be possible that this system, so perfect in itself, is fundamentally all wrong from top to bottom. Is it achieving the end for which it was evolved, to train the will, memory and understanding of the boys so that when they go out into the world they may be able to take their parts as good citizens and good Catholics? Will young people who know nothing about freedom, since their birth or since their early boyhood, be able to use sensibly the freedom which is theirs when they pass through Artane gates into the wide world? These questions cannot be answered after a period of five days’ residence in Artane. However, more than one experienced Brother in the Community has asked himself similar questions and has not been too happy about the answers.


In the 1956 Visitation Report the Visitor, commenting on the character training of the boys, wrote: The control of so many boys has led, in the system employed, to over much “shepherding especially from 6.30 till bed time. The separation of Juniors and Seniors would be most desirable. The lack of play-hall space is a crying need. Notwithstanding the devoted care of the Brothers it must be admitted, I think that the Institution is much too large. If it is to continue as an Industrial School its division into Junior and Senior sections would seem to be most desirable.


It was 1960 before the division was finally made, and in the Visitation Report for that year it was noted: As an aid to discipline in this large Institution the boys have now been divided into two groups – the boys over 14 and those under that age ... it was time this move was made. Of course it means doubling the number of Brothers on duty.


The Congregation’s Opening Statement reveals the relationship between boys and staff over the years: 1940s – average number of pupils – 802 1950s – average number of pupils – 620 1960s – average number of pupils – 286.


The staff quotas provided by the Congregation are as follows: 1940–1947 – 16 to 20 Brothers and up to 6 lay staff 1947–1960 – average 14 Brothers 1960–1966 – average 11 Brothers.


The evidence of the Brothers and former Brothers in relation to staff ratios was that a small number, between six and 10 of the younger Brothers, carried the main burden of teaching and supervision of the boys. This led to the situation that Brothers who were directly involved in these duties were over-worked and often stressed. It is not clear why so many Brothers living in Artane were not directly involved with the care of the children.


The Investigation Committee heard evidence from many former pupils and staff from Artane with regard to the size of the Institution. A former pupil, in Artane from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, described: The first night, I was put in the ward, I couldn’t believe it. It looked to me huge. All the beds in a line and I was put into this bed and I was crying. I was told to stop crying and I couldn’t. I was smacked [by the Brother who was on at nights] to say if you don’t stop crying you will get another one ... I couldn’t sleep ... I was woken up and I had wet the bed.


A former Brother described how there was no preparation or training in Marino for dealing with the large numbers in Artane or for the type of boys that were sent there. Artane was run like the Army, everything ran like a clock. The boys marched for breakfast, marched to the dormitories, other than the free play in the playground everything was structured. The size of the School and the numbers during his time (800 boys) did not leave much room for understanding the boys.


Another former Brother who served in Artane in the early 1960s said: the numbers were very large and you had to have your wits about you to keep an eye on everything, you know, to make sure nobody was in danger. You would want to keep the smaller children away from bigger so they wouldn’t be run down or hurt or anything.


He recalled that, in his time, two Brothers would be keeping an eye on over 400 boys.


Most of the Brothers who appeared before the Investigation Committee complained about the numbers in the School.

  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.
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  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
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  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.
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  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
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  44. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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  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.
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  87. This is a pseudonym.