Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Emotional abuse


In the Visitation Report of 1954, the Visitor gave an example of the level of control that was inherent in Artane: Br Cretien is chief Disciplinarian. It is gratifying to hear that there is not much necessity for corporal punishment. There was a good test of the spirit of discipline on my second day in Artane. It was Saturday night and the boys were retiring to the dormitories. More than half had got in; many were on the stairs and a number still in the yard when the electric light failed. There was no stampede or sign of confusion. A few candles were lighted and to my surprise I found the boys sitting on or standing beside their beds in absolute silence.


As one Brother who served in Artane in the late 1950s put it: If we did not have a strict discipline at that stage the place would have gone to rack and ruin and those who would have suffered most would have been the boys ... it had to be strict because we had no back up services whatsoever ... some of them unfortunately who had problems and maybe who should not have been there at all ... the boys who could not understand that there was a certain way of doing a thing and that if they did not do that then it was going to lead to trouble for them, even if they were punished it didn’t register with them.


Later in his evidence, he was asked whether there were boys in Artane who were too emotionally fragile to be there in the first place: In all probability that would be a way to put it yes. They had come from backgrounds where they didn’t have the normal supports and so on as young people and they were coming in and they find themselves in a large group. Looking back now it must have been an impossible situation for them and knowing what we know now those young people should not have been there. There should have been a place for them but that wasn’t available at that particular time, as far as I know.


As the evidence unfolded before the Investigation Committee, it became clear that Artane did undergo a certain amount of change in the 1960s. Numbers were falling, and two Brothers in particular were singled out by their peers as men of vision who tried to bring innovations into the School for the betterment of the boys. A Godparent association was formed, and boys were placed with families for Christmas, summer holidays, and occasional Sundays. This was seen as a step forward, where boys would be able to live in a normal family situation. Nuns were introduced into the School, and their presence had a calming effect on the boys. A new games room and swimming pool were opened in the mid-1960s.


Although some of the Brothers recognised the need for the boys to be better prepared for the outside world, there does not appear to have been any consistent policy to prepare the boys emotionally and psychologically for their post-Artane days.


The Investigation Committee heard from a number of complainants that they did not have much family contact and that, on occasions, for example on the death of a family member, the situation was not handled in a sensitive manner. There is no evidence, however, that the Institution had a policy of discouraging children from having contact with their families. Boys from Dublin usually went home regularly.


Many witnesses to the Investigation Committee gave instances of acts of kindness, when particular Brothers treated them well. This evidence was often given by way of contrast with other negative experiences in Artane. The complainants named several Brothers as being particularly kind and fair, and these kind members of the Congregation made a positive contribution to the lives of the boys in Artane.


In conclusion: The number of boys in Artane, the extreme regimentation of their lives, the lack of appropriate training of the Brothers, the insufficient numbers of staff, and the pervasiveness of corporal punishment all had serious adverse effects on the welfare and emotional development of many of the children who passed through Artane. A climate of fear in Artane was a dominant memory for many ex-pupils. Practices used for management and control of the boys were frightening and abusive from the child’s point of view. It was a problem central to the whole system in Artane that the boys’ perspective was not taken into account. The Christian Brothers did not understand the impact of those practices.



The topic of finance in Artane and in the other institutions specifically investigated by Mazars is discussed more fully elsewhere in this report, in the context of issues that arise in all institutions. That discussion focuses first on whether the capitation per child was sufficient in institutions generally. It then considers the accounts of four particular institutions including Artane. The reports prepared by Mazars were sent for comment to the relevant Congregations, which responded with submissions that they prepared with the assistance of their own experts, following which Mazars finalised a comprehensive report.


By making comparisons with contemporaneous indices, Mazars established that the grant paid per child in the industrial school system was adequate to provide a reasonable level of care for most of the relevant period. When other factors were taken into account, such as the value of the farm and the profit made from trades, the financial position was even stronger. A significant further factor that applied in Artane was the economies of scale that arose because of the large numbers accommodated there.


Artane was virtually self-sufficient, providing the majority of its needs from its own resources. The Industrial School’s sources of income were: capitation/maintenance grants (84%); income from the farm and trade shops (10%); and the balance from a variety of other sources, including parents’ contributions and receipts from band performances. The Institution was also in receipt of a substantial primary grant for the running of the national school attached to the Industrial School.


In its Opening Statement in relation to Artane, the Congregation contended that: The level of grant aid was a constant topic of discussion between the Resident Managers Association and the Department of Education, the former continually insisting that the grants paid were seriously inadequate.


The Christian Brothers’ own Resident Managers’ meetings also took the view that funding was inadequate and throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s they used the Resident Managers’ Association in order to express this view to the Department of Education, seeking increases in the grants paid. These requests were often made in years when the financial position in Artane was strong.


The Christian Brothers went on to state that the validity of the claim of gross under-funding made by the Resident Managers is strongly supported by the Kennedy Report, which described the grant aid paid to industrial schools as ‘totally inadequate’. When the Kennedy Report was published in 1970, numbers in industrial schools had fallen so dramatically that funding was at that point inadequate to meet the needs of the many institutions that were struggling to stay open. When the Kennedy Report was published, Artane had already closed down.


For most of the period under consideration, funding in Artane was adequate to provide for the children in its care. The Visitation Reports and the evidence of complainants and respondents indicated, however, that the physical care provided was poor, even by the standards of the time.

  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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  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.