Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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In conclusion: Artane was an important source of support and income to the Congregation. Lack of funds was not a reason for failure to provide for the children in Artane. Artane was a major contributor to the Building Fund and to the support of the Provincial Organisation. The Artane Community charged a full stipend for Brothers who had little or no involvement in the care of the boys and funded the Community’s day-to-day expenses out of the maintenance grant for the children, which enabled the House to run at a profit.


The Christian Brothers maintained in its Opening Statement to the Artane module that the documentary evidence: clearly demonstrates that the boys were well fed and clothed and that their welfare needs were catered for ... Where criticisms were made or shortcomings were pointed out, remedial action was taken.


The sources of evidence relied on were the Department of Education Inspection Reports and the Visitation Reports from the Congregation.


While Artane was directly responsible for the physical care provided, the Department of Education had supervisory responsibility.


The Department of Education Inspector, who inspected Artane regularly from 1944 until 1962, reported under the headings of: Food, Clothing, Accommodation, Recreational Facilities, and Health and Education. Her General Inspection reports are a source of contemporaneous comment. The reliability and consistency of Dr McCabe’s reports were questionable, and this is discussed in the chapter dealing with the Department of Education.


By and large, Dr McCabe was impressed with the way Artane was run and was not overly critical of the care provided. However, when each individual element of care is analysed, she was often quite critical of the standard provided and, taken as a whole, her reports point to serious deficiencies in the School.


It is useful to look at Dr McCabe’s reports in conjunction with the Visitation Reports compiled by the Congregation’s own Visitor who inspected annually. The Visitor’s prime function was to report on the Brothers in the Community, but they also made observations on the care of the boys and the general standard of the Institution. These reports were more critical of the Institution than those of the Department Inspector, and often highlighted issues that should have come to the attention of the Department Inspector but were not mentioned by her.


Dr McCabe was generally satisfied with the standard of food provided in Artane. In her first report of April 1939, she stated, ‘the quantity, quality and variety of their diet is satisfactory’. Likewise, in 1944 she expressed herself as satisfied that the food was ample and varied.


In 1953, she identified the kitchen and refectory as being in need of modernisation and she continued to be critical of the kitchen and refectory facilities throughout the 1950s. Her categorisation of the food as ‘good’ or ‘v.good’ has to be qualified by the absence of adequate facilities for its preparation.


Visitation Reports from the 1950s did not identify any particular problems with the food or the kitchen facilities until November 1957, when the Visitor wrote: Everything in connection with the kitchen and the preparation and serving of food calls for complete re-organisation and re-conditioning ... Too many boys are at each table though half of the room is vacant almost. All the food for the meal is piled on the table before the meal begins. The boys proceed to make a most awful mess when the meal begins. There is not the slightest attempt to eat in a civilised fashion. The Brother and teacher in charge can do nothing with over 500 to look after. A great deal of the food is wasted and the waste is the main support of nearly forty pigs. I shall comment later on the condition in which many of the boys come to meals. To me the sight was just revolting. One can just imagine the comments of visitors but every care is taken on the conducted tours to prevent visitors from seeing the spectacle.


The shortcomings in the system were apparent to the management, as evidenced by the special efforts made to ensure that the boys who played in the band were given particular instruction in table manners. The 1957 Visitation Report commented: They have special table drill in all the niceties of handling sets of knives, forks, spoons, serviettes etc and in how to behave themselves in a decent home. I have reason to know from friends of my own who had some of these lads staying in the house that they made a wonderful impression and have done a tremendous amount to win admirers for Artane and to counteract the smear campaign that would appear to be the settled policy of certain sections of the public Press.


The Visitor went on to describe conditions which would have more than justified a campaign of protest on the part of the press if the full picture of conditions in Artane was made known: The boys in the full trades and on full farm work deserve special treatment and better meals. These lads really make the running of Artane possible yet in all the apartments devoted to the farm and the trades there is not a single toilet or wash-basin for these boys. They come into their meals in a shocking condition, hands, faces and clothes are covered with the grime of the trades, boots, stockings and portions of the trousers often soaking from working in the cowhouse or the manure pit. These boys remain in this condition all day Winter and Summer, at meals, during afternoon school and in the chapel ... No boy could retain his self-respect under the conditions that exist for many of them.


The Visitor blamed Br Gerrard’s ‘slip-shod methods’ for the poor standards in the kitchen and refectory.


A Brother who was there at the time confirmed that the report reflected the conditions he had seen: ‘My own impression was that things were not satisfactory in whatever visits I did make to the refectory ... with large numbers ... it was difficult’. He pointed out, however, that things improved when a new Brother came and facilities were improved in 1962: ‘There was a tremendous improvement both in the standard of food, the way the food was presented, the menus that were there’.


It is difficult to reconcile that Visitation Report of November 1957 with the one of just seven months earlier, in which the Visitor remarked: Br Gerrard has charge of the boys kitchen and does his work very efficiently. The food served is good and plentiful and the boys looked healthy and strong.

  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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  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.