Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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In conclusion: Food from the farm and bread from the bakery made it possible to provide for the needs of the School and the Community at reasonable cost. Mealtimes were not properly supervised, and young or timid boys were bullied and did not get enough to eat. This was a failure of management. Facilities for preparing food and for serving it were primitive. Meals were poorly prepared and monotonous. A Brother categorised as ‘slip-shod’ by his own colleagues was in sole charge of this department for up to 15 years until the early 1960s and complainants testified that food was poor until this Brother was replaced. This was evidence of inferior management in the fundamental task of providing three meals a day for hundreds of boys. The facilities available in the Brothers’ kitchen were in stark contrast to those provided for the boys. The problems identified by the Visitor in 1957 and confirmed by witnesses were not picked up by the Department Inspector. The food during an inspection was not typical of that served on a daily basis, indicating a serious flaw in the inspection procedure.


Dr McCabe was critical of the standard of clothing provided for the boys.


In 1944, following a number of general inspections, Dr McCabe complained that the boys’ clothes were very patched, but was informed that there was difficulty in procuring material. She reiterated her criticism sporadically.


In 1955, following a general inspection of the School, a Department Inspector, Mr Ó Síochfhradha, wrote to the Resident Manager outlining a number of concerns in relation to the care of the boys. The Resident Manager responded by saying that while he agreed that the improvements were necessary: The only obstacle that stands in the way and hinders progress being made in [the] scheme outlined is the lack of funds. The school is in a weak condition financially and for obvious reasons we are unable to meet fully our ordinary commitments at present.


This conflicts with the Visitation Report for 1955, which stated that the financial position of Artane was very satisfactory: On the 31st December, 1954 the Surplus Income from the School Account was £4,645 ... and from the House Account £12,113 ... On both accounts there was a Credit Balance at the end of the year of £36,203 to carry on to the 1955 accounts. There is a sum of £30,000 invested in the Building Fund.


At this time, there was to the credit of the Institution £30,000 in the Congregation’s account. Between 1944 and 1956, the sum of over £17,500 was paid into the fund. Around this time, Artane paid back a long-standing debt of £8,800 to the building fund. The Community paid Visitation Dues of £3,000 in 1955.


A Visitation Report in 1947, while describing the boys as ‘well fed and very well clothed’, recommended that boys should be allowed to wash and change after working in the farm. However, 10 years later, in 1957, the Visitor commented that the boys came in to meals in a filthy condition and stayed in their dirty and often wet clothes all day.


A complainant committed in the mid-1940s described how boys who worked on the farm wore their everyday boots whilst working. They did not have overcoats or waterproof clothing, and wore a sack over their shoulders if it was raining.


Many of the complainants resident in Artane in the 1940s complained of the quality of the clothing. The Brothers confirmed that the School produced its own cloth from which trousers were made. Although this material was clearly unsuitable for use in clothing, it was not replaced until the mid-1960s. A number of Brothers who spoke to the Investigation Committee stated that one of the major improvements introduced in the 1960s was an improvement in the boys’ clothing. Instead of being made by the tailoring shop, the clothes were bought in and were more comfortable and fashionable. The report of Dr Lysaght dated June 1966 described the boys as ‘well clothed: neat and tidy’.


The inspection of underwear also had a humiliating and embarrassing impact on the boys. A witness who was sent to Artane in the late 1950s explained how, every Saturday evening, the boys would line up and receive their change of clothing for the following week. They had to display their underwear to the Brother in charge and were punished if it was soiled. Another man who was in Artane during the late 1960s described a similar regime and said that he did not wear his underwear for fear that it would be soiled by the end of the week.


This humiliating and unnecessary practice was referred to by a number of complainants who described the weekly inspection of underpants. If the underwear was soiled, the boy would have to face the wall and await punishment, which generally meant slaps on the hand with the leather. One Brother said: I accept that I did examine the underpants. The reason for examining the underpants was that complaints had come from the woman and the staff in the laundry that soiled underwear was coming down to the laundry, and with the number of boys that was in Artane at the time she wasn’t too happy about it ... so word came up to us that we were to check the underpants and if an underpants was badly soiled, not the ordinary run of the mill thing like slide marks, that didn’t matter, it was a case where the underpants was badly soiled, it is then that I would take action ... I would take the action of getting the fellow to go to the washroom and so on and clean it, then we would throw it into the bag with the rest of it. I will admit that – not in connection with the underpants – if [the complainant] says I put him facing the wall I will admit that.


When asked whether the boys deserved to be slapped for something they had no control over, he replied: I do not think they deserved to be punished ... I accept that if I did slap them. I don’t think I slapped them for soiling their pants. I slapped them for other reasons but not for that ... normally I would not punish a boy for soiling his pants. I mean that could happen to anybody. But if [the complainant] says I did it on one particular occasion, fair enough I will accept that.


Many former residents spoke of the inspection of underpants, and recalled the punishment that ensued if they were soiled, but not one of them recalled having to wash them before they were thrown into the laundry bag.


Fr Henry Moore82 reported in 1962 that clothing was an aspect of the general care that was ‘grossly neglected’. He said that the boys’ clothing was ‘uncomfortable, unhygienic and of a displeasing sameness’. The quality of the clothing was poor due to the fact that they were manufactured at the School. Overcoats were only supplied to those boys who were in a position to pay for them. He described as pathetic the sight of hundreds of boys on their Sunday walk in the depths of winter without an overcoat. He was also critical of the fact that boys had to change from their Sunday clothes after their walk into their everyday clothes which, in his view, was bad for morale. There was no change of clothing in accordance with the seasons, and the boys wore hob-nailed boots and heavy clothing all year round.


An additional criticism was the lack of personal ownership of clothes, that were common property amongst the boys. Clothes were distributed randomly from a common pool, often without regard to size. Stockings and shirts were replaced once a week, underwear only once a fortnight.

  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.
  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.
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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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  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
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  61. This is a pseudonym.
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  66. This is a pseudonym.
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  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. 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.