Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

Show Contents



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.


Fr Moore commented: This fundamental disregard for personal attention inevitably generates insecurity, instability and an amoral concern for the private property of others. This I consider to be a causative factor in the habits of stealing frequently encountered among ex-pupils.


A respondent who was in Artane in the 1960s recalled how shirts and undergarments were distributed randomly, and there was no sense of ownership attached to these.


Fr Moore referred in his report to the lack of overcoats for the boys. The leader of the Department group that inspected Artane just before Christmas 1962 noted that, in early December, 412 raincoats had been ordered by the Institution for all the boys: ... as regards clothing the overcoats supplied by the school are raincoats only 412 of which were ordered early in December. All the boys questioned (50 approx.) wore woollen underpants. The clothing of the boys while lacking refinement was adequate apart from the doubtful desirability of providing cloth overcoats which will require further investigation.


Complainants who stated that the clothing provided by Artane was not adequate in cold weather, even into the late 1960s, were probably correct.


In conclusion: Clothing was poor, patched, and institutional in style, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was often to no avail. Underwear inspections in public were a feature of life in Artane. The explanation that this was done to clean the underpants before they were sent to the laundry was not confirmed by former residents. It would not, in any case, have afforded justification for this degrading practice. Changes of clothes were not available to boys who worked in wet, muddy and dirty conditions. Until the mid-1960s, overcoats were not provided. Bad clothing marked out the boys and reduced their self-respect and personal dignity.


In 1944, Dr McCabe identified sanitation as being in need of modernisation. The poor state of the sanitation facilities was described in a letter written by a former resident to the Department of Justice in October 1946: the only W.C.s 900 boys have at Artane Ind. School [are] 30 filthy buckets at the rear of a Hand Ball Alley which the boys use and I want to know when are more modern and hygienic lavatories going to be provided for the boys.


He also queried whether the boys were involved in emptying and cleaning ‘these buckets of stenchious filth’.


The Resident Manager responded, confirming that a farm labourer was employed to empty and clean the sanitary buckets as part of his duties. The labourer who usually performed this task had become unwell, and a number of the boys who worked on the farm had carried out this chore on a temporary basis. He assured the Department that another farm labourer had been assigned this task and was not assisted by the boys. The Department confirmed to the letter writer that plans for the modernisation of the sanitation system were ‘under active consideration’. The Department categorically denied that the boys were involved in removing the buckets. The letter went on to say: The sanitation system at the school has been inspected time and again by Inspectors of this Department and by Sanitary Inspectors and as far as is known no complaint has been made about it from the point of view of the hygiene and health of the boys beyond the statement that the system is an old one. Scrupulous attention is given to the daily cleansing and disinfecting of the system.

  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.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  43. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  53. This is a pseudonym.
  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
  57. This is a pseudonym.
  58. This is a pseudonym.
  59. This is a pseudonym.
  60. This is a pseudonym.
  61. This is a pseudonym.
  62. This is a pseudonym.
  63. This is a pseudonym.
  64. This is a pseudonym.
  65. This is a pseudonym.
  66. This is a pseudonym.
  67. This is a pseudonym.
  68. This is a pseudonym.
  69. This is a pseudonym.
  70. This is a pseudonym.
  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. This is a pseudonym.
  74. This is a pseudonym.
  75. This is a pseudonym.
  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.