Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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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.


A man who was a pupil in Artane in the 1940s described the state of the toilets and the occasional duties given to some of the boys: We had only buckets behind the handball alley ... I would say there was about 20 to 30 buckets ... it was newspaper we used instead of toilet rolls, there was no such thing ... They had to be emptied ... There was two men, [he thought they were siblings], ... at the time it was a horse and cart ... They were lay men ... I was one of the ones that had to help on that occasion because I was a hefty lump of a lad ... You had to put a bit of paper, them buckets could be over full ... You have a dirty job there ... we were just emptying the buckets ... into this barrel. We called it a barrel. It was a horse and cart ... it had to be done every day. Imagine there is 800 people were going through toilets ... the handball alley was your wee wee, the back of the handball alley. You put them back. They were lovely looking going back ... They went back with a kind of coat on them.


The buckets, he insisted, were not washed out: ‘Where would you get water?’.


The 1943 Visitation Report noted: The Toilets for the boys are not modern in any sense. They are of the dry kind and buckets are used and changed daily. There is no running water in the urinals; they must be washed out every day.


In each year between 1944 and 1947, the Visitor noted that the lavatory facilities required replacing. Work commenced on the replacement of this system in 1948.


This primitive system remained in use until 1950, when the Visitation Report for that year stated: ‘The sanitary block completed by Br Tyce meets a long-standing want’.


Apart from identifying the sanitation as being in need of modernisation, Dr McCabe expressed herself as consistently impressed with the condition of the premises in Artane. Conversely, the Visitor was regularly critical of aspects of the accommodation of Artane.


Facilities for the boys were poor. There was no indoor recreation hall, as identified by the Visitor in 1945 and again in 1956: ‘The lack of a play-hall space is a crying need’. Similar comments were made in subsequent reports, but nothing was done until 1965 when an enclosed play shelter was erected, with recreation rooms for use during the winter. The financial position of the Institution was good during the 1950s, but the Visitation Reports reveal a marked reluctance to spend money on the Institution because of uncertainty as to its future as an industrial school.


This uncertainty dogged Artane from about 1954 onwards and materially affected the standard of care but, even before that, there was a lack of urgency in seeing to the needs of the boys. Facilities that were in everyday use by the boys were left in poor condition, for example the lavatories, the recreation hall, the classrooms, and the kitchen and refectory.


In 1955, Dr McCabe identified areas that required attention, including the kitchen and a new recreation hall. The Resident Manager accepted that the various improvements were necessary, and added that new schoolrooms were also required as the School building was in a dangerous condition and had been condemned some 40 years earlier. He stated: The only obstacle that stands in the way and hinders progress being made in 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. As a matter of fact I cannot see how the work being done in this school can be continued for long under the present conditions.


He sought confirmation from the Department as to the nature of any financial aid that would be available from the Department to effect the improvements.


Matters came to a head when, on 24th November 1957, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers wrote to the Department of Education following a visit to Artane. He stated that urgent repairs and renovations were necessary, particularly to the kitchen and roofs. Before entering into a consideration as to whether the Congregation would incur any liability to effect such improvements, he requested information regarding the Department’s position in relation to the future of industrial and reformatory schools. He noted that the number of boys in Artane had steadily decreased and that ‘it is proving more than uneconomical to try to run it’ with smaller numbers.

  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.
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  30. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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  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.