Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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In conclusion: The 800 boys in Artane had no toilet facilities other than dry buckets until about 1950. The Department of Education and the Congregation should not have allowed such primitive conditions to continue for so long. Some facets of the accommodation were poor and overlooked. Even when no uncertainty about the future of Artane existed and numbers were at their highest, provision of proper facilities for the boys was not considered a priority.


Primary school education was a right of every child in the State during the period covered by this investigation. Failure to attend school was the reason given for committing 1,045 of the 3,685 boys detained between 1940 and 1969.


It is clear from the section dealing with accommodation in Artane that the classrooms provided were poor, even by the standards of the time. Successive Visitation Reports decried the dilapidated and unsuitable condition of these buildings that had been condemned in the 1930s. As early as 1934, the Visitor commented: The Buildings are in good repair on the whole, but the class-rooms are said to be unsafe; they will hold until the findings of the Commission now in session will determine the school accommodation required.


By 1937, the Superior expressed the view to the Visitor that the classrooms were adequate and would survive another 10 years.


It was not until 1963 that new classrooms were provided, five years before Artane ceased operating as an industrial school and opened as a secondary school for boys. Not only were the buildings themselves in poor condition, but they were cheerless and depressing, according to both ex-pupils and ex-staff members.


The standard of the School premises came in for criticism in 1956 when the Visitor noted that they were drab, crowded and the furniture old fashioned. However, given the uncertain future of industrial schools, he recommended that any plans to refurbish be postponed. Plans for the construction of new classrooms were approved by the Department of Education in 1959, and they were completed in 1963.


The Visitation Reports are complimentary of the standard of primary school education in Artane throughout the years, and frequently note that it is on a par with, if not better than, the standard in ordinary day schools. The Visitors were not alone in their praise. It is noted again and again in the Visitation Reports that the Department of Education School Inspector marked the standard of teaching as either efficient or highly efficient.


Br Wiatt held the position of Principal from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. He was praised in many Visitation Reports for the well-organised manner in which he ran the School.


The Visitation Report in November 1938 noted that the School was well organised and the classes of reasonable size. The Visitor remarked that the numbers of boys in classes was in fact lower than in ordinary schools. There was a wide divergence in ages amongst children, particularly in the lowest class, because many children who were admitted to Artane had little or no education before being sent there. In the 1930s and 1940s, when numbers in the School rose to over 800, there were up to 24 teachers engaged in teaching classes, from infants through to 6th standard. The teaching staff was mostly made up of Brothers. By the mid-1950s, the number had reduced to 16 classes with 14 teachers, due to falling numbers.


By 1957, there were 526 boys in the Institution, a drop of over 200 in two years. The Visitation Report that year noted that the School was overstaffed, with 12 teachers, and class sizes were well below average. Numbers continued to drop steadily in the Institution into the 1960s and, by 1968, there were 280 boys in the School.


The school day was unconventional. Most of the boys attended school in the morning, from 9.30 a.m. to 11.40 a.m. and returned in the evening, from 5.00 p.m. to 7.15 p.m., a feature that the Cussen Commission criticised. The afternoons were spent in trades, at band practice or at knitting school.


There was also ‘midday school’, which ran until 2.00 p.m. and catered for children of all ages who were classed ‘backward and neglected’. Children who were not otherwise engaged in trades, the farm or the band attended this class. The value of this class was questioned by the Visitor in 1958. It did not follow any particular curriculum and was not subject to Departmental Inspections.


Boys over 14 who attended trades-training all day were required to attend ‘continuation school’, which ran from 5.00 p.m. to 7.15 p.m. They were taught by the same teachers who took the midday class, and these classes were not subject to inspection by the Department of Education.


Although the continuation school offered an opportunity for extra education to boys who might not otherwise achieve 6th class standard, nevertheless there was little room in the above timetable for recreation. The boys who attended the continuation school in the evening did so after a long day working in a trade or on the farm. They were exhausted by the time they got to school, and did not even have time to change out of their work clothes before class.83 This daily routine remained until the School closed in 1968, although it was debated in 1959 whether normal school hours should be introduced.


The same year, a secondary top school was formed in the School, although the Visitor opined in his Visitation Report of 1965 that a technical top might have been more appropriate. The School had opted for the secondary top, as there were no metal or woodwork teachers available.

  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.
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  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.
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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.
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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.
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  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.