Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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In conclusion: The Christian Brothers assumed a responsibility to provide training and they failed to do so for many of their pupils. Industrial training was a key objective of the system and the largest industrial school in the country should have provided it to a high standard but training was, to a large extent, only a by-product of work that met the needs of the Institution. In an era of high unemployment, it would have been impossible to place all the boys in jobs, and it would be unreasonable to criticise the Christian Brothers for failing in this regard. In many respects, they achieved a high level of employment for their school leavers. However, much of this employment was menial and exploitative and, for some, led to a lifetime of such work.


Fr Henry Moore stated in his report to Archbishop McQuaid in 1962 that ‘in my opinion the band is the only worthwhile achievement of the school’.


The band performed regularly in Croke Park at major GAA fixtures. They also toured the length and breadth of the country and broadcast shows on radio. The high point of their fame saw them perform at venues in New York and Boston, in May 1962, and included a television performance.


According to the Congregation, by the 1960s, approximately 80 boys were involved in the band at some level. This was a much higher number than in previous decades, when the participation was as low as 40 boys.


According to Fr Moore: The time used, the money spent, the number of engagements annually met are, I fear, out of all proportion to the results obtained. The maintenance of the band, although approximating £2,000 annually, is a continual strain on financial resources.


A Visitation Report in 1957 painted a different picture and stated that the band was on a ‘sure financial footing and more than paying its way’. Visitation Reports also reveal that, in 1938, the School received £215 in payments for band performances. It was operating at a loss in the early 1940s. By 1957, the band was earning the School just under £900 per annum.


Fr Moore also expressed concern at the effect that participation in the band had on the boys’ education. In 1946, the Resident Manager had obtained sanction from the Department of Education to credit the time the boys spent attending broadcasts and performances as part of their school attendance. Fr Moore believed that the boys’ education suffered as a result of prolonged hours of band practice and days missed from school attending performances. He found little evidence to suggest that even a small number of boys continued their musical career upon leaving school.


Br Vailant told the Investigation Committee that life in Artane tended to revolve around the band and that the needs of the band took priority.


The boys who toured with the band stayed with families in the locality. They were taught table etiquette and instructed on ‘how to behave themselves in a decent home’. Their behaviour on tour did 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,’ according to the Visitor in 1957.


Some of the boys who formed part of the band went on to make a career in the Army band. Almost all of the complainants who were in it and gave evidence to the Investigation Committee gave positive feedback regarding their experience with the band. One complainant stated that he was treated very well in the band, and that the majority of boys in the band had been transferred to Artane from convent industrial schools.


Participation in the band could be a positive experience for the boys involved, and it was an extraordinary achievement and an illustration of what could be achieved with proper direction and training. Boys who were part of the band fared better in Artane and afterwards. Boys who were not in the band missed an important part of the life of the Institution. The band absorbed a huge amount of time and energy, and similar efforts should have been directed at improving conditions for all the boys. The band was the public face of Artane, and members of the public would have been reassured when seeing the boys performing that they were receiving good care and education, but in fact the band did not represent the reality for most boys in Artane.


One of the more disturbing images of Artane that was presented to the Committee was the plight of the boys during recreation periods. Weather in Dublin is often cold, wet and windy and, until 1965, there was no proper indoor recreation facility where they could play. A barn-like structure had been erected in the mid-1940s, that had no walls and a tin roof, and which barely fitted the hundreds of boys. Dr McCabe formed part of a tripartite inspection team that carried out a two-day inspection of Artane in December 1962. On the issue of recreation, the inspection team stated: He [the Resident Manager] deplored the money spent by a predecessor on the erection of a huge play-shelter of hay-shed design which gave cover overhead but absolutely no protection from wind or cold. This indeed was a hopeless attempt at planning and a waste of money ... The recreation hall is a long cement-floored room, uncared for, dismal, depressing and dirty and with no redeeming feature whatsoever. The school classrooms are of the same ramshackle type ... demolition is probably the only solution.


Visitation Reports had identified the lack of proper recreational facilities from the early 1940s, but no improvements were effected until the mid-1960s. This directly impacted on the daily lives of the boys in Artane and should not have taken over 20 years to address.


Games and sports were part of the day in Artane. Teams were fielded in GAA events throughout Leinster. These teams reached a high standard of proficiency, and boys with a talent for sport had a more positive experience in Artane than boys who had not. In general, the Committee did not hear much evidence from these boys, although some did attend hearings and were able to distinguish the experiences with teams from other experiences in Artane.


The Brothers put a considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games. However, the lack of indoor recreational facilities represented a severe deprivation.

  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.
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  20. This is a pseudonym.
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  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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  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.
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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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  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.