Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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In conclusion: The objective of aftercare was to ensure the welfare of the boys following their discharge from Artane. It was often conducted, however, without direct contact with them. It would appear that post-discharge inquiries were conducted mainly with employers, to establish their satisfaction with the boy. Insofar as aftercare did occur, and subject to the limitations set out above, it was more extensive than the ex-residents were aware of. Many were surprised when they saw documentation showing the level of contact maintained between the School and their employer. Direct communication with boys who had left Artane would have had a positive impact. Failure to provide more of it represented a missed opportunity to extend support and encouragement to boys after discharge.


Dr Anna McCabe carried out General and Medical Inspections of Artane between 1939 and 1963. Before she resigned from her position in 1965, she prepared a report on the industrial and reformatory schools system in Ireland dated 29th February 1964, in which she made specific reference to Artane. Although critical of specific aspects of care in Artane, Dr McCabe was complimentary of the overall management of the Institution. She regarded the School as very well run, and described the boys as healthy and well looked after. She was satisfied with the medical care available to the School, which she noted involved weekly visits from a GP and regular attendances by a dentist.


Scabies and chilblains were identified as problems in the 1940s and, in 1944, with 100 cases of scabies identified by Dr McCabe, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the medical record-keeping in the School, as very few records were kept at all.


In 1946, Br Tyce wrote to Dr McCabe on behalf of the Disciplinarian, requesting permission for the height and weight of the boys to be measured every six months rather than every three months as ‘it is very troublesome here on account of the very large number of boys; and it affects the different departments of the Institution’. He received a terse response from Dr McCabe dismissing the proposal. By 1948, Dr McCabe noted with satisfaction that the medical records were well kept.


After another criticism of record-keeping in the mid-1950s, her Report of 1958 recorded that she was satisfied in this regard. She also noted that the children were examined by medical personnel from Dublin Corporation, which ensured that they could avail of free ophthalmologist and dental care funded by the local authority. However, while the local authority carried out medical examinations on all of the boys, it was only prepared to pay for spectacles and dental treatment required by boys from Dublin. In her 1956 Report she suggested that the dentist be requested to fill teeth rather than extract them.


In the early 1960s, a high proportion of children were treated in the School infirmary compared to the numbers sent to hospital. Also of interest during this period was a significant number of boys classed as noticeably below average physique.


Mr Dunleavy’s report observed that the infirmary was run ‘in a somewhat haphazard manner’: When qualified staff left the infirmary they were not replaced and indeed a Christian Brother who was suffering from mental illness at the time was placed in charge of the infirmary.


He referred to the situation that arose in 1959, and which is recorded in the annals, when the nurse handed in her notice and it ‘was decided not to replace her but instead to hand over the running of the infirmary to a member of the Community’. Mr Dunleavy also cited the Visitation Report for late 1959, which states: The arrival of Br Danton,86 who is a mental case, created the problem of trying to get him something to do ... He was tried in charge of the infirmary but had little or no control over the children and would even send them to the medicine chest to get their own medicines.


His interviews with Christian Brothers confirmed that the infirmary was run in an amateur fashion.


At the public Phase I hearing, Br Reynolds commented on Br Danton’s appointment to the infirmary. He rejected the Visitor’s description of the Brother’s mental condition, and he did not appear to regard it as a major example of incompetence or failure of care. He said: I would say a number of things about it. First of all, obviously I know who the Brother was, I knew the Brother and I would not agree with the description of the Visitor, but so be it. Secondly, I would say that he wasn’t a teaching Brother and I don’t think the criticism was in relation to the mental soundness of the person. I think the main criticism was here was somebody that was sent in and he does not seem to be able to fulfil any role, so essentially I think the Visitation Report said that he was a negative quantity in the place. I would take that certainly I presume not in the community and from religious observance, but from the point of view that his work rate wasn’t very good and his contribution wasn’t adequate in the eyes of the Visitor. As you wisely say, why not take him out. The simple fact of the matter was he was left there, they tried him in a number of situations, they didn’t work and eventually he was moved on. During part of that time incidentally, the Brother in question was studying in university, he wasn’t a full-time member of the staff.


Dr Lysaght had visited the School in Spring 1966 and was critical of the medical record-keeping. He revisited in September and noted that record-keeping had improved. He noted that the boys’ weight and height were recorded every quarter, by their teachers in class, to cause minimum disruption. He said that, ‘In general the boys impressed me as healthy, well nourished and physically fit’. He carried out a spot check on a sample of boys and found a large number had tooth decay. Dr Lysaght recommended that a dentist by assigned to the School but, again, the issue of who would pay for the service was raised.


Many witnesses complained about the medical care they were given. One complainant, who was in Artane in the 1940s, stated that the doctor visited approximately every six months. All of the boys stood out on parade, and the doctor, accompanied by a Brother, walked up and down between the rows of boys. That was the extent of the examination. Other complainants have confirmed this practice.


A complainant who was committed to Artane for six years in 1945 recalled being told to go to the infirmary a number of times for various ailments. He never went, and nobody ever checked whether he had in fact attended. He gave his reason for not attending: ‘All screaming in there. The things I have heard about that place. I can’t remember it now. I was never actually in it’.


A complainant committed to Artane in the early 1940s recalled many of the boys had scabs on their faces. His mother took him out for the day and, on seeing the state of his face, she bought him some salving cream. This complainant, who was 10 when he was sent to Artane, stated that he was never examined by a doctor or nurse during his four years there.


Another former pupil, who spent seven years in Artane during the 1940s, stated that he had never received a routine check-up in Artane. The same complainant stated that he grew more than a foot in height in the 12 months after being discharged from Artane, because he received proper medical attention for the first time.

  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.
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  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.
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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’.
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  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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  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.