Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Fr Henry Moore


Fr Moore learned about an Inter-Departmental Committee that was considering submissions in relation to Industrial and Reformatory Schools and he contacted the Chairman, Mr Peter Berry, who was the Secretary of the Department of Justice. A meeting took place on 26th November 1962 attended by Fr Moore, Mr Berry and the Secretary to the Committee, Mr Toal. Fr Moore’s criticisms, as summarised in the minutes, included the following: the absence of aftercare; a big percentage of boys needed psychiatric treatment which was not available; a psychologist was also required; many of the boys were institutionalised from babyhood until 16 years; the educational standard was very low; trade training was poor and did not lead to jobs in those callings and boys ended up in dead end jobs; neglect in regard to clothing, bed clothes, food and medical care; the Manager was unsuitable and ‘an unwilling captain’; and the Institution was short of money. At Mr Berry’s request, Fr Moore agreed to attend a meeting with Dr Ó Raifeartaigh, Secretary of the Department of Education.


This meeting took place on 13th December 1962. Dr Ó Raifeartaigh gave Fr Moore a very different reception to the one he received from Mr Berry and vigorously cross-examined him on the minutes of the November meeting. He accused Fr Moore of being inaccurate as regards certain salient facts and effectively suggested that he had a vendetta against the Christian Brothers. Fr Moore was shaken after the encounter, and wrote to the Archbishop the following day, informing him that the meeting had been ‘a most humiliating and embarrassing experience’. Mr Berry was quick to distance himself from the stance adopted by the Secretary of the Department of Education and wrote to the latter reproving him on his hostile interrogation of Fr Moore.


The upshot of the December meeting was that the Secretary of the Department of Education ordered an unannounced inspection of Artane by three senior Department personnel. They were requested to focus on food, clothing and management in general: ‘they should state the facts reasonably and with discretion – good and bad to be included’. The inspection took place over two days on 20th and 21st December and each inspector furnished a report.


Mr Seamus Mac Uaid, Higher Executive Officer, wrote the principal report, which was described by the Chairman, Mr Berry, as ‘a model of its kind’. The general conclusion of the report was reassuring to the Department, but many of the detailed observations did not differ significantly from Fr Moore’s. The writer began with a summary of his findings: it is my opinion that the boys in Artane Industrial School are well fed, warmly clothed, comfortably bedded and treated with kindness by the Christian Brothers in an atmosphere conducive to their spiritual and physical development. I believe, however, that boys should not be reared away from the refining influence of women and am convinced that the introduction of female assistance at key points in the management would render more effective the work of the institution.


He described Artane as: a massive pile standing on rising ground ... erected in the 1870’s with all the solidity of the period and an extravagance of space that makes a nightmare of maintenance in modern times.


A feature of this report is the frequent reference to the desirability of involving women in the work of the Institution, and how male standards compared unfavourably with female ones in respect of care of children. Mr Mac Uaid cited the example of the kitchen, which was staffed by one Brother and five older boys and which had recently been modernised, at a cost of £25,000: The standards of cleanliness, cooking and presentation of the food were high but they were male standards and lacked the finishing touches which woman alone can provide in this particular domain.


The aprons worn by kitchen staff were dirty, the plates were slightly greasy and not dried properly, and it would be preferable if dessert were served on a delph plate rather than the enamel plates used. However: from observation and the questions asked of the boys, I am satisfied that the children are well fed and empty plates bore testimony to the quality of the food.


Whilst he was satisfied with the menu for the two days of the inspection, he did note the absence of butter from all meals.


The report described in turn: the food given to the boys and the cooking and dining facilities; the dormitories; the boys’ clothing; the laundry; the washing facilities; games and recreation; education and training; aftercare; the farm; holidays; and the general atmosphere. The overall conclusion was that: Artane emerged from the inspection with credit. Within the limitations of an inherited system which favoured big schools, all male management and a public purse that had to be prised open at times, the Superior, Br Ourson, is doing a good job in providing for the spiritual, educational and physical needs of the boys entrusted to his care.


The writer commended him on the improvements he had made to the School, in particular to the kitchen and classrooms. He recommended the following innovations, which the Manager had no objection to, provided that they were funded by the Department: 1.Introduction of a small community of nuns to provide much-needed female influence on various aspects of industrial school life. 2.Creation of two separate schools for junior and senior boys. 3.Establishment of a hostel for boys leaving Artane who had been abandoned or orphaned.


Dr McCabe reported her complete satisfaction with the medical facilities, treatment and monitoring provided in Artane. She referred to her own regular medical and general inspections and medical checks carried out every two years by the local authority. She commended the hygiene and said that the boys’ diet was very good. The dormitories were ‘large, airy spacious and very well maintained’. Dr McCabe concluded: I would also wish to state that there is a most pleasant relationship between the Brothers and their care and I have never met with any fear on the boy’s behalf of those in charge of them.


In his short covering report, the most senior inspector, Mr MacDaibhid, Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in charge of industrial schools, endorsed the reports of his colleagues and added: To sum up I would say that the school emerged very creditably from the inspection. No serious fault could be found in Artane and the impression of the “big happy family” atmosphere which pervaded the entire institution was inescapable. Atmosphere in such a school is all-important. Minor adverse criticisms only could be levelled at the school.


In the course of his report, Mr MacDaibhid mentioned that the ‘overcoats supplied by the School are raincoats only, 412 of which were ordered in December’. Mr MacUaid disclosed in his report that the number of boys in residence was 413, which means that outer garments for all the boys were being procured. The provision of overcoats for the boys was a matter of controversy in the questioning of Fr Moore by counsel for the Christian Brothers. This report suggests that these raincoats were being ordered for the first time, and it does not disprove Fr Moore’s report.


Mr MacDaibhid concluded: Having passed strictures on Bro Ourson in the past, I must say that he emerged from this inspection with, in my opinion, much improved stature, his previous weakness being an apparently casual disregard for the authority of the Department.


The Department Inspection Reports on Artane were considered by the Inter-Departmental Committee in March and again in May 1963. The Committee ‘could not agree’ that the School had emerged commendably from the inspections, or that the praise accorded to the management was deserved. Mr MacDaibhid continued to assert that the criticisms noted in the MacUaid report were minor and were applicable to all industrial schools, although he did concede that there was a need for more money, which was true of industrial schools generally. Dr McCabe’s report on the School ‘was noted’. Ultimately, the Committee agreed to bring the criticisms noted by Mr MacUaid and recorded in the minutes of the March meeting to the attention of the Minister for Education.

  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.
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  9. Br Beaufort had previously also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
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  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
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  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 .
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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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  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).
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  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.
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