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Chapter 4 — Greenmount

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Sexual abuse


A major crisis in the affairs of the Industrial School came to a head in late 1955, when the Resident Manager, Br Carlito24 and a senior Brother on the teaching staff, Br Garcia, were the subjects of serious allegations of sexual abuse of boys in the School, resulting in the transfer of the Resident Manager and the resignation from the Congregation of the other Brother. The latter protested his innocence at the time, and subsequently maintained that his voluntary departure by way of dispensation from vows came about because of his dismay at the way the matter was handled. The Resident Manager remained in the Congregation and later was the focus of further complaints of sexual impropriety.


There were a number of Diocesan and Congregation Visitations to the School during this year. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr Cornelius Lucey, visited the School on 7th January 1955. The School Diary records that: He inspected the House, interviewed some of the Brothers and five boys separately. He expressed his satisfaction as a result of the interviews and from what he saw himself.


It could be inferred from this note that the bishop was pursuing a line of inquiry, but he appears to have been reassured.


The Provincial of the Congregation, Br Jose, carried out the annual Visitation between 14th and 16th June 1955, and the consequent Report was very positive about the School generally and Br Carlito in particular: As at the last Visitation I am pleased to note that the Constitutions are well observed and that there is a good spirit of fraternal charity ... The Superior neglects no opportunity to better the conditions under which the boys live, and together with his staff is devoted and zealous in the care of the boys in their spiritual and temporal welfare ... The affairs of the Brothers should not be discussed with the secular staff.


However, shortly after the Visitation, Br Jose received some disturbing news about immoral practices amongst the boys, which he outlined in his report to the General Council: Some days after the completion of this Visitation I got a report from a member of another Community that immoral practices were being carried on between the boys themselves. The information came originally from a Missionary priest (Fr. Brendan25 I think) who had been Spiritual Director for a time to the Legion of Mary Praesidium at the Industrial School. On being questioned about this, the Superior admitted that he was aware of the fact, having been informed by Fr. Brendan himself. He knew the names of the four or five boys concerned, had them all placed in Dormitories that they could not easily contact each other, and giving special instructions to the Night Watchman without giving him any information or naming any boys.


Some five months after this Visitation, Br Blanco, a member of the General Council, carried out an unusually long Visitation to Greenmount. It lasted 12 days rather than the usual two to three days. Allegations of sexual abuse of boys were made against two respected members of the Community, Br Carlito, the Resident Manager, and Br Garcia, either before or during this Visitation.


At the same time as the Visitation by Br Blanco, a separate investigation was being pursued by a Canon David26 on behalf of Bishop Lucey.


No record survives of Canon David’s report to the bishop following his visit. Br Blanco, who conducted the lengthy Visitation on behalf of the Congregation, left in Greenmount a report that said nothing about sexual abuse and confined itself to pious exhortations. It seems that Br Blanco interviewed boys and took at least one written statement, although no record of these interviews survives. Neither is there any report from Br Blanco to the General Council regarding the matter.


A series of notes in diary form kept by the Superior General, Br Gomez,27 at the time sheds light on the sequence of events.


On 29th November, two days into the Blanco Visitation, Br Gomez recorded that ‘Brother Blanco called on Canon who said he had no doubt about their guilt’.


In his diary, Br Gomez records that on 5th December: Bishop phoned at 7 p.m. to call on him. I understood he had no doubt of their guilt. Told me that he had called in Canon David to hold visitation at Greenmount and to call for him the following day at Bishop’s House to bring him to [Greenmount].


The following day, Br Gomez collected Canon David and recorded in the diary: Asked Canon David when boys and Bros. had been interviewed if he wanted to see Bros. Carlito & Garcia & he said yes. Phoned them at Passage W. & they came along within half an hour. Returning from Greenmount with Canon David he asked if a Brother had been holding visitation there. I said yes but he had not yet delivered his report on visitation. In that case he said he would say nothing.


It is not known why the bishop ordered his own investigation. However, Fr Andrew, the School chaplain when these investigations were carried out, recalled to Professor Keogh that a Mill Hill Father (he could not recall the name although it seems clear that the source of the allegations was Fr Brendan, the Mill Hill Father who had previously raised the issue of immorality amongst the boys) had made an allegation to the parish priest of the Lough, the parish in which the School was located, that two members of the Greenmount Community were involved in an abusive relationship with a number of the boys, and he reported the matter to the Bishop. Fr Andrew said that Bishop Lucey is believed to have visited the house of the senior curate in the Lough, Fr Charles,28 in order to interview a number of the Greenmount boys, and the bishop is believed to have conducted these interviews without revealing his identity. If that is what happened, it would explain why the bishop ordered the canonical investigation.


On 8th December, the bishop told Br Gomez, during the course of a telephone conversation, that he would see Brs Carlito and Garcia, who were back at Greenmount following the Canon’s visit, if they wished to see him. Br Gomez made an appointment for the Brothers to see the bishop the following day.


Fr Brendan, from Mill Hill, appears to have interviewed a number of boys who presumably made the allegations which led to the investigations. According to the notes made by Br Gomez, Br Carlito, the Resident Manager, assembled a number of boys including two with whom he had been accused of engaging in sexual activity. He questioned the two boys in front of the other boys as to the truth of the allegations. One denied the allegation and the other, who had since left the School, said that he was asked so many questions that he was confused. Br Carlito told him it was his duty to go to Fr Brendan and make the matter clear to him in writing.

  1. Dermot Keogh, ‘St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount, Cork’ (Report prepared for the Presentation Brothers, May 2001 and submitted to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse 19 May 2004), pp 187–188.
  2. For the greater glory of God.
  3. Fratrium Presentionis Mariae.
  4. Keogh, p 54.
  5. Keogh, p 57.
  6. Cork Examiner, 28 March 1874, cited in Dermot Keogh, ‘St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount, Cork’ May 2001.
  7. Cork Examiner, 30 March 1874, cited by Keogh, May 2001, p 41.
  8. Cork Examiner, 30 March 1874, cited by Keogh, May 2001, pp 41–2.
  9. Cork Examiner, 24 March 1874.
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  13. Report on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, 1936.
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