Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 4 — Greenmount

Show Contents

Sexual abuse


It is not clear that the investigation in 1955 established that the Brothers were guilty of the charges made against them. The two Brothers protested their innocence, and surviving documents do not reveal the results of the investigations. What is clear is that the bishop and his senior clerical investigator believed that Brs Carlito and Garcia had engaged in sexual abuse of boys. Nevertheless, the two men were permitted to move on to new positions dealing with children. There was no question of reporting them to the Gardaí. While it is impossible to be sure from the documents, the probability is that these complaints about sexual abuse came to light because boys felt able to confide in the young volunteer priest who visited the School. This would conform with a pattern that was seen in other institutions, whereby children were able to report abuse to a sympathetic adult when a suitable opportunity presented. The involvement of the Bishop ensured that the complaints were taken seriously and investigated. Further allegations of sexual abuse dogged Br Carlito’s subsequent career. When the Gardaí were investigating one set of complaints of sexual abuse in the mid-1990s, the information supplied by a senior member of the Congregation was seriously misleading.


One complainant, Michael,33 gave evidence of being abused by Br Garcia. He had been in Greenmount in the late 1940s and was discharged in the early 1950s. Michael said that he was about 12 when the abuse started, and that Br Garcia anally raped him about four or five times. He said that he ran away from the School and went with a friend to the local Chief Superintendent in Cork, Superintendent Caffrey,34 because his father worked for him and he knew him. Michael told the superintendent about the abuse.


Michael had faith in the Superintendent because he was such a senior figure in Cork, but did not tell his parents what was happening because he did not think it was proper to speak to his mother and father like that.


Michael recalled his meeting with the superintendent: So, he said "what’s wrong?" I said "there is a Brother and he’s interfering with all the lads in Greenmount". Right? He said to me "Michael", he said to me "they don’t do that". Well, I says, "Superintendent Caffrey, it is happening". So he said "I can only bring you up to Bishop Cohalan".


He brought Michael and his friend to see the bishop: ... he brought me in a police car ... he was in the front and myself and [my friend] were in the back and ... he drove up there anyway. The bishop was there anyway and Superintendent Caffrey went in. He said "there is two lads here from Greenmount". That’s what I presume he said to the bishop ... He went in first and he left us to wait. Then whatever conversation they had he called me and [my friend] in. He said "tell the bishop what’s happening?" So we told him that we can’t go to sleep at night, that this man is tormenting us, we can’t go to the toilets or anything. Because Br. Garcia was in charge of the dormitory, right. That was his – he was in charge. So, Bishop Cohalan said "the Christian Brothers (sic) don’t do these things at all". He said "you are two devils". He said "I am going to get ye excommunicated". We were more frightened than anything. So we came back out with Superintendent Caffrey ... and the sergeant drove us up to the School ... the next morning then we got a flogging.


Bishop Cohalan was in his nineties when this allegation was made to him.


In their statement in response to Michael’s allegations against Br Garcia, the Presentation Brothers made no mention of the canonical inquiry of the mid-1950s. Br Minehane who, in his direct evidence to the Investigation Committee, acknowledged that he was aware of the canonical inquiry, signed the statement on behalf of the Presentation Brothers and stated: The Complainant makes the most appalling allegations against Br. Garcia ... It seems likely that the Complainant was taught by Br. Garcia. Br. Garcia is now [real name]. He strongly denies all of the Complainant’s allegations.


In the course of the hearing, counsel for the Congregation stated: Our difficulty in relation to this is that we don’t have records in relation to this particular aspect of matters and unfortunately the persons who would have been in a position to say exactly what went on at the time are deceased or unavailable.


Br Garcia was represented at the hearing and denied the allegations made against him.


Another witness recalled events surrounding Br Garcia’s departure. He told the Committee: Some of the boys were getting taken out of bed and they would go to the Brother’s room at night ... I was in a very good position to see it happening ... My bed was right opposite the door ... [The Brothers] had a room annexed to the dormitory itself ... [He] used to come in, tap the bed, walk up the dormitory, walk back down and he’d walk out first.


He explained there were ‘four or five’ beds the Brother would choose from. He would walk in, tap the bed, ‘Go back out and then that lad would get up and go out’. The boy would come back ‘maybe an hour afterwards’. He named the Brother as Br Garcia.


The witness explained, ‘I knew two of the lads personally’. One of them ‘used have cigarettes all the time and I used say "where did you get them?” He told him they had been given to him by Br Garcia. Recalling the circumstances of Br Garcia’s leaving, he said: ... after Br Garcia and Br Carlito left everyone was talking about it ... It happened so sudden ... He was there one day and he was gone the next. It went around the School then that he was gone, him and the Superior. Obviously, Br Carlito was the Superior, the head Brother, so everyone noticed him gone.


Another witness who was in Greenmount in the early 1950s described being physically and sexually abused by a Brother who he described as being a fat man. He stated that this abuse occurred in an office which was identified by the Congregation as being the Superior’s office. In their responding statement to the witness’s statement of complaint, the Congregation said: During the complainant’s time at Greenmount there were three Superiors. None of them matches the complainant’s description as a “big fat” man.

Peer abuse


Nine former residents of Greenmount were prosecuted and sentenced for offences of indecency in the mid-1930s. A further three former residents of Upton Industrial School were also sentenced for similar offences. All of the young men who had spent time in Greenmount ranged from 15 to 19 years of age.


The Department of Education received an anonymous letter from the parent of one of the convicted youths after sentence was handed down. The letter stated that the boy had spent eight years in Greenmount, despite an application made by his parent to have him released. It alleged that such sexual conduct had been prevalent in Greenmount for the previous nine years, and named a particular teacher who was complicit in such activity. The Gardaí were seeking him. The whole thing was ‘the talk of Cork City’. The writer requested that the Department requisition all of these cases from the court office or the Gardaí so that the full extent of the problem could be exposed, as ‘the Monks of the school was trying to keep this Case Dark’. It added, ‘my boy was 8 years going in to the school ... so he got his lesson in the school. Any child is safer at Home’. The letter ended, ‘the school should be closed down’.

  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.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. Report on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, 1936.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. This is a pseudonym.
  24. This is a pseudonym..
  25. This is a pseudonym.
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. This is a pseudonym.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a pseudonym.
  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. This is a pseudonym.
  36. This is a pseudonym.
  37. This is a pseudonym.
  38. This is a pseudonym.
  39. This is a pseudonym.