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Chapter 4 — Greenmount

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Sexual abuse


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’.


The Department Inspector, in an internal memorandum, noted that the Medical Inspector had heard certain rumours about the School and suggested that the local chief superintendent be contacted for a full report. Around the same time, the Attorney General’s office made contact with the Department of Education, furnishing copies of the depositions in the 12 cases. Many of the defendants had asserted that their misconduct stemmed from their time in industrial schools. The Attorney General was of the view that closer supervision of the older boys would discourage such ‘unfortunate habits’, and furnished the Department with the information ‘in the hope that the Minister in collaboration with the School Authorities may be able to devise some means of keeping the number of such cases in future at the lowest possible level’. An extract from the prosecuting counsel’s report was also furnished, which stated ominously, ‘... the revelations about Upton and Greenmount at this sittings have given me furiously to think about Industrial Schools and Religious Orders ...’.


The Department arranged for a special Inspection of the two schools in question to take place. An Industrial Schools Inspector and the Deputy Chief Inspector of the Primary Branch were nominated to conduct the Inspections. Their general brief was to ‘... enquire into the supervision exercised over the boys, and the measures taken to prevent or put an end to the occurrences, which gave rise to the recent cases before the Cork Courts’. The Department decided against bringing the matter specifically to the attention of the bishop, on the basis that it had to be assumed that he was already aware of the matter.


The Inspectors conducted their Inspections over two days. They noted that the children were supervised by teachers during school and trades training, and by the Brothers during recreation. Night watchmen patrolled the dormitories at night time.


The Resident Manager, who appeared to have been very much affected by the incidents, stated he had no intention of concealing them from the Department but that the worry of the cases caused him to overlook reporting the matter.

  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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