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Chapter 4 — Greenmount

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The last two Medical Inspection Reports both focus on the inadequacy of the cooking facilities, which had repercussions for the quality of the boys’ diet. The Resident Manager, Br Santos,37 was singled out for praise as being kind and attentive to the boys.


The annual reports furnished by the School to the Department of Education stated that children released on supervision certificate were supervised by the School by means of visits and correspondence. They also stated that former pupils returned to the School for visits and also corresponded with the Brothers. No details were provided to the Investigation Committee regarding aftercare provided to boys discharged from the School.

Closure of Greenmount


The first indication that the Presentation Brothers were considering closing Greenmount was noted in Dr McCabe’s Inspection Report dated November 1952. She stated that the Manager had indicated to her that, once numbers fell below 150, the School would resign the certificate because it would cease to be economically practicable. The following year, numbers did drop to just below 150, and, apart from a slight increase in 1954, numbers remained below 150.


In March 1959, the Chief Inspector of Industrial Schools at the Department of Education wrote: Bro. Goyo38 of the General Council of the Presentation Brothers, Mount St. Joseph Cork called in to the office about six weeks ago and told me in strict confidence that his order was considering closing Greenmount Industrial School. He enquired what the procedure should be. I told him that under Section 48 of the Children’s Act 1908 the Managers may on giving six months notice in writing to the Minister for Education resign the Certificate. He was anxious to know whether the six months interval between the giving of the notice and the evacuating of the school would be insisted on and I informed him that we would do our best to arrange for the transfer of the boys in Greenmount to some other school or schools as quickly as possible. Bro. Goyo rang me on the 17th Feb. and said his Provincial and he with the Res. Manager of Greenmount were anxious to meet me to discuss matters bearing on the closing of the Greenmount School. I met the three of them in the School on the 26th Feb. I pointed out to them that before considering the transfer of Greenmount school boys elsewhere we should contact the Res. Manager of Upton School to ascertain how many boys from Greenmount he would be prepared to accept. The great majority of the Greenmount Boys are from Cork City and County. We (the provincial and Res. Manager and I) arranged to meet [the] Res. Manager of Upton School and we told him in confidence that Greenmount school was to be closed and we asked him how many boys from that school he could accept on transfer into his school. [The Resident Manager of Upton] promised to consider the matter and let us know as soon as possible. He notified us on the 3rd instant that his school could accommodate 105 of the Greenmount boys. I further discussed with the Res. Manager of Greenmount the distribution of the boys and asked him on the 11th instant to furnish lists of the proposed transfer. He has contacted the Resident Managers of Upton, Artane, Tralee & Glin Schools and has recommended the transfer of the boys as follows Upton 98, Artane 9, Tralee 4, Glin 3. The General Council of the Presentation Brothers is very anxious that Greenmount as an Industrial School be closed as from the 31st March, 1959 and the Resident Manager of Upton is anxious to have a decision on the matter as early as possible in order to arrange for the appointment of two extra teachers. Schedules of the proposed transfers are attached for the Minister’s signature.


Written in manuscript at the end of the letter is the note, ‘Greenmount Arrangements will be made for the transfer of the boys on 31/3/59’. The six months’ notice in writing required under the Act was being waived.


By contrast, the Department attempted to enforce the six-month rule on Newtownforbes when the Sisters of Mercy withdrew in 1969.


On 16th February 1959, the Resident Manager, Br Ernesto,39 wrote to the Chief Inspector: Dear Sir. The General Council of the Presentation Brothers has decided to close Greenmount as an Industrial School. I, accordingly wish to know: (i)If the boys at present in this school can be suitably accommodated in the other Industrial Schools of the country. (ii)If so, when may we hope that the evacuation can be conveniently carried out. While I realize that the statutory period of notice for closing is six months, the General Council is anxious to effect the closing as quickly as possible. I hope to hear from you as early as possible, as we wish to arrange at an early date for the renovation of the building for other purposes. For various reasons, I should like to have this matter treated in strict confidence.


There is no written explanation of what was meant by ‘the renovation of the building for other purposes’, nor was an explanation given as to why there was a need for such haste. Again, the Chief Inspector is exhorted to treat the matter in ‘strict confidence’.


The Chief Inspector replied, asking for the particulars of the boys to be transferred and asked for the following to be done: (1)The local authorities liable under the Children Acts to be informed. (2)The five boys detained under the Health Act, 1953 to be transferred to Tralee by arrangement with the local authorities. (3)Boys committed but whose period of detention was soon to expire to be released on supervision certificates.


He ended with the caution that no action was to be taken without the approval of the Minister for Education. In this otherwise thorough and methodical letter, no mention was made about informing the parents of the boys who were to be moved.


On 12th March, the Resident Manager duly provided the data needed. The schools at Upton, Artane, Glin and Tralee had been contacted and had agreed to the transfer of boys to their respective institutions. The letter ended: Regarding the notification of Transfer to be sent to the Local Authorities, can I presume that the transfers will be put into effect on 31st March and mention that date to them?


The local authorities were, in effect, to be presented with a fait accompli.


On 23rd March 1959, the Department wrote to the Resident Manager that the Minister had sanctioned the transfer of the boys under detention as follows: Release – term expired 1 Release – supervision certificate 12 Transferred to Upton 98 Transferred to Artane 9 Transferred to Tralee 4 Transferred to Glin 3 Total 127


With one small change (one extra boy was discharged and 97 went to Upton), the transfers took place on the agreed date. On 31st March, the Resident Manager wrote the following letter to the Chief Inspector: I wish to inform you that all the boys have been disposed of to-day as arranged by previous discussion and correspondence with the exception of six boys, victims of influenza, whom we have detained in the school until recovery and three boys who are in hospital. We will arrange for the transport of these boys to their different schools when they are fit to travel. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing sincere thanks on my own behalf and on behalf of the Superior General, for having treated this whole matter of disposing of the boys so expeditiously.


The matter was not finished here, however. The decision to close the School was initially made without consultation with the Bishop. The Superior General visited the bishop on 16th January 1959 to inform him of the fact that the Brothers intended closing the School and opening a Juniorate for aspiring Brothers. The Bishop sought expert opinion on canon law on the subject, and wrote the following letter to the Superior General: Dear Brother Jose, I got your letter of. Jan 29th and, in view of your having told me (a) that you had already made arrangements with the Department about closing down Greenmount as an Industrial School and (b) that my permission was not necessary for your doing this and using the building as an extension to your Juniorate, I took expert opinion in Canon Law. That opinion is that my permission is required by Canon 497. There is question of closing down an Industrial School and opening an additional Juniorate. Can. 497 allows only changes pertaining to the internal management, etc to be made without referring to the Ordinary, whereas arrangements about your Juniorate may be regarded as pertaining to the internum regimen, the change from or concerning the Industrial School cannot be regarded as an internal one. As well there is the possibility that it was precisely in order to have this school there that you got the foundation at Greenmount originally. In the circumstances, therefore, I have to inform you that Canon 497 has to be complied with and I have formally to register a protest at your having made arrangements with public authority to close down this schola or hospitium without first acquainting, much less having the permission of ecclesiastical authority; namely the Ordinarius Bishop of Cork. That I am quite agreeable to such change, when duly arranged, is another 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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