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Chapter 4 — Greenmount

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History and establishment of St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount


Br Jose17 reported in June 1951 that the education of the boys was well managed, but warned the Brothers of the Community: ... of the heavy responsibility placed on their shoulders of training these boys to face the world. The spiritual, moral, educational and even industrial training should receive very careful planning and attention.


He recommended that the Brothers consult with each other and pool their ideas as to how best to further the training of the boys.


The following year, the Provincial Report noted, ‘the average age of the Brothers is too high, for the exacting duties they are called upon to perform. A Bursar and another young Brother would be required to carry out the necessary work’. The report went on to state that, with falling numbers, the financial viability of the School was in doubt.


In May 1953, Br Jose recommended that the boys should receive regular instruction in ‘the civic and moral virtues’. The Provincial Report of the same year also recommended that a maid be employed in the Brothers’ kitchen instead of the boys. Further Provincial Reports of the same year complained that there were not sufficient boys in the workshops, despite the fact that half the total number of boys in the School were at the trades training age. In a Provincial Report the following year, it was recommended that all of the boys in 7th class be transferred into trades training classes.


The Provincial Report of June 1955 referred to the fact that Br Garcia18 had complained that discipline under the current Manager was somewhat lax. This report also made reference to immorality among the boys.


Br Blanco19 completed a Visitation Report in December 1955 and he acknowledged the difficulties in running a school of 133 boys from troubled backgrounds, particularly when the average age of the Brothers was 54. He emphasised the need for supervision, and that all members of the Community should pull together to ensure that the School was properly managed.


The Provincial Report of autumn 1957 was most critical of the management of the School and noted: The boys seem to be well supervised etc. At the same time they appear to me to be very raggedy and unkempt. I am convinced that all the uplift which we – a religious body should give – is not being given. We should be able to do something for them and make something out of them and do more than merely keep them. All my suggestions to this, and in fact to any matter were turned down by the superior as Utopian, impractical and impossible ... To sum up, the superior is good to organize, sees about the boys and is efficient generally. He is handicapped to some extent in the staff he has. However, he knows everything, he is open to no suggestion, he is lax about obeying higher superiors and I would say, he does not and will not realize very fully his responsibilities as leader of a religious community.


The Provincial Report the following year noted that the same observations still applied.


The final Visitation Report in December 1958 by Br Jose continued to express concern at the condition of the School. He stated that, although the School was well conducted, ‘the discipline, supervision, food, and general training of the boys would need to be thoroughly investigated so as to devise methods to get the best results’. The School closed three months later.


The Committee obtained discovery documents from the Presentation Brothers, the Department of Education and Science, the Diocese of Cork and Ross, the Garda Síochána and Fr Andrew.20 In addition former members of staff and former residents furnished statements.


In preparation for the hearings, the Commission sent letters to 19 residents listed on its database as having been resident in Greenmount and wishing to proceed with their complaint as of September 2005. Of those, one confirmed that he was not proceeding with his complaint and six did not reply. The remaining 12 were listed for hearing, seven of whom were heard and five withdrew. A further complainant had been heard in 2002. In addition, evidence was heard from one respondent.

Physical abuse


Br Denis Minehane, Vice Principal of the Presentation Anglo Irish Province, gave evidence during the Emergence Phase on 1st July 2004 in relation to the position taken by the Presentation Brothers on the issue of whether there was physical abuse in their Institution. He told the Committee: we have not formed a view that systematic child abuse occurred at Greenmount Industrial School. We are prepared to accept that a harsh regime operated there which would be unacceptable by today’s standards. In relation to the specific complaints made to the Investigation Committee it is extremely difficult to perform any meaningful enquiry into these allegations which relate to events between 40 and 60 years ago. This is compounded by the fact that virtually all the Brothers who worked at the School are deceased, and furthermore many records are incomplete.


He explained that the ‘Anglo Irish Province have not issued an apology but the Congregation as a whole, in updating its website six weeks ago, did issue a public apology’. This apology stated: The Presentation Brothers apologise to any person who was abused while in their care. The Brothers are committed to implementing the appropriate national guidelines for dealing with complaints relating to child sexual abuse, and will respond to the best of their ability to any person who comes to them with a complaint. Accordingly the Brothers have appointed a Child Protection Coordinator in every unit of the Congregation to meet with people who have complaints to make.


Br Minehane said of the apology: It was along the lines of, “we apologise for any wrongdoing or any abuse that occurred to any person while in our care.” That was done for two reasons. First of all to give our regret. Secondly to encourage anybody out there who is hurting to come and make that complaint.


Br Minehane then confirmed that the Presentation Brothers had contributed to the Redress Scheme. He stated: Well, we were members of CORI and in 2000 when this came up first we were participating in the Faoiseamh help line and we contributed to the Faoiseamh help line. We were a member of the 18 congregations and when the question of the contribution came up we felt that especially because of our 1955 incident that we would feel very exposed if all this went to litigation. We felt that it was prudent management to make a contribution to the Redress Board.

  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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