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Chapter 4 — Greenmount

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Physical abuse


Another witness described beatings he received from a number of Brothers whilst he was in Greenmount in the mid-1950s. He mentioned Br Allente as one of these Brothers: You never forget these beatings no matter how old you are, you never forget the beatings you get in them schools.


The testimony detailed above indicates that several individual Brothers did use excessive corporal punishment from time to time. However, many witnesses were anxious to point out that Greenmount had many good points and many good Brothers.


One witness, who was there in the mid-1950s, not merely compared Greenmount favourably with another institution, but made a point of praising some Brothers. He was moved with five other boys from Carriglea to Greenmount, and told the Committee of the difference: It was softer than Carriglea ... they weren’t as cruel as regards beating you ... A bit more freedom ... a bit more lax ... as regards the things you did, you weren’t restricted to doing anything. They were fairly lenient with you ... you could play soccer, which you couldn’t play in Carriglea ... Everything was played. But it wasn’t trained, you weren’t trained for it, that was just between ourselves.


He was asked specifically if he felt that, in Greenmount, the Brothers there were a bit less violent. He replied: Oh yeah, they weren’t as brutal as in Carriglea. They would have odd spasms of it, but they were a lot more lenient ... Well, they used the strap and all that, but not as much as it was done in Carriglea.


He described Br Allente as ‘a hard task master, but all right’, and said that Br Santiago23 was ‘a nice man’. He said it was better when Br Santiago took over because ‘there was more tolerance’.


One of the other boys who was transferred from Carriglea also gave evidence. He was in Greenmount from the mid-1950s until it closed in 1959. He told the Committee: The good things were playing hurling and football in the pitch when there was sports, when you were allowed to go out. The good thing was some of the Brothers were good and treated you like maybe you should be. The other thing was going to the Father Matthew Hall for the annual panto, which we went to and which we enjoyed going. Eventually we started going to the cinemas in Cork because we used to have – sometimes in the School they would show you the odd film here and there. But going out, it was actually going out, getting out of the Institution and going down through the streets of Cork in two by two.


He was delighted with the fact that they were allowed to go out escorted into the town. He was asked if some of the Brothers treated the boys with respect and dignity, and treated them as children. He replied, ‘They did, some were very good’. He added later, ‘The older Brothers seemed to have more compassion with the children than the younger Brothers’.


Another resident from the late 1940s also stressed that there was both good and bad in Greenmount. He said ‘there was a lot of rotten apples, right, in the School ...’ but he said some of the Brothers were good to him: ‘The Brother that I used to work in the farm with, he was very good to me’. He then named two of the five working Brothers and said ‘it was like hell with them’, but he said the other Brothers were ‘grand’.


Mr Olivero, who had no qualms about denouncing Br Arrio as too harsh and severe, nonetheless felt that there was not a violent regime. He said: There was discipline there, there was strict discipline, but I mean it was no different to what it was in an ordinary primary school ... in the absence of parents we did the best we could. What more could we do?


The person most often mentioned in the complaints was Br Arrio, who was accused of being consistently brutal. Other Brothers were also remembered for administering excessive or arbitrary punishment, on a less frequent basis. As one complainant put it: They used to beat you hard. The degree of beating they gave you was more than some of the other Brothers, some were more lenient in their dishing out of punishment.


1.There was systematic use of excessive corporal punishment in the 1940s. 2.There were complaints about Brothers in the early 1950s, when corporal punishment appeared to be widespread and on occasion severe. 3.Some Brothers were regarded as nice, friendly and approachable. When they used corporal punishment, it was for misbehaviour and was accepted by complainants as being justified.

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.

  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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