Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 8 — Cappoquin

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In the late 1970s, the Resident Manager, Sr Rosetta,6 notified the Department that she had appointed Sr Callida,7 then House Parent in Group Home A, to be her deputy.


In May 1978, the three group homes had between them 48 children under the care of 10 full-time staff.


In 1978, Mr Graham Granville carried out a three-day general inspection and, overall, he was satisfied with the homes. He was not happy at the lack of social work support for the children, but commented favourably on other aspects of the facility. He thought the environment in the group homes was excellent, although he did highlight the need for refurbishment in the two original houses.


Mr Granville observed that there was a major problem on the educational front if the children were to be considered for technical/vocational schools. He also noted that no male staff had been employed because (a) no suitable candidate had applied, and (b) past experiences had caused problems of quality of personnel.


In a letter to Sr Rosetta, he outlined some of his observations and recommendations. He said that: ... overall there has been constructive valuable improvement in the residential child care policy that is showing results in the elements of human relations and child development.


He went on to praise the contributions of the three Sisters who had taken charge of the three group homes: The influence of Sisters [Isabella], [Eloisa]8 and [Callida] is to be commended within the group homes. And consequently their direction and evidence of the care staff is meaningful.


He recommended that punishments should be recorded, and that the Manager maintain a record of major punishments that may be administered, noting the name of the child, date of punishment, reason for punishment and punishment administered.


No record of corporal punishment was kept.


Mr Granville made strong recommendations on what qualities a new Resident Manager should possess, stressing the importance of proper record-keeping and communication with the child’s family and with social workers: That any future change in the Resident Manager’s part should consider (a)that the Resident Manager has to adopt a major leadership role. To be representative of the Communities child care policy at all levels and to ensure that this policy is practiced by all the care staff in the group homes.


He recommended that the children should be allowed every opportunity to develop their individual personalities. They should also be encouraged to forge links with their homes. Because the group homes would afford a more normal experience of growing up, he thought that boarding-out of children for weekends and holidays would no longer be necessary.


Finally, he hoped that male staff could be employed in the future.


In a number of internal handwritten documents within the Department, efforts were made to try to expedite the re-furbishing programme and explore what the Department could do to improve the chances of the children attending secondary level schooling.


Later that year, Sr Rosetta formally advised Mr Granville that, owing to extreme pressure of work both at school and community level, she had to resign as Resident Manager, and appointed Sr Callida in her place and Ms Noonan9 as co-ordinator from that date.


Sr Callida had been in charge of Group Home A since it was first set up in 1975, when she began with 17 children in care. She had no staff initially and was told to recruit her own team.


When she took over the role of Resident Manager, she said that her objectives were to give the children stability, consistency and continuity. She also hoped to concentrate on education, health and development. She moved into a room in one of the homes, Group Home A, and set up her administrative office there.

  1. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
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  21. This is a pseudonym. Sr Lorenza later worked in St. Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny. See St Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny chapter.
  22. Mother Carina.
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