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Chapter 3 — Society and the schools

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Part 1 Social, economic and family background


In a very real sense, poverty was the reason for the Industrial schools. The result of the adverse economic conditions of the times was that the late 1920s, 30s and 40s were scarred by deep poverty. All the classic signs were there: tuberculosis (‘consumption’); rickets; anaemia; emigration; apathy; money-lending and high unemployment, especially in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick.


An economic depression lasted virtually throughout the 1920s and 30s. The war years, 1939-45, were a period of further economic decline, with urban unemployment and a drop in real wages of 30 percent between 1939 and 1943 and a recovery to the 1939 figure only in 1949. Even then stagnation set in until 1958. Thereafter, the economy grew at an unprecedented rate through the 1960s (about 4 percent pa) and through the 70s in a more patchy way.


Another contributory factor to child poverty was the fact that during the period 1930-80, Irish levels of fertility were consistently the highest in Western Europe. Infant mortality, often invoked as a guide to living standards, was 90 per 1,000 in 1914. Then there was a reduction but it rose significantly during World War II (indeed during the period 1936-48 it remained between 60-80 per 1,000).1 In sum, it was inevitable that one of the major (if seldom noticed) problems of public policy would remain a significant number of poor families. At the root of this poverty was unemployment, coupled with the lack of welfare benefits. Usually the reason for low income was unemployment, which was heavily concentrated in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and especially Dublin. The following Table shows the unemployment rates.
Year Dublin County Borough National

Rate as % of

those available

for work

Rate as % of

those available

for work
1926 13,580 14.7 66,393 6.9
1936 17,500 13.2 83,235 8.5
1946 13,141 9.7 51,809 5.4
1951 9,293 6.2 36,115 3.8
1956 9,861 6.6 55,157 6.6
1961 8,559 6.1 46,989 5.7
1966 7,514 5.1 43,864 5.3


This general view is confirmed by a number of empirical pioneering surveys in or about the 1940s by doctors or other public-spirited citizens. Writing in 1938 about the general population, Dr Fearon2 estimated that a weekly income of 30 shillings per week would be needed to keep a person, and of this amount the expenditure on food would be 10 shillings for a diet which ‘is almost’ nutritionally adequate. Yet 50 percent of the population had a weekly income of 20 shillings or less and spent 8 shillings or less on food.3 In the same year, the Rotunda Hospital, in inner North Dublin, almoners carried out a dietary survey on a small sample of 50 families living in one-roomed tenements where the breadwinner was unemployed – in other words the families whose children were most likely to be committed. The almoners found that when rent, insurance, fuel and light were paid, the average weekly sum available for food and clothes, for each family member, was 3 shillings.4


A few years later, in 1945, the cost of living had increased and another study of family income told the same sad story. This study of 10,500 families drawn at random from the Corporation’s information on families in Dublin, found that 55 percent of them had an income that was below £2.10 s 0d. The significance of the figure of £2.10 s is as follows. The unemployment assurance was relatively high but only lasted for a few months. Where a man was unemployed beyond this period, he and his family would go on to either home assistance or unemployment assistance. In 1945, in the case of Dublin residents, this was 30 shillings per week. In addition, children’s allowances would bring in another 7s 6d, food and (in winter) fuel vouchers would bring in another 6 shillings, and there might also be a grant from St Vincent de Paul or another charity. Yet experts at the time stated that the weekly minimum cost for a healthy standard of living ranged from £3.5s 0d. to £4.18 s 0d for a family with five children between the ages of five and 15 (taking the lowest figure for rent and for nutrition which will create healthy growth and resistance to the social disease of tuberculosis and rheumatism). Extrapolating from these figures, one can deduce that throughout the country, there was likely to have been at least 60,000 children who, because of either their parents’ chronic unemployment or inadequate wages, were living at such levels of destitution as to make them eligible for Industrial Schools.5


A 1948 survey contrasted two types of meals, the ‘bread and spread’ and the cooked meal. The ‘bread and spread’ consisted of a tea or milk drink, bread and a butter or jam spread. The cooked meal consisted of fish, meat, or eggs and may also have included potatoes and vegetables or a pudding. For children under 14 years of age in slum families, 44 percent of all the meals they ate were of the ‘bread and spread’ type, while these figures declined to 36 percent of children in artisan families, and 18 percent in middle class families. The survey found that intakes of milk and cheese were insufficient in all income groups, although the deficiencies were most marked in slum families.


As to housing for the poor, there was even at the higher level a shortage of adequate accommodation at affordable rents and, at the lowest level, an absence of any accommodation that was not overcrowded, unheated or often rat-infested.6 The conditions were ‘often quite unsuitable for cattle’.7 Writing about housing conditions especially in urban areas in the 1930s O’Cinneide and Maguire state:8 Studies ... especially in urban areas in the 1930s suggest that housing conditions improved little from the beginning of the Irish Free State. In fact, one report noted that the number of urban families living in unsuitable or hazardous conditions in the intervening years rose from 25,820, in 1913 to 28,200 in 1938, in spite of slum clearance efforts in the intervening years.


As late as 1950, there were 6,300 tenements housing 112,000 people or nearly one-third of Dublin Corporation population.9

1936 1946 1961
No of households/ persons No of households/ persons No of households/ persons No of households/ persons
All areas
Private households in 1 room 47,000






- with 1 or 2 persons 24,000




- with 3–5 persons 17,000




- with 6+ persons 6,000




Dublin City and County
Private households in 1 room 27,000




- with 1 or 2 persons 12,000




- with 3–5 persons 11,000




- with 6+ persons 4,000






The Table shows that, for instance, in 1946, there were 3,000 households comprising six or more people living in one-room accommodation. Two-thirds of these one-room accommodation units were in Dublin City and County. These figures were worse in 1936 and worse again in 1926. By 1961, however, there had been significant improvement on the 1946 figures. Small wonder that the numbers of Dublin children committed for reasons of poverty were disproportionately high.


As the country became less poor through the late 1950s and 1960s conditions improved. In 1936, in Dublin inner city, a family would have to consist of nine or more persons in one room to merit Corporation housing. Even then, many families living 12 in one room had to refuse the offer of a corporation house because they could not afford the rent. With the advent in 1950 of the differential rents system for corporation houses, this difficulty fell away and, by 1961, while conditions were still not good, a family of three or four had a reasonable chance of rehousing.


Although conditions were worst in Dublin, they were also bad in the provinces. The following descriptions of family circumstances were collected by O’Cinneide and Maguire from ISPCC files:10 One-roomed house, mud-walled cabin, overcrowded and condemned by CMO. One bed for entire family (family of five, 1938, Arklow) Two-roomed house mud walls and thatched in very bad state of repair; no rent paid. Home congested and damp, unfit for human habitation (family of four, 1943, Wexford) Living in with the paternal grandfather in one room. Very little furniture. One double bed, poorly covered. One pram. Room clean and tidy. Family are overcrowded (family of six, 1954, Wicklow).


Income shortage was often compounded by bad management and debt was a major problem. Credit unions did not start until the late 1960s. Moneylenders charged up to 100 percent interest and took children’s allowance books as security. One poor mother described her whirligig of debt – to the landlord, ESB, shop on the corner, moneylenders – as being ‘as if my head and my feet are in a halter’.11 Alcoholism or gambling were other thorns. Parents were occasionally in such severe straits that they refused to take their child home from maternity hospital. Dr Dillon wrote in 1945:12 The Poor cannot keep clean, because they are unable to buy soap or fuel to heat water. With every month at unemployment their position becomes more desperate, more hopeless, until they finally join the ranks of the unemployable. The mother starves herself to feed her children and, in a very high percentage of cases, is found on examination to be suffering from nutritional anaemia. The children fall behind in school and gradually slip down to a social status even lower than their parents. They are in the majority of cases all but useless to the modern employer. At the age of 18 they are replaced by some other unfortunate and join the ranks of the unemployable proletariat. There are families in Dublin in which the second generation is now well advanced on that dreary road.


Family-planning facilities were virtually non-existent and many marriages floundered owing to these extreme family stresses. For instance: 13 A typical example of the emigration pattern of the 1940s and 1950s was an expectant mother with five children alive out of eight pregnancies, who usually became pregnant during her husband’s infrequent visits home. She lived in two rooms at the top of a city tenement, and was known to the almoner from 1939 to 1957. She was distraught because she suspected that her husband, who was living in ‘digs’ in England, was having an affair with his landlady – ‘he never wires but send money regularly’. She described him as ‘indifferent’, having no affection for his children.


As well as poverty, many related evils flourished in these extreme and unnatural conditions. In the years leading up to independence, Crown books (court records) show that prosecutions for sexual crime involving children – indecent exposure, gross indecency, indecent assault, buggery and unlawful carnal knowledge – arising out of acts occurring in the Dublin tenements, were commonplace and prostitution was regarded as a common problem in Dublin. Of the 1,984 deaths from venereal disease recorded in Ireland between 1899 and 1916, 69 percent of the victims were children under five years of age.14 However, according to a report ‘contrary to the currently accepted opinion, VD was widespread throughout the country and it was disseminated by a class of girl who could not be regarded as a prostitute’.15


The illegitimacy rate was high (eg 295 per 1,000 births in 1929-30) and according . to one historical survey: ‘To judge from the pages of the Cork Examiner, (from 1925-6) infanticide was a weekly, if not a daily reality in Ireland.’ The reports were brief, factual and non-judgemental. The most usual outcome was a guilty verdict ‘with a strong recommendation to mercy’, partly due to the stigma already attached to the perpetrator and their family.16

  1. C O’Grada A Rocky Road: the Irish economy since the 1920s (Manchester UP, 1997) 17, 194 and Table 1.5. In 1949, one child in 16 did not live to see his or her fifth birthday. 100 mothers died in childbirth in 1949 compared to fewer than one per year at present (Central statistics Office, 2000).
  2. F Fearon ‘The National Problem of Nutrition’ Studies vol 26 (March, 1938). Twelve similar figures are given in an article based on the families of 60 patients attending the Rotunda Hospital in GC Dokeray and WR Fearon ‘Ante-Natal. Nutrition in Dublin’ (1938) Irish Journal of Medical Science (6th series) 80.
  3. O’Cinneide and Maguire, pp 39-40.
  4. E Holmes ‘Medical Social Work’ at the Rotunda in A Browne (ed) Masters, Midwives and Ladies in Waiting, p 216.
  5. See, to similar effect: TWT Dillon MD ‘The Social Services in Eire’, Studies, September 1945 329; Dunne ‘Poverty Problems for a Patriot Parliament’ Journal of the Statistical and Society Inquiry Society of Ireland, 1922:190; Dr Clancy-Gore ‘Nutritional Standards of some working class families in Dublin’ Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, vol 17 (1943-44) 241.
  6. Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Housing of the Working Classes of the City of Dublin 1938-43 (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1944), p 15, quoted in O’Cinneide and Maguire, p 22.
  7. TWT Dillon ‘Slum clearance past and future’ Studies, March 1945, pp 13-20.
  8. Department of Health, National Nutritional Survey (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1968) quoted in O’Cinneide and Maguire The Industrial Schools: A Monograph, pp 33-4, citing as sources: WT Dillon ‘Slum Clearance Past and Future’ Studies, March 1945, p 163; The Standard, 14th November 1931, p 9; The Standard, 27th September 1935, p 2; Irish Weekly Independent, 25th December 1937, p 8.
  9. K Kearns Dublin Tenement Life (Gill and Macmillian, 1995).
  10. O’Cinneide and Maguire ‘Findings from the ISPCC records’ (2000) second progress report to the Sisters of Mercy. Industrial Schools in context project.
  11. Rotunda Hospital Annual Clerical Reports for 1936-68, Social Services section.
  12. Dillon The Social services in Eire, p 331:
  13. Rotunda Hospital Annual Clerical Reports for 1936-68, Social Services section.
  14. JV O’Brien Dear Dirty Dublin (Dublin, 1978), pp 167-8.
  15. NAI, DT, S4183, report on VD in the Irish Free State: Committee of Inquiry (1924–26). The report was not published (ibid, 7th May 1927) Here one ought also to mention briefly the Carrigan Report on Sexual Offences (1931) which led ultimately to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935. The immediate reason for its establishment was the fact that the English Law in regard to sexual offences against young person had recently been made more stringent including law on prostitution, carnal knowledge of an underage person. The Committee had a good deal of evidence about such crime, from, for instance, Garda Commissioner Eoin O’Duffy. The Report was not made public on the advice of the Department of Justice and the Catholic Church, because it was thought that it would show Irish sexual morals in a poor light. The general lesson which this Report and its non-publication teaches is that there was a good deal of sexual crime against children in the early 1930s and there is no reason to suppose that this position changed at any rate for several decades; and also that the official approach was to sweep such matters under the carpet. The Report did not discriminate between crimes taking place within the family or at a school of whatever type. See generally: Report of the Committee on the Criminal Law Amendments Acts (1880-1885) and Juvenile prostitution (Dublin, 1931), p 26; M Finnane ‘The Carrigan Committee of 1930-31 and the moral condition of the Saorstat’ Irish Historical Studies (November 2001), p 519; F Kennedy ‘The Suppression of the Carrigan Report’ studies, Vol 89, No 356, p 362.
  16. Louise Ryan ‘The massacre of innocence: Infanticide in the Irish Free State’, Irish Studies Review, No 14, Spring 1996, pp 17-21.
  17. Rotunda Clinical Report for 1945-46, section on Social Services by the Almoner, Miss Murphy.
  18. Lunney’s survey of the Sisters of Mercy Schools.
  19. In Limerick, in 1936, the Society provided boots and clothing to nearly 2,000 families, and disbursed nearly £2,000 in assistance. This was in spite of the fact that the Society’s resources were so diminished, and their donations significantly diminished, that they had been forced to reduce by nearly half the number of people they could assist (The Standard, 3rd April 1936, four cited in O’Cinneide and Maguire The Industrial Schools Over a Hundred Years: A Monograph, p 32). Dillon ‘The Social Services in Eire’ at p 329 states that, in 1943, the society distributed goods and grants to the total value of €150,000.
  20. The other two income-support schemes, old age pensions and insured worker’s benefits, are not relevant.
  21. The Evening Standard, 5th May 1939.
  22. F Kennedy From Cottage to Crèche (IPA, 2003), pp 218-9.
  23. School: A Sociological Study’ (1971) Unpublished M Soc Sci thesis, UCD.
  24. Number of orphans admitted to various Industrial Schools from establishment to 1950
  25. School
  26. Orphans
  27. Total admissions
  28. Percentage of School population
  29. Clifden
  30. ,015
  31. ..25
  32. Clonakilty
  33. ,306
  34. ..39
  35. Dundalk
  36. ..85
  37. Galway
  38. ,090
  39. ..16
  40. Goldenbridge
  41. ,755
  42. ..84
  43. Limerick
  44. ,663
  45. .14
  46. Mallow
  47. .46
  48. Newtownforbes
  49. ,434
  50. .81
  51. Templemore
  52. .01
  53. Westport
  54. ,065
  55. .83
  56. Taken from E O’Sullivan, PhD.
  57. Saorstát Éireann Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, including the Insane Poor (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1928), p 5 (our italics); J Robins From Rejection to Integration: A Centenary of Service by the Daughters of Charity to Persons with a Mental Handicap (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992), pp 2-3.
  58. Department of Local Government (1928) Annual Report 113, quoted in Kilcummins at p 84. In response about eight ‘mother and child’ homes were set up for unmarried mothers giving birth for the first time. In 1922 the Sacred Heart Home in Bessboro, County Cork, managed by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, was opened. Similar homes were established by the same Order in Roscrea, County Tipperary, in 1930 and Castlepollard, County Meath, in 1935. The Sisters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul opened a similar institution on the Navan Road, in Dublin, in 1918 and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd opened a home in Dunboyne, County Meath, in 1955. In addition, three special homes were provided by local authorities themselves in Tuam, County Galway, Kilrish, County Clare and Pelletstown in County Dublin: See further Kilcummins ‘The Origins of Penal Policy’ in Crime Punishment and the Search for Order in Ireland (IPA, 2003), pp 82-6.
  59. National Archives, DT S14472b – Report of the Interdepartmental Committee appointed to examine the Question of the Reconstruction and Replacement of County Homes, p 24.
  60. Kennedy Report, Appendix E.
  61. At para 3.2.
  62. TE O’Sullivan Child Welfare in Ireland, 1750-1995: A History of the Present (TCD PhD, 1999), pp 204-7.
  63. In other words, in the Irish Legislation there was no equivalent of Part V of the (English) Children and Young Persons Act 1933 provides for the registration of all homes and other institutions, supported wholly or partly by voluntary contributions, and receiving poor children and young persons. By section 25 of the Children Act 1908, there was a bare power of inspection with no power further to intervene in any way and certainly none to investigate individual children; nor was any duty to register imposed.
  64. See eg Health Discovery, 42
  65. Barrett, ‘The Dependent Child’ Studies, Winter 1955 at p 422.
  66. At pp 33-4.
  67. Table 34. Kennedy states: ‘One of the tasks we attempted was to draw up a list of private voluntary Homes. Their principal sources of information were the Irish Catholic Directory and the Church of Ireland Handbook, but as there is no standardised classification of private Homes, it is possible that, in spite of independent checks, we have overlooked some Home or school which should have been included.’
  68. Kennedy, para 1.5.
  69. Sources: Mary Raftery and Eoin O’Sullivan Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland’s Industrial Schools (Dublin: New Island, 1999), Appendix 1; Dail Debates Vol 220, col 687-88 (2nd February 1966); Kennedy Report, para 1.5; Cussen Report, para 17 and Appendix B; Department of Education complied from quarterly returns from each School to the Department.
  70. Classified as a special school with the Department of Education, it is still in law a Reformatory which is managed by the Oblate Fathers who have a long-standing tradition of residential child care in Ireland. It caters for up to 60 boys from all parts of the Republic, as the only Reformatory facility. The age range of boys referred would be between 12 and 17 years and the other main criteria for admission include the seriousness of the offence and whether a committal is for more than one year. The school is run on the basis of four units with one being an intake unit.
  71. This transfer which was effected by means of three forms (until an administrative reform in the late 1950s reduced this to one). First the Manager of the junior School completed a form of transfer which was returned to the Department. This form was forwarded to the Manager of the senior School who returned it, signifying his willingness to accept the child. Finally, the Minister made a transfer order, exercising his power under s 69(2) of the 1908 Act, transferring a youthful offender or child from one industrial school to another. Notification of this was sent to the Manager of each school.
  72. These were the Baltimore Fishing School (under the management of a local board of which the Bishop of Ross was chairman (SD, vol 25, col 495 (5th March 1941)), closed, under Departmental pressure in 1950; and the school in Killybegs, closed, on its acquisition by military authorities in 1950.
  73. Kennedy Committee, para 1.5.
  74. At para 4.6.
  75. The Poor Clares were founded in 1204, committed to a life of prayer and penance, among the strictest orders in the Catholic Church. Generally, one might doubt as to whether celibates would make good mother and father figures (horses for courses). How did the Poor Clares get into this field? Were they in need of the income? A contemplative order, their concepts of love focussed on Christ and Our Lady had complete charge of young children deprived of family life. The isolation of the community of St Joseph’s Orphanage, Cavan meant that the fire of 1943 claimed the lives of 35 girls as well as one woman.
  76. According to the official history of the Christian Brothers order (A Christian Brother (1926), pp 524-5):
  77. This was a congregation which stood apart as a body of men committed to the education of boys, especially poor boys; which before independence, had stayed outside the National System for ideological reasons; which asserted its independence from each local bishop; and which, most significantly, was the principal provider of secondary education for the Nineteenth and most of the Twentieth Century.
  78. In fact, this effect is greater than appears from the Table since the Table treats boys in a single category yet boy’s Schools were divided into those for junior or senior boys. A consequence would be that a greater number of boys than those shown in the Table would have had to be sent outside their home county because there would have been no School available for someone of their particular age. In the interest of simplicity we have not gone into this effect. Another detail that is omitted, but which would have told in the opposite direction, is that, in some cases, girls Schools took junior boys. This would have had the effect of enlarging the number of places available in the county to boys.
  79. DD vol 145, col 946–52 (23rd April 1954); SD vol 75, col 60 (1st June 1973); vol 252 (25th March 1971); DD vol 75, col 150 (28th March 1939); vol 94, col 272-7 (13th June 1944), respectively.
  80. For questions in this paragraph, see respectively DD vol 127, col 274 (7th November 1951) (stating that the police car used to transport children to the schools had been replaced by a station wagon the previous month); vol 49, col 1359 (28th June 1944); DD vol 174, cols 126, 272 (8th and 9th April 1959).
  81. DD vol 88, col 2271 (19th November 1942).
  82. DD vol 88, cols 2270–3 (19 November 1942).
  83. DD vol 88, col 2273 (19 November 1942). See too, col 2536:
  84. I have a case here, for example, of a boy aged 11 years, who was three times before the court before he was committed in July 1941. In August, 1941, I ordered his release. He did not attend school, and during the period after I ordered his release in August, 1941, and before October, 1942, when he was recommitted, he was before the court no less than six times.
  85. DD vol 66, col 25 (31st May 1937); DD vol 126, col 1732, 1744 (17th July 1951).
  86. DD vol 94, cols 272-7 (13th June 1944). See also vol 126, cols 1699, 1731, 1744 (11th July 1951).
  87. DD vol 151, col 20 (25th May 1955).
  88. DD vol 174, col 272 (9th April, 1959).
  89. See eg DD vol 126, cols 1699, 1731, 1744. There were no sweeping condemnation, the equivalent of Deputy Dillon’s comment on Summerhill, (not an Industrial School but a residential institution for juveniles (see 00) run by the Department of Education). He stated:
  90. Summerhill is closed. Ten weary years of battering at the walls of Summerhill have at last brought them down. Deputies may remember the Taoiseach saying that he thought Summerhill a very nice place to which he would send his own children if they did not behave themselves... the alternative accommodation [is] Glasnevin.
  91. FILL OUT. On another occasion, Deputy Dillon said he would not like to see greyhounds or terriers kept in Summerhill: DD vol 88, col 1580 (28th October 1942). For Summerhill (later the place of detention was transferred from Summerhill to Marlborough House) see: para 00.
  92. Deputy A Byrne is an exception, referring to Scotland and the US at DD vol 82, cols 1120-1 (11th December 1940).
  93. M Maguire ‘Briefing Paper Newspaper Research on Former Residents of Mercy Industrial Schools’, Sisters of Mercy Industrial Schools in Context.
  94. At 46. Sources: Connacht Tribune, 24th January 1931, p 2; Connacht Tribune, 22nd January 1938, p 3; Connacht Tribune, 29th January 1938, p 6; Irish Weekly Independent, 13th April 1935, p 1; Irish Weekly Independent, 14th May 1932, p 9; Connacht Tribune, 8th July 1939, p 9; Irish Weekly Independent, 22nd November 1930, p 9.
  95. At p 275 of his PhD thesis.
  96. Brian Quinn, editor of The Evening Herald (1969–76).
  97. See Appendix, Vol V, Part B.
  98. This is one of a number of pioneering series by Mr Viney, 27th April– 6th May 1966. D Gageby ‘The Media’ in JJ Lee (ed) Ireland 1945-70 (Gill and Macmillan, 1979), p 133, refers to ‘a whole new world of cool clinical reporting which came from Michael Viney, with novel studies of unmarried mothers, alcoholics, deprived children and other castaways of the 1960s.’ The other exceptions were The Irish Times, 3rd February 1950
  99. This letter (10th May 1966) was from Captain Edgar White from the First Dublin County Boys ‘ Brigade. It suggested that uniformed organisations like the Boys’ Brigade, Catholic Boy Scouts, could provide persons capable of acting as voluntary welfare liaison officers. A comment in response from Michael Viney indicated that in his opinion, voluntary workers were not the answer and would only provide the State with ‘an excuse for further procrastination’.
  100. Minutes of Christian Brothers’ Managers Meeting of 30th April 1957.
  101. DJ 93/182/17, cited in Keating at pp 201-2. We do not have the Minister’s response. On 18th February 1955, the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers, who had a long-standing interest in the Schools wrote to the Minister suggesting various reforms, among them a visiting Committee for each institution, appointed by the local authority and comprising members of the council and outside social workers.
  102. National School Boards of Management did not start until 1975; and Boards of Management for secondary schools started somewhat later: Fuller Irish Catholicism since 1950 (Gill and MacMillan, 2002), p 161.(There is no need to go into the precise gradation of functions and powers between committee of management or a board of visitors because the essential point here is that there was next to nothing in the way of either type of body.)
  103. DJ 93/182, quoted in A Keating, PhD, pp 224-6.
  104. According to the minutes of a discussion between the Inter-departmental Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment Offenders and the Catholic Godparents Guild, 6th November 1963, (the Kennedy Committee being missing, we are using the evidence to the Inter-Departmental Committee):
  105. The Catholic Godparents Guild originated (1949) in personal contacts when Miss Wogan enlisted the aid of certain individuals in sending presents to industrial school children and it has preserved this personal, discriminatory approach to new membership. (In the first year of its existence it dropped 25 members who did not keep to the high standard set.)
  106. Furthermore, the Guild has now for the first time a surplus of potential godparents, and proposes to communicate with all industrial schools asking for the names of children. This move may enable it to interest more industrial school managers in the idea of the Guild and in the ideas of Visiting and After-Care Committees. Mr MacDaibhid [of the Department of Education] undertook to supply to Miss Fleming a list of all industrial schools. It was remarked that not all industrial schools cooperate with the Guild, but Mr JJ McCarthy was able to assure the representatives that most industrial school managers with whom the question of a Visiting Committee was raised had welcomed the idea.
  107. In view of the experience of the Galway Godparents Association one would suggest that there was an element of wishful thinking here.
  108. However, occasionally suggestions came from, for example.
  109. i) Irish Association of Civil Liberties. On 28th May 1963, the Association proposed that the Department should take advantage of the declining numbers in the 1960s, to widen the categories of children they took, in order not to break up families, for instance: ‘Cavan Senior Girls school is looking for permission to take boys, Rathdrum junior boys wants authority to take girls and Drogheda junior boys would like to keep their children until the age of eleven years.’
  110. ii) See, too, Knights of St Columbanus: letter to the Minister, 4th November 1966, complaining that Daingean residents were not eligible from free health services provided by the State and noting that the Knights took an interest in ‘after-care and improving amenities for the institution’.
  111. iii) Following a visit to Artane by the Junior Chamber Commerce, Junior Chamber, in a letter of 24th June 1966 offers the help of its membership equipping the boys ‘to take their place in society’: see fn 215 of Education Discovery, May 2006.
  112. iv) See also the following extract from the Incorporated Law Society’s (18th January 1971) response to the Kennedy Report:
  113. The Society’s committee was chaired by Cork Solicitor, John B Jermyn. ‘Full use should therefore be made of Organisations like Rotary and the Lions Club. These Bodies consist of representatives of all the Professions and Trades and would find little difficulty in placing any boy or girl on release from an Industrial School. Some years ago a Scheme was evolved with the Cork Rotary Club for such a purpose. The intention was that the Club would form a permanent standing Committee who would make contact through the Manager of Upton Industrial School with all boys aged 14 or 15. They would get to know them as intimately as possible and learn their capabilities so that when their 16th birthday arrived they would be employed immediately in a suitable position. The Committee would then continue to act in loco parentis to the children so placed and be available at all times to advise them and help them out of trouble. Unfortunately the Scheme was killed at birth because the then Manager of Upton Industrial School would not give it his blessing as he felt that it constituted a trespass on his own preserves.
  114. See the Department’s earlier brush-off on a memo submitted by the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers on Children in Institutions, dated 18th February 1955.
  115. As the members of the joint committee heartily endorse the view that a bad home is better than the best institution they obviously have very little sympathy with or appreciation of the excellent work being done in Irish orphanages and Industrial schools for the homeless or deprived child. Indeed the Joint committee would appear to have a strong prejudice against the system and in these circumstances it is difficult to see what contribution they can make to the problem beyond airing their prejudices against the existing system. I hold that while the system can never replace the good or moderately good home, it has a lot to recommend it.
  116. This paragraph draws on the detailed account in A Keating, pp 244-89. See also Keating ‘Marlborough House: A Case Study of State Neglect’ Studies Vol 93, No 371, p 325.
  117. Some of our children – a report on the residential care of the deprived child in Ireland, No 13, January 1966
  118. Mercier Press, 1967.
  119. God Squad, p 38.
  120. At para 20.
  121. M Osocpa’s memo of 4th April, 1951 states:
  122. Committals from Dublin City and County amount to between 30 to 40 per cent of the total committals; yet the accommodation of the schools in the Dublin Area (Artane and Carriglea – 1090) is only 34 per cent of the total accommodation for boys (3,229) and these two schools are required, in addition to giving vacancies for the Dublin committals, to cater for practically the rest of Leinster and the counties of Cavan and Monaghan.
  123. The Department shared the Managers assessment that many schools were ‘in danger of becoming uneconomic’ and accepted that as a consequence ‘the chances of modernising’ these schools became ‘increasingly remote’. One solution considered was the closure of the least economic schools and the transfer of their children to more viable schools, but it was accepted that it would be unfair to put children beyond the reach of those parents and relatives who visit them. See, too, letter of 19th March 1954, letter from Christian Brothers (A OhAulain) announcing closure of Carriglea and suggesting that distribution of former Carriglea residents should be sensitive to the location of their homes.
  124. A similar practice was to be reported in the case of a previous manager by the Tuairim Report (1966) 22 Some of Our Children: See, like effect O’Connor (1963); Kennedy, para 6.22 ; McQuaid (1971)]
  125. Department document Ref No 63/1937. See, to rather similar effect 7th June 1937 internal Departmental memo and letter from Mr Whelan to Deputy Secretary of Department ,14th September 1937 (116/37 DEI P0036).
  126. At p 79.
  127. At para 77.
  128. The Manager had to make a return to the Department annually, giving: the name of each child, the periods of leave, and the total number of days’ leave taken since above the limit of 31 days, the capitation grants would be affected.
  129. As early as 1929, it was noted in a Department of Education memo (Misc /56) that while the numbers of committals to Industrial and Reformatory Schools was somewhat higher than in Saorstat Eireann, the actual numbers in the schools was less because the British school managers were making ‘more and more use of their power of ‘licensing’ the children’.
  130. At pp 79-80.
  131. Table 14.
  132. Letter from M O’S to Assistant Secretary, 4th April 1951. It was also noted earlier that unless committals continued to increase, it was likely that Baltimore would have to close. In fact, Baltimore closed in 1950.
  133. 11th August, 1943. See also Daly, p 78 (see Report of Department of Education 1929-30, p 109.
  134. Minister T O’Deirg to Archbishop. McQuaid letters, 15th August, 23rd September 1944.
  135. On 4th April 1951, M O’S of Department wrote to the Assistant Secretary:
  136. Since 1945 there have on an average been 250 vacancies in the Boys’ Schools which tends to show that (i) the existing Industrial School accommodation for Senior Boys is adequate for the present conditions of comparatively full employment occasioned by the continuance of international tension and (2) with the improvement in the Social Welfare Services and general conditions (including housing) it is anticipated that less children will be committed to Industrial Schools on the grounds of poverty than heretofore. It must be remembered, however, that the incidence of the causes which leads to committals (unhappy marriages, poverty, illness or deaths of one or both parents, lack of control etc) is unpredictable and makes accurate forecasts of the number of committals very difficult.
  137. The Christian Brothers Managers Meeting of 12th January 1954 states:
  138. The question of the desirability of closing, for economic reasons, one of our Industrial Schools was discussed in detail and at length. It was mentioned that the Presentation Brothers were seriously considering the closing of Greenmount. [this actually occurred only in 1959] It was mentioned that His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin had expressed his preference for the smaller rather than the larger type of school. The Committee were of opinion that one of the schools should be closed but that the final decision should be left to the Provincial Council.
  139. Minutes of 28th April 1956 stated that: ‘it would be well, at least in order to shake up the Department, to propose that two of the Institutions (sic) should be closed’.’
  140. The St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount Cork annals for February 1959 record:
  141. The decline in the number of boys being committed to Industrial Schools had become very marked in recent years. The certified capacity of the school was 235 but at this time there were only 131 boys in the school. The meagre grant from the Government of 45/- per boy per week (only comparatively recently increased from 30/-) which had to cover food, clothing maintenance, provision of staff, other than the teachers in the class-room, etc made it very impractical to run the school efficiently. The second Juniorate at Passage West had its serious setbacks too. These two factors influenced the Higher Superiors to make the decision to close St Joseph’s as an Industrial School and made the building available as a Juniorate instead of St Teresa’s, Passage.
  142. However Keogh (p 183) writes:
  143. There is another explanation for the decline in the numbers of the boys being sent to the school. According to Fr Good: ‘there were rumours after the events of 1955, the Church held an inquiry into allegations that two members of the Greenmount Community were involved in an abusive relationship with a number of boys.] Fr Good (Chaplain to Greenmount 1955-70) writes to the Commission on December 29, 2005) that Bishop Lucey had asked the sisters in Passage to ignore government transfer orders and keep the boys to their sixteenth birthday. They did so successfully, and the boys went to secondary or technical schools in Passage.’ Interview with Fr James Good, History Department, UCC Cork, December 2000. I have yet to seek confirmation of this view from the Sisters of Mercy.
  144. Sr Bernadette was in charge of the Boy’s Junior Industrial School, Passage West, Co Cork (recently deceased). Sr Bernadette told me that Bishop Lucey had come to her and directed her to tear up all transfers of boys from her school to Greenmount and Upton. These Government transfers took effect on the child’s tenth birthday. (providing them with the secondary/technical education) until their release from Industrial School care at age 16. This effectively closed both Greenmount and Upton in a relatively short time.
  145. J Coolahan Irish Education: history and structure (IPA, 1981), pp 194-95.