On 22nd July 1957, the Department of Education wrote to Archbishop McQuaid about the dangerous condition of the Institution: ... Marlborough House, the building used as a House of Detention, is in so dangerous a state as to make it necessary shortly to look for an alternative building. I have mentioned to the Minister that your Grace has been so good as to have expressed on several occasions a particular interest in the question of the House of Detention and the Minister has asked me to request your Grace to favour me with an interview on the matter.
Fr Henry Moore stated in his report to Archbishop McQuaid in 1962 that ‘in my opinion the band is the only worthwhile achievement of the school’.
He was aware that Archbishop McQuaid was very unhappy with the state of affairs in Artane. He was concerned about the vastness of the Institution. Fr Moore believed that the Archbishop’s disquiet regarding Artane was motivated by a deep concern for the children. In 1962, when he was asked by the Archbishop to write a report regarding Artane, he did not feel any pressure to colour his report in line with the Archbishop’s trenchant views. In fact, the Archbishop’s opinion mirrored his own experience of Artane after two years’ working there. Fr Moore had become involved in the area of aftercare, much to the annoyance of the Brothers, he said. He worked with a youth club for former Artane boys run by the Legion of Mary, which highlighted to him the deficiencies in the provision of aftercare by the Brothers. He understood his purpose in writing the report was to present a global picture of his experience of Artane. He became aware subsequently that the Archbishop stated in correspondence with the Department of Justice that he had appointed Fr Moore to set about reforming Artane.
In conclusion: There were limitations on Fr Moore’s capacity to prepare a comprehensive report on Artane. The areas of the School with which he was most familiar were the Chapel, the yard and the trade schools. He visited the farm from time to time, but he did not go into classes or the dormitories or the refectory. He said that he visited the refectory on one occasion and similarly with the band room. He was in the hall more often. He did not speak to the Christian Brothers to get information for his report because he felt that that would endanger the confidentiality that was required. As to the question of bias, it is clear that Archbishop McQuaid was not an admirer of Artane as an institution. Fr Moore explained how, on a number of occasions, his mentor had expressed adverse views about the Industrial School. The two men kept in touch during the course of Fr Moore’s chaplaincy and his views did not surprise his superior. In the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that Fr Moore was unlikely to have approached his task of reporting with a sympathetic eye. But at the time when he was requested to do so, he had been there for two years and had being briefing the Archbishop on the conditions. There was nothing to suggest that Fr Moore was bending his views to meet the preconceptions of the Archbishop during the period from 1960 to 1962 before he made his report. Neither is there any evidence to warrant the conclusion that the chaplain was deliberately or subconsciously manipulating the evidence so as to produce an adverse conclusion. Fr Moore’s opinions were formed because of his observations in the two years before he was asked to furnish his report. While Fr Moore’s information was inaccurate in some particulars, as the Brothers point out, the example they gave of the boys having to purchase overcoats, which they claimed ‘was clearly wrong’ and which, therefore called into question the reliability of the report in general is not borne out by an analysis of the documents. Most of Fr Moore’s information came from his own observations or from the boys themselves. As to what he himself saw, the Congregation does not challenge his evidence. But on his conclusions, based on what he was told by the boys, there is major conflict. It is nonetheless the case that Fr Moore is the only person who is able to report what the boys were saying during this time, or indeed at any other time. There is no record of anybody else, either official or Christian Brother, actually talking to the boys and recording what they said. Neither is there any evidence of somebody in a position to do that because of his relationship with the boys. In other words, Fr Moore was the only person who was in a position where boys felt able to confide in him. That in itself is a significant >comment on the Institution. The fact that a witness received information from the boys in Artane, even if some of it is shown to be wrong, can scarcely be regarded as a disqualification to give evidence about the Institution in the course of an inquiry like this. The Committee concluded that Fr Moore was not actuated by malicious intent or bias in regard to the Christian Brothers or to Artane. He was in a position to observe events and to form opinions, and he had valuable information to give the Committee. His report of 1962, his evidence to the Inter-Departmental Committee and his evidence to the Investigation Committee were honest attempts to describe the conditions in the Institution as Fr Moore saw them and found them and believed them to be, based on the information at his disposal. This witness was uniquely qualified to comment on conditions in Artane because of his personal experience of being a child in a residential institution run by the Christian Brothers. Fr Moore was a witness of integrity and accuracy, whose evidence and report were corroborated in substantial measure by other evidence, including Mr MacUaid’s findings, Mr Dunleavy’s report and convincing oral testimony of complainants and respondents.
Br Dondre, who was in Letterfrack in the late 1960s and early 1970s, described this process to the Committee. He said that he taught the weakest group, and classes were allocated by the school Principal, who determined the boys’ ability on entry: I taught the weakest class and I can only go on my own experience in the classroom situation. The weakest boys were very weak. I did two remedial courses when I was there ... to improve my knowledge about weaker kids and the methodology of teaching these weaker children. I was quite happy with my results I could pass kids through my classroom, from 3rd class. There was a great mobility as I said before, I could get kids from my classroom into the next class inside three or four months because they were intelligent, all they needed was regular schooling. There were some kids that never graduated from the bottom two classes, some of them were educationally backward and some of them would be bordered on being mildly mentally handicapped.
In July 1955, at the request of the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Charles McQuaid, the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liege, met officials from the Department of Education with a proposal to establish a school for deaf boys aged between three and 10 years in Beechpark, Stillorgan, County Dublin.
As regards which Order would provide the School, Archbishop Mc Quaid proposed the Christian Brothers; but this offer was conditional on the State providing capital assistance. It was therefore politely turned down because the Presentation Brothers had offered to provide the School out of its own resources.88 Accordingly, an arrangement was made with them to acquire land (160 acres to allow for the farm) and construct an appropriate building for a School in Celbridge, County Kildare, 30 miles from Dublin. The total cost was £150,000, towards which the Department paid a grant of £40,000.