In the mid-1950s, the mother of a boy in Artane wrote to the Department of Education to ask if she could be allowed to see her son, who had sustained a broken arm and head injuries during the previous week. She also asked if the incident could be investigated. She wrote: I heard during the week that my boy Thomas22 Artane School had an arm broken as a result of a blow with a brush by one of the brothers I call to the school yesterday and the superior admitted that one of the brothers had given him a blow and that his arm was broken I did not see the boy23 but I believe he was attending another hospital for treatment the superior said he had it xrayed and seen the result the arm is in Plaster of Paris I also heard that his head was bandaged during the week Im very worried over it and I called on Sunday to see him and was not allowed If it could be arranged for me to see him to ease my mind. In any case please have the matter investigated and let me no the result.
The boy whose arm was broken is now deceased. The only witness available to the Investigation Committee was Br Michel,26 who was involved in the incident with Br Cyrano. Br Cyrano made a statement at the time, in which he said: As I was asking Br Michel something about the Easter tests he mentioned that a boy ... had caused him trouble that morning. He asked me what should he do and I told him that it would be better to give some punishment as he would only cause trouble again. I closed my door and began writing on the black board. During this time I could hear the boy talking and saying “I won’t give in if you keep at me for a week”. The boy was making remarks similar to this but I could not hear them to make them out. My own class stopped their work when they heard the noise next door. I knew from this that the boy was resisting punishment. I continued writing on the board and suddenly the door was opened in a hurry. A boy from Br Michel’s class entered saying that [he] wanted me immediately. I dropped the chalk and went in. As I entered I saw Br Michel and the boy in a corner. Br Michel was holding the boy who in turn had a brush raised as if to hit [him]. I lost my temper and in the spur of the moment I caught the brush and hit the boy. But how often or where I hit him I can’t say for definite. Then I gave the brush to another boy and told him to leave [it] at the far end of the room. As I was going back to my own room again I noticed the boy looking at his arm. I asked him to bend it which he did. I then left the classroom and went back to my own.
Six days after the mother’s letter of complaint was written, Br Cyrano, who had struck the blows, wrote to the Provincial of the Congregation: I am very sorry for all the damage I have done to the Brothers of Artane Community and to the Brothers in general. I have been very much upset and worried since it has happened. I will never forget it all my life. I would like if you would give me a change, as I would never really settle down again in Artane. As a favour I would be very much obliged if you considered my case, in making the change ...
These two contemporary documents within the records of the Congregation contain no details at all about the nature of the incident and the personnel involved. The infirmary record wrongly described it as an accident, with no indication that the fracture was the result of a deliberate blow, and the Brother’s letter expresses concern about the damage done to the Congregation rather than concern about what had happened to the boy. Even so, the fact that he was so upset and worried, and felt he would never be able to forget it, did not accord with Br Reynolds’s assertion that the attitude of the times to such incidents was not to view them as seriously as they would be viewed today.
This document also revealed that Br Cyrano was transferred out of Artane at his own request, because he felt he could never settle down there again. The assertion that his transfer was the result of action taken by the Congregation, to remove him from his position in Artane, misrepresents what actually happened.