In a similar letter in 1935, Br Noonan wrote to Br Jules6 in Artane: You incline to the harsh side in school both in language and in inflicting bodily pain. Pupils hate sarcasm and they have a keen sense of what is just and fair in punishment. If you would secure respect for yourself and for your teaching be kind and just towards your pupils. It is said you are a poor student yourself. Perhaps it is due to your failure to make preparation for your work as a teacher that your pupils are made to suffer doubly.
Br Jules previously worked in Tralee in the 1930s, where his behaviour had also come to the attention of the Provincial and a Visitor. Whilst in Tralee, he was accused of beating a boy severely. When he was asked for an explanation of this severe corporal punishment, Br Jules wrote to the Provincial claiming that the Industrial School Inspector had advised him to give the boy special physical training to remedy a physical defect. The boy failed to perform an exercise on this occasion, though formerly he had been capable of doing so, and he had therefore been punished. Br Jules acknowledged that this punishment was excessive in the circumstances.
Less than a month later, the Visitor commented that Br Jules had his: boys in a state of terror. He maintains a harsh, unnatural discipline. His boys show this. At times, he has been very severe and has treated individual boys in a cruel manner. He does not seem to realise that he is severe or if he does he will not admit it. Br Karcsi7 is being drawn to follow his bad example however, Br Karcsi is by no means so bad ... Were it not for the occasional outbreaks of severity on the part of Br Jules, and his general harsh manner in dealing with them, the school would hold a high place amongst our Institutions.
Br Jules had been due to take his perpetual vows, but was rejected. The following year, it was noted that he was too exacting in school. He showed ‘little devotedness to study’ and was ‘troublesome, crossgrained’. It was concluded that he ‘has not had good record – doubtful candidate’. He was, however, ultimately allowed to take his vows.
Br Jules1 was appointed Resident Manager in the early 1950s. He abolished the separate post of Disciplinarian and assumed the duties himself. In an internal Christian Brothers interview that he gave, he recalled in relation to discipline: There were no written rules. There was a general understanding of rules, passed on from year to year. I never saw the “Rules and Regulations for the Industrial Schools”.
Br Coyan,2 speaking about his experiences in Glin, recalled Br Jules and his attitude to corporal punishment in the School: Well we had strict and firm orders from Br Jules, he was the boss and the principal. We were not to punish a young fella, if any young fella became troublesome, he was to be sent to him. I remember that occasion when I had the run in with [a boy], it was reported to him and he met me the next morning and he ate me for dead and I said sorry I lost my temper and that’s that.
In 1955, the Visitor remarked, ‘There is a homely spirit prevailing in our Glin Industrial School that could hardly be attained in a very large school’. The post of Disciplinarian was never reinstated in Glin, and subsequent Resident Managers continued with this regime. Br Hugues3 replaced Br Jules as Resident Manager in the late 1950s and was considered kind and considerate towards the boys. A Visitor’s Report stated: when the Superior came last Summer a number of boys took to running away although they had been kindly treated. It appears that this phase is rather common at change of Superior. Now all have settled down again ... The Superior is kind and considerate towards the boys and the boys respond well and seem to be quite happy and friendly. The Superior is not a believer in rigorous discipline.
The fact that two Brothers in one year were accused of excessive violence. There is evidence that Br Jules, who subsequently became Resident Manager, made efforts to change attitudes in the School. But it is not clear if he was able to eliminate abuses by Brothers during his period of management. Br Coyan, who was there at that time, remembered the rules laid down by him.
A witness spoke of the enormous interest of the Brothers in ‘badness’ and the sin of impurity: Badness was the sin of impurity. They had the sixth commandment. I remember Br Jules used to say there is more people in hell because of the sixth commandment, the sin of impurity. They were absolutely bonkers on this. When we were growing up, young lads, 14, 15, you are getting feelings, you are getting wet dreams and things like that ... As I say, they must have thought that must be one of the reasons of so called badness. It meant boys messing with one another, thought, word or deed or whatever. They regularly wanted to know if you spoke, swore, told bad jokes. They had a mania for this sort of thing.
The letters referred to in the Opening Statement by the Congregation, in which two Brothers were instructed to ‘temper their teaching’ before taking their Final Vows, were amongst a number of letters written in the 1930s by the Superior General of the Congregation to newly professed Brothers who went on to serve in Tralee and other industrial schools throughout the period of this Investigation.
The first of these letters was written in the mid-1930s. Br Jules was sent a letter congratulating him on being admitted to perpetual vows. The letter also stated: You incline to the harsh side in school both in language and in inflicting bodily pain. Pupils hate sarcasm and they have a keen sense of what is just and fair in punishment. If you would secure respect for yourself and for your teaching be kind and just towards your pupils. It is said you are a poor student yourself. Perhaps it is due to your failure to make preparation for your work as a teacher that your pupils are made to suffer doubly.
This letter was sent to Br Jules whilst he was in Artane. He had previously worked in Tralee for a number of years, where his behaviour had also come to the attention of the Provincial and a Visitor.10
While in Tralee, Br Jules wrote to the Provincial in response to an inquiry made relating to ‘a special physical training’ given to a boy whose ‘bodily structure’ was ‘abnormal’. The Brother explained that the Industrial School Inspector had advised him to give the boy in question special physical training. The boy failed to perform the exercise on this occasion, though formerly he had been capable of doing so. He went on to say in the letter to the Provincial: Appealing to him several times I found that there was no improvement whatsoever. Not understanding what was wrong with the boy I gave him a few slaps whilst he was in this bent position (about four slaps). After this punishment I again asked him to perform the exercise. He then started to cry and said it hurt him to bend as his back was sore. On further inquiry he told me that he had been beaten on the back by the teacher, and that he got a kick from one of the boys whilst at play. He received this injury on the hip. Had I known that this boy was suffering in this way I would have not asked him to perform this drill exercise much less punish him.
Less than a month later, the Visitor commented on Br Jules’s methods of discipline: Br Jules has his boys in a state of terror. He maintains a harsh, unnatural discipline. His boys show this. At times he has been very severe and has treated individual boys in a cruel manner ... Were it not for the occasional outbreaks of severity on the part of Br Jules and his general harsh manner in dealing with them, the school would hold a high place amongst our Institutions.
Br Jules moved from Tralee to Artane, where he stayed for over 15 years. He later worked as Resident Manager in Glin in the 1950s. Br Jules is considered in the reports on Artane and Glin. His tenure in Glin as Resident Manager was marked by a less harsh disciplinary regime than had previously been in place. Documented cases of physical abuse: Br Sebastien