The third Brother, Br Mahieu, said that Br Marceau would never have been asked to supervise a dormitory, as he would have caused trouble. In his view, he should never have been a teacher or put into a teaching situation, ‘He just hadn’t got a clue about controlling kids’. He described Br Marceau as a religious fanatic who also had difficulty in controlling himself.6 He accepted that Br Marceau was violent but he did not, however, remember any specific incidents other than shouting. He said he seemed a little strange.
Br Mahieu acknowledged that from time to time he would have used a strap on the boys in Tralee, in particular for bed-wetting: I had my six hours teaching day job to do. I was then put in charge of the dormitory ... I now discover that there is such a thing as bedwetting, persistent bedwetting. I was not able to cope with that. Partly the reason I wasn’t able to cope with that was that there wasn’t sufficient back-up facilities or persons to help me with that ... sheets are wet. How do you dry them? There was some kind of a laundry there, to me it was very old fashioned looking, just full of steam and things like that ... I found it very difficult ... The result with not coping with it would be that it was a headache. It was something which wore me down after a while. It would mean that I could hit somebody, beat somebody ... using the strap didn’t work either. But I would just physically at times get tired, get frustrated and would use the strap and I bitterly regret that. I have always said that and admitted that a way back. I regret it, that that’s the way I tried to cope. But it was putting me into almost an impossible situation.
Br Mahieu stated that he and three other Brothers whom he named were aware that there were complaints from younger boys about bullying and molesting. He also told the Committee that he spoke to the boys about homosexual behaviour but was not asked to do this by the Resident Manager. He did it because of the complaints by the boys about being bullied, physically and sexually. He said that Tralee was a ‘reasonably happy type of place’ before 1966. Then it ‘changed radically, dramatically’ when the schools in Glin and Upton closed, and boys from those schools came to Tralee. The boys who came to Tralee were very streetwise, aggressive and tough. There were more fights, bullying and running away, and stealing became a regular feature of life in the School.
Another member of staff, Br Mahieu, told the Committee that he was placed in charge of the showers, taking over from Br Garon, in approximately 1966. He did not know why this change took place, but said it was possibly because the Resident Manager, Br Sinclair, had asked him. When he took over, he insisted on the showers being upgraded and that was done. He knew ‘absolutely nothing’ about allegations that Br Garon took boys for individual showers on days other than Saturdays when he might not have been in charge. At such times the water would have been cold. He had never heard anything about Br Garon interfering with the boys in the showers, washing them or requiring them to wash him. He had ‘never heard it discussed’.
Another complainant said that he had been abused by other boys of around the same age on more than one occasion. This complainant said that he had told Br Mahieu the names of the boys who were abusing him but nothing came of his complaint. During the course of his evidence, Br Mahieu said that he would try to get younger boys to give him a name but they never would.
Of all the former members of staff who gave evidence, only one, Br Mahieu, said complaints about peer abuse had been made to him. He said that younger boys would complain that they were being bullied or molested by other boys. He tried to get them to give a name but they never did. He said that he did suspect that there was sexual abuse going on between the boys but he never ‘actually became aware of it’, or of an incident or perpetrator. In response to the complaints, he would try to be as vigilant as he could be while on yard duty. He would change his pattern of patrolling the yard. He never checked for sexual abuse in the dormitories because he was never aware that it went on there. He would check to see if everything was ‘okay’, that ‘the majority of them would be asleep’. He never found sexual activity there.
This disturbing view of Tralee was partially echoed by Br Mahieu. He stated that, when he first went to Tralee in the early 1960s, he noticed that the children ‘seemed to be crying out for a bit of love and a bit of attention and a bit of care’. He said that he felt sorry for the boys. They were a nice, decent bunch and seemed reasonably happy.
During Br Mahieu’s time, small but significant improvements to the quality of life of the boys in Tralee were introduced: a tape-recorder for music was acquired, and a projector was donated for the showing of a weekly film. There were books, comics and magazines available to the boys in the dormitory.
The Brothers who appeared before the Investigation Committee spoke of their daily routine and the stresses of working in Tralee. Four of the seven Brothers who worked in Tralee for other than holiday relief spoke about the busy days they had in the School, and one of them spoke about the stress it placed him under. This respondent, Br Mahieu, stated that he had a lot of supervision to do. It was generally the two or three teaching Brothers who organised and took responsibility for the daily activity, the timetables and the routines in the School. He also spoke about the arrival of boys from Glin and Upton in 1966 as causing a difficulty in terms of looking after them and trying to cope with them. He said it caused ‘an awful lot of extra vigilance’. He became less happy with his work there until they had ‘got to grips with the situation’. Other Brothers also spoke about the long hours.
Br Mahieu spoke of the difficulty of dealing with bed-wetters. He had nobody to help him, and trying to cope with it wore him down. The only resource available was an old-fashioned laundry. He acknowledged that he would get frustrated and would use the strap, which he bitterly regretted. He felt he was put into an almost impossible situation. There could be six or eight bed-wetters and soilers in a dormitory.
The 1966 Visitation Report noted that a number of older Brothers resided in Tralee, and advised that every member of staff should be able to take his share of duties and help to lighten the burden of the others, and this was going to be all the more necessary when the boys from Glin arrived. In the circumstances, the Visitor felt Tralee was not a suitable place for the old Brothers. With these older, more infirm Brothers unable to work, the burden of work fell unfairly on the younger Brothers. The evidence of Br Lisle confirmed that in 1966 there were only four Brothers, including himself, available to run the School, out of a total of 11 Brothers in the Community. He pointed out he was not trained as a teacher. Br Mahieu claimed that one of the remaining Brothers, Br Marceau, was not someone to whom supervision duties could be given.
Br Mahieu, when referring to the difficulties experienced when the boys from Glin and Upton arrived in Tralee, stated: Now, that made it extremely difficult for us. Like, when I was sent to Tralee ... I got no training whatsoever, not even one single word. All I was given was, I was given a leather strap. Nobody thought it worthwhile to give me training for residential care.