On 28th September 1965 the Minister for Education met the Provincials from St Mary’s and St Helen’s Provinces, Br Mulholland and Br O Muimhneachain, together with representatives from Upton and Clonmel Industrial Schools. The meeting was convened to discuss the closure of some of the industrial schools. Br Mulholland stated that he would prefer to close Letterfrack rather than Salthill, as the latter comprised property held in trust, whereas the Brothers were free to put the premises at Letterfrack to other use. In addition, he pointed out that, if another place of detention was opened, this would act to further deplete numbers in Letterfrack.
The Archbishop of Tuam, Reverend Joseph Walsh, when he was made aware of these plans by the Department of Education, wrote an indignant letter dated 17th March 1966 to Br Mulholland registering his shock and disappointment at the news. He noted that the Christian Brothers had spent at least £30,000 on the Institution between 1958 and 1966, and considered the decision to close the School as unjust in the circumstances. In his view, Letterfrack was one school that should not be closed. It was an excellent school for delinquent boys, as they could not escape easily because of its isolated location. He continued, ‘in fact I know that the boys like the place. For many of them it is a pleasant change, and they are very happy’. He stated that he believed that the Brothers were being treated most unfairly and were not receiving the recognition they deserved for their work.
The grandmother turned to a clergyman named Canon O’Neill for assistance with her complaint. He wrote to Monsignor Barry,35 who passed on Canon O’Neill’s letter to the Superior General. After meeting with the Superior in Artane, the Superior General, Br Mulholland, wrote to Monsignor Barry on 26th February 1963: Further to my note of 23rd February I have now made full enquiries into the allegations in Mrs McCarthy’s letter. I have ascertained that she is a mental case with a strong antipathy against Artane School and that she is given to exaggeration in all matters she speaks or writes about. It is easy to note that she is a very dangerous type of woman ... Now just to give you an example of her powers of exaggeration I asked the Superior of Artane about the blow he was alleged to have given the boy on the 7th of February. He said he was talking to [the boy] in presence of Mrs McCarthy about the number of jobs he was in and of his leaving each of them without cause. To impress matters on [the boy] he gave him a tip of his hand and that is what is described as a staggering blow. 36 That will give us some idea of what to believe of the allegations made in the rest of the letter. As far as I could ascertain there is no truth in the accusation that boys are taken out of bed at 10p.m. and beaten “for any minor fault”. It must be only hearsay on Mrs McCarthy’s part. We all know how boys are inclined to exaggerate the slightest happening.
Fr Moore suggested that he should tell the Superior, but the boy’s first reaction to that suggestion was that he was too afraid. It would be taken that he was ‘squealing’, as he put it, on Br Adrien. The boy was relieved when Fr Moore said he would speak with Br Ourson. Fr Moore also reported the allegation to the Provincial Superior in Marino, Br Mulholland, to reinforce his concern about the matter. Fr Moore recalled Br Adrien being removed within a matter of days.
Fr Moore confirmed the evidence of a complainant who said that he had reported sexual abuse to Fr Moore when he was in Artane. The boy had confided in him that he had been sexually abused by Br Adrien who worked in the kitchen. Fr Moore had always found him to be personable and thought that he was popular with the boys. He had never experienced or heard of complaints of sexual impropriety during his own time as a pupil in St Vincent’s and this was the first time he had ever had to deal with such a matter. Fr Moore suggested that the boy go to the Superior, Br Ourson, about the matter, but he was reluctant to do so, as he felt that it would be perceived that he was telling tales on Br Adrien. Fr Moore offered to speak to Br Ourson. He immediately went to Br Ourson and told him the nature of the allegations made against Br Adrien who said that he would deal with the matter. Fr Moore also informed the Provincial, Br Mulholland, to reinforce the seriousness of the matter. Within days, Br Adrien was removed from Artane and transferred to another institution. His departure was not announced: he simply disappeared.