On 12th January 1954 the Provincial Council, led by Br O’Hanlon,2 met with the six Resident Managers of the Christian Brothers’ schools. A decision was taken to close one of their schools because of the deteriorating financial position of the industrial schools, mainly attributed to falling numbers, which had resulted in a decline in income. Carriglea, situated in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, was nominated for closure because it was the most suitable for use as a juniorate for the Congregation. A unanimous decision was also taken at the meeting to segregate ‘juvenile delinquents’ from other categories of boys and locate them all at Letterfrack, and it was felt that the closure of Carriglea would provide an ideal opportunity to put this plan into effect.
There was opposition to this proposal from the Departments of Justice and Education and the Judiciary. A meeting was convened on 14th May 1954, attended by Br O’Hanlon, District Justice McCarthy, who presided over the Dublin Metropolitan Children’s Court, and representatives of the Department of Education. District Justice McCarthy indicated that he had grave concerns about the isolated location of Letterfrack, which made it unsuitable, in his view, as a school for young offenders. However, his protest fell on deaf ears. So, too, did a protest from District Justice Gleeson, who also pointed out the difficulties that would be caused by Letterfrack’s remoteness.
On 12th January 1954 the Provincial Council, led by Br O’Hanlon, met with the six Resident Managers of the Christian Brothers’ schools. A decision was taken to close one of their schools because of the deteriorating financial position of the industrial schools generally, partly attributed to falling numbers, which had resulted in a decline in income. Carriglea was nominated for closure. A unanimous decision was also taken to segregate juvenile delinquents from other categories of boys, and it was felt that the closure of Carriglea would provide an ideal opportunity to put this plan into effect.
In his letter to the Superior General, seeking the approval of the Superior Council for these proposals, Br O’Hanlon pointed out that ‘the Government does not seem to have any power to prevent us from giving effect to both proposals’. The General Council approved of the plans, and Letterfrack was nominated as the school which in future would house only juvenile offenders. The Department of Education was informed of these decisions by way of letter from Br O’Hanlon on 19th March 1954: The financial position of the Industrial Schools conducted by the Christian Brothers has been deteriorating over a number of years. One of the reasons for this deterioration is the continuous decline in number of boys being sent to these schools with consequent decline in income. I have examined the whole position of these schools with my Council and with the six Resident Managers, and I have decided that one of the six schools we control should be closed as an Industrial School. Carriglea Park School is the school which has been chosen for closing ... I wish, at the same time, to inform you that we have decided to introduce henceforth into our Industrial Schools a certain measure of segregation. We have decided to inform the Resident Managers of Artane, Glin, Tralee and Salthill (Galway) Industrial Schools that they are to take no more boys of the category, “charged with an offence punishable in the case of an adult with penal servitude”, but to refer the authorities to the Resident Manager of Letterfrack Industrial School in such cases. Likewise, the Resident Manager of Letterfrack will be directed to take boys of this category only, and to refer the authorities to the other four Resident Managers in the case of boys of other categories.
A meeting was convened by the senior officials in the Department on 13th April 1954 with Br O’Hanlon and District Justice McCarthy, who presided over the Children’s Court in Dublin, to discuss the intended closure of Carriglea and the intention of the Christian Brothers to decline in future to receive boys who were committed for offences liable to penal servitude (if committed by an adult) in any institution other than Letterfrack.
Br O’Hanlon held the view that it was unfair on boys who had committed no offence to be put in with boys who had, and the Christian Brothers’ experience was that one bad apple could ruin 10 good, and that the reverse happened less frequently. He said, by way of compromise with the Department, that they would be prepared to exempt, from classification as offenders, boys guilty of mitching or begging, neglected boys, and boys who were found uncontrollable.
Br O’Hanlon told the District Justice that it was open to him to send ‘offenders’ to either Letterfrack, Greenmount or Upton, since the last two were not under the Christian Brothers, and the Judge declared himself satisfied once he had this choice of three schools.
A second meeting was convened by the Department on 14th May 1954 with senior Department officials, Br O’Hanlon and District Justice McCarthy. The meeting was convened because Judge McCarthy had intimated that he would not be prepared to send to Letterfrack the type of boy for whom the School was to be reserved until the non-offenders had been transferred. Again, the Judge pointed out that he was unhappy about the isolated location of Letterfrack, and felt it was unsuitable for the rehabilitation of boys from Dublin city. Br O’Hanlon informed him that this had been fully considered but the Congregation had decided on Letterfrack.
At the meeting in the Department on 14th May 1954, the number of boy ‘offenders’ to be left in Letterfrack was also discussed, and Br O’Hanlon said that 85 was the lowest number stated by the School Resident Manager to be required to run the School on anything like an economic basis. It was agreed at the meeting to transfer to Salthill and to Artane and other schools all the Public Assistance cases in the School, together with as many of the other boys as would leave the number of non-transferred boys at 85 and this was to be done by the end of June.
When Br Paget O’Hanlon met the Department he had told the Department that 85 boys was the minimum needed to run Letterfrack. Clearly, this was not the situation and it appears unlikely that the Resident Manager would have told him this.