Mr Dubois then wrote a letter to the Minister for Justice, elaborating on the contents of his letter to the Department of Education: Dear Sir, May I respectfully direct your kind attention “in confidence” to the following hoping that you Sir will do something to help the poor unfortunate children concerned. For a period of six months, I took up a position of night watchman in one of our Industrial Schools “for Boys” namely, St Joseph’s School Glin Co Limerick and I may tell you Sir, that I never expected to find in a Catholic Country like ours, the awful bad conditions in so far as the poor Boys were concerned, only that I had spent six months and seen for myself I never could have believed that such conditions could exist especially as this Institution is under the care of our Irish Christian Brothers who are so reputed for teaching etc. When I took up employment there last March, I found the poor children in a very nervous state, due to harsh treatment at the hands of the former night man (a local labourer) rough and cruel, who was allowed a free hand to beat up the children as he pleased, and was permitted to carry a heavy leather for this purpose. The children were called out of their sleep every hour to use the W.C. and any poor child who had the misfortune to wet his bed, was very roughly treated by this night-man, who also reported the matter to the Brothers in the morning, and a further punishment was then administered to the poor child by the Brothers concerned. The children have no redress whatsoever and are just like convicts. With regards the food its very-very poor and the person in charge of the cooking is a young boy aged about 17 years an ex-pupil of the school, who at the age of 16 years was discharged, and sent to a job ... but did not get on well and was sent back to the school, and the Superior ... appointed him boys cook, but he knows nothing whatever about cooking and what he cooks for the poor children isn’t fit for pigs to eat and I often felt sorry for the poor children especially the young and helpless ones. The Children gets very little butter. their bread is served almost dry they are allowed 2 slices of bread each with a little scraping of butter or marge, and an extra slice dry the tea, or cocoa is very light and badly made. The Bro. who is supposed to supervise the Kitchen (Br Warrane19) never bothers to do so, as he is a jack of all trades and never has much time to look after any job properly apart from the motor car which he drives. This Br Warrane is a sour kind of person and never speaks a kind word to any of the children, and is very severe with the leather which he is very fond of using. All the employees are allowed to beat the children especially the plough-man (Mr Prewitt) is very hard on the children working on the farm and very fond of using the boot, and his fist. The children are very badly clothed. They are not supplied with any winter under clothing, neither are the sleeping quarters heated in winter and the poor children told me that they felt very cold at night and if they complained the Brothers would only laugh at them. I have experienced some cold nights at the school and what must it be in the winter! I respectfully beg to hope Sir that you will look into the matter. I sent a confidential report to the Dept of Education but not enough to cover all I have observed during my six months at the School. The Infirmary part of the school needs overhaul and the present nurse is very fond of been away as she is local. She appears to have no love or sympathy for the children and the children will suffer much before they report sick as they don’t like the nurse. In my humble opinion Sir the whole school needs a good honest overhaul and a few night surprise visits, There appears to be a good deal of window dressing and outward appearances. No one has seen the meals served out to the poor children but I have Sir and all I have to say Sir, is may God help the poor little ones, they are a pity. The position of night man in such schools is a very important one, and I respectfully suggest Sir that you should interest yourself in the type of person employed, and draw up rules and regulations to fit the job. The children are at the mercy of the night man during the night and it’s important that such a man should be a sober man and have patience and charity in his dealings with the children, and Glin school can tell some queer tales about night-men. One thing I found most lacking in St Joseph’ Glin was charity. The only place I’ve seen real charity was with the Good Brothers of St John of God in St Augustine’s Blackrock Dublin, and what a pity these fine men cannot have charge of our Industrial Schools for they have at heart the real love of God, and in the poor children they see Christ Himself. I feel now Sir, that I can feel at ease as I was worried when I had to leave the children as my health would not permit me to continue the work, as I never smoke or drink I suited the job and I had the full confidence of the boys, who regretted my leaving and I promised them I would look after their interests. Do your best Sir, and look out for window dressing and bear in mind that the children are afraid to complain to any visiting official and you cannot expect much help from them. God bless you Sir, Your obedient Servant
When a reminder was sent from the Minister’s secretary, asking whether a report was yet available, the matter was taken in hand by a senior official, who reported to the Secretary of the Department: Runai, Glin Industrial School. Complaint from Mr Dubois, ex-night watchman there, to Minister and to Minister for Justice, re treatment of boys. The charges made by Mr Dubois may be listed as follows: — (1)The boys are poorly clothed, and have no winter underwear. (2)The food is meagre, poor and badly cooked. (3)The sleeping quarters are ill-equipped and unheated. (4)Employees are permitted to beat the children with straps and even to strike and kick them and to treat them otherwise cruelly, and even some of the Brothers are careless or unkind or given to beating the children with small cause. Dr MacCabe and Mr O Siochfhradha20 have both visited the school and their findings, herewith, may be summed up thus:- The facts reported under charges (1), (2) and (3) are true in the main of many Industrial Schools, but they are, of course, not matters of deliberate intent and so the light in which they have been put by Mr Dubois is false. As may be seen from the File, Dr MacCabe has been pressing the Manager on these very matters for some years, and he has made efforts at improvement as far as his resources permit. With regard to charge (3), viz. that the sleeping quarters are ill-equipped and unheated, Mr O Siochfhradha informs me that it is a moot point among present day experts whether heating of sleeping quarters is desirable. He, for his part, however, is gradually prevailing on the authorities of the Girls’ Schools to provide heating for the dormitories, but many Boys’ Schools, including Artane, do not provide it. Mr O Siochfhradha considers the sleeping equipment at Glin fairly good. The inspectors found no evidence of harshness or cruelty on the part of the staff or employees, and Mr O Siochfhradha has stated to me that he is absolutely satisfied that it would not be in character for Br Warrane or any other of the Brothers to treat the children unkindly. Dr MacCabe reports that the Manager has informed her that Mr Dubois was dismissed from the post of night watchman in the school for insubordination. The impression given to me by Mr Dubois’s letters and the Inspectors’ Reports is (1)that Mr Dubois grew to like the boys very much and to resent their being administered an occasional slap or cuff, (2)that there may be some slight grounds for a charge of occasional severity, but that as regards clothing, food, etc. Mr Dubois is probably unaware that the sole and entire income of the School was up to the present only 19s. capitation grant per week. Our Inspectors are perfectly satisfied that that sum is stretched to its utter limit, and as far as they could see, the boys are happy and cheerful, (3)that Mr Dubois is a confirmed letter writer, as is evidenced by the number of letters he has written to the boys in the School and by the fact that his turn of English is unusual in a night watchman. Incidentally, such phrases as “in the poor children they see Christ himself” seem, to me at least, too glib for their not particularly charitable context. I would guess that Mr Dubois is a well-meaning person of rather unreserved character, and would advise taking no further notice of any missives he may forward. The Inspectors, however, intend to visit the school for some time more frequently than is customary, and it would seem well to do this.