In 1884, the Rosminian Institute took charge of a second establishment, the Clonmel Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, which received a certificate to receive 150 boys the following year. Count Arthur Moore, the MP for Clonmel, had approached them to manage and run the school that he had built for orphaned and abandoned children at the cost of £10,000, a considerable sum in those days. It was situated about four kilometres east of the town of Clonmel, in the townland of Ferryhouse, on the northern bank of the River Suir. The 3.6 hectares of land it was built on was soon expanded to 16 hectares, and ultimately to 32 or more hectares of farmland.
St Joseph’s Industrial School is located in the townland of Ferryhouse, some three to four kilometres due east of the centre of Clonmel, on the northern bank of the river Suir, in County Tipperary. The original building was erected at a cost of £10,000 in 1884 by Count Moore, a wealthy local Catholic benefactor, and, shortly after its construction, he invited the Rosminians to run the School. He gave them an additional £1,000 to furnish the School.
General conclusions Physical abuse 1. Corporal punishment was the option of first resort for problems. Its use was pervasive, excessive, unpredictable and without regulation or supervision, and was therefore physically abusive. 2. Corporal punishment was the main method of maintaining control over the boys and it created a climate of fear that was emotionally harmful to the boys. 3. The system of discipline was the same in Ferryhouse as in Upton. The Rosminians accept that there was excessive corporal punishment in both institutions. 4. Young and inexperienced staff used fear and violence as a means of asserting authority. Punishments were inflicted for a wide range of acts and omissions. The severity of punishment was entirely a matter for the staff involved. 5. Rules and regulations governing corporal punishment were not observed. 6. Excessive, unfair and even capricious punishment did lasting damage to many of the boys in Ferryhouse. 7. Boys were punished for bed-wetting and were subjected to nightly humiliation, degradation and fear. 8. The regime placed excessive demands on the few men who did the bulk of the work. Sexual abuse 9. Sexual abuse by Brothers was a chronic problem in Ferryhouse and it is impossible to quantify its full extent. 10. Complainant witnesses from every era, from the early 1940s onwards, testified to the Investigation Committee about the sexual abuse of children in Ferryhouse. The Rosminian Institute acknowledged that not all of those who were sexually abused have come forward as complainants, whether to the Commission, to the Redress Board, or to An Garda Siochana. In their Final Submission to the Investigation Committee they wrote, ‘We know that some boys were sexually abused who have made no complaint to the Commission or otherwise, but have spoken to us about it’. 11. The succession of cases that confronted the authorities must have alerted them to the scale of the problem, and to the need for a thorough ongoing investigation as to how deep the problem went among the Brothers and staff in Ferryhouse. Such an investigation did not happen. Instead, each case was dealt with individually, as if no other case had occurred. The Order was aware of the criminal nature of the conduct, but did not report it as a crime. 12. Sexual abuse was systemic. When it was uncovered, it was not seen as a crime but as a moral lapse and weakness. The policy of furtively removing the abuser and keeping his offences secret led to a culture of institutional amnesia, in which neither boys nor staff could learn from experience. 13. The extent and prevalence of sexual abuse were not addressed although the Order had some awareness of its impact on children. 14. Once placed in posts, priests and Brothers had complete autonomy, and there evolved a convention of not interfering with what other people were doing. 15. The Department of Education did not act responsibly when an allegation of sexual abuse was made to it in 1980. Neglect and emotional abuse 16. Living conditions in both schools were poor, unhygienic, inadequate and often overcrowded. 17. Boys were hungry and poorly clothed in circumstances where funding was sufficient to provide these basic needs. 18. Education and aftercare were deficient. 19. Family contact was not encouraged or maintained. 20. As their submission to the Cussen Commission reveals, the Rosminians knew the detrimental consequences of the industrial school system, but did nothing to ameliorate them. They could have changed the regime, but they did nothing until the 1970s. The attitude of the Rosminians 21. The Rosminian Institute of Charity is to be commended for its attitude to the Committee. The Rosminians’ refusal to take the conventional adversarial approach, their sympathetic questioning of the witnesses, and their proffering of apologies to the witnesses at the end of hearings, all contributed to an atmosphere very different from that of other hearings. 22. The Rosminians used the memories of former residents to add to the Order’s knowledge of life and conditions in their schools. The witnesses became a source of information and, by tapping into it, the Rosminians helped the Committee’s inquiry. 23. The Rosminians’ attitude to the allegations evolved before, during and after the hearings. They were the first Order to apologise publicly in 1990. They sometimes modified their approach during the course of a hearing, and they issued a final submission that was a balanced and humane response to the evidence they had heard.