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Clearly, it would have been a better decision for the children in care to close Letterfrack and keep Carriglea open. There was no record of such a suggestion being put to the Provincialate by either the relevant Departments or by District Judges. The fact that the Brothers owned the schools meant they were entitled to do what they liked with their own property. Irrespective of whether the property had been donated2 for a particular purpose, or had been purchased through fund-raising, once the legal title was vested in the Congregation, the Department of Education was powerless to influence the decision.
It is not known whether this conference ever took place, and the Department of Justice in their Statement said: ‘The departmental files do not reveal if such a conference did take place’. In any event, the suggestion of Judge MacCarthy that District Judges undertake inspections of Marlborough House was not implemented and the lack of inspections continued until its closure.
The remote location of Letterfrack was a problem from the first days of the Institution in the 1880s, and it continued to be a problem for the rest of its history. It was identified in the early 1950s by the Department of Education and District Justices, when they cited it as the primary reason against turning Letterfrack into a reformatory-type institution. The Congregation, on the other hand, saw the remoteness and distance as advantages in dealing with so-called ‘delinquents’, because it removed the boys from what they saw as corrupting influences. The importance of family contact was not considered.