One witness, Sarah,5 resident in Newtownforbes in the late 1940s to the early 1950s, vividly recalled being hit by a nun around the head for wetting the bed. She said that anyone who wet the bed was punished by a beating with a stick or a slap around the head. The punishment was administered there and then. They were told that they were ‘stupid’ or were called ‘an amadán’ or ‘an eejit’, anything to make them feel ‘degraded’.
Sarah recalled being beaten with the side of a ruler on her knuckles for attempting to write with her left hand: I went to pick up a pencil with my left hand and I got the ruler, not the flat of the ruler, the side of the ruler on the back of the hand, on the knuckles to make sure that, you know, you didn’t do that again.
Sarah, who entered the School in the mid-1940s when she was aged one and a half years, and stayed until the early 1950s, when she was eight years approximately, recalled being constantly cold at night time in bed.
Sarah, the witness who was beaten with a ruler for using her left hand, said that as a result of this treatment and her consequent fear, she was unable to learn anything in school and was put sitting at the back of the class: Because I was left handed and I really couldn’t learn nothing, I was just living in fear in that place, you know. That is all I remember about school, sitting in the back of the class, not with all the other children in the front.