The Department then wrote to the Superior on 15th November 1944 and asked for the appropriate form to be completed with regard to the new Resident Manager. This elicited the following response from the Superior: Immediately on receiving a negative reply (22/10/44) to my request, that the then Resident Manager of St Michael’s School, be allowed to hold the position provisionally, I appointed Sr. [Adriana]2 to fill the post. I thought it well to defer notifying this waiting the Inspector’s visit. The strong censure contained in your Communication came as no small surprise, as apart from the failure of the children to put on weight we had no reason to think that Dr. McCabe was not satisfied with the general status of the School.
When the Department received the letter advising them of Sr Adriana’s appointment, the Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools sought Dr McCabe’s views, particularly in the light of the fact that the appointment papers revealed that Sr Adriana was in her mid-60s. In a handwritten note, Dr McCabe described Sr Adriana as second in command to the previous Resident Manager: She is completely under the influence of the previous occupant of the post. She is a bit of a martinet and in my opinion unsympathetic to children. In short, she is unsuitable for the appointment.
Because the new Resident Manager, Sr Adriana, had acted as assistant to the former Resident Manager, and because she was older than her predecessor, the Inspector regarded it as unreasonable to expect her to implement the ‘fundamental changes and improvements’ that were necessary.
She discussed the School in general with the Superior on this visit, and asked her to provide a young, active sympathetic nun with knowledge of nursing for the role of Resident Manager. She was told there were only a small number of nuns in the convent and, as they were not tied in with any other convent in the diocese, they did not have a place from which they could transfer a nun to become Resident Manager. The Novitiate of the Congregation was in Waterford but, when nuns came from the Novitiate to the convent in Cappoquin, they were not transferred from convent to convent but from the National School to the Industrial School, or vice versa. In view of these difficulties and the more favourable report from Dr McCabe, the Department decided to give Sr Adriana a probationary period of six months and then arrange a formal inspection. This decision was conveyed to the School in a formal letter dated 9th April 1945.
Dr McCabe paid 11 more visits to the School during the tenure of Sr Adriana. The reports were less detailed, and on occasions she reported a number of visits on one report. Overall, she described continued improvements being carried out. She mentioned Sr Adriana in most reports as being an excellent Resident Manager, kind to the boys, if a little old-fashioned. In her opinion, it was a well-run school, with the children well cared for.
A witness, who was admitted to Cappoquin as a baby in the early 1950s, described how a particularly severe beating by one of the Sisters destroyed his trust in the adults who were looking after him. He was in bed and was naked because he had been treated with ointment. One of the lay staff gave him a painting set, which he used to colour two religious statues in the room. He recalled a nun (Sr Adriana he thought) coming into the room and: ... she kind of lost reasoning and, I suppose, from her point of view I was desecrating something very religious but from my point of view I was just painting, you know. She just kept hitting and hitting and wouldn’t stop. So, I ran for the door ... I was running in the dark, I just wanted to get away, I was just running in panic. She just kept hitting, and coming after me down the stairs ... and I kept banging on the door and banging and banging until somebody actually came out and she just kept hitting and hitting until somebody came out and stopped her ... Up to then I would have to say while I got a clout every now and again for not doing something or you got a slap, but it wasn’t with viciousness, not in the same way with viciousness, this was just temper let loose. I don’t know if that person, to me, even if they said sorry, I wouldn’t have understood it, I really wouldn’t have.
The witness remembered one nun in Cappoquin with particular fondness: The reason I have always loved Sr Adriana is one particular incident involving again Sr Carina, the time when we went to the toilet, you went to the toilet at certain times, right ... So you were lined up and you were told when to go into the toilet, when it was your turn, in you go, the nun would tell you. It came to me anyway and I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to, you know what I mean. So with that I was brought back into the office. I must have been about eight, nine at the time, eight at the time. I was brought back into the office. Again I got beaten. I was stripped and put on the, what do you call it, the office desk, she used have a big desk she used have all her things on it. I got put on that, and I was beaten. But when I woke up on that I didn’t wake up on the desk, I woke up in the bed. The first thing I see when I woke up was Sr Adriana. She had one hand on my forehead and she was holding her beads with the other hand. That’s a picture I never forgot and I never will. Because that brought home to me, in later years as I got older, the difference. That there was good and bad. And that’s why I have never blamed the nuns or anyone else for what happened to me. I have never even blamed the Christian Brothers, because that particular incident always stayed in my mind.