Sr Elana,10 who taught in Scoil Mhuire from the mid-1950s, and after the amalgamation of the schools, admitted that she did punish children by slapping them on the hands with either a flat stick or a cane. In the late 1960s, she read a series of articles by Dr Cyril Daly published in the daily newspapers, advocating the abolition of corporal punishment. She accepted his views and did not engage in this practice after that.
When she finally did go into 6th class, she found that she was not afraid of the teacher. In fact, the Sister ignored her completely in class because she gave backchat on one occasion. She does not recall ever being beaten by her, nor witnessing another child being beaten in class. However, the witness does recall Sr Elana ‘lashing’ children for attempting to run away. She stated that this Sister had a reputation of targeting the industrial school children for punishment.
This respondent, Sr Elana, remembered the complainant as a quiet girl. She accepted that she was strict in class but maintained that this was necessary to preserve order. When the two national schools merged in 1969, she felt that some of the industrial school children would have benefited from remedial teaching which was not available at that time. She did not have any time to give special attention to pupils in need.
Sr Elana, who taught in Scoil Mhuire from the late 1950s, confirmed that the convent, where she resided, was on the same grounds as the Industrial School, although the Sisters in the convent had little contact with the children. It was a relatively large community, with approximately 30 Sisters in the late 1960s. They were not encouraged to interact with the children from the Industrial School.