Chapter 10
Carriglea Park Industrial School, Dun Laoghaire (‘Carriglea’), 1894–1954


Establishment of Carriglea Industrial School

10.01Carriglea Park Industrial School, Dun Laoghaire (‘Carriglea’) was first certified as an industrial school in 1894. It began operating in 1896 and continued until its closure in 1954. Carriglea Park Industrial School, Dun Laoghaire (‘Carriglea’) was first certified as an industrial school in 1894. It began operating in 1896 and continued until its closure in 1954.

10.02It was originally intended to operate as a junior industrial school for boys under 12 years of age. However, when it was certified it was on the basis that it would function as a full-scale industrial school, catering for boys up to 16 years of age from the south Dublin and County Wicklow areas.

Carriglea Industrial School, front view

Source: The Stolen Child: A Memoir by Joe Dunne (Marino Books 2003)

Site of Carriglea Park, Dun Laoghaire

Source: Bartholomew Street Map of Dublin, undated.

10.03The rationale behind the purchase of Carriglea was to replicate the success of Artane Industrial School and its rapidly increasing numbers. Artane had been in operation since 1870 and had its own junior school by 1883. The idea of setting up a similar institution on the south side of Dublin was mooted and, with the approval of the Chief Inspector of Industrial Schools, Carriglea was purchased in 1893 by the Christian Brothers to fulfil this need. It was expected to be ‘Artane on a small scale’.

10.04The school was situated about 1½ miles south west of Dun Laoghaire at Kill of the Grange. The property was bordered by what is now Kill Avenue, Rochestown Avenue and the former site of Dun Laoghaire Golf Course.

10.05When the Christian Brothers purchased the property, it comprised a mansion house and 40 acres of land. By 1896 the purchase of a nearby farm increased the lands to 60 acres. In 1946 the property was extended further with the purchase of land originally intended for the construction of a secondary school, the building of which did not commence until the late 1950s. This additional land was utilised to extend the farm, thereby increasing the acreage to 115.

10.06The mansion was used as the Brothers’ residence, and an L-shaped, two-storey building was erected to the rear to accommodate the boys. This building consisted of a dining room, kitchen and classrooms on the ground floor, and two dormitories above that accommodated approximately 130 to 140 beds each.

10.07The Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann, which were approved by the Minister for Education, were signed by the Resident Manager of Carriglea on 23rd January 1933.

Management and administration

10.08Initially, Carriglea was certified for 260 pupils, later reduced to 150, a figure lower than anticipated by the Christian Brothers. Over subsequent years, they sought to increase the certification limit and, by 1925, they had succeeded in increasing this figure to 250, with a further increase of 10 places in 1944 bringing the final certification limit to 260.

10.09The average number of pupils in the School over the period of this investigation was 225, and ranged from a high of 260, in 1939 and 1945, to a low of 180 in 1952. Carriglea was a large institution, comparable with Letterfrack and bigger than Tralee, Salthill or Glin. The large numbers led to problems of overcrowding in the School during the 1930s.

10.10As stated above, Carriglea was envisaged as being ‘Artane on a small scale’. However, for much of the period under review, it was a far cry from its highly regimented and disciplined sister school on the north side of the city.

10.11The documents show Carriglea to have been an unruly, chaotic and disorganised place from 1936 until 1945. Discipline was lacking, and sexual activity among the boys was widespread. The Visitation Reports for those years corroborate this fact. The conditions that led to such indiscipline and unruliness,were mainly attributable to weak, uninterested staff, poor control of the boys, and a lack of recreational or occupational activities for them. Few boys were engaged in any trades training, which left over 200 of them unoccupied for large parts of the afternoon. The situation was addressed to some extent in 1945, with the assignment of new Brothers to the School, but the regime introduced by these Brothers created its own problems.

10.12The chronic mismanagement was exemplified by the number of Brothers who passed through Carriglea from 1935 until 1954. This 19-year period saw 65 different Brothers pass through the Institution. A boy arriving in Carriglea in 1945 at seven years of age, and leaving in 1954 at the age of 16, would have had 40 different Brothers caring for him during that time, most of whom stayed for two years or less. It would have been impossible for these boys to form any lasting bond with Brothers who came and went so frequently, and this would have had a serious impact on their sense of security and safety. The Brothers who stayed longer than two years were there in the post-1945 period, when discipline and management had improved.

Closure of the school

10.13Carriglea officially closed on 30th June 1954. Numbers in all of the industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers were steadily declining, a fact which had a corresponding impact on the income of the schools. The Provincial Council decided to close one of its industrial schools, and at the same time implement a policy of segregation, whereby delinquent boys would be segregated from non-delinquents. It was decided to close Carriglea and use the building as a juniorate for the training of Christian Brothers. June 1954. Numbers in all of the industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers were steadily declining, a fact which had a corresponding impact on the income of the schools. The Provincial Council decided to close one of its industrial schools, and at the same time implement a policy of segregation, whereby delinquent boys would be segregated from non-delinquents. It was decided to close Carriglea and use the building as a juniorate for the training of Christian Brothers.

10.14In 1954, there were 176 boys resident in Carriglea. They were transferred to other industrial schools as follows: 122 boys were transferred to Artane, eight went to Upton, seven to Greenmount, 20 to Tralee, and 19 to Glin. These transfers took place on 21st June 1954.1

10.15At the same time as the decision to close Carriglea was made, the decision was also made to confine admissions to Letterfrack to boys convicted of offences that would incur imprisonment if committed by an adult. This decision is discussed in full in the Letterfrack chapter. It met with strong opposition from the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and members of the Judiciary. The objections all focused on the unsuitability of Letterfrack because of its isolation and distance from Dublin, from where most of these children came. The Christian Brothers were adamant, however, and Letterfrack was designated in 1954 as the Christian Brothers’ industrial school for all convicted children under 14.

10.16Clearly, 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.


10.17The accounts in Carriglea were not well kept for much of the period because the Brothers’ house accounts and the Institution accounts were not maintained separately until the mid-1940s. Instead, the various items of income and expenditure for the Institution and the Brothers’ residence were maintained in the one account. The poor state of book-keeping was criticised by Congregation Visitors, one of whom remarked in 1940:

Should a Government Auditor ever come to audit the Carriglea Accounts there would not only be confusion but a very bad showing up of our methods of keeping Accounts.

10.18A few Visitation Reports looked in detail at the issue of finance and, from them, some important information may be gleaned.

10.19In 1938, the Visitor made a number of observations about the financial position of the Institution. There were 258 boys in the School in that year, and the total income from all sources including capitation grants was £8,256. A total of £1,600 was paid to the seven Brothers in the Carriglea Community by way of salary, which represented approximately £228 per Brother. Out of this, £500 was paid to the Baldoyle Building Fund and £320 in Visitation Dues. The salary paid to the Brothers did not cover housing expenses or food, which was paid for out of the overall budget of the Institution. Thus, £820, approximately 10% of the School income, was paid to the use of the Congregation.

10.20The Visitor strongly recommended that separate House and School accounts should be kept, and this system was eventually put in place. A surplus of about £900 was recorded in 1943.

10.21A loss in the running expenses of the Institution was recorded in 1947 and 1948, but it began making a profit again in 1949, and it continued to make a profit until its closure in 1954. In fact, by 1953, Carriglea had managed to accumulate £11,000 in its school bank account and had a further £4,000 in the Building Fund. The Visitor for that year recommended that:

By some judicious method this £11,000 should be transferred to the Building Fund. To transfer it all by one cheque might not be desirable, as the Government – and possibly other parties also – seem to be anxious to probe into the financial position of industrial schools.

10.22A ‘judicious method’ was obviously found because the total of money in the Building Fund for 1954 was recorded as £16,000, together with bank credits of approximately £8,000. It does not appear that Carriglea benefited from this Building Fund over the years. Basic maintenance was paid for out of current income and, although major improvements were undertaken by the Resident Manager in 1953/1954, these were of limited value to the boys, as the School closed within months of these improvements. It continued as a residential institution and, in 1956, opened as a juniorate for young boys wishing to join the Congregation.

10.23The Congregation have acknowledged that, at the time of its closure, the surplus funds in Carriglea amounted to £25,255. The Christian Brothers in their Submission gave a number of explanations for this surplus. First, they said that the building was not old and therefore not in need of major renovation while the school operated. It is difficult to reconcile this explanation with the fact that Carriglea Park Industrial School was a 19th century building requiring the same level of maintenance as other Christian Brothers’ schools, and the condition of the buildings was consistently criticised by Visitors from the Congregation. Secondly, they pointed to the figure for repairs and maintenance for the period 1940 to 1954 which amounted to £4,798 and was, they said, a low sum. Thirdly, the Christian Brothers pointed to the fact that the maintenance grants increased in 1947 and 1948, and this factor they attributed to the accounts moving from the red into the black. Fourthly, they said that the purchase of additional farmland at Clonkeen considerably increased the farm in Carriglea and contributed to the surplus.



10.25Br Seamus Nolan, a member of the leadership team of St Helen’s Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, provided the Investigation Committee with an Opening Statement in regard to Carriglea. In his statement he described life in the Institution and outlined the Congregation’s view as to how the Institution operated. Br Nolan submitted that Carriglea remained in the shadow of Artane for a significant part of its existence and was compared unfairly to Artane. He added:

the strength and individuality of Carriglea Park lay in the fact that it was small by comparison with its supposed parent, and while it practiced the same type of control, the staff, mainly Brothers, were accessible to the boys, befriended many of them and remained their mentors long after their stay in Carriglea Park.

10.26Br Nolan referred to the various inspections carried out by the Congregation and the State, which ‘brought every aspect of life under scrutiny’. He stated that Carriglea fared well in these inspections and that ‘general provision for the pupils, medical care and especially education were highly praised’. Br Nolan referred to the annual Visitations to the School by members of the Provincial Council, which he believed were the most thorough and insightful of the inspections. He stated: ‘here again satisfaction and praise were the most common outcomes of the visits but censure and demands for improvement were not spared if failures were noticed’.

10.27Br Nolan repeated the Congregation’s apology to any person who had experienced abuse by a Christian Brother in one of their institutions, but cautioned that it was important not to forget those who did not fail in their duty and gave generously of their time and service for the children committed to their care.

10.28The Investigation Committee heard evidence from five complainants and one respondent in private hearings held over two days on 13th and 14th March 2006.

10.29Br Nolan gave evidence to the Investigation Committee on behalf of the Congregation at a public hearing which took place on 24th May 2006. It focused on issues that arose as a result of the private hearings into Carriglea and the documentary material furnished to the Commission.

10.30In addition to oral evidence, the Investigation Committee considered documents received from the Christian Brothers, the Department of Education and Science, An Garda Síochána and the Archbishop of Dublin.

10.31The Investigation Committee received a submission from the Christian Brothers on 4th April 2007, in which they adopted the General Submissions made regarding other Christian Brothers’ institutions.

Physical abuse

Management issues

10.32In any large institution, discipline and control are intrinsically linked with the quality of leadership and management. For most of the period under review, Carriglea was badly managed, with too few Brothers accepting the mantle of responsibility for running this large industrial school. Four Brothers held the position of Superior throughout the 1940s. Two of these Brothers were elderly, Brs Pryor3 and Bryant4, and should not have been appointed to manage a school of over 250 boys.

10.33Throughout the 1940s, numbers in Carriglea exceeded the certified limit of 250 boys. Boys were admitted from the age of six and, between 1940 and 1954, 76% of the children were between nine and 12 years old.

10.34Added to this mix of ineffectual management and the high proportion of young children was the fact that there was simply nothing for these children to do outside school hours. There were no organised games and nowhere for them to play. The gymnasium was converted to a fuel store in the late 1930s. The only trades operating in Carriglea were tailoring and boot-making, with only a small proportion of the boys involved in trades training. Woodwork training had been abandoned in the early 1940s, despite the presence of qualified teachers and a fully equipped room. Until the 1930s the School had an admirable band, consisting of some 30 boys, but by 1938 the band was no longer operating. Also around this time, the practice of sending the brighter boys to the local Christian Brothers’ secondary school, to further their education, ceased. This system had previously worked well, with the industrial school boys outshining their peers from the outside national schools, and the Congregation could not explain why this practice was discontinued.

10.35The Visitation Report of 1936 gave an early indication of the problems that were to dog the School until its closure. The Report spoke highly of the Superior, Br Rene5, but expressed concern that he was over-burdened, as he appeared to be running the School single-handedly. Br Rene asserted that, out of a Community of seven Brothers, only two were ‘active members’. The Brother appointed as Disciplinarian was entirely ineffective and was unfit for the task. As a result, it fell to the Superior or one of the lay staff to perform this function. On the few occasions on which it fell to the Disciplinarian to perform his role, the result had been ‘incidents and acts of insubordination on the part of the boys’, which the Visitor attributed to lack of tact on the part of the Brother. Despite the lack of involvement by the majority of Brothers in the Institution, they took umbrage when the Superior appeared to attach more weight to the opinions of the secular staff.

10.36Matters improved somewhat the following year with the arrival of a new Sub-Superior, Br Vachel6, who relieved the waning Superior of some of the daily burdens involved in running the Institution.

10.37The Visitation Report for 1938 again referred to the weak and ineffective staff and, in particular, identified some of them who were able and capable but were just too lazy to assist in teaching. It referred to the fact that only one Brother was engaged in teaching, whilst two of the Brothers, who replaced the lay teachers, took a half-hour class of religious instruction three days a week and did no further work in the School.

10.38In 1939, Br Pryor was appointed Superior, and Br Rene assumed the role of Sub-Superior. The new Superior was 72 years old. He was described in a Visitation Report as being ‘an out and out industrial school man’. He had spent a number of years in Artane, Tralee and three separate periods in Carriglea. He had previously held the position of Superior in Carriglea in the late 1920s.

10.39Relations between the two senior figures were strained. The Sub-Superior was ‘of a hasty and unstable temperament and somewhat erratic’. He had strong ideas on how the School should be run, which did not always coincide with the Superior’s plans.

10.40The Visitation Report for 1939 noted that the new Superior had ‘done much to restore the discipline which had become relaxed. Good order and good conduct among the boys have been re-established’. This was attributed in part to the fact that he had changed the class schedule back to three school sessions per day. The previous schedule based on the one in ordinary national schools meant the School closed at 3pm. The 1936 Cussen Report had recommended that teaching in the evenings cease. However, teaching in the evening was now re-introduced. The latter was an initiative introduced by the previous Superior. The fact that the teachers left at 3pm every day had only served to weaken discipline. The Visitor once again criticised the calibre of staff in the School:

The staff on the Brothers side is neither a strong or capable one. The Superior who is in his 73rd year has found it necessary to keep charge of the discipline and general supervision of the boys in dormitories and playground. None of the Brothers are capable or assertive enough to act as disciplinarian. Br Rene’s nerves have got a bad shake and he had lost confidence in his powers to control the boys.

10.41This theme was repeated in the Visitation Report of the following year. The Visitor noted that only the Superior and Sub-Superior were capable of supervising the older boys in the dormitories. This meant that a disproportionate burden of duties fell to them, and the Superior, in view of his age, was not fit for his many responsibilities. The Visitor noted:

The boys make a very good impression and I was told that the standard of goodness among them is high. At the same time there are always some with weak characters and these will avail of any opportunity that presents itself to act wrongly.

10.42With only two Brothers in a position to supervise the older boys’ dormitories these opportunities presented themselves all too often.

10.43The Superior established a system of appointing monitors from amongst the senior boys as part of the solution to this problem. They helped with supervision in the refectory, playground and dormitories. However, as the Visitor noted in 1941, ‘the success of such an arrangement depends entirely upon the selection of reliable boys to act as Monitors’. The new system failed to prevent a number of boys from absconding in 1942.

10.44Br Jolie7 was appointed Superior in 1942, with the outgoing Superior being appointed Councillor. The dynamic between the Sub-Superior and Councillor continued to affect relations within the Community, with the new Superior having to abandon Council meetings and confer separately with his two senior colleagues.

10.45The Visitation Report for 1942 queried the discontinuance of training in woodwork, despite the presence of two Brothers qualified to teach the subject and a fully equipped trades room. The reason given was a difficulty in obtaining timber, which even at the time was regarded as spurious. Only 37 boys out of a total of 257 were engaged in trades. The Visitor also criticised the disbandment of the band, and noted that the instruments had been left to gather dust. The play hall was in a hazardous condition. He urged the School to organise games for the boys, he even suggested card games, in an effort to occupy them and avoid ‘danger to morals’.

10.46Similar criticisms were made during the Visitation the following year, in terms of the lack of suitable activities for the boys. The Visitor was disturbed to see the boys ‘sitting or lying on the concrete yard for long periods when they could be playing in the field if games were organised for them’. Supervision of the boys was too lax and they could slip away all too easily with the result that ‘a few were caught acting immorally some time back in the garden’. The Visitor suggested that monitors be placed in the toilet area and that a tighter rein be kept on the boys. It seemed the task of supervision was left entirely to one Brother, namely the Sub-Superior, Br Rene, who was at this stage under considerable pressure. The Visitor was oblivious to the toll this was taking on Br Rene, as he noted that Br Rene ‘seems to enjoy it and does not ask for any relief’. It was also clear that Br Rene exercised a favourable influence over the boys, as ‘the nice, friendly spirit of the boys is attributed mainly to his influence on them. The ex-pupils appeal to him too when they need a friend’.

10.47In fact, the Visitation Report of 1943 painted an extraordinarily grim picture of the ability of many of the Brothers in Carriglea to carry out any duties at all. In a Community of eight Brothers and two Coadjutor Brothers, five Brothers were identified as too old or unwell to regularly carry out their religious observances. Of the remaining five Brothers, the Superior was identified as being unwell and was replaced the following year because of ill-health. The long-suffering Br Rene was indeed almost alone in running this large Institution.

10.48The one area of the School that appeared to work well was the farm, which was consistently praised by Visitors and which was in the charge of Br Destry8 from the mid-1930s until the mid-1940s. He did not offer training in farm work, except for 10 to 12 boys who were needed for the efficient running of the farm. In this respect, Carriglea differed from many other industrial schools, as it did not use the farm as a means of keeping boys occupied.

10.49In 1944, Br Bryant was appointed Superior. He was 67 years of age. The same complaint regarding the lack of purposeful activities for the boys was once more repeated in the Visitation Report of 1944. The problems had been identified before and yet nobody, either in the Institution or in the Provincial Council, was prepared to address them. In the meantime, the Institution was heading for a complete breakdown in order.

10.50By 1945, Br Rene had spent 24 years in Carriglea, holding the position of Superior for three years and Sub-Superior for a further six years. He requested a transfer to a day school, and was moved to a school outside Dublin.

10.51Br Rene was deeply unhappy in the Congregation and requested dispensations on a number of occasions, all of which were refused.

10.52It would appear from the documents that a request for a dispensation precipitated his transfer from Carriglea, and that the transfer was regarded as a solution to the problem. Whilst still in his next post after leaving Carriglea, Br Rene made a heartfelt plea for a dispensation in October 1946. He was at this stage almost 50 years old and had spent over 30 years with the Christian Brothers. Having spent most of his life with the Congregation, this could not have been an easy decision for him. He stated in a letter to the Br Superior that he had remained with the Congregation for so long to comply with his late mother’s wishes. He wrote:

Success in striving towards our salvation is incompatible with unbroken unhappiness and agony of mind. This has been my condition so long that I can’t endure it any more and I am convinced that a complete mental breakdown is not far off. The strain is unbearable. Your reference to my work in Carriglea is kind. It is true that charitable people give me credit for what I can lay no claim to. I spent years at a work for which I was as qualified as a dock labourer – in fact probably less so. It is well known that only the useless ones of the Congregation found a place in the industrial schools. Therefore I can make no claim to merit because of the time I was there. In fact the years I spent there are an additional cause of regret to me due to my total unsuitability for a work requiring very special qualities of mind and character. Despite the opinions of at least some kindly people I know myself to have been a hopeless failure and one who should never have been placed over such unfortunate boys for whom only the best is good enough.

10.53The Brother Provincial wrote to the Superior General on receipt of this letter. He believed that Br Rene was suffering from depression and that this was the impetus behind his application. He indicated that it was not the first time Br Rene had submitted an application and that, in the past, the matter had been defused by writing to him or meeting with him. He suggested that either a friend within the Congregation be requested to have a sympathetic talk with him, or that his application be forwarded to Rome in the likelihood that it would be refused. Br Rene’s application was unsuccessful.

10.54Not to be deterred, Br Rene submitted a further application in May 1947. On this occasion, the Superior General of the General Council forwarded the application to Rome. In the covering letter, the Superior General stated that Br Rene was not a very well-educated man but that he had worked hard in industrial schools. He wrote that Br Rene suffered from depression and had taken to applying for dispensations when feeling gloomy. A sympathetic ear usually brought him around. The Superior General suggested that, if Br Rene was advised by the powers in Rome to remain in his vocation, he would abide by that decision.

10.55As anticipated, the application was refused but the ploy did not have the desired effect. Br Rene was resolute in his determination to leave the Congregation. He wrote to the Superior General in June 1947 on receipt of the refusal of his application. He blamed his inability to articulate convincingly his reasons for seeking the dispensation for the refusal. He made a further poignant attempt to set out his reasons for making the request. He stated that he was profoundly unhappy and was in a constant state of anxiety and worry. He feared that he was on the brink of a nervous breakdown, having lived with this torturous state of mind for over 30 years. He argued that he was and always had been a hopeless failure at his work and that he lacked the ability to teach. He described himself as ‘a misfit in life’, becoming increasingly reclusive. He added:

To my years in Carriglea I attribute my broken health principally and any thought of renewing contact with residential school work would only hasten the breakdown which I so much dread. Tis not that I despise such work, though this is the all too common attitude of the would-be snobs of the Congregation who regard such work and the men who do it as beneath them.

10.56He was fully aware of the hardship he would face on leaving the Congregation, having spent most of his life there, but had no doubt whatsoever that it was the lesser of two evils. He literally begged the Superior General to accede to his request. His plea fell on deaf ears and, once more, his request was refused.

10.57Br Rene accepted the decision of the General Council but his personal torment and anguish did not subside. He made a further plea five years later, at the age of 55. He referred to a previous letter from the Vicar General of the General Council and wrote:

My devotion to duty to which you so kindly refer actually did much harm. Lacking every qualification for the work in Carriglea I had recourse to harshness and severity. As a result many of the past pupils have lost the faith and some are active, capable and influential communists. When these become sufficiently vocal it may be some help to the Brothers if they can say concerning me and in defence of the Congregation he is not in the Order now. I recall the relief it was to the Brothers to be able to say this about another ... years ago when a Dáil deputy spoke bitterly of the punishment he received in school from the man concerned. My utter failure in Carriglea caused me great remorse. Having no fitness for the work it was only to be expected that my efforts would result in failure and harm.

10.58He received a reply from the Vicar General, a copy of which is not available, but it is clear from the subsequent letter of Br Rene that he was advised to discuss the matter with a priest. In Br Rene’s final appeal, dated 12th June 1952, he stated that he had first sought the advice of a priest on the matter some 30 years previously, even before he had taken his final vows, and had frequently sought the counsel of priests since. He stated:

I have been told I am not normal and the attitude of others convinces me that there is considerable support for this opinion. It may account to some extent for my perplexity and unhappiness as it may be the consequence of years of effort to deal with work for which I was not fitted.

10.59The Vicar General responded on 24th June 1952, informing Br Rene that his application had been submitted to the Sacred Congregation of Religious in Rome and that they had decided that he should remain in the Congregation. He commended Br Rene on his splendid work within the Congregation. The Vicar General conceded that ‘the nervous tension from which you have been suffering is admittedly a sore trial’, but assured him that such anguish was not confined to those within the religious community. He concluded that Br Rene should

accept with resignation the decision made by his representatives. In doing so you will find your peace of mind restored and your happiness here as well as hereafter assured. Do not attempt becoming a judge of your own case. That would be the height of folly.

10.60At this stage, Br Rene seems to have accepted his fate, and there is no record of any further applications seeking a dispensation. He remained with the Congregation until his death in the 1970s.

10.61The stress and anxiety Br Rene endured whilst managing Carriglea were described in a letter he wrote to the Department of Education, responding to criticisms made by Dr Anna McCabe9 following her inspection of the School in 1939.


10.63By 1945, there was ‘a notable lack of union and harmony in the Community’. The new Superior did not fit in. He was aloof and odd in his behaviour. He had ‘little or no contact with Brothers or boys and ... generally disregards any representations made for the better working of the institution’. In an already troubled environment this was a recipe for disaster. Matters were not helped by the transfer of Br Rene, who had exerted a positive influence and exercised firm discipline over the boys. In his absence the burden of supervision fell to a disproportionately small number of Brothers, with the result that they were involved from dawn to dusk with the boys, with little or no respite. This strain left them ‘discouraged and dissatisfied’. To add to their stress, there was a particularly quarrelsome and disruptive Brother who exerted undue influence over others.

10.64The result of this poisoned atmosphere between the Brothers was borderline anarchy among the boys. The Visitation Report for 1945 described the situation:

The boys were very much out of hand during the past year and showed a very rebellious spirit. Boohing the Brothers was not uncommon and they refused, more than once, to submit to control. They made a determined attempt on one occasion to burn down the place and had actually got a fire going in one of the dormitories before they were discovered.

10.65Furthermore, the Visitation Report noted that not only were the boys rebellious, but there was widescale sexual activity amongst them. It was recorded that ‘immoral practices were rife’ to such an extent that even ‘boys of eleven years of age have been discovered practising immorality with one another’.

10.66The Visitor was in no doubt as to the root of this insubordination:

This unfortunate state of affairs has been brought about by weak discipline, lack of suitable occupation and an insufficiency of games and other amusements.

10.67Less than 50 boys were involved in trades training, and more than half of these were engaged on a part-time basis. Over 200 boys were left to spend their time outside school hours ‘lolling about the yard where they pick up most of their vicious habits’. The Visitor concluded that:

the morals of the boys cannot be expected to improve until they are provided with more games and amusements and a much bigger number kept occupied at trades.

10.68In his 1945 Report, the Visitor alluded to an even more sinister development. He noted that four workmen employed in the School received bed and board as part of their remuneration. Their sleeping cubicles were in or near the boys’ dormitories. The Visitor was informed by one of the Brothers that boys had been observed going into one of the workmen’s rooms several times. The Visitor was as much concerned by the fact that these workmen caused trouble in the kitchen, partaking in gossip and criticising their meals, as he was about the danger this man posed to the boys. A member of the General Council wrote to the Brother Provincial on 22nd October 1945, following receipt of the Visitation Report on Carriglea. He noted the ‘low standards in every department’ and blamed the elderly age profile of the staff. In his view, the staff required a complete overhaul. He surmised, ‘sin prevails in the school’.

10.69The proposed staff overhaul took place and, by November 1946, only two of the 11 members of the previous year’s Community remained: the much criticised Superior, and another Brother, Br Durrant,10 whose only duty was to take care of the sacristy. Seven Brothers were transferred into Carriglea, and nine Brothers were transferred out of the Institution.11

10.70Amongst the Brothers transferred to Carriglea was Br Maslin12, who had spent the previous five years in Letterfrack. He had also spent over a year in Tralee prior to that. He had a ferocious reputation as Disciplinarian in Letterfrack, to the extent that a Brother felt compelled to complain to a Visitor from the Provincial Council during an annual Visitation. In a letter outlining his concerns, he wrote that the Disciplinarian ‘can inflict terrible punishment on children and the boys have a awful dread of his anger’. The nub of the Brother’s concern, which he shared with other members of the Letterfrack Community, was that the Disciplinarian was happy to mete out severe punishment on the flimsiest of evidence, particularly if the alleged crime was sexual activity amongst boys.

10.71The Investigation Committee heard evidence from an ex-resident of Carriglea who described this Brother as ‘an animal’. He alleged that Br Maslin was random and indiscriminate in his use of corporal punishment. He stated, ‘He would go behind you and he would just give you a whack. A whack of the leather on the head or the ears’. He used a leather strap to inflict punishment and he carried a cat-o’-nine-tails around with him, which was terrifying for the children.

10.72Br Maslin supervised the washroom in the evening time and would beat the boys with a strap if they were too slow. This former resident described the daily scene in the washroom as follows:

In the evenings if you had to go up to the washroom, there was a big washroom with all the taps and all that, and everything was cold, it was all cold, there was water in them. What you used to do was the kids used line up in two, one and then one behind him, and what you had to do was he just roared first ‘right leg’, you put your right leg in and you got the soap and you washed it and then he would say ‘wash off the soap’. Then you had the stand back and the next kid would go in and he would put his right foot up on the thing.

10.73The Investigation Committee also heard evidence from Br Hardouin,13 who was in Carriglea at the same time as Br Maslin. He stated in evidence that Br Maslin was the most feared by the boys of all the Brothers in the Community. He described him as ‘very very severe’ in terms of his demeanour and manner. Even the Brothers in the Community regarded him as unfriendly and standoffish.

10.74In their response to the complainant’s allegation, the Congregation stated that, as Br Maslin was now deceased, it was impossible for them to confirm or deny that any such abuse took place. No reference was made to this Brother’s record in Letterfrack or the reservations expressed by his colleague on his use of physical punishment.

10.75Br Ansel14 was transferred to Carriglea from Tralee in December 1945. He spent less than three months in Carriglea, holding the post of Disciplinarian before being transferred to a day school. Br Ansel had a reputation for being strict. He had spent five years in Artane. When the Resident Manager in Tralee had complained that his current Disciplinarian was not sufficiently strict, the Disciplinarian in question was replaced and, 12 months after that replacement, Br Ansel was transferred there. He later sought and was granted a dispensation in the mid-1960s. Br Octave,15 who was in Tralee at the same time as Br Ansel, described him as the best Disciplinarian and Principal. ‘He didn’t tolerate disobedience in word or act. Returned runaways had to “walk the line” for longish periods until they were broken’.

10.76Br Eliot,16 another Brother with a tough reputation, was drafted into Carriglea in March 1946, replacing Br Ansel as Disciplinarian. He had spent 11 years in Artane and held the position of Disciplinarian for most of this time. Br Hardouin stated in his evidence to the Investigation Committee that he understood that Br Eliot ‘was brought in purposely to restore law and order’. He went about establishing a strict regime of discipline which Br Hardouin found at times was ‘a little bit over severe on some individuals’.

10.77This changing of the guard and introduction of Brothers who had records of enforcing discipline brought immediate results. In the Visitation Report of 1946, the Visitor noted ‘a marked improvement in the moral tone and outlook of the pupils’. However, he also commented on the fact that there had been no additions to the trades taught as previously recommended, nor had the band been resurrected.

10.78Br Tavin17 was appointed Superior in 1947. Improvements continued to be noted by the Visitor that year and were attributed to the new Disciplinarian, Br Eliot.

10.79By 1948, the band had finally been fully restored, a fact which had done much to ‘enliven the general atmosphere of the institution’. A knitting shop was now in operation, to keep the younger boys occupied. The key areas of manual trades and organised games were not addressed, however.

10.80While the remaining Visitation Reports did not comment adversely on the boys, it was telling as regards the general atmosphere of the Institution that the Visitor noted in 1953 that ‘none of the Brothers speaks very highly of the boys. They are said to be “tough” and secretive and to require a firm hand but discipline on the whole is good’.

10.81The Christian Brothers in their Opening Statement referred to the crisis that came to a head in 1945. On the one hand, they conceded that:

When a strengthened staff was put in place in 1945 it may be assumed that the reform brought about by the new arrivals involved a certain amount of firm measures that would have been viewed with reluctance by the boys.

10.82They elaborated on this statement by adding:

As the Brothers concerned may be said to have ended a situation regarded by the boys as one of freedom they would have been unpopular and their actions likely to have been exaggerated.

10.83During Phase III of the Investigation Committee’s inquiry into Carriglea, Br Nolan referred to events that culminated in 1945. He stated, ‘the regime that followed was very like Artane, it was quite regimented and staff taking responsibility rather than monitors’. He conceded that ‘certainly, strong measures were to be taken after 1946. There is some evidence that that did happen’.

Allegations of physical abuse

10.84The Investigation Committee heard evidence from four witnesses who made allegations of physical abuse. According to their testimony, physical abuse was pervasive and was used as a response to a wide range of misdemeanours.

10.85A witness, who was in the School from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s, recalled being beaten with a leather strap embedded with metal. He also gave evidence that boys were hit over their fingertips with a wooden stick for not knowing their schoolwork.

10.86Another complainant who was in Carriglea in the late 1940s and early 1950s gave evidence that he was regularly punished for not knowing his schoolwork. This practice was specifically prohibited by the Christian Brothers’ and the Department of Education’s Rules.

10.87This complainant also alleged that Br Vic18 inflicted severe punishment on the boys while he supervised them in the washroom. This Brother was one of seven Brothers transferred to Carriglea in 1946, in an attempt to restore law and order. The witness stated:

When we used go up to the wash house at night-time in the young dormitory, we used go up to the washroom and he used to have a whistle thing. It was like a military thing. “Everybody go to the sinks, wash their hair”. When he blew the thing he said stop. And if you were last to come back into line again he gave you a good walloping. He was physical with anybody who was there, he would get you back in line again. Between the two dormitories there was an alcove there and if he was giving a young lad a good slapping, the young lad would be screaming and we would be all standing in the wash house saying, “we hope he doesn’t come back in for us”.

10.88The leather strap was normally used to inflict punishment but a witness who was in Carriglea from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s alleged that a T-square was also used. He described how Br Luc19 inflicted punishment with this implement:

He would tell him to bend over the stool. He used get the T-square, T-square that you had on the thing. Then he would pick out a match that was played that particular weekend, and it would always be the hurling, always the high scoring games used to with in the hurling in them days with the Tipperarys and the Corks and the Wexfords and all that, what he would do he would take the T-square out and he would ask the class what was the score of the game yesterday. It was 2-3 to 1-15 or whatever it would be where you got – he used to – I don’t mean just tap you, he used to just swing it like a hurley stick at the boy’s backside and he would give him a smack for every point and three for a goal. Now, that’s what it was.

10.89This complainant absconded, and recalled that, when he was eventually caught, he was beaten severely and his head was shaved. Part of his punishment also entailed having to stand outside in the bandstand for an hour each day and read the catechism. It was winter and particularly cold. He said that he suffered this penance for three weeks.

Conclusion on physical abuse

10.901.When discipline became a real problem, the Congregation sanctioned the appointment of men with a known propensity for excessive corporal punishment, who instilled fear into the children and the result was a more easily managed institution. The Congregation saw this as a legitimate means of controlling the large number of children in Carriglea.

Sexual abuse

Attitude of Christian Brothers to sexual abuse

10.91The Christian Brothers submitted in their Opening Statement that ‘sexual abuse of a child was a rare occurrence and one that was sure to initiate an immediate response from the authorities once they became aware of it’.

10.92They outlined the procedure for dealing with reported cases of sexual abuse, as has been discussed in the General Chapter on the Christian Brothers. This procedure led ultimately to the dismissal of a Brother who was known to be a sexual abuser.

10.93This procedure remained in place until the 1970s. The Christian Brothers accepted that, judged by present-day standards, their approach was ‘seriously inadequate’ and did not take account of the impact of the abuse on the child. However, they argued that the approach was in keeping with the level of awareness at the time on issues such as recidivism, paedophilia and the serious damage caused by abuse. They submitted that the inadequacy arose through lack of awareness and knowledge, rather than through neglect. The moral failure of the Brother and the danger of scandal were regarded as the primary matters to be addressed when cases of abuse arose. If a Brother was found to have abused a child, he was ‘adjudged unworthy of being in charge of children and if dismissed was not given a reference for a teaching position’.

Documented cases of sexual abuse

Br Tristan20

10.94Br Tristan spent over 10 years in Dublin before being transferred to Carriglea in the early 1940s under a cloud. The reason for his transfer is unknown, except that the matter was sufficiently serious to warrant being brought to the attention of the General Council in Rome.

10.95It was not long before Br Tristan once again came to the attention of the General Council. Less than a year after his arrival in Carriglea, he was issued with a Canonical Warning and was swiftly transferred to Artane. Once again, details of this incident are not available.

10.96In 1944, Br Tristan was implicated in sexual abuse of boys, along with three other Brothers in Artane. The abuse came to light after ‘a series of accusations by boys of the school indicating criminal or indecent assault’. The written complaints made by the boys and investigated by the Superior of Artane revealed ‘long continuance and frequency of wrongdoing on the part of Br Tristan’. He was tried by the General Council in Rome on 16th October 1944, where he denied ‘some of the matter of each charge’. Br Tristan was found guilty, and the unanimous vote was in favour of expulsion.

10.97Br Tristan requested an interview with the Apostolic Visitor and one was granted. After their discussion, Br Tristan decided to apply for a dispensation from his vows. The dispensation was granted immediately by the Apostolic Visitor ‘whose powers enabled him to do so where he deemed it wise’.


Br Lancelin21

10.99Br Lancelin spent a short time in Artane in the early 1940s and was transferred to Carriglea in 1944. It would appear that he was transferred from Artane as ‘suspicion had been aroused by a tendency to particular friendship with a boy in Artane’. The Christian Brothers added in their Opening Statement that the evidence against him was inconclusive and he was cautioned before being transferred to Carriglea. It wasn’t long before he once again came under suspicion. A number of boys submitted written statements accusing Br Lancelin of ‘immoral conduct’. His record noted ‘one offence occurred on Xmas day 1944, though he made vows on Xmas morning’. The matter was investigated by the Provincial. He had previously given Br Lancelin ‘advice and caution’ regarding his dealings with boys, but the circumstances of this earlier episode are not known. The statements were read to Br Lancelin at a hearing before the General Council on 19th January 1945, and he admitted the substance of the allegations. As he was still on temporary vows, a dispensation from final vows was not necessary and he was dismissed from the Congregation.


Sexual activity between boys

10.101The documents revealed a high level of sexual activity between the boys. These records have been dealt with in the section ‘Management Issues’ The Christian Brothers submitted in their Opening Statement:

The phenomenon of sexual activity of one kind or another among the pupils in industrial schools and indeed in boarding schools generally seems to have been a feature of life in these institutions and called for constant vigilance on the part of the staff.

10.102Although some of this activity may have been consensual, children as young as 11 were engaged in this, and they were in all probability victims of predatory behaviour. In failing to supervise, management failed to protect younger or weaker boys from sexual abuse by their peers.

10.103The Visitation Reports of 1943 and 1945 referred to sexual activity amongst boys, and the latter report revealed that such activity was ‘rife’. In an institution where over 70% of the boys were under 12 years of age, this was a serious problem.

10.104There was an absence of recreational activity for the boys, who were left to spend their time outside school hours ‘lolling about the yard’, which had been identified as a problem as far back as the late 1930s.


Allegations of sexual abuse

10.106The Investigation Committee heard evidence from two complainants alleging sexual abuse. One complaint related to sexual abuse by a Brother, and the other related to sexual abuse by an older boy.

10.107A complainant, who was resident in the School in the early 1950s, alleged that he was sexually abused on two occasions by Br Vic, one of the Brothers who had been sent into the School in 1946 to restore order and discipline. The alleged abuse took place at night, when the Brother would take the boy out of his bed and bring him to a room downstairs. He made the complainant perform oral sex. When asked by counsel whether he was in a position to resist, he stated, ‘No, you were never in a position to resist, they owned you body and soul once you were inside them walls’.

10.108The complainant confided in a priest and, somehow, the allegation made its way back to Br Vic, who punished the boy for telling the priest. While the sexual abuse never occurred again, the boy lived in permanent fear of it recurring: ‘It wasn’t the fact that it didn’t happen again, it was the fear that it might. And when you live with that fear it is worse really than the act itself’.

10.109The second complaint was made by a former resident who was present in Carriglea from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. He was 10 years old when he was sent to Carriglea, and the abuse, which involved masturbation, began shortly after he arrived there. He alleged that he was sexually abused on three or four occasions by an older boy aged approximately 15 years. When the perpetrator left the School, the abuse stopped. The witness stated, ‘I just kept it quiet. When you are institutionalised you don’t tell anybody, you keep it quiet’. It was significant that the alleged abuse occurred during a time when Visitation Reports indicated that immoral practices had been stamped out in the School.

Conclusions on sexual abuse

10.1101.The documentary evidence revealed that Carriglea had a serious problem with sexual activity among the boys for most of the 1940s, some of which was predatory and abusive, involving older boys with younger boys.

2.The Christian Brothers failed in their duty to protect the children in their care in Carriglea.

3.Although a strict regime of supervision was introduced in 1946, it was unlikely that the habits and practices of the previous decade would >be >easily eradicated.

4.A Brother was transferred to Carriglea from Artane in 1944 about whom concern had been expressed because of his ‘particular friendship’ with a boy in Artane. Such a transfer was ill-judged and dangerous.

Emotional abuse and neglect

10.111Carriglea, with up to 260 pupils, was a large industrial school but was allowed to deteriorate to an alarming extent until strong management was put in place in 1945, nine years before its eventual closure. From 1936 until 1945, successive Resident Managers were put in place who were unable to run the Institution properly. This failure of management led to an anarchic and lawless situation, where the boys were effectively out of control. Such an institution offered no protection to younger or weaker boys, and even the Visitation Reports acknowledged that sexual abuse amongst the boys was rife.

10.112The large number of very young children who had been detained in the School had been effectively left in the charge of one or two Brothers. The emotional deprivations of such a situation need hardly be elaborated upon. Boys as young as six years of age were put into a situation of lawlessness and anarchy caused by management incompetence.


10.113Two main sources of information provide a contemporary account of the general conditions prevailing in Carriglea during the relevant period.

10.114The first source of contemporary records was the General and Medical Inspection Reports of the Department of Education, dating from 1939 until the closure of the School. There were, however, a number of gaps for some years in these records.

10.115The second source of contemporary records was the Visitation Reports of the Christian Brothers. The Visitation Reports furnished to the Investigation Committee dated from 1936 until the closure of the School in 1954. The House annals, which were usually another source of information concerning the everyday activities of the Christian Brothers’ schools, were not properly kept in Carriglea. The information provided was sparse and incomplete.

Food, clothing and accommodation

10.116As a large institution with a good working farm, the Mazars report22 would indicate that Carriglea was adequately funded by the State until its closure in 1954.

10.117The Department of Education Inspections, both General and Medical, were carried out by Dr Anna McCabe, and she was consistently guarded in her assessment of the School. Food, clothing and accommodation were generally categorised as ‘fair’ or ‘satisfactory’ throughout the 1940s. She was particularly critical of the condition of the boys’ patched clothing and the habit of allowing the boys to go barefoot in the summer. This practice was recalled by a complainant to the Committee, who said that this caused cut and injured feet.

10.118Dr McCabe’s first report was in 1939 when she criticised the general condition of parts of the School which she found ‘were none too clean’. ‘The food appeared to me to be rather below standard’. Her comments were forwarded to the Resident Manager, Br Rene, by the Department of Education and evoked a nine-page letter of protest from him. His letter painted a picture of relentless overwork and exhaustion, but failed to acknowledge the impact of such a system on the boys in his care. He sat down to write the letter late at night:

... At this hour all sensible people – including our fair medical inspector – have put several hours restful leisure over them. Not so this unfortunate however, as it is only now that I find time to sit down to write my “observations” on this extract from her report. I roused the boys this morning at 6.30. I bade them farewell when lights were lowered half an hour ago and all the day between ... has been cram-full of tiring, wearying, slavish work ... And now as a reward for the unfortunate folly of accepting this dreadful responsibility I have to set out to convince you that black is white – that our school is not all as bad as painted.

10.119Br Rene then proceeded to defend the way he was running the School. He said that he prioritised literary studies over everything else and that domestic ‘charges’ suffered as a result. He defended this by saying that a shiny dormitory floor achieved at the cost of the boys’ schooling or leisure time would not be appreciated by them. He pointed to the success the School had achieved in open examinations that year for the Post Office, and to one pupil who was applying for a University scholarship: then proceeded to defend the way he was running the School. He said that he prioritised literary studies over everything else and that domestic ‘charges’ suffered as a result. He defended this by saying that a shiny dormitory floor achieved at the cost of the boys’ schooling or leisure time would not be appreciated by them. He pointed to the success the School had achieved in open examinations that year for the Post Office, and to one pupil who was applying for a University scholarship:

It has meant grave financial embarrassment for me, but I am still – like a few Managers in other schools – living in hopes of the Minister’s many promises to us being fulfilled. So far his only contribution that I am aware of is the worry and trouble in hand at the moment.

10.120He appended menus of food served in the School, adding, ‘I wish to know if it meets with your approval’.


10.122The witnesses who gave evidence to the Investigation Committee said that the food was inadequate and that they were hungry in Carriglea.

10.123One witness, who had been resident in Carriglea from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, complained of hunger, saying that he was ‘starving’ when in the School. He detailed the type and quality of food that he received. For breakfast, he stated that they got a quarter of a loaf of bread, which amounted to two slices, together with dripping or margarine. This was also the staple diet in the evening. This witness also spoke about the dinners consisting of black potatoes with meat and cabbage. He informed the Committee that they received an egg at Easter only.

10.124This witness recounted how the boys ate the pig swill. The left-over food from the Brothers’ kitchen was put into a bucket, which was brought down to the pigs for them to eat. One of the boys was entrusted with the task of bringing the swill bucket down to the pigs, and the other boys would intercept him on his journey and ‘dive on the bucket’. He recalled that ‘there would be rice in it and tea leaves in and you would put your hand in and take two handfuls out and eat the thing there’.

10.125Another witness who was resident in Carriglea in the early 1950s spoke of the food as being ‘absolutely horrible’. This witness recalled only receiving three meals a day, and not four as stated in the Visitation Reports. His description of the food served was very similar to the above witness. He also complained of not receiving enough food during his time in Carriglea and, consequently, having to resort to the pig swill to supplement his diet.

10.126A third witness also complained of not receiving enough food in Carriglea during the period of his residence from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. He recalled that breakfast consisted of a loaf of bread known as ‘Boland’s loaf’, divided between four boys, together with hot dripping. He recounted to the Committee the manner in which the loaf of bread was divided between the four boys:

On our table sometimes if you had four fellows you had to spin a knife and whoever the knife pointed at he cut the bread up and if I didn’t like you I would only give you a quarter of it but it worked vice versa so that’s the way we worked it.

10.127According to this witness, dinner consisted of mincemeat and potatoes, which he described as being like ‘hospital food’. In the evening time, he said that they received bread and butter. This witness never recalled receiving milk.

10.128Visitors were generally uncritical of the food provided, and one Visitor in 1944 described the food supplied to the boys as being ‘sufficient and suitable’. The report stated that they got tea, bread and dripping for breakfast, meat four times a week, soup twice a week, with vegetables served at dinner. On Fridays, the dinner consisted of bread, jam and cocoa. Supper was served each evening to the boys, which consisted of bread, jam and cocoa. The report also stated that a lunch of milk and bread was supplied to the smaller and more delicate boys at midday.

10.129The Visitor’s account of the food was not dissimilar to that of the boys, except that the boys were quite clear that the food was not ‘sufficient’ for their needs.

10.130Overcrowding, lack of cleanliness and hygiene were major criticisms in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as the dilapidated and run-down condition of the buildings.

10.131Bad management was identified by Visitors throughout the mid-1930s and early 1940s, and in particular the unwillingness of the majority of the Brothers who were living in the School to engage with it. One Superior General suggested that, if these Brothers could be employed in cleaning up the School, ‘The work will do them good as well as the apartments cleaned by their exertions’.

10.132Furthermore, the Superior General, whilst pleased with the physical condition of the boys, felt that more could be done to improve their social skills by introducing them to music, drama, dancing or elocution classes, and suggested that these be introduced into the School.

10.133The depiction of Carriglea in the early 1940s was of a very run-down and dilapidated place. The main issues centred on the deterioration of the l buildings of the Institution itself, the lack of cleanliness and hygiene, both of the School and the boys, and the poor-quality clothing of the children. From the various reports, there was a divergence of views on the issue of clothing. Throughout the 1940s, the Department of Education Inspector, Dr Anna McCabe, commented on the fact that the boys were in patched clothing, whereas the Visitation Reports only referred to this on one occasion. Despite its being wartime, the care of the boys was praised by the Visitors throughout the 1940s, although Dr McCabe only rated the food, clothing and accommodation as ‘fair’ or ‘satisfactory’. The only direct criticism with regard to food was in 1946, when Dr McCabe felt that the children were not receiving adequate supplies of milk and butter.

10.134Another criticism was the inadequate sanitation facilities for the boys. Many of the toilets were not in working condition, and the low water pressure in Carriglea was blamed for the plumbing problems. Deterioration in the outbuildings was evident, particularly around the trade shops, with fences missing and paintwork peeling off in the chapel and sanctuary, and general decay in the farmyard.

10.135When the Visitor called on Carriglea in 1943, he noticed that the wire fences near the trade shops were down and a little boy was sitting at a gap in the fence to keep the cows from trespassing. The Visitor was not impressed with this state of affairs, as he felt that the young boy should have been with his companions in class, at work or at play. He further commented that serious efforts should be made to keep the fences in a state of repair. Using a small boy to keep cows in because of a broken fence was a serious indictment of the way the School was run.

10.136By 1947, the Visitor recorded that the Superior had undertaken a comprehensive scheme of renovation, in particular the painting of the walls and the restoration of the woodwork. The result of this upgrading was exemplified by the following remark that ‘the dining hall would now do credit to any flourishing College’. The dormitories were found to be clean, bright and well ventilated. The main criticism was the inadequacy in the number of baths provided.

10.137In 1948 and 1949, the Visitation Reports considered the School to be generally well cared for, requiring just a few minor repairs. The farm was said to be working well and had enough cows to supply milk. It also had sufficient poultry to supply eggs for the Brothers but there was no mention of supplying eggs to the boys.

10.138In the 1953 Visitation Report, the views of the Brothers were recorded and noted that none of them spoke highly of the boys. The boys were recorded as being ‘tough’ and ‘secretive and to require a firm hand’. However, discipline was generally perceived as good. The Visitor found all departments of the School clean and well maintained.

10.139The final inspection of the School by Dr McCabe took place in January 1954, as the school closed in June of that year. On her last visit to the School, Dr McCabe spoke highly of the new Resident Manager and, in particular, of the improvements he had made. She commented that he had spent £2,000 on these. She noted that additional indoor games had been introduced, electric lights were added to the dormitories, and all mattresses and beds were restored and re-sprung. Food, diet and sanitation were found to be very good. Again, whilst noting that the clothing had improved, Dr McCabe was of the opinion that more needed to be done in that area.


Education and trades

10.141The Christian Brothers in their Submission asserted that the standard of primary education in Carriglea was ‘very good considering the standard of the pupils at intake which was very weak’.

Primary education

10.142The primary school was located in the grounds of Carriglea. Even after the Cussen Report, the boys did not attend the local national school, as recommended. All boys under 14 years of age attended the internal primary school for five hours each day. There were six classes taught by three Brothers and three lay teachers. The primary classes ranged from infants to 7th class. The classes ranged in size from 38 to 61 pupils, with an average of 52. The school followed the national syllabus and curriculum that pertained nationwide in all primary schools. From the documents furnished, the school was rated very highly in terms of its primary education.

10.143One witness said he had received a good primary education in Carriglea. Another said he could not read when he left but he conceded that he had been academically backward when he went to the School.

10.144Br Rene, who held the positions of Superior and Sub-Superior during the 1930s until the mid-1940s, laid great emphasis on literary education, and this was reflected in the standard of education in Carriglea.

10.145In 1938 the Visitor stated that the boys ‘... give evidence of good teaching and would I believe compare favourably with corresponding classes in our day schools’. However, he pointed out that the training of the boys on the cultural side was weak, particularly as no music was taught, or dancing or drama.

10.146There was a report from a three-day general Inspection of the school by Mr Teegan, the Inspector of Schools of the Department of Education dated March 1941:

This is a pleasing school to inspect. The behaviour of the boys leaves nothing to be desired and they have been trained to use their intelligence and to be self-reliant.

10.147He added:

The satisfactory standard of proficiency noted previously is more than maintained and there is every indication that a still higher level will be soon attained.

10.148In 1944, the Visitor commented that the education was:

... too academic for boys that will at least in most cases have to depend on manual capability for their livelihood. There is no physical drill, no manual instruction, no band, no dancing and only an indifferent interest in singing. One would look for most, if not all, these activities in a school such as this. The alleged reason for dropping the manual instruction is based on the difficulty of getting timber.

10.149In 1948 and 1949, 29 boys sat the Primary Certificate examination and all passed. Likewise in 1950, 28 boys sat the examination and all passed.

10.150During the 1930s, manual instruction and drawing classes were taught by one Brother. These were taught to the senior boys, and the classes were marked as excellent in the 1936 Visitation Report. In 1941, drawing and manual instruction were removed as subjects for the senior boys, as they were eating into the literary subjects curriculum, as laid down by the Department.

10.151These subjects were not taught from 1942 to 1947 in the School, much to the dismay of the Congregation Visitors. The Visitor in 1942 was critical that woodwork was not taught in the School, as he considered it to be of ‘great educational value’. He highlighted the fact that one of the Brothers in the Community was qualified to teach woodwork, and recommended its immediate re-introduction. He was also of the view that such work ‘offered most valuable training to boys who have to take up manual work as a means of livelihood’. Again, in 1943, the Visitor criticised the fact that manual instruction was not taught:

The Manual Instruction Room is still locked up and there is no Manual Instruction given these boys to whom it would be so helpful later on. The excuse offered was that Br Durrant could not get wood in Dublin.

10.152However, these subjects were re-introduced into the School in 1948 and continued until its closure in 1954.

Post Office examinations

10.153A unique feature of Carriglea was that it prepared some of the senior boys in 7th class to sit the examination for positions as Post Office messengers and telegraph operators, and for Guinness and C.I.E.23 clerkships. This was something that does not appear to have been offered in other industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers. The preparation for these examinations was given by an elderly Brother for some years and was then continued by a lay teacher.

10.154The earliest record of boys sitting these examinations is to be found in the Visitation Report of 1936. It referred to a Brother of 74 years of age who ‘conducts a small class for the more advanced boys and prepares them for the Boy Messengers, Sorters and other elementary examinations at which they have been very successful’. Reference was made in the 1937 Visitation Report to seven of the ‘more advanced boys’ being taught by this Brother in preparation for the Post Office and other civil service examinations. The 1938 Visitation Report mentioned that this particular Brother spent four or five hours a day preparing a small group of boys for these examinations. The report went on to say that, ‘Within a period of five years some 15 boys have got into the Post Office, first as messengers and have later become postmen’.

10.155The Visitation Report for 1943 recorded that most of the boys in 7th class took the Post Office examinations. The 1944 Visitation Report noted that ‘five boys secured appointments as telegraph messengers during the previous year’.

10.156No reference was made in the Visitation Reports to boys sitting these examinations after 1944 but, from the Opening Statement of the Christian Brothers, it appears that boys were employed in the Post Office and C.I.E. clerkships until 1950.

10.157One witness, who was resident in Carriglea from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s, recalled sitting two examinations to get into the Post Office as a messenger. He did the examinations two years running, as he was too young the first year when he passed the examination and so did it the following year and passed again. He went on to have a successful career in the Post Office.

Secondary education

10.158In 1936, some boys from Carriglea were given the opportunity of attending the Christian Brothers’ secondary school in Dun Laoghaire. This came about shortly after the Cussen Report, when the Resident Manager of Carriglea approached the secondary school with a view to having his boys admitted.

10.159The request was initially turned down but, upon the intervention of the Brother Provincial, the ‘experiment’ went ahead.

10.160In 1936, the Visitation Report noted that:

Two boys of the Institution have this year undertaken Secondary work at the Dun Laoghaire Schools and were found sufficiently advanced to join the Third Year of the Intermediate Certificate Course.

10.161In 1937, the number of boys from Carriglea attending the secondary school had increased to five. Three of them were in first year and two in second year and were preparing to sit the Intermediate Certificate examination. The Visitation Report for 1937 commented that these two boys were sitting the examination ‘after 2 years preparation, and are considered the 2 best in the class’.

10.162The Visitation Report for 1938 also recorded that five boys were attending the secondary school, with three of them in first year and two of them in the class preparing for the Intermediate Certificate examination.

10.163By 1939, the practice of sending boys to the secondary school was discontinued. According to the Christian Brothers in their Opening Statement, it was terminated on the basis that the host school found the practice unsatisfactory. No further explanation was provided as to the basis for this dissatisfaction, which was inconsistent with the fact that, in 1937, the two Carriglea boys who were sitting the Intermediate Certificate examination were considered the best in the class. The Visitation Report for 1939 shed no further light and merely recorded the discontinuation of this practice, ‘The practice of sending a few of the more talented boys to the secondary school in Dun Laoghaire has been discontinued’.

10.164In a report compiled by Br Donal Blake cfc for the Christian Brothers in February 2001, he referred to this and provided the following quote from the annals of the secondary school:

In August 1936 an application was made by the Superior of Carriglea Industrial School to allow some of the senior boys of the School to join our Intermediate Classes. For obvious reasons, the application was turned down, but the Provincial over-ruled the decision. The experiment was very unsatisfactory and was the cause of a great deal of trouble and annoyance in the School, so much so that in August 1939 applications for admission had to be refused.

10.165When questioned on the reason for the discontinuation of sending boys to the secondary school, Br Seamus Nolan who gave evidence at the Phase III public hearing, stated:

We have not got any reason for it. There are suggestions that the social gap was a bit much for the school to take, because they withdrew. I think it was at that time that an alternative method of doing something for them after primary school, in a school sense, opened up the possibility of the post office exams. That’s the boy messengers that in the long term could lead to permanent, pensionable employment.

10.166In fact, the Post Office examinations had operated side by side with the secondary school placements and were not introduced as an alternative to them.

10.167Another scheme in which the School became involved was the provision of secondary technical education onsite. This appears to have arisen out of a proposal by the Department, which was, according to the agenda for the meeting of Christian Brothers Managers dated 23rd April 1949, ‘to have the instruction in the upper classes in Industrial Schools given a technical bias by the inclusion of Woodwork and Drawing’. It is not clear when the scheme was implemented in the School, but the minutes of the Christian Brothers’ Resident Managers’ meeting held on 12th January recorded that boys in Carriglea were at that time being prepared for the ‘Junior Tech. Examinations’. The teaching staff was supplied by the Vocational Education Committee, and the Resident Manager was supplying ‘everything else’.

10.168One witness, who had been in the School from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, recounted in evidence that he could read and write when he left Carriglea and that he did the Primary Certificate. He conceded that the education he received ‘was passable’. In fact, he went further and added, ‘In actual fact, I was a little above, when I went over to the army a few years later I was kind of more educated than, like my English counterparts ...’

10.169Another witness recalled being in class from 9.30 in the morning until 2.30 in the afternoon. He learnt classical poems, which he did not consider very beneficial, ‘I learnt some very classical poems, for what good they did me, I could quote them now if you want me to’.

10.170Another witness stated that he did not get a good education. However, he admitted that he was a bit behind educationally when he first arrived in Carriglea and, as a result, he never went beyond second class and so did not do his Primary Certificate.



10.172Unlike Artane, there were only two trades available in Carriglea: boot-making and tailoring. In addition, there was an extensive farm and, latterly, a band. The practice, as with all industrial schools, was that from the age of 14, boys who had finished their formal education were put to learn a trade that would enable them to gain employment upon their discharge from the School. These boys were also given literary and religious classes for an hour and a half each day.

10.173Although the two trades of boot-making and tailoring appear to have been well run, very few boys were engaged in them at any time.

10.174In 1944, when there were 255 boys in the Institution, the situation was as follows:

Farm – 4;
Tailor’s shop – 15; and
Bootmaker’s – 15.

10.175The Visitor in 1944 was critical of the fact that the number of boys working on the farm had dropped to four, considering that this was the occupation that ‘most of them will follow’. The Visitor commented:

These trades are essential for the school as all the clothing and boots required by the boys are made here under the direction of two capable foremen. Many of the boys reach a good stage of proficiency in these two trades before leaving the school.

10.176In 1946, the Visitor gave the following numbers working in the trades:

Farm – about 15;
Tailor’s shop – 20;
Bootmaker’s – about 20.

10.177The 1946 Visitation Report stated:

As the Institution should be vocational it is desirable that the Trades should be restored ... Laundry and knitting are the immediate requirements. Carpentry and painting could be introduced later.

10.178The Visitor in that year also felt that:

The Band should also be restored as it would give a tone to the Institution and give the pupils an interest in Music and culture.

10.179The band had been discontinued at the end of the 1930s. However, in 1947 a retired Garda superintendent, a former past pupil and former director of the Garda Band, was engaged to direct musical training.

10.180By 1948, apart from the re-establishment of the band, there were three trade shops in operation, with the addition of the knitting school, which was for the occupation of the younger boys. The farm, consisting of 115 acres (62 acres of which had been recently purchased), supplied the Industrial School with plenty of milk and vegetables.

10.181One witness, who was resident in the School from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, said that he had worked in the tailor’s shop in Carriglea after completing his Primary Certificate, and this had enabled him to obtain employment in a tailor’s shop upon his discharge.

10.182Another witness who resided in the School in the early 1950s spoke of working in the knitting shop:

First of all they took me on darning socks and I became an expert darner. They taught me to knit on four needles and I could knit socks and taper toes at the age of nine and a half.

10.183This witness was of the view that these skills were taught so as to clothe the children in the Institution.


Recreation facilities

10.185The Visitation Reports noted that there was no dancing, no manual instruction, no physical drill and no organised games for the boys. There was no band, as it had ceased to operate at the end of the 1930s. The Congregation were unable to give any explanation as to the reason for its cessation. There was a gymnasium in the School but, in or about 1938, the Superior decided to use the hall as a lumber-room, and it was used to stockpile fuel and timber which was particularly useful during the war years.

10.186The Superior General wrote to the Resident Manager on 3rd April 1938, expressing his concern at this initiative in the following terms:

The Gymnasium is a lumber-room. This is strange in an age that is endeavouring to improve the physique of the rising generation.

10.187The Visitation Reports for the first 10 years of the period under review catalogue a serious failure on the part of the School to provide occupation and recreation for the boys. Visitors noted that large numbers of boys had nothing to occupy them for long periods during the day, and went on to say that no organised games or activities were provided, which led ultimately to the complete degeneration of the behaviour of the boys who, out of boredom, resorted to immoral practices.

10.188After the new regime was introduced in 1945, an attempt was made to remedy this problem. Although a number of bands were established, which did occupy up to half of the boys in the Institution, organised games do not appear to have ever been a feature. It is clear from successive Visitation Reports that there was a lack of willingness on the part of many of the Brothers living in Carriglea to take on any supervisory duties. In such circumstances, recreation could only operate at the level of ‘crowd control’.

10.189Recreational facilities were almost non-existent. The indoor gym was out of commission for long periods of the Institution’s existence.


10.190The Christian Brothers said in their Opening Statement that the Superior of Carriglea was the main person responsible for aftercare in the School. Very little documentary information was available concerning the provision of aftercare of boys in Carriglea. There were, however, some references to this in the Visitation Reports.

10.191Visitation Reports indicated that past pupils returned to Carriglea for a visit or if their employment placement was unsatisfactory. The 1937 Visitation Report noted that:

There is a tendency for boys to return to the Institution as they are undoubtedly well treated and perhaps too softly brought up with the result that when they leave and have to face the realities of life they are unable to stand up to them.

10.192The Visitation Report of 1938 referred to this issue: ‘Recently, aftercare has begun to receive more attention’. This was due to the fact that a lay teacher was appointed to provide an aftercare service for boys upon their discharge. The 1938 Visitation Report noted that this lay teacher had visited 80 past pupils and had written a report on the condition of each of them. No reference was made to this practice of visiting ex-pupils in the Visitation Reports after 1938. It is, therefore, unclear whether this practice was continued.

10.193In 1939, the Visitor commented on the financial expenses involved in the provision of aftercare: ‘Aftercare has become a problem and cost the Institution last year £112’. This Visitor also noted that a large number of past pupils had been involved in crime: ‘In recent times the number of the ex-pupils who are being arraigned before the courts is disturbing’.

10.194The types of employment secured by the boys upon leaving Carriglea ranged from farm boys to factory boys, messengers, tailoring, waiters etc. Between the years 1940 and 1954, there were 181 boys placed directly into employment, which was approximately 12 boys per year.


Closure of Carriglea

10.196An issue that arose during the course of the oral hearings into Carriglea was how the boys were dealt with when the School closed down in June 1954. As stated above, the boys were transferred to a number of other industrial schools on 21st June 1954. However, evidence from a number of witnesses referred to the fact that they were given no prior notice of their transfer. Instead, they were informed of the decision to transfer them on the morning that they were due to leave, and no explanation was provided.

10.197One witness recalled that none of the boys received prior warning about the transfer to Artane. On the day that he was transferred, he, along with the other boys, was told to get his belongings and go down to the schoolyard and then he was put on a bus. He eloquently summed up the effect of this lack of preparation and forewarning on him:

It was just total bewilderment. It was totally distressing. I was already distressed being sent away from home at a young age. I was just starting to settle in there when I was uprooted and sent to Artane.

10.198Another witness who was also transferred to Artane recounted a similar experience. He also said in evidence that the boys were not informed about the move prior to the transfer and, further, were not even told which school they were being sent to. He recalled that there was no discussion or talk whatsoever about the closure of Carriglea; it was kept very quiet. He described the events of the morning of the transfer:

Buses came in, we were bussed off ... Some went all over different parts of Ireland. They were friends I had for five years and I never seen them again.


General conclusions

10.2001.The Christian Brothers had adequate funding to provide a reasonable standard of care to the boys who were sent to Carriglea. They did not deliver this in terms of food, clothing or accommodation.

2.Chronic mismanagement, followed by a harsh and punitive regime, caused abuse of the children.

3.Discipline was enforced by harsh and severe corporal punishment. Measures taken to restore order in the School included the appointment of staff who had been severely criticised in other institutions for excessive physical punishment. Transferring these Brothers to Carriglea introduced a level of violence, in the interests of order, at the expense of the boys’ welfare.

4.The Congregation made a considerable profit from the closure of Carriglea, which could have been used for the benefit of the children while it was operating as an industrial school.

5.Carriglea provided a good standard of national school education to the boys, although it is regrettable that, from 1940, no boy was given the opportunity of secondary education.

6.There were some positive elements in education and preparation for employment, but trades training was poor.

7.There was evidence of the success of one Brother’s practical approach to preparation for future careers.

8.Documentary evidence records sexual abuse by two Brothers who served in Carriglea. Assigning these Brothers to Carriglea showed disregard of the danger the Brothers presented.

9.Emotional abuse was brought about by: the unruly and chaotic manner in which the School was run for a period; the subsequent introduction of violent Brothers to restore order; the predatory sexual behaviour and bullying by boys on other more vulnerable boys; the high turnover of staff; and the absence of recreation facilities.

10.For much of the period of inquiry, the School was dilapidated and run-down, with poor sanitary conditions.

1 121 boys in Carriglea who had been committed through the courts were transferred to Artane (106), Upton (8) and Greenmount (7). There were 55 voluntary admissions and they were transferred to Artane (16), Tralee (20) and Glin (19).

2 As in the case of Letterfrack .

3 This is a pseudonym.

4 This is a pseudonym.

5 This is a pseudonym.

6 This is a pseudonym.

7 This is a pseudonym.

8 This is a pseudonym.

9 Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period. See Department of Education chapter for a discussion of her role and performance.

10 This is a pseudonym.

11 Br Ansel was also sent there for a few months around the end of 1945.

12 This is a pseudonym.

13 This is a pseudonym.

14 This is a pseudonym.

15 This is a pseudonym.

16 This is a pseudonym.

17 This is a pseudonym.

18 This is a pseudonym.

19 This is a pseudonym.

20 This is a pseudonym.

21 This is a pseudonym.

22 Review of Financial Matters Relating to the System of the Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and a Number of Individual Institutions 1939 to 1969.

23 Córas Iompair Éireann was a State-owned public transport company.