St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount (‘Greenmount’), 1871–1959
History and establishment of St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount
4.01St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount, was the only industrial school run by the Presentation Brothers. The first boy was registered on 5th April 1871 and the last was registered on 27th February 1959. A total of 3,592 boys passed through Greenmount.1 The School closed on 31st March 1959, when there were still 127 residents in the School, 113 of whom were sent to other industrial schools and 14 were discharged.
The Presentation Brothers
4.02The Presentation Brothers owe their origin to Edmund Ignatius Rice when, in 1802, he founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The Communities inspired by Edmund Rice adopted a modified form of the Rules of the Presentation Sisters and were under the jurisdiction of the bishops of their local dioceses. In 1820, Pope Pius VII granted Edmund Rice’s application for his society to be given papal approbation and a Constitution. Under this new Constitution, all the houses became united under a Superior General except for the house in Cork, where Bishop Murphy refused his consent, despite the desire of most of the Brothers to be part of Br Rice’s wider congregation. In 1826, the Cork house joined the others, but one of the Brothers, Br Austin Riordan, dissented and offered his services to the Bishop of Cork who placed him in charge of a school in the south of the city. With his secession, the teaching congregation known as the Presentation Brothers was created. The number of Brothers grew rapidly and, despite their having split from the main group of Brothers of the Christian Schools, they still regarded Edmund Rice as their founder and inspiration.
4.03The new Congregation spread across Ireland and moved their base to Dublin. They continued to be subject to their respective bishops until 1889, when Pope Leo XIII confirmed the Congregation and all the houses united under a Superior General. This independent status allowed the Congregation of the Presentation Brothers to expand further, with branches in all the provinces of Ireland, and houses in England and Canada.
4.04The Presentation Brothers take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They live in small groups or communities, organised on hierarchical lines, with the younger Brothers obeying their superiors without question. Their daily life is organised by strict monastic rules, involving a daily routine of prayer, meditation and study. They adopted the motto of the Jesuits, ‘Ad majorem Dei Gloriam’,2 and the Brothers place the initials F. P. M.3 after their name. Their mission is to ‘form Christ in the young’ through education. Their work is with disadvantaged and marginalised people, both young and old, and it was this mission that led them to accept the running of an industrial school and orphanages.
4.05Apart from these vows, the Brothers undertake to devote their lives to all people and are forbidden to enter into ‘particular friendships’. Professor Dermot Keogh, in a report he prepared for the Presentation Brothers in May 2001, wrote:
Inside the monastery a Superior would strongly advise against the formation of what were known as ‘particular friendships’. No definition is readily available to help amplify the meaning of this phrase. But it was usually intended to refer to the development of a close emotional bond between two brothers.4
4.06He quoted the Visitation Report of 9th October 1901 which exhorted:
Particular friendships cannot be too carefully guarded against. They rarely, if at all, are without harm and never do any good ...
Familiarities with the boys should be most cautiously guarded against, being most hurtful both to boys and Brothers. Even with employees and externs there should always be maintained a reserve that would keep them at proper distance and enable them to have for the Brothers that respect due to their position.5
4.07The implications of this need to keep ‘a proper distance’ will be discussed later.
The establishment of Greenmount
4.08The site that was renamed Greenmount in the 1870s was originally called Gallows Green. It was made available in 1852 at a rent of 30 shillings a year for 500 years to the Bishop of Cork, Dr William Delaney and other Catholic Church dignitaries, including Edmund Paul Townsend, one of the Presentation Brothers. On it they built St Patrick’s Orphanage, a residential home for orphaned and abandoned boys, commencing the building in 1858. The Bishop requested the Presentation Brothers to run the orphanage and they took charge of it in 1862. It soon reached its capacity, and had to be extended in 1866 because of the increasing number of boys needing admission.
4.09Dr William Delaney, the Bishop of Cork, who held that position from 1847 until he died in 1886, was a forceful personality and an advocate of educational reform. He was determined that Cork would be the location of a model industrial school run by a Catholic Order, and he saw it as an important step in overcoming the years of discrimination against Catholics by the governments of those years. It was this ambition that drove him to turn the newly founded St Patrick’s orphanage into an industrial school. He saw the industrial schools system as one that would benefit the children who were being raised in poverty and ignorance in the Cork area. Because of his drive, his ambition was soon achieved: the orphanage acquired the status of Industrial School on 14th March 1871.
4.10The existing orphanage building was not large enough for the new project and so, in 1872, work began on a new building adjacent to the orphanage. It was to be named St Joseph’s School for Boys. An aggressive fund-raising effort, spear-headed by Dr Delaney, raised sufficient funds for the construction of the School, with accommodation for approximately 220 boys. The Cork Examiner described the building as it neared completion:
The new building itself is a handsome and substantial edifice, built of red brick, in the domestic Gothic style of architecture, from a design and plan furnished by Mr George Ashlin, the eminent architect. The front (or northern) elevation presents the bold and effective appearance of a three-storey house, pierced by about forty windows, of which the limestone dressings relieve the ruddy monotony of the chief material, and a lofty, projecting gable at either end with cut limestone barges, flanks the long range of the body of the building. The edifice as it stands, covers an area of 120 feet by 50 feet high. The first rooms met with in this corridor, on either hand, are intended for a reception parlour, 17 feet by 22 feet; a refectory for the Brothers, 22 feet by 23 feet; and a sitting room for the chaplain, 20 feet by 17 feet. Farther on, in the front of the building, is the refectory for the boys, a spacious and cheerful hall, 57 feet long by 28 feet wide, capable of sitting 200. It is lighted by six large windows of plate glass, and above each window appears a ventilator, which passes upward in the thickness of the wall to the eaves. At the eastern end of the refectory will be the kitchen, 20 feet by 15 feet, separated from the refectory by a partition, and communicating with it through a turnstile ...
Opposite the refectory door is a convenient staircase, by which we ascend two flights to the first floor, passing on the first landing a room for one of the Brothers. Another ample corridor, like that in the basement, traverses this floor, and from it we enter the first dormitory, occupying the whole front of this storey, 120 feet by 28 and a half feet, with a similar arrangement as to the light and air to those observed in the refectory. The monotonous interior of this splendid apartment is broken near either end by moulded piers, united by three neatly moulded arches, at a distance of 15 feet from each wall.6
4.11The article went on to describe the boys’ dormitories, which were built over two floors, the one above corresponding in every respect with the dormitory below. Each housed 125 beds. The new larger School was opened on 1st December 1874.
4.12There were also plans for numerous additional facilities at the School, such as the provision for the building of a chapel, schoolrooms and workshops for the training of shoemakers, carpenters, coopers and bakers. Building continued throughout the School’s early history. In 1888, trade shops with schoolrooms were erected. By 1896, buildings comprising a day room, band room, coal house, toilets and additional schoolrooms had been built. In 1900 and 1901, the kitchen, pantries, storeroom, boiler house, scullery, bath and toilets were added.
4.13Bishop Delaney wanted a model industrial school for the Cork area, and the building matched the grandeur of his conception. It was built to the highest standards, designed to be an institution that the Church and the city could take pride in. This imposing building, unlike many other industrial schools, was located within Cork City, and local townsfolk formed links with the School, providing both charity and, later, social contact for the residents.
4.14The Bishop outlined his ideal in a speech given at the Chamber of Commerce in March 1874 to mark the completion of ‘the Greenmount Male Industrial School’. He told the audience:
The object of this institution is to take from the streets poor boys who are on the way to perdition, to rescue them from vice and misery, and to save the community at large from the consequences of allowing them to grow up ... untrained, steeped in misery, and with no means of support save what they can obtain by depredations on the community.7
4.15He praised the Industrial Schools Act (Ireland), 1868 for making such schools possible. It stemmed from the ‘finest principles that should govern humanity’. He went on:
There is gentleness of treatment for those to be reclaimed; there are reformatories for those who have fallen away, and the perfection of the system was to anticipate evil, and save young people from vice, from misery, and from mischief to their fellow citizens; and for this the Industrial School Act has been passed.8
4.16The conception was idealistic and motivated by a genuine desire to turn the poor and abandoned children of society, who had to live by pilfering and scavenging, into educated and useful citizens.
4.17Professor Keogh made the point in his report that:
There is no contemporary suggestion that the conditions under which the boys would live in Greenmount would be severe. The bishop had stressed the reforming nature of industrial schools. The school ethos was intended to provide a safe environment for the boys, who would range in age from six to sixteen.
4.18The following ground floor plan of Greenmount was made available to the Committee:
Source: Professor Dermot Keogh
The acquisition of lands surrounding Greenmount
4.19Having built a model school, the plan then was to extend the grounds so that it would become a farm capable of giving the boys training in farm work, and at the same time provide food for the School and additional income from the sale of farm produce. The School was built on eight acres of land, and the staff and boys in the School began cultivating the surrounding land. The farm was deemed a commercial success. The Cork Examiner reported, ‘In the past seasons Greenmount has sent the earliest and best potatoes to the Cork market and produced other vegetables in abundance and good quality’.9
4.20The Brothers continued to expand the farm. They purchased much of the surrounding land at the turn of the century, and the adjacent farm comprising approximately 39 acres by the early twentieth century. Greenmount also had two further farms located at Lehenagh, on the outskirts of the city. It is recorded in the School annals that the Management decided to sell these farms because of difficulties arising in the day-to-day management of them.
4.21Department of Education records described the farm:
The farm attached to this school has an area of 39 acres. It is used to supply milk and potatoes to the institution. Fifteen cows are kept and the feeding for these is grown on the farm.
4.22In a Report to the General Council dated 1954, reference was made to the farm and its produce:
There are 10 milch cows, one heifer, 4 sows, 33 bonhams and 3 horses on the farm. There are two workmen besides a gardener employed. Brother Ignado10 is in charge.
Brother Arrio11 in his poultry farm has 52 hens and 42 pullets. He gets about 15 eggs per day. (From that number he should get 36 or 40 eggs a day.)
4.23As the following table shows, profits from the farm were modest and, in some years, the farm ran at a loss. The bakery, however, was more successful:
Extracts from financial records for the farm and the bakery, 1945–1957
|Financial year||The farm contribution||The bakery contribution|
4.24The large profit made by the bakery in 1955 is explained by the fact that there was a five-month strike by bakers in the city, and Greenmount sold bread to the local shops. The demand was so great that they even bought a second-hand van to replace their horse-drawn cart to speed delivery.
4.25The original certificate for the School allowed 168 boys to be accommodated, and this figure was increased to 188 in 1885. The late 1890s saw a further increase to a capacity of 200 and, in 1913, the accommodation limit was increased to 220. In 1933, there was a final increase to 235 children. Management made representations in 1942 for yet another increase in the certified number of children, but their application proved unsuccessful on the grounds that nearby Upton and Baltimore industrial schools were not operating to their full capacity. However, in 1944, further funding became available to the Department of Education, and 11 additional certificates were allocated to Greenmount, bringing the certified limit to 231 from 1st February 1944.
4.26The School was recognised under the Children Acts as a place of detention for boys on remand awaiting criminal trials or committal to certified schools, and it accepted a small number of boys in such circumstances. In October 1944, the Brothers were asked whether they would increase the number of places for boys on remand from four to eight, in view of the increasing number of boys coming before the courts in Cork. They agreed to do so on the basis that such boys were under 15 years of age, but regretted ‘having to state that, for obvious reasons, we are not willing to receive boys under eighteen years of age’. It is not altogether clear from the documentation whether or not boys on remand were actually sent to Greenmount, as in 1950 the School was asked once again whether they would take such boys. The Resident Manager responded, confirming that, although he was willing to do so, he felt impeded by the fact that the School did not have separate accommodation to house these boys and the fact that he understood that the School would not receive payment for these boys from the State. The Department of Education, after consulting with the Department of Justice, assured the Resident Manager that the School was entitled to payment for boys remanded to Greenmount, and indicated that the accommodation issue should not present an insurmountable difficulty. Br Esteban12 wrote back on behalf of the Resident Manager, confirming that the School was willing to accept up to eight boys. He added, ‘I would like the age limit not to exceed 16 if possible, and also not to accept any cases who may be brought before the District Court for immorality’. When asked whether they would consider accepting boys between the ages of 16 and 17, the Resident Manager responded, ‘I think it would be an injustice, both morally and otherwise, to the boys already in the School, to accept such youths’.
4.27From 1st April 1952, the capitation grant for industrial and reformatory schools, which were also recognised as a place of detention for remand juveniles, was almost doubled from a grant of 3s 6d per day per child to one of 7s 0d for those children detained there on remand.
The number of boys in Greenmount
Number of children in St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount
|Year||Number of children under detention|
4.28The Superior General ensured that the rules and the Constitution of the Congregation were being observed and that there was agreement to the horarium. A system of internal supervision, whereby the Superior General or his delegate visited the School twice a year, was set up for this purpose. While the focus was on the life of the Community, the overall operation of the School was observed and occasionally commented upon.
Staff and management of the School
4.29Between August 1938 and March 1959 when the School closed, there were a total of seven Resident Managers appointed. Five of the seven held the position in the 1950s. These frequent changes must have resulted in a degree of instability in the running of the School. A number of these Managers admitted they had had no training or suitable experience for the position.
4.30Both the Department of Education and the Congregation were well aware of the importance of having a suitably experienced person in this pivotal position in the School. The report entitled ‘Report on the Occupational Training Provided in the Industrial Schools and in Glencree Reformatory’ commissioned by the Department in the mid to late 1930s, which is referred to in detail in the section ‘Industrial Training’ below, and also the Cussen Report13 emphasised the importance of having a Manager with the requisite experience and qualities for this ‘highly specialised task’. Yet in Greenmount, as in other industrial schools, because the Resident Manager was very often also the Superior of the Community, the Department did not get involved in this appointment and left it in the hands of the Congregation. The Congregation, for its part, does not appear to have recognised the importance of the appointment, particularly in the 1950s, which was unfair both to the Resident Managers appointed, some of whom must have found themselves struggling to cope with the task, and most importantly, to the boys.
The daily routine
|Time||Activity for boys||Duty for staff|
|7.15||Prayers in oratory|
|7.30||Boys called/ dress|
|7.30–7.50||‘Chalks’ – cleaning duties. Monitor in charge of 8-10 boys|
|7.50||Boys strip in yard or hall and wash at sinks|
|8.30||Breakfast – bread and coffee||Breakfast in refectory|
|9.00||School||Teaching Brothers work in school|
|1.00||Lunch Dinner – meat and two veg then play||Lay Brothers supervise|
|About 6.00||Evening meal – Bread and cocoa|
|9.00 (Later in summer)||Bed|
4.31Apart from the Department of Education Inspection, the School in Greenmount received two visits per year, from the Superior General, the Provincial, or a Brother delegated to conduct a visit, who was known as the Visitor. The visits usually lasted two days and concentrated on ensuring the observance by the Community of the rules of the Congregation. The Visitor frequently criticised the way in which prayers and the Office were recited. The reports also made brief comments on how the School was run. At the end of each visit, a Visitation Report was completed and placed in a book that was left at the School. A separate report was made to the General Council of the Presentation Brothers, which was based at Mount St Joseph’s, Passage West. In 1952, the governance structure of the Congregation changed, and an additional tier of authority was introduced in the form of the Provincial Council, which reported to the General Council. Therefore, from 1952, in addition to the usual Visitation Reports, there are also Provincial Reports available. (These Provincial Reports were based on the Visitation Reports.)
4.32The Visitation Reports gave a good insight into the life of Presentation Brothers in Greenmount. The Reports concentrated on the absolute necessity for strict observance of the Constitution of the Congregation, and any derogation was frowned upon. Many of the reports prescribed reading lists of religious texts which the Brothers were expected to study.
4.33The Provincial Reports and Visitation Reports that made specific reference to the welfare of the boys generally remarked that they appeared well cared for, well fed, happy and healthy. The use of words such as ‘the boys appeared’ would indicate that the Visitor’s assessment of the boys was a superficial one, based on observation rather than on any careful examination of actual conditions. In particular, there was no evidence that the Visitor spoke with the boys about their experience of the School. Despite spending two full days in the Institution on each visit, none of the concerns noted in the Department of Education Inspection Reports at various stages were commented on in the Visitation Reports. Visitors, as a rule, asked about the level of punishment administered and were usually assured that it was kept to a minimum. This assurance, however, was given by the persons who were responsible for the punishment and, in the absence of a punishment book, it was impossible to estimate the extent or severity of punishments administered. For example, the 1940s was a period when an acknowledged regime of harsh punishment operated in Greenmount, and yet the Visitation Reports did not reflect this.
4.34Lay workers were kept at arm’s length. ‘The time of the lay workers in the Institution should not be wasted by Brothers holding unnecessary conversations with them’, reported the Visitor, Br Diego,14 in his Visitation Report dated 12th June 1934. In the same Visitation Report, he ordered that a nurse should only be called in to attend to a sick Brother after permission was obtained from the Superior General or, in his absence, a senior assistant. Similar lines of demarcation were laid down for the Brothers. Only the Superior and Bursar were permitted to visit the boys’ infirmary, which was regarded as the strict domain of the nurse.
4.35In the Visitation Report of December 1936, Br Diego set out various recommendations for the Brothers and the boys. The local Superior was requested to notify the Superior General if any Brother was outside the house after 9pm, even with permission. Brothers were expected to retire to their rooms at 10pm every night. They were required to stay away from such ‘world amusements’ as were unbecoming to a Brother, as well as places where their attendance would cause scandal. Attendance at horse races, dog races and opera houses was singled out as particularly inappropriate. The Superior was not to, directly or indirectly, supply cigarettes to the Brothers. The cinema was out of bounds unless the film was approved having regard to the Papal Encyclical on Films of 1936. The recommendations for boys included advice that no boy should be allowed to go to a Brother’s room after night prayers. Organised games should be introduced, with playing fields made available.
4.36In the Visitation Report of October 1942, Br Diego complained that the farm staff was unduly large and that staff levels could be reduced by 40 percent. He also noted with criticism that labourers’ wages were above the Government standard and that overhead costs had soared.
4.37Br Diego again visited the School in March 1944 and found that ‘the management, discipline, the general tone and atmosphere of the school have dropped some points’ since 1941. He did not elaborate on the reasons for his view or make recommendations for improvement. There was no Department of Education General Inspection Report or Medical Report for that year for comparison purposes. In any event, by December 1944, another Visitor, Br Enrique,15 noted an upward trend in the management, discipline and tone of the School and was confident that the high standards would be restored.
4.38The Brothers were expected to be completely self-reliant and were forbidden from discussing Community business with outsiders. Br Juan16 visited the School in 1945 and noted, ‘the brothers should be careful not to disclose Community affairs to those who have not the right to know them – not even to priests or relatives’. He also cautioned against incurring expense except when absolutely necessary.
4.39There were no adverse comments regarding the management and conduct of the School in the remaining Visitation Reports of the 1940s.
4.40Br Jose17 reported in June 1951 that the education of the boys was well managed, but warned the Brothers of the Community:
... of the heavy responsibility placed on their shoulders of training these boys to face the world. The spiritual, moral, educational and even industrial training should receive very careful planning and attention.
4.41He recommended that the Brothers consult with each other and pool their ideas as to how best to further the training of the boys.
4.42The following year, the Provincial Report noted, ‘the average age of the Brothers is too high, for the exacting duties they are called upon to perform. A Bursar and another young Brother would be required to carry out the necessary work’. The report went on to state that, with falling numbers, the financial viability of the School was in doubt.
4.43In May 1953, Br Jose recommended that the boys should receive regular instruction in ‘the civic and moral virtues’. The Provincial Report of the same year also recommended that a maid be employed in the Brothers’ kitchen instead of the boys. Further Provincial Reports of the same year complained that there were not sufficient boys in the workshops, despite the fact that half the total number of boys in the School were at the trades training age. In a Provincial Report the following year, it was recommended that all of the boys in 7th class be transferred into trades training classes.
4.44The Provincial Report of June 1955 referred to the fact that Br Garcia18 had complained that discipline under the current Manager was somewhat lax. This report also made reference to immorality among the boys.
4.45Br Blanco19 completed a Visitation Report in December 1955 and he acknowledged the difficulties in running a school of 133 boys from troubled backgrounds, particularly when the average age of the Brothers was 54. He emphasised the need for supervision, and that all members of the Community should pull together to ensure that the School was properly managed.
4.46The Provincial Report of autumn 1957 was most critical of the management of the School and noted:
The boys seem to be well supervised etc. At the same time they appear to me to be very raggedy and unkempt. I am convinced that all the uplift which we – a religious body should give – is not being given. We should be able to do something for them and make something out of them and do more than merely keep them. All my suggestions to this, and in fact to any matter were turned down by the superior as Utopian, impractical and impossible ... To sum up, the superior is good to organize, sees about the boys and is efficient generally. He is handicapped to some extent in the staff he has. However, he knows everything, he is open to no suggestion, he is lax about obeying higher superiors and I would say, he does not and will not realize very fully his responsibilities as leader of a religious community.
4.47The Provincial Report the following year noted that the same observations still applied.
4.48The final Visitation Report in December 1958 by Br Jose continued to express concern at the condition of the School. He stated that, although the School was well conducted, ‘the discipline, supervision, food, and general training of the boys would need to be thoroughly investigated so as to devise methods to get the best results’. The School closed three months later.
4.49The Committee obtained discovery documents from the Presentation Brothers, the Department of Education and Science, the Diocese of Cork and Ross, the Garda Síochána and Fr Andrew.20 In addition former members of staff and former residents furnished statements.
4.50In preparation for the hearings, the Commission sent letters to 19 residents listed on its database as having been resident in Greenmount and wishing to proceed with their complaint as of September 2005. Of those, one confirmed that he was not proceeding with his complaint and six did not reply. The remaining 12 were listed for hearing, seven of whom were heard and five withdrew. A further complainant had been heard in 2002. In addition, evidence was heard from one respondent.
What the Presentation Brothers have conceded
4.51Br Denis Minehane, Vice Principal of the Presentation Anglo Irish Province, gave evidence during the Emergence Phase on 1st July 2004 in relation to the position taken by the Presentation Brothers on the issue of whether there was physical abuse in their Institution. He told the Committee:
we have not formed a view that systematic child abuse occurred at Greenmount Industrial School. We are prepared to accept that a harsh regime operated there which would be unacceptable by today’s standards. In relation to the specific complaints made to the Investigation Committee it is extremely difficult to perform any meaningful enquiry into these allegations which relate to events between 40 and 60 years ago. This is compounded by the fact that virtually all the Brothers who worked at the School are deceased, and furthermore many records are incomplete.
4.52He explained that the ‘Anglo Irish Province have not issued an apology but the Congregation as a whole, in updating its website six weeks ago, did issue a public apology’. This apology stated:
The Presentation Brothers apologise to any person who was abused while in their care. The Brothers are committed to implementing the appropriate national guidelines for dealing with complaints relating to child sexual abuse, and will respond to the best of their ability to any person who comes to them with a complaint. Accordingly the Brothers have appointed a Child Protection Coordinator in every unit of the Congregation to meet with people who have complaints to make.
4.53Br Minehane said of the apology:
It was along the lines of, “we apologise for any wrongdoing or any abuse that occurred to any person while in our care.” That was done for two reasons. First of all to give our regret. Secondly to encourage anybody out there who is hurting to come and make that complaint.
4.54Br Minehane then confirmed that the Presentation Brothers had contributed to the Redress Scheme. He stated:
Well, we were members of CORI and in 2000 when this came up first we were participating in the Faoiseamh help line and we contributed to the Faoiseamh help line. We were a member of the 18 congregations and when the question of the contribution came up we felt that especially because of our 1955 incident that we would feel very exposed if all this went to litigation. We felt that it was prudent management to make a contribution to the Redress Board.
4.55Br Minehane said that the Presentation Brothers knew of around 60 allegations of abuse concerning their Congregation by 2002, when they signed into the Redress Scheme. He confirmed that any Brother against whom allegations were made and who was still alive was interviewed and, in all cases, ‘there was total denial’.
4.56When asked what view the Congregation had ‘of the reality of the allegations being made’, he replied:
Well the Community would have to believe that if these allegations were made that there was grounds to believe that there was wrongdoing taking place. To that extent we apologise and regret that anything like that did happen while children were in our care.
4.57He could say nothing about the specific complaints because of the passage of time and the unavailability of either witnesses or detailed records to corroborate or disprove the allegations. He added, ‘the furthest I could go, I think, is that I must concede that at least some of those complaints are valid’.
4.58During the course of the Phase II hearings, further, more precise concessions were made. Counsel for the Presentation Brothers said of one Brother (Br Arrio) who was Resident Manager/Superior at Greenmount in the mid-1930s and again from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s:
My clients suggest that he was a strict disciplinarian, Br Arrio, he was a very strict man. We accept that certainly from time to time he may have overstepped the mark.
4.59In Phase III, Br Minehane was asked if there was unwarranted physical abuse in Greenmount and he replied:
Yes, by today’s standards there certainly was, especially at a period during the 1940s, our research would show that there was certainly excess corporal punishment.
4.60Br Minehane was asked to clarify what he meant by the phrase excessive physical punishment ‘in the light of today’s standards’. He replied, ‘my interpretation of it is that corporal punishment in schools was totally acceptable until 1982’. Under questioning, he went on to concede that some punishments were indeed excessive by the standards of the time, and that he did not need to use the term ‘by today’s standards’.
4.61In summary, the Presentation Brothers made the following concessions:
1.Greenmount operated a harsh regime, especially in the 1940s.
2.The corporal punishment administered by the Superior, Br Arrio, during the 1940s was excessive.
4.62Br Arrio was at Greenmount from the mid-1930s until his death in the late 1950s. As mentioned above, he was Resident Manager/Superior of the School in the mid-1930s for three years and again from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s. A Visitation Report from the mid-1940s noted that ‘The Management, discipline, the general tone and atmosphere of the school have dropped some points since my Visit [three years previously]’. The reappointment of Br Arrio during the mid-1940s soon turned this situation around, because the Visitation Report commented, ‘The management, discipline and tone of this school are on the upward trend. I am quite confident it will very soon hold the honoured place it occupied prior to [the appointment of Br Arrio]’.
4.63During the 1940s, the annual reports furnished by the Resident Manager of the School to the Department of Education gave a glowing picture of benign discipline being enforced in the School. In the early 1940s, it said, ‘Punishment of every kind is all but a dead letter in the school’. One year later, the Department was told ‘Punishment of any kind is all but abolished in the school’. The reports for the following two years used the same phrase, ‘Corporal punishment of every kind is, all but, completely abolished’. From the mid to late 1940s, in answer to the question ‘Nature of the punishments for misconduct’, the identical answer was given: ‘Forfeiture of rewards and privileges, which are allowed boys of good conduct’.
4.64The 1940s were precisely the years that the Presentation Brothers acknowledged to have been an era marked by excessively severe corporal punishment. Br Minehane was asked to explain the contradiction. He began by saying, ‘I would have question marks about it’. He then went on to explain that the Resident Manager, Br Arrio, was in charge of discipline, and was ‘the same person who wrote that report’. He then said:
He was the Resident Manager and I have no explanation for it except that he regarded himself as the disciplinarian in the School. And from his point of view ... corporal punishment was part of it.
4.65The fundamental inadequacy of the system could not be more apparent. The Brother who was himself operating a severe and harsh regime was the same Brother who reported to the Department. His reports to the Department were misleading: they claimed that punishment consisted of a system of withdrawing privileges, when in fact the School was being controlled by severe beatings and a climate of fear through a regime that he himself commanded.
The testimony of a former Presentation Brother in respect of Br Arrio
4.66Mr Olivero21 (formerly Br Olivero) joined the Presentation Brothers in the mid-1940s. He spent a year teaching in Greenmount before going to a Training College in Waterford. He returned to Greenmount in the late 1940s, where he again taught for one and a half years. He left the Congregation in the late 1950s. He gave evidence to the Investigation Committee in respect of Br Arrio and his disciplinary regime.
4.67Mr Olivero said that, when he arrived at the School, he was told that if any boy committed a misdemeanour he should be sent to the Head Brother, Br Arrio, who would look after him. He said that Br Arrio was regarded as a strict disciplinarian and the boys were fearful of him. He agreed that the boys had good reason to be afraid of him. He explained:
if a boy did commit any misdemeanour, if he fought in the yard and if he didn’t try and pull himself together, all I had to say was, okay, do you want to go to Br Arrio and they’d say no.
4.68When he was asked if he thought it was a good thing that the person who was in ultimate control should instil such fear in boys he replied, ‘I thought it was maybe a bit extreme’.
4.69When asked if he had seen boys being caned in the yard, he explained:
When the boys were lined up in the evening time, before going, maybe, for a meal, for the evening meal, I did see him chastising boys with a stick. I thought it was very extreme because if he had, we’ll say, twelve lines of boys there was a monitor for each who was responsible for each line of boys ... And the monitor, if he couldn’t explain the absence of some boy in his group he was punished, and I thought that was very unfair.
4.70Mr Olivero also confirmed in oral evidence a particular method of punishment that was referred to by complainants and which is outlined below. This involved the boys climbing a ladder in a storeroom and Br Arrio beating them with a cane.
4.71He was asked whether he and those Brothers with similar views could together have had some influence over a Brother who was harsh or severe with the boys. He replied that there was no mechanism at all to have such an effect. He explained:
... I was too young and too inexperienced at the time to make a complaint. If I did make a complaint I would probably – I don’t know would I be listened to ...
4.72His dilemma was a common one. Those Brothers low in the hierarchy could not challenge their seniors because of their vow of obedience. This inability to challenge the status quo meant that progress or change was virtually impossible unless it came from the top.
4.73Although he felt some complainants exaggerated the level of abuse in Greenmount, the complaints about Br Arrio were, he believed, justified. He said, ‘... I wouldn’t mind if they do make complaints about the treatment he meted out to them’.
The evidence of the complainants about Br Arrio
4.74A witness who was in Greenmount from the early 1940s to the early 1950s recalled Br Arrio taking over from his predecessor, whom he described as ‘a stern man, but he got on and I suppose he done his job’. Things changed for the worse, he said:
I can still remember that man, if I can call him that, as a tyrant ... He took pleasure, and it helped him in some sick, sadistic way to beat children, and he had his own ways of doing it. If you were reported by another Brother to him you had what was commonly known in Greenmount School as "up the ladder". That will never leave my memory.
4.75When asked to explain, he said:
You stood on – that type of ladder ... and you were naked, which was a horror thing for any man saying he was a member of religion or knew there was a God there or recognised a God, as a child you are up there hanging on to ropes with your hand on them so you wouldn’t slip, naked. That’s when he lashed you across the buttocks, the hips or maybe the raw thighs. And the way he left you, you were given a white nicks like a footballer and you wore that for many days, all dressed up and the boys could laugh at you, but on top of that you had to go to the nurse and get iodine on it.
4.76He conveyed his feelings at the time by saying:
If you hit a dog he’ll squeal, a human, a little boy who was an orphan, feels just as much as a stray dog and that’s the way we were treated.
4.77He went on to describe the implement used to hit boys:
He had a cane maybe. Now I am speaking as maybe a ten year old or an eight year old, nine year old, so I am going back. Maybe it was that length of a stick (indicating). I always remember there was a knob on the end of it, it was a bamboo cane and it would bend around your leg. He said that he got that from the Garda – the Department of Justice, he made a big note of it one time, telling us where he got it, and to use it liberally ... he used keep the stick in the back, up behind his belt. You never looked at him in the face, you always looked to where that damn stick was.
4.78Another complainant recalled this method of punishment. He was a resident in Greenmount from the mid-1950s, and he also told how Br Arrio gave him a beating ‘up the ladder’. He told the Committee:
Br Arrio would take off your clothes and you would have just an underpants on you and you would walk up the ladder and he would give you a slap of the cane ...
That took place in a little room .....He brought me into that room and he said – he asked me what did I run away for and all this and I told him that I just ran away, I wanted to go home. So he gave me a hiding for it as well ... He told me to walk up the ladder ... It was one of those ladders that you could go up the top and come down the other side of it. You go up one side and down the other side ... I was asked to strip to my underpants and walk up the ladder ... He was hitting me [with a bamboo cane] so I ran up the ladder.
... He used to run around after you. He wasn’t as old as people was making him out to be, he was able to run and he was able to do his thing, what he had to do... Br Arrio always made ... the kids climb up the ladder.
4.79Mr Olivero was asked if he could confirm punishment by Br Arrio that involved the use of a cane and a ladder in the storeroom, and he said:
I knew it happened. I never saw it happening, it was just hearsay. It was known that punishment was administered there and that there was a record kept to be seen by a representative of the Department of Education.
4.80One witness described another form of punishment used by Br Arrio to punish a boy at dinnertime:
There was various degrees of punishment ... Somewhere, somewhere along the line that man worked in another job, or he was taught of keeping your toes off the ground, eat lying on your knees just and keep your toes off the ground but use your hands to go down to a bowl, like a dog, that’s the way you eat. That was another punishment of his.
4.81A former resident of Greenmount who was there in the mid-1940s said:
Br Arrio used to stand in the room, once you darned your socks, you had to go up for his inspection. If it wasn’t to his liking he would cane you and he would punch you in the head.
4.82He also recounted an incident when Br Arrio beat him and his brother for complaining about inadequate food at Greenmount:
It is the same story. My brother was beaten and he was beaten really bad. Why we were beaten so bad is when we went home – my dad was home from England one time and he said to us, "you look very skinny", in other words, thin. He said, "if I took you up would you say it in front of the monks, Br. Arrio?" We said yes. So my dad took us up and Br. Arrio was as nice as pie to him. And my dad said the boys said they are not getting enough to eat. He said, "is that right, boys?" We made a big mistake and said yes. He showed him the bake house, the farm and all that and said they were getting this and that. When my dad went down to England he called us in about a week after and he gave us a hell of a beating and [my brother] got the worse of it because he said he was the eldest and he was the ringleader.
The Visitation Reports on Br Arrio
4.83Some of the Visitation Reports single out Br Arrio for mention, but always in a favourable light. After a visit in the late 1940s, the Visitor wrote:
There is a full quota of boys. They appear to be happy and well looked after, and great credit is due to the devoted Superior and his staff for the successful management of this Institution.
4.84In a Visitation Report two years later, Br Arrio received specific praise:
The Superior ... has a long and very creditable experience at this kind of work, he is patient, kind and self sacrificing with the result that he seems to have secured the good will and best endeavours of all under his charge, nothing escapes his notice down to the fixing of a new bolt in a door ...
4.85Somehow, the harsh and severe regime run by this Brother to control the boys through fear and physical punishment was not uncovered by the Visitor’s Inspections.
- The corporal punishment administered by this Brother was contrary to the Rules and Regulations for Certified Industrial Schools and was severe by the standards of the time.
- There was no system in place to control his excesses. Neither the Visitor nor the Department of Education Inspector detected the violence or, if they did, neither commented on the matter.
- The misleading nature of the annual reports to the Department of Education indicated knowledge on the part of the authorities that what they were doing was wrong.
4.87A witness who was in Greenmount in the 1940s and early 1950s told the Committee about unnecessary punishments administered during class by Br Garcia:
If you can imagine that being a desk and out here is the seating, it comes out about six or seven inches from that, you knelt up on that and it is on the backs of the legs you got the stick. You might say did he hit you four times, did he hit you six times, I couldn’t honestly and on oath say exactly how many times he struck me at any one time, but that was his modus operandi of trying to teach. Now, he had a saying like when we would fall in from school, he knew his class by the way they walked, a horrible thing for a human being to say ... We were all limping, that’s what he meant.
4.88A Visitation Report to the General Council in the mid-1950s recorded that:
Br Garcia reported that he considered that discipline was somewhat relaxed since the present Superior took up office. The Superior assured me that all care is taken to have the boys superintended and supervised at all times.
4.89His colleague, Mr Olivero, who gave evidence to the Committee, insisted Br Garcia had a great rapport with the boys and ‘... wasn’t severe or anything like that. He would be a disciplinarian, as I would have been myself, I presume’.
4.90A former resident who was in Greenmount in the early 1950s described a beating he received from Br Allente. He was careful to state that he was not complaining about the use of corporal punishment as such. He explained:
Well, the definition between punishment and brutality is this: in normal circumstances in a classroom two, three or six slaps on the hand ... When you have all the force of a grown man into punishing a child with severe strength that is brutality.
4.91Br Allente, he said, picked on him because he was a slow learner, and used ‘the T-ruler’ on him several times:
... after a while one bit broke off, I think he was banging it across my back and then another time when he used the same ruler again the second part fell off. So he was left down to just a small bit and the T ... I do not remember him beating as cruel to other children in my classroom as he was with me.
4.92Another witness described beatings he received from a number of Brothers whilst he was in Greenmount in the mid-1950s. He mentioned Br Allente as one of these Brothers:
You never forget these beatings no matter how old you are, you never forget the beatings you get in them schools.
4.93The testimony detailed above indicates that several individual Brothers did use excessive corporal punishment from time to time. However, many witnesses were anxious to point out that Greenmount had many good points and many good Brothers.
4.94One witness, who was there in the mid-1950s, not merely compared Greenmount favourably with another institution, but made a point of praising some Brothers. He was moved with five other boys from Carriglea to Greenmount, and told the Committee of the difference:
It was softer than Carriglea ... they weren’t as cruel as regards beating you ... A bit more freedom ... a bit more lax ... as regards the things you did, you weren’t restricted to doing anything. They were fairly lenient with you ... you could play soccer, which you couldn’t play in Carriglea ... Everything was played. But it wasn’t trained, you weren’t trained for it, that was just between ourselves.
4.95He was asked specifically if he felt that, in Greenmount, the Brothers there were a bit less violent. He replied:
Oh yeah, they weren’t as brutal as in Carriglea. They would have odd spasms of it, but they were a lot more lenient ... Well, they used the strap and all that, but not as much as it was done in Carriglea.
4.96He described Br Allente as ‘a hard task master, but all right’, and said that Br Santiago23 was ‘a nice man’. He said it was better when Br Santiago took over because ‘there was more tolerance’.
4.97One of the other boys who was transferred from Carriglea also gave evidence. He was in Greenmount from the mid-1950s until it closed in 1959. He told the Committee:
The good things were playing hurling and football in the pitch when there was sports, when you were allowed to go out. The good thing was some of the Brothers were good and treated you like maybe you should be. The other thing was going to the Father Matthew Hall for the annual panto, which we went to and which we enjoyed going. Eventually we started going to the cinemas in Cork because we used to have – sometimes in the School they would show you the odd film here and there. But going out, it was actually going out, getting out of the Institution and going down through the streets of Cork in two by two.
4.98He was delighted with the fact that they were allowed to go out escorted into the town. He was asked if some of the Brothers treated the boys with respect and dignity, and treated them as children. He replied, ‘They did, some were very good’. He added later, ‘The older Brothers seemed to have more compassion with the children than the younger Brothers’.
4.99Another resident from the late 1940s also stressed that there was both good and bad in Greenmount. He said ‘there was a lot of rotten apples, right, in the School ...’ but he said some of the Brothers were good to him: ‘The Brother that I used to work in the farm with, he was very good to me’. He then named two of the five working Brothers and said ‘it was like hell with them’, but he said the other Brothers were ‘grand’.
4.100Mr Olivero, who had no qualms about denouncing Br Arrio as too harsh and severe, nonetheless felt that there was not a violent regime. He said:
There was discipline there, there was strict discipline, but I mean it was no different to what it was in an ordinary primary school ... in the absence of parents we did the best we could. What more could we do?
4.101The person most often mentioned in the complaints was Br Arrio, who was accused of being consistently brutal. Other Brothers were also remembered for administering excessive or arbitrary punishment, on a less frequent basis. As one complainant put it:
They used to beat you hard. The degree of beating they gave you was more than some of the other Brothers, some were more lenient in their dishing out of punishment.
4.1021.There was systematic use of excessive corporal punishment in the 1940s.
2.There were complaints about Brothers in the early 1950s, when corporal punishment appeared to be widespread and on occasion severe.
3.Some Brothers were regarded as nice, friendly and approachable. When they used corporal punishment, it was for misbehaviour and was accepted by complainants as being justified.
4.103A major crisis in the affairs of the Industrial School came to a head in late 1955, when the Resident Manager, Br Carlito24 and a senior Brother on the teaching staff, Br Garcia, were the subjects of serious allegations of sexual abuse of boys in the School, resulting in the transfer of the Resident Manager and the resignation from the Congregation of the other Brother. The latter protested his innocence at the time, and subsequently maintained that his voluntary departure by way of dispensation from vows came about because of his dismay at the way the matter was handled. The Resident Manager remained in the Congregation and later was the focus of further complaints of sexual impropriety.
4.104There were a number of Diocesan and Congregation Visitations to the School during this year. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr Cornelius Lucey, visited the School on 7th January 1955. The School Diary records that:
He inspected the House, interviewed some of the Brothers and five boys separately. He expressed his satisfaction as a result of the interviews and from what he saw himself.
4.105It could be inferred from this note that the bishop was pursuing a line of inquiry, but he appears to have been reassured.
4.106The Provincial of the Congregation, Br Jose, carried out the annual Visitation between 14th and 16th June 1955, and the consequent Report was very positive about the School generally and Br Carlito in particular:
As at the last Visitation I am pleased to note that the Constitutions are well observed and that there is a good spirit of fraternal charity ... The Superior neglects no opportunity to better the conditions under which the boys live, and together with his staff is devoted and zealous in the care of the boys in their spiritual and temporal welfare ... The affairs of the Brothers should not be discussed with the secular staff.
4.107However, shortly after the Visitation, Br Jose received some disturbing news about immoral practices amongst the boys, which he outlined in his report to the General Council:
Some days after the completion of this Visitation I got a report from a member of another Community that immoral practices were being carried on between the boys themselves. The information came originally from a Missionary priest (Fr. Brendan25 I think) who had been Spiritual Director for a time to the Legion of Mary Praesidium at the Industrial School. On being questioned about this, the Superior admitted that he was aware of the fact, having been informed by Fr. Brendan himself. He knew the names of the four or five boys concerned, had them all placed in Dormitories that they could not easily contact each other, and giving special instructions to the Night Watchman without giving him any information or naming any boys.
4.108Some five months after this Visitation, Br Blanco, a member of the General Council, carried out an unusually long Visitation to Greenmount. It lasted 12 days rather than the usual two to three days. Allegations of sexual abuse of boys were made against two respected members of the Community, Br Carlito, the Resident Manager, and Br Garcia, either before or during this Visitation.
4.109At the same time as the Visitation by Br Blanco, a separate investigation was being pursued by a Canon David26 on behalf of Bishop Lucey.
4.110No record survives of Canon David’s report to the bishop following his visit. Br Blanco, who conducted the lengthy Visitation on behalf of the Congregation, left in Greenmount a report that said nothing about sexual abuse and confined itself to pious exhortations. It seems that Br Blanco interviewed boys and took at least one written statement, although no record of these interviews survives. Neither is there any report from Br Blanco to the General Council regarding the matter.
4.111A series of notes in diary form kept by the Superior General, Br Gomez,27 at the time sheds light on the sequence of events.
4.112On 29th November, two days into the Blanco Visitation, Br Gomez recorded that ‘Brother Blanco called on Canon who said he had no doubt about their guilt’.
4.113In his diary, Br Gomez records that on 5th December:
Bishop phoned at 7 p.m. to call on him. I understood he had no doubt of their guilt.
Told me that he had called in Canon David to hold visitation at Greenmount and to call for him the following day at Bishop’s House to bring him to [Greenmount].
4.114The following day, Br Gomez collected Canon David and recorded in the diary:
Asked Canon David when boys and Bros. had been interviewed if he wanted to see Bros. Carlito & Garcia & he said yes. Phoned them at Passage W. & they came along within half an hour.
Returning from Greenmount with Canon David he asked if a Brother had been holding visitation there. I said yes but he had not yet delivered his report on visitation. In that case he said he would say nothing.
4.115It is not known why the bishop ordered his own investigation. However, Fr Andrew, the School chaplain when these investigations were carried out, recalled to Professor Keogh that a Mill Hill Father (he could not recall the name although it seems clear that the source of the allegations was Fr Brendan, the Mill Hill Father who had previously raised the issue of immorality amongst the boys) had made an allegation to the parish priest of the Lough, the parish in which the School was located, that two members of the Greenmount Community were involved in an abusive relationship with a number of the boys, and he reported the matter to the Bishop. Fr Andrew said that Bishop Lucey is believed to have visited the house of the senior curate in the Lough, Fr Charles,28 in order to interview a number of the Greenmount boys, and the bishop is believed to have conducted these interviews without revealing his identity. If that is what happened, it would explain why the bishop ordered the canonical investigation.
4.116On 8th December, the bishop told Br Gomez, during the course of a telephone conversation, that he would see Brs Carlito and Garcia, who were back at Greenmount following the Canon’s visit, if they wished to see him. Br Gomez made an appointment for the Brothers to see the bishop the following day.
4.117Fr Brendan, from Mill Hill, appears to have interviewed a number of boys who presumably made the allegations which led to the investigations. According to the notes made by Br Gomez, Br Carlito, the Resident Manager, assembled a number of boys including two with whom he had been accused of engaging in sexual activity. He questioned the two boys in front of the other boys as to the truth of the allegations. One denied the allegation and the other, who had since left the School, said that he was asked so many questions that he was confused. Br Carlito told him it was his duty to go to Fr Brendan and make the matter clear to him in writing.
4.118There appears to have been a struggle going on between the Superior, who was seeking exculpation, and Fr Brendan, who had received some of the complaints and passed them on. The Superior General’s diary records:
Fr Brendan told the boys
1.it would be a mortal sin to divulge the interview to the Brother
2.if they did they would have to go to the Bishop
3.they could be put to gaol.
4.119The note continues:
Superior Carlito assembled the boys interviewed by Fr. Brendan and told them that any words he was using were not in secret and could be used if they were ever interviewed – and that he was using no threats or bribes
“if you think that what you have said is true stick to it but you must prove it. If you think what you said is untrue be honourable enough to admit it.”
“He would follow this up [to] the very end ...”
4.120On 27th December, Br Carlito resigned as Resident Manager but remained a member of the Congregation. The Synopsis of his Service History provided by the Department of Education indicates that he taught in a number of different schools until he reached retirement. He died at an advanced age before the Committee began its hearings into Greenmount.
4.121Br Garcia furnished medical evidence that he was incapable of testifying before the Committee, but he did provide a statement dealing with these events:
I learned of these allegations in circumstances when I was walking along the corridor in Greenmount Industrial School and Br Allente approached me and told me that I and another Brother were to go to the Bishop’s Palace to speak to Bishop Cornelius Lucey who was then the Bishop of Cork ... At this remove in time I have difficulty recalling the precise allegations as related to me by Bishop Lucey. In general terms the allegations were to the effect that children were being abused in the school and that I was being blamed. I immediately denied those allegations to the Bishop and I inquired as to who had made these allegations against me. Bishop Lucey would not provide these names. I also inquired as to what individual had made the complaint and I did not get that name either. I was then told to leave. Some time later I was invited again to the Bishop’s Palace and had a discussion again with the Bishop about alleged sexual abuse in which I was allegedly involved. I immediately denied any such involvement in this type of activity. I was invited back again on a third separate occasion and I inquired of the Bishop as to when all of this was going to end and I was told by the Bishop “that there was no smoke without fire”.
I became extremely upset about the way in which this matter was being handled and took the view that if this was the way that matters were being dealt with that I would be better off out of the Presentation Brothers.
4.122He continued teaching in the School until his dispensation was granted in February 1956:
I remember leaving Greenmount on a Friday and commencing teaching at Waterford on the following Monday where I had secured a post.
4.123Fr Andrew was chaplain to the School from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. In a letter dated 29th December 2005, he stated:
I wish to state clearly that during my years as chaplain, I saw no evidence whatever of physical or sexual abuse.
4.124However, he said that he had heard rumours about abuse in the School. He stressed that this was clearly hearsay, but he was ‘happy to pass it on ... as it may help to clarify some aspects of the Commission’s enquiries’:
Much of what I heard about enquiries into abuse in Greenmount came from young Mill Hill community priests who were studying for the Higher Diploma in education in University College, Cork ... Some information may also have come from Fr. Charles ... It was probably he who informed me that I was being excluded from the enquiries because I was hearing Confessions in Greenmount.
I believe that there were altogether three distinct enquiries into abuse in Greenmount while I was chaplain there. The only one of which I was aware at the time was under the care of Rev. Charles, curate in the Lough Parish (long since deceased.) I believe that this enquiry was a formal Canonical Visitation, done by V. Rev. Mons. David.. I never saw him while he was in Cork.
4.125He did not know what action, if any, the Diocese took as a result of the inquiry, but he believed that a number of Brothers either left the Congregation or were transferred elsewhere. When Fr Andrew heard of ‘possible problems in Greenmount’ many years later, he informed the Diocesan authorities of the Canon David investigation, but was told that there was no Canon David report on file.
4.126Fr Andrew stated that he later heard from Sr Vita,29 who had been in charge of the Boy’s Junior Industrial School at Passage West, a feeder school for Greenmount and Upton, that Bishop Lucey had visited her and directed her not to transfer boys to the two senior schools mentioned, thus contributing to the closure of those schools.
Br Carlito’s later career
4.127In the late 1990s, an individual approached the Presentation Brothers with allegations that Br Carlito had sexually abused him during the 1970s, while he was a resident at an orphanage run by another Congregation and attended the nearby monastery school. Br Carlito was teaching at the school. Br Carlito taught in this school from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s.
4.128The man making this allegation met with the Superior of the monastery and told him that Br Carlito had abused him. The Superior then met the Regional Leader, Br Hilario,30 to whom he gave the following two-page report:
He told me he had been in an Orphanage in the local ... Convent. Bro C. used to visit often. One day a boy broke his leg in the yard and was in ... hospital. Bro C took on a motorbike to see him. That the first time abuse started. Then Bro C used to bring to the monastery and take him up to his own room. Brought him to see Leeds v Sunderland Cup Final on T.V. in monastery – then abuse. Usually gave him 2/-. Stopped around the time the Orphanage closed ... Is undergoing Counselling. To see me & tell me was part of the healing process ...
4.129Br Hilario recorded these events in a memorandum. Following his meeting with the Superior, Br Hilario telephoned the man:
I assured him that I believed his story and that I would be quite prepared to listen to him if he so wished.
4.130They subsequently met and the man repeated the allegations:
Brother Carlito was a regular visitor to the Orphanage. He took the boys on cycling trips ... at weekends. When he was in 3rd or 4th class the abuse began. “A lot of grooming had taken place before it started.” Another boy from the Orphanage broke his leg and was in hospital ... Brother Carlito took him on a motorbike to visit him. “This was the start of the abuse” [the man] gave no indication as to the nature of the abuse or where it took place. He was vague on dates. When questioned he said he was eleven or twelve at the time. (It seemed to me that eleven or twelve was old for a boy in 3rd or 4th class but I did not comment on this.) [the man] said he had been abused on four occasions ... Brother Carlito would take him to his bedroom and “take down my pants” He remembers going to the monastery to view the Cup Final between Leeds and Sunderland; He then went on to talk about further abuse. “Brother Carlito lay on the bed and placed me on his belly. I got frightened and so did he, I think.”
4.131The man told Br Hilario that he did not want to report the matter to the Gardaí. He did not see any benefit in putting an old man in gaol – that would not be any good to him. When asked how he felt the Presentation Brothers could be of help to him, he replied ‘compensation, I suppose’.
4.132A representative of the Congregation met Br Carlito subsequently in relation to this complaint, and recorded the outcome of the meeting in a note prepared for the Congregation’s legal representatives. He told Br Carlito of the allegation:
He did not interrupt or comment while I was relating the story. When I finished he said “This is terrible just when I was recovering this pushes me back down again.” ... I told him the Gardai were not approached.
4.133Br Carlito recalled the man as a pupil, although he had not taught him. He said that he had been good to him and that he couldn’t remember any abuse taking place.
4.134Br Carlito continued:
I am very surprised as I was extra good to him. I even gave him money now and then ... I gave him £2 or £3 pounds now and then. I even sent him money after I left ... but I have not seen or heard from him since. Why did he wait so long? I cannot remember interfering with him.
4.135When it was explained to him that such a time lapse in coming forward was common, that people felt ashamed and guilty about what had happened, and that it took a lot of courage to tell their story, Br Carlito said ‘If I did it to him I must be inclined to do it to others’.
4.136When asked whether he remembered feeling attracted to do this with boys, he replied ‘I can’t remember this attraction’.
4.137He said that the boy could have been in his room, but not for that purpose. Br Carlito said that he was ‘flabbergasted and dumbfounded. This knocks me back altogether. There is nothing for me now but Ahadoe [graveyard] and the sooner the better. I can now understand how easy suicide is’.
4.138Br Hilario met with Br Carlito a few days later, when Br Carlito made a statement maintaining:
I am not saying it did not take place but I have no recollection of it happening. I think it is better for all concerned if I don’t deny it completely.
The late 1970s
4.139In 1978, the parent of a child at a national school made a complaint that Br Carlito had interfered with her child. Br Carlito was working as an assistant teacher in the School at the time. The Committee has not seen any documentary material in relation to this complaint. However, it is clear from the Synopsis of his Service History provided by the Department of Education that Br Carlito remained in the School until he was transferred in 1979.
4.140In the mid-1990s, the Gardaí questioned Br Carlito in relation to an allegation that he had sexually interfered with a three-and-a-half-year-old boy on a number of different occasions.
4.141The child’s mother said that she took her son to a doctor as a result of the abuse.
4.142Br Carlito made a statement to the Gardaí and told his superiors of the allegation. The matter was immediately reported to the Provincial, Br Amador,31 who dispatched the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Child Sexual Abuse, Br Manuel,32 to interview Br Carlito. Br Manuel reported:
He denied all the allegations and declared that there was no truth in any of them. He had no recollection of the child ever been in the house but he was certain that he never sexually interfered with him or any other child or youth who may have entered the house for the purpose of receiving musical tuition from him. He had always been careful to give tuition to groups and never to individuals and his students were always in the older age group of 10–14 years. He could not comprehend how anyone could accuse him of the offence and he knew of no one who would want to frame him.
4.143The Provincial’s diary states:
Later that evening I phoned Br Manuel to inquire of his findings and he felt there may be some grounds for concern but had serious doubts.
4.144The Provincial consulted a member of the Conference of Religious in Ireland and decided to move Br Carlito ‘lest his presence ... further aggravate any possible hurt to the alleged victim and family’.
4.145Br Amador’s diary referred to a meeting with the Gardaí:
I have only one note of that meeting which is a comment by Sgt. ... to the effect that a ‘child of three and a half does not concoct such stories’. He asked if there were any other such allegations against Br Carlito and I said I was not aware of any as otherwise I would not have posted him [to the School].
4.146The Presentation Brothers engaged solicitors to act for Br Carlito. One month later, the principal in the firm wrote to Br Amador informing him of recent developments:
Three children from the locality have alleged that they have been sexually interfered with. All three have been medically examined and two of the three have been physically interfered with – they have been buggered. One of these two children ... has identified Br Carlito as having interfered with him ...
Brother Carlito is not known personally to me. His denials of the matter appear totally genuine. I very much doubt if, at 79 years of age, he should suddenly develop tendencies of this nature ...
4.147Br Carlito was not prosecuted. However, it is clear from the above that neither the Gardaí nor Br Carlito’s solicitor were aware of the previous allegations which had been made against Br Carlito in Greenmount and which had led to his resignation from the School.
- It is not clear that the investigation in 1955 established that the Brothers were guilty of the charges made against them. The two Brothers protested their innocence, and surviving documents do not reveal the results of the investigations. What is clear is that the bishop and his senior clerical investigator believed that Brs Carlito and Garcia had engaged in sexual abuse of boys. Nevertheless, the two men were permitted to move on to new positions dealing with children. There was no question of reporting them to the Gardaí.
- While it is impossible to be sure from the documents, the probability is that these complaints about sexual abuse came to light because boys felt able to confide in the young volunteer priest who visited the School. This would conform with a pattern that was seen in other institutions, whereby children were able to report abuse to a sympathetic adult when a suitable opportunity presented.
- The involvement of the Bishop ensured that the complaints were taken seriously and investigated.
- Further allegations of sexual abuse dogged Br Carlito’s subsequent career. When the Gardaí were investigating one set of complaints of sexual abuse in the mid-1990s, the information supplied by a senior member of the Congregation was seriously misleading.
4.149One complainant, Michael,33 gave evidence of being abused by Br Garcia. He had been in Greenmount in the late 1940s and was discharged in the early 1950s. Michael said that he was about 12 when the abuse started, and that Br Garcia anally raped him about four or five times. He said that he ran away from the School and went with a friend to the local Chief Superintendent in Cork, Superintendent Caffrey,34 because his father worked for him and he knew him. Michael told the superintendent about the abuse.
4.150Michael had faith in the Superintendent because he was such a senior figure in Cork, but did not tell his parents what was happening because he did not think it was proper to speak to his mother and father like that.
4.151Michael recalled his meeting with the superintendent:
So, he said "what’s wrong?" I said "there is a Brother and he’s interfering with all the lads in Greenmount". Right? He said to me "Michael", he said to me "they don’t do that". Well, I says, "Superintendent Caffrey, it is happening". So he said "I can only bring you up to Bishop Cohalan".
4.152He brought Michael and his friend to see the bishop:
... he brought me in a police car ... he was in the front and myself and [my friend] were in the back and ... he drove up there anyway. The bishop was there anyway and Superintendent Caffrey went in. He said "there is two lads here from Greenmount". That’s what I presume he said to the bishop ... He went in first and he left us to wait. Then whatever conversation they had he called me and [my friend] in. He said "tell the bishop what’s happening?" So we told him that we can’t go to sleep at night, that this man is tormenting us, we can’t go to the toilets or anything. Because Br. Garcia was in charge of the dormitory, right. That was his – he was in charge. So, Bishop Cohalan said "the Christian Brothers (sic) don’t do these things at all". He said "you are two devils". He said "I am going to get ye excommunicated". We were more frightened than anything. So we came back out with Superintendent Caffrey ... and the sergeant drove us up to the School ... the next morning then we got a flogging.
4.153Bishop Cohalan was in his nineties when this allegation was made to him.
4.154In their statement in response to Michael’s allegations against Br Garcia, the Presentation Brothers made no mention of the canonical inquiry of the mid-1950s. Br Minehane who, in his direct evidence to the Investigation Committee, acknowledged that he was aware of the canonical inquiry, signed the statement on behalf of the Presentation Brothers and stated:
The Complainant makes the most appalling allegations against Br. Garcia ... It seems likely that the Complainant was taught by Br. Garcia. Br. Garcia is now [real name]. He strongly denies all of the Complainant’s allegations.
4.155In the course of the hearing, counsel for the Congregation stated:
Our difficulty in relation to this is that we don’t have records in relation to this particular aspect of matters and unfortunately the persons who would have been in a position to say exactly what went on at the time are deceased or unavailable.
4.156Br Garcia was represented at the hearing and denied the allegations made against him.
4.157Another witness recalled events surrounding Br Garcia’s departure. He told the Committee:
Some of the boys were getting taken out of bed and they would go to the Brother’s room at night ... I was in a very good position to see it happening ... My bed was right opposite the door ... [The Brothers] had a room annexed to the dormitory itself ... [He] used to come in, tap the bed, walk up the dormitory, walk back down and he’d walk out first.
4.158He explained there were ‘four or five’ beds the Brother would choose from. He would walk in, tap the bed, ‘Go back out and then that lad would get up and go out’. The boy would come back ‘maybe an hour afterwards’. He named the Brother as Br Garcia.
4.159The witness explained, ‘I knew two of the lads personally’. One of them ‘used have cigarettes all the time and I used say "where did you get them?” He told him they had been given to him by Br Garcia. Recalling the circumstances of Br Garcia’s leaving, he said:
... after Br Garcia and Br Carlito left everyone was talking about it ... It happened so sudden ... He was there one day and he was gone the next. It went around the School then that he was gone, him and the Superior. Obviously, Br Carlito was the Superior, the head Brother, so everyone noticed him gone.
4.160Another witness who was in Greenmount in the early 1950s described being physically and sexually abused by a Brother who he described as being a fat man. He stated that this abuse occurred in an office which was identified by the Congregation as being the Superior’s office. In their responding statement to the witness’s statement of complaint, the Congregation said:
During the complainant’s time at Greenmount there were three Superiors. None of them matches the complainant’s description as a “big fat” man.
4.161Nine former residents of Greenmount were prosecuted and sentenced for offences of indecency in the mid-1930s. A further three former residents of Upton Industrial School were also sentenced for similar offences. All of the young men who had spent time in Greenmount ranged from 15 to 19 years of age.
4.162The Department of Education received an anonymous letter from the parent of one of the convicted youths after sentence was handed down. The letter stated that the boy had spent eight years in Greenmount, despite an application made by his parent to have him released. It alleged that such sexual conduct had been prevalent in Greenmount for the previous nine years, and named a particular teacher who was complicit in such activity. The Gardaí were seeking him. The whole thing was ‘the talk of Cork City’. The writer requested that the Department requisition all of these cases from the court office or the Gardaí so that the full extent of the problem could be exposed, as ‘the Monks of the school was trying to keep this Case Dark’. It added, ‘my boy was 8 years going in to the school ... so he got his lesson in the school. Any child is safer at Home’. The letter ended, ‘the school should be closed down’.
4.163The Department Inspector, in an internal memorandum, noted that the Medical Inspector had heard certain rumours about the School and suggested that the local chief superintendent be contacted for a full report. Around the same time, the Attorney General’s office made contact with the Department of Education, furnishing copies of the depositions in the 12 cases. Many of the defendants had asserted that their misconduct stemmed from their time in industrial schools. The Attorney General was of the view that closer supervision of the older boys would discourage such ‘unfortunate habits’, and furnished the Department with the information ‘in the hope that the Minister in collaboration with the School Authorities may be able to devise some means of keeping the number of such cases in future at the lowest possible level’. An extract from the prosecuting counsel’s report was also furnished, which stated ominously, ‘... the revelations about Upton and Greenmount at this sittings have given me furiously to think about Industrial Schools and Religious Orders ...’.
4.164The Department arranged for a special Inspection of the two schools in question to take place. An Industrial Schools Inspector and the Deputy Chief Inspector of the Primary Branch were nominated to conduct the Inspections. Their general brief was to ‘... enquire into the supervision exercised over the boys, and the measures taken to prevent or put an end to the occurrences, which gave rise to the recent cases before the Cork Courts’. The Department decided against bringing the matter specifically to the attention of the bishop, on the basis that it had to be assumed that he was already aware of the matter.
4.165The Inspectors conducted their Inspections over two days. They noted that the children were supervised by teachers during school and trades training, and by the Brothers during recreation. Night watchmen patrolled the dormitories at night time.
4.166The Resident Manager, who appeared to have been very much affected by the incidents, stated he had no intention of concealing them from the Department but that the worry of the cases caused him to overlook reporting the matter.
4.167He confirmed that both the Gardaí and an ISPCC Inspector had questioned the children as part of their enquiries. The Manager assured them that stricter controls were in place to ensure that any such misconduct did not occur, and he was satisfied that the problem had been eradicated in the School. The Department of Education Inspectors concluded that:
... consistent with the normal freedom of the children the supervision exercised in both schools is adequate in ordinary circumstances and the recent occurrences will tend to keep the school authorities on the alert: from what we have learned, however, there is an ever present danger of these cases arising no matter how well planned the supervision and this danger is aggravated when, as in the case of Greenmount, a member of the staff is known to have been implicated. The problem, as we understand it, is for obvious reasons a most difficult one to deal with and we consider the only action that can be taken is to impress on the Manager (verbally for preference) of each boys’ school the possibility of such cases occurring and the necessity for close and constant supervision of the boys, especially the senior boys, i.e. boys over 14 years of age, in all their activities.
4.168The Minister for Education approved this recommendation, and the Department’s enquiry into the matter was closed.
4.169The Inspectors do not appear to have spoken to the children as part of their enquiry, and seem to have accepted the assurances of the Resident Manager that sexual activity was no longer a problem in the School.
4.170There is further reference to sexual activity among boys contained in the reports of the Provincial to the General Council of the Presentation Brothers in the mid-1950s. Despite the Provincial being assured by the Resident Manager, Br Carlito, that the boys were at all times well supervised, he received a report shortly after visiting the School from a member of another Community that the boys in Greenmount were engaging in ‘immoral practices’. When this allegation was put to the Resident Manager, he accepted that he was aware of the problem and had taken steps to deal with the issue, which involved separating the culprits in the dormitories and requesting the night watchman to be particularly vigilant. No advice or direction given by the Provincial is recorded, and the issue does not arise in subsequent reports.
4.171The difficulty of trying to control sexual behaviour among the boys emerged from the evidence of a former resident who was transferred to Daingean because he was twice caught engaging in sexual activity with his peers. He was admitted to Greenmount in the early 1950s when he was eight years old. He said he learnt about sex from the older boys, and added ‘it was going on with all the boys’. He would masturbate the older boys and sometimes had anal intercourse. He said:
It is a very powerful thing, you may shy away from it to start. You see, I see the sexual business as a disease, but once you start getting the feel for it it is like wanting sugar.
4.172As time went on, he began to engage in sexual activity with younger boys. He pondered the irony of it all:
I became an abuser myself of a form, that is the way it goes. So because I was put in, locked up in the first place for committing no crime I ended up committing some kind of crime in the second place ...
4.173When asked whether there was any awareness by the adults in charge in Greenmount of the sexual activity amongst the boys, he said ‘I can only assume that they must have had some idea’.
- Sexual activity between boys and peer abuse were serious problems in Greenmount. Despite assurances that it would be dealt with the problem persisted.
4.175In their Opening Statement on Greenmount, the Presentation Brothers expressed the view that industrial schools were ‘a flawed model’, doomed to failure. They wrote:
Up until the 1960s there was a popularly held belief in Ireland that industrial schools were an institutional response to cope with the problem of petty crime and delinquency by young people. This was a misconception. Children convicted of minor criminal offences were often admitted to industrial schools, But that was usually because they had strayed into breaking the law due to the absence of parental supervision and neglect. Children were also admitted for non-attendance at school. That was, again, usually a consequence of difficult family circumstances. Where one parent had died or departed, an older child might be required to remain at home in order to rear the other children in the family. The consequences of social and economic deprivation were addressed by breaking up whole families, the boys being sent to the Brothers and girls to the nuns.
It is clear that, in hindsight, the industrial school system was not, and could never be, a success. It was based on a flawed model. No one today would seriously argue that an institution operating on then approved lines, such as Greenmount, represented an adequate response to serious social problems suffered by some of the most vulnerable elements in society. No one would tolerate the Courts regularly making orders having the effect of separating so many children from their families for up to 8 years. No one would suggest that a child could be raised on the modern equivalent of 22 shillings a week: indeed it appears that that task was beyond the Presentation Brothers at that time. (the Presentation Brothers informed the then Minister for Education, Mr Jack Lynch T. D., that it was not possible to feed and clothe boys on 22/6 per week in the late 1950s). No one would suggest that neglected and abandoned children should be housed and cared for together with, and in the same fashion as, young offenders. No one would consider lodging such a large number of children of varying ages in single institution with so few carers.
4.176They went on to point out that many of the flaws in the system were apparent in 1936, when the Cussen Commission reported but Cussen’s recommended reforms were not implemented, and ‘a further 34 years passed before Ireland was prepared to abandon the industrial school as a means of child care’.
4.177The Presentation Brothers make several important observations:
1.Most of the children were not criminals but were disturbed because they had experienced death, or family upheaval, neglect and poverty.
2.The court orders removing them from their families for periods of up to eight years made matters worse.
3.Separating siblings further broke up the family and thereby caused more distress.
4.The prison-like containment of these children in large secure buildings was inappropriate and further isolated them from society.
5.It was detrimental to lodge neglected and abandoned children with hardened delinquents.
6.The number of carers was inadequate, and the funds needed to educate and rehabilitate the disadvantaged children were far short of what was needed.
4.178The Statement suggests these flaws became apparent only ‘with hindsight’. Moreover, the Presentation Brothers blame the failures of the industrial school system on the acceptance of such a model by society. The report prepared by Professor Keogh ends with the conclusion:
In the public debate in the 1990s on the running of Irish industrial schools attention has correctly focussed on the manner in which the religious performed their duties. It is necessary, however, to subject the role of the state to scrutiny. After all, it had the ultimate responsibility for the running of those institutions ... It is a harsh but nevertheless valid verdict on the performance of the Irish state in such a central and sensitive social policy area it arrived with unjustifiable, glacial-like slowness at the conclusion only in 1970 that the industrial school system was outdated, outmoded and obsolete.
4.179The question arises as to why so many of the conclusions that were obvious after 1970 were not evident much earlier.
4.180One witness, who was in Greenmount for a year in the mid-1940s, was the second eldest of seven children. His father worked in England during the war, and the family were regularly summonsed for non-attendance at school. He told the Committee:
When we were sentenced we went with a guard ... There was me, [my two brothers, the Garda], and my Mam we were taken to the industrial school. We were taken in. My Mam was crying and we were crying. Then my Mam came out, the guard came out and we were there, that was our sentence, we were there then for four years, whatever we were sentenced to.
4.181While he was in Greenmount, his older brother died from tubercular meningitis. He recalled this event:
when we went to the infirmary, me and [my younger brother], like I said, we were so close, we asked to see him but we were not allowed to see him ... He went into the infirmary and then they moved him out through – we used call it the union, which was the hospital in Cork, and the next time I saw my brother ... was when he was in the death house, when he was laid out. That’s the only time I seen him ... when I found out how he was dead, we came from school and we were in the playground, or the yard, or whatever you call it, and we were going into the dinner and we went into dinner and the boy next to me said " [your brother] is dead". That’s how I found out. It just came like that ... I went spare. There was such a shock, even when he was in hospital we didn’t know what he was there for. When we were in the infirmary we asked to see him but we weren’t allowed to see him.
4.182He also talked about the difficulty they had in relation to contact with their mother:
She used come to visit us but she weren’t let in. So I didn’t have difficulty contacting her, I wasn’t allowed ... She told us she was turned away. Even if we seen her there was nothing we could do about it, she was turned away. Br Arrio used say no, she’s not coming in because she used to bring us food parcels ... she was turned away. Sometimes we used get them.
4.183Another witness, who was there in the 1950s, recounted how he found out, when he was about 13, that his mother was alive. He had been admitted into Greenmount from another institution where he had been since a baby. He told the Committee how he made this discovery:
I never knew [my] father, no, or my mother ... I didn’t know anything about her at all ... It came about because people in the School used to write home, if they had parents they were allowed to write home once a month their parents and if you didn’t write home you went to the back of the class. I think it [was] Br. Allente, I think that’s his name, names are hard to come by now. He said, "Don’t you write to anybody?" I said, "No, I don’t." About three months later as I went into the classroom, on a blackboard on an easel which [a woman’s name and address] and I was told write to that person. That’s your mother ... I did write to her under duress at that time. [She wrote back] and she told me I had two stepsisters ... I never had contact with her other than writing ... I have tried various times to contact her but the advice given by the local police and by the local parish priest was that it is best left alone after all those years.
On one visit to Ireland, my son was eight at the time, I actually drove up from Cork ... and parked outside the assumed address and just parked and then drove away again. Because one didn’t want to go and knock on a door and say, "I’m your son", because the mother has feelings as well, she has had her life since I have not been there so I didn’t want to interrupt.
It has impacted very much so, because when I went to England you don’t have anybody to relate to, so you are always worrying – I don’t know, it is hard to explain but if your parents are missing, if you don’t know where they are – or who your parents are your peace of mind is even to go there at the end – if I come over this year or next year to Ireland, even if she has passed away, it would be to see the grave and say that’s laid to rest now and there is no further gain to be got. But it has impacted. It impacts throughout your whole life because when you have your own family you have no role models, you have nothing to bring up your family.
4.184The Brother in this case noticed the loneliness of this boy who knew nothing of his parents. He did his best to help the son contact his mother. This witness remembered him as the Brother who found his mother for him.
4.185This same witness spoke well of a system, set up by the Presentation Brothers, where boys were sent to visit families in Cork on a regular basis. He said:
Say for argument’s sake, every first Sunday of the month, I think it was every first Sunday of the month, one of the families in Cork would take one of the orphans out to their home and you would spend a day in their home. At the end of the day they might give you lemon sweets or something to take back, a little bag of sweets.
4.186The importance of this regular contact with a family emerged when he disclosed to them that an older boy was bullying him. He explained the circumstances:
I think what actually triggered it off, because I didn’t confide in them, you didn’t have a lot to say to people actually, you were just taken and if they said “Get in the car” you got in the car. If they said “dinner was ready” you ate your dinner. You didn’t confide in them in so much as what school was about, you actually didn’t. It came about when she made this awful red and white coat, or red and black coat for me that made me look like – it was a sort of girl’s outfit and I started to cry and it just happened from there on. So sort of one thing led to another and it was an emotion that was coming out. I didn’t specifically go and say, “I have been beaten up”. So it sort of came out from that particular incident. I wouldn’t wear the coat.
4.187He learned later, when he was going to work and calling back to visit this family from time to time, that they had complained to Greenmount on his behalf. His attachment to this family, the first he had known because he was raised in institutions, revealed the importance of such relationships to a maturing child.
4.188By arranging such weekends, the Presentation Brothers were showing their awareness that the children needed more than the Institution could provide. The warning in the 1901 Visitation Report remained part of the culture:
Familiarities with the boys should be most cautiously guarded against, being most hurtful to boys and Brothers ... there should always be maintained a reserve that would keep them at a proper distance and enable them to have for the Brothers that respect due to their position.
4.189Many Brothers remained remote figures, who kept control, but who did not show warmth or sympathy and, in their turn, the children learned not to show their feelings. An injury was done to both parties by this unnatural suppression of feelings.
4.190Without an adult as a protector and confidante, the orphans clung to each other and formed a bond. One witness told the Committee:
... we used to confide in each [other] quite a bit, and more so the people who didn’t have families outside were more vulnerable because we didn’t have anybody to complain to and we always sort of knitted together, if you didn’t have a mother and father you sort of knitted with people of that ilk, because you – the others were different. They were actually different from us, the boys from outside, they had a different way of doing things, different outlook because they always saw something on the outside, we never saw anything on the outside ...
4.191These boys were not just cut off from the outside world: they were cut off from people who knew the outside world.
Contact with families
4.192Greenmount had a major advantage being in Cork city, and so contact with families was easily arranged. Boys from Cork city were allowed home visits on the first Sunday of every month. Boys whose families lived further away were allowed home on summer holidays. In the 1940 annual report from the Brothers to the Department of Education, the Resident Manager noted:
I believe the Home Leave and Sunday outings have a very beneficial effect – the Boys being kept in touch with their relations and friends, and they grow up having some knowledge of the outside world as well as breaking up the monotony of every day school life.
4.193As illustrated above, those who had no families to go home to were sometimes sent to a sponsoring family on Sundays and for summer holidays. Many boys benefited from this regular contact with family life. When Bishop Lucey visited the School in 1955, he expressed the view that the boys should be let out ‘as much as possible so as by the time they would be finished here, they would have some idea of outside world’.
4.194Boys who were placed in orphanages from their very early childhood suffered from being totally ignorant of their family roots. One witness told the Committee of how his mother left him in Rathdrum when he was six, visited him on the day of his admission, and ‘that was it’. He never saw her again. Subsequently, he made contact with his maternal uncle by chance:
When I joined the army in Cork the recruiting sergeant asked me my name and he said, “Did your uncle work here?” or “Was your uncle in the army?” I says, “I don’t know if I have any uncle.” That’s how I found out he was in the army.
4.195He met his uncle, but they were unable to find his mother. He never knew if she was alive or dead.
4.196He spent a total of nine years and three months in institutions. That still rankled with him. He said, simply, ‘My childhood was taken away’.
Department of Education – General Inspection Reports
4.197The main source of contemporary evidence about conditions in Greenmount is Inspection Reports of Dr Anna McCabe, who was appointed Medical Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools on 3rd April 1939. She held the post until 8th March 1965. She also carried out general inspections of the schools.
4.198Her first impression in 1939 was positive, and she could not find fault with any aspect of the School. However, her report in 1943 was critical of the patched and tattered appearance of the children’s clothes. It was only in the late 1940s that she expressed satisfaction with the quality of the children’s clothing.
4.199During this period, she also expressed dissatisfaction with the children’s diet. On consulting weight charts, she noticed that a number of children had not increased in weight. Added to this concern was the fact that there had been several cases of TB in the School. She recommended that the Department write to the Resident Manager, advising that the rations of milk and butter given to each child be increased to ensure that each child received at least a pint of milk a day. They did this and also advised that each child receive a quarter pound of meat at each meal at which meat was served. The Resident Manager responded, confirming that they would use their best endeavours to increase rations despite ‘our crushing debt’.
4.200With regard to the outbreak of TB, Dr McCabe met with the School’s medical officer, who was anxious that the entire School be investigated, and Dr McCabe made representations to the local TB Officer in Cork. He did not share the same anxieties, but agreed to carry out an investigation of the School if further cases emerged.
4.201In 1947, Dr McCabe noted that the food and diet had much improved and that the children looked healthy and well.
4.202Dr McCabe was absent due to illness for periods in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There is a note that she inspected the School in 1951, but a record of this report is not available. The next report of note is dated November 1953. Br Domingo35 had recently taken over the position of Resident Manager. She noted in her report that, by his own admission, he did not have any experience of running an industrial school. She made a number of suggestions for improvements, including the instalment of up-to-date kitchen equipment, and improved clothing and diet. She also discovered, on visiting the bakery, that the ventilation system was not working and that fumes were being released inside. The Department followed up this latter issue by writing to the Resident Manager, requesting confirmation that the matter had been attended to, and a reply was received by return confirming that measures had been taken to ensure that the problem did not arise again.
4.203When she visited the School next, almost a year later, Br Carlito had taken over as Resident Manager. He also informed her that he had little in the way of experience in running an industrial school. She noted the School had recently been redecorated but was in need of modernisation in many respects.
4.204Three months later, Dr McCabe was requested to carry out another Inspection of the School, after the mother of a resident complained to the Department that her son had head lice. In general terms, she noted a decline in the standards at the School, which she suggested may have had something to do with the inexperience of the new Resident Manager. She inspected each child’s head and was dismayed to find ‘35 boys with nits in their heads and 12 verminous. I consider a shocking state of affairs’. Br Carlito attempted to apportion blame to the School nurse, who he said insisted that her remit extended only to treating sick children. Dr McCabe noted that the majority of the boys who had contracted head lice were in the age group 8 to 12 years, and she felt that the problem stemmed from a lack of supervision of the boys’ personal hygiene. She suggested that the nurse’s salary be increased, in return for her agreement to supervise the boys in the dressing room to ensure that they washed properly.
4.205The following year, Dr McCabe observed many improvements. The redecorating of the School continued, new equipment had been introduced to the kitchen, the children’s health was very good, and their clothing had improved. Br Carlito indicated to her that he was concerned about falling numbers in the School.
4.206When Dr McCabe next visited the School in November 1956, Br Santiago had taken over the post of Resident Manager. She described him as ‘a great improvement on the previous man’, although she had not expressed reservations about the Resident Manager in her previous year’s report. While she noted that the School was well run, the boys’ clothing once again came in for criticism. She noticed that many of the shirts had no buttons. She also highlighted the need for each boy to be given a toothbrush and to ensure that they used them.
4.207The 1957 report is again critical of many aspects of the School. Even though efforts at redecoration had been made, she stated that ‘so much needs to be done to make this School bright and attractive’. The play hall was ‘dank and unattractive’. Despite the improvements in the kitchen, the cooking methods used were still very antiquated. Clothing had slightly improved, in that the boys were given waistcoats, but there was still much room for improvement. The Resident Manager put these deficiencies down to a lack of funds. On a more positive note, Dr McCabe emphasised that the supervision and medical care of the boys was very good.
4.208Dr McCabe’s final Inspection of Greenmount took place on 29th October 1958. She stated that Br Santiago and the nurse were both attentive and kind to the boys. She noted a slight improvement in the boys’ clothing. She recommended several improvements, that Br Santiago seemed to take on board. She emphasised the need to brighten up the School by further redecoration.
4.209In 1949, a Fine Gael Councillor wrote to the Department of Education regarding complaints he had received in relation to conditions in Greenmount. His letter was in response to the most recent complaint he had received from a mother of a boy in Greenmount. Her 11-year-old boy had been sent to Greenmount because she and her husband were being treated for TB, and they had no option but to have their young family committed to industrial schools.
4.210She made representations to the Councillor to assist her in having her son released into the care of her father, after she discovered that he was not well cared for in Greenmount. She had found his clothes crawling with vermin. The Councillor wrote:
For some time past this Executive has been receiving complaints regarding the treatment given to the boys at Greenmount. The boys are made get up at 7a.m. and have to wash portion of the dormitories before breakfast which consists of a cup of black coffee and a couple of slices of dry bread. After this they go to school until 2.30p.m. when they get their next meal, which, on one day last week consisted of potatoes and lemonade. Besides this we have received at last four complaints regarding the verminous state of the children’s clothes, and I have myself verified one case ... These complaints have become so numerous that we were considering whether to report it to the City Health Authorities and the Minister for Health. It is of no use making any official enquiries.
The only way to get at the root of all these complaints is to have some of the Health and Education Authorities visit the place without warning.
We don’t like having to report things like this, as they only create trouble but the time has come when something has to be done about them.
4.211The Minister asked Dr Anna McCabe, the Department’s Medical Inspector, to investigate the matter and report her findings directly to him.
4.212Also at this time, a Garda from Union Quay Station wrote to the Department of Education requesting that, the next time an Inspector was in Cork, they call him regarding a matter which he did not wish to commit to paper. He wrote again some weeks later, after a telephone conversation with an official from the Department of Education, and this time the Garda set out his concerns:
For some time past I have been receiving complaint from parents having children in Greenmount Ind Schools, these complaints are in respect of clothing and food. One mother complained that a child of hers is in School 12 months and he has the same pair of boots on him as he took in with him, that he has colds continually from neglect. I have got several complaints recently about footwear from parents having children in this School. A number of complaints have also been received about food which appears to be of poor quality. One complaint was that soup supplied to the children is a week old and sour when given to them. No tea and no sugar or coffee or cocoa, bread very scant supply with no butter only margarine.
I am not relying on all the complaints received, to be genuine but I have the word of a lady Cook who worked there and has no reason for confirming the complaints I have received for some time. I have all called to the School myself and in my opinion they children are not near as healthy or as well fed looking ... They look cold and miserable looking. The lady who was cook there says some of the food given to the children [was] not fit for dogs and that she says was one of the reasons for leaving.
Now I am a particular friend of the Bros’ in Greenmount and has no wish to do any injury to them and their good work; which is at times difficult but I consider I owe a duty towards these children owing to the position I hold and as a representative of the Dept. of Education.
I do hope this matter will be treated in confidence as I do not wish it to be known that it was I brought this matter to notice.
4.213Dr McCabe was unable to investigate the matter immediately as she was on sick leave from the Department. However, she did visit the office and was asked by a Department official for her view on the allegations contained in the Councillor’s letter. He made the following note:
Dr McCabe said that she considered, from her experience, that Greenmount was a very well conducted Industrial School. On all occasions on which she visited the school, the food for the children was of a very good quality, and she could find no evidence to justify the present complaint with regard to the care taken of the children from the point of view of their personal cleanliness. Her visits were frequently without previous notification, so that it could not be suggested, in her opinion, that conditions as she found them were designed specially because of her visit.
4.214Dr McCabe visited Greenmount in September 1949 to investigate the complaints made. She interviewed the Garda who had made the complaint, and also the cook who had worked in Greenmount and was now employed in the Garda station. She was not impressed by the account given by the cook, who alleged that ‘the boys were taken out into the courtyard and were stripped and beaten with leashes – that they were ill-fed and never got sugar or tea, and that the little boys who helped her in her kitchen ... were always ravenous for food’. She then visited the School and had each boy undressed. She could not see any signs of injury or ill-treatment.
4.215She stated that she was present when several meals were served to the boys and that they were ‘always ample and inviting’. Sugar was put into the boilers rather than into bowls on the table, as was the practice in many schools, to avoid waste. She observed that coffee was served to the boys at one meal, and requested that tea be served instead. The Resident Manager explained that this practice had started during the Emergency, when tea was in poor supply, and agreed that it would desist. She found all areas of the School well kept and clean. She also found that all of the boys had boots which were in good condition, and that repairs were carried out when necessary. She did discover that four boys were verminous and, on enquiring, she was told that these boys had been home for holidays and that the School had difficulty cleaning them up on their return. She suggested plentiful use of DDT and more frequent bathing.
4.216She surmised that the woman who had complained to the Garda about the School bore a grudge because she was summarily dismissed after a short time working there: ‘most of her evidence was conjecture as she had never been in the boys refectory and I do not think anyone would believe her story about the public beatings in the court yard’. She noted that the Medical Officer and nurse always spoke highly of the School, and was satisfied that, if any unkindness was displayed towards the children, they would have informed her in the best interests of the children. In conclusion, she found that the allegations made were without foundation ‘and that the school continues to be as well run as usual’.
4.217The Department accepted these conclusions and that was the end of the matter.
4.218Dr McCabe appears to have disregarded the eyewitness accounts of neglect at Greenmount. She seems to have taken a dislike to the lay person who made some of the allegations, and dismissed all of the complaints on that basis. Garda Bracken37 stated that he had received several complaints from parents regarding food and clothing. He himself had called to the School and was of the opinion that the children were not healthy. He went as far as to describe them as cold and miserable looking. The parent who complained to the local Councillor was so troubled by the condition in which she found her son that she refused to go to the sanatorium for vital treatment for TB until her son was removed from the Institution. The Councillor felt compelled to write to the Department, setting out his concerns regarding conditions in Greenmount, as his office had received numerous complaints of neglect. Dr McCabe made no mention of these complaints in her report. She also dismissed too easily the allegation that boys were stripped and beaten in the courtyard.
4.219Dr McCabe had been critical of food and clothing in Greenmount in the mid-1940s. It was not until 1947 that she noted that food and diet had ‘improved’. She did not make another official Inspection until 1951, but that report has not survived. Her next report was in 1953, and she had a number of suggestions to make regarding the running of Greenmount.
Evidence on conditions from the Presentation Brothers’ annals and records
4.220The annals of 1955 record that the boys were bought new boots ‘as their ordinary everyday boots made noise like that of an army on parade’, new raincoats that ‘should last for at least five years’, and ‘good warm jackets instead of jerseys ... for the winter months’. The profit from a concert of £50 ‘helped to pay off some of the bill for the overcoats’. Dr McCabe had criticised the clothing several times in the 1950s, and an effort was being made to respond to her comments.
4.221The Provincial Report to the General Council in 1957 noted that the boys appeared ‘ragged and unkempt’. It went on to say:
I am convinced that all the uplift which we – a religious body should give – is not being given. We should be able to do something for them and make something out of them and do more than merely keep them. All my suggestions to this, and in fact to any matter, were turned down by the Superior as Utopian, impractical, and impossible.
4.222This pessimism about being able to do more for the boys caused Professor Keogh to conclude, ‘it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that demoralisation had set in within the community as a consequence of the inquiry’. It was, of course, at this time that two Brothers were removed from their posts after a canonical inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of children. The report certainly makes it clear that food, clothing and hygiene often fell below acceptable standards. The quality of care varied according to the quality of the Resident Manager, and internal controls did not seem to exist.
Department of Education – Medical Inspection Reports
4.223Dr McCabe also reported on medical matters affecting the School. Generally, her reports were very positive.
4.224She noted in her report of November 1943 that there were five cases of scabies in the School which required treatment. One boy required treatment for syphilis.
4.225The next medical report which warrants comment is from the early 1950s. Dr McCabe made reference to the inadequacy of the boys’ diet, and made suggestions for improvement to the newly appointed Resident Manager, Br Domingo. She reiterated these concerns the following year to his successor, Br Carlito, and also suggested that new cooking equipment should be purchased.
4.226In December 1954, Dr McCabe was asked to investigate an outbreak of head lice at the School, already referred to above. Her comments regarding the nurse had, up to this point, been very complimentary. In this report, she was critical of the inflexible approach taken by the nurse to only attend to sick children, and suggested an increase in her salary to correspond with a widening of her duties. She once again expressed concern at the children’s diet and the antiquated cooking equipment.
4.227She also registered her unease at the presence of two boys whose parents were in a TB sanatorium. The boys had tested negative for TB, but she felt that they posed a risk and should not be in the School. They were also very delicate and unfit for industrial training. The Department subsequently wrote to the School, requesting that the boys be transferred to a more suitable institution. The boys underwent further x-rays, and it was revealed that one of the boys was in fact suffering from TB. He was released on supervision certificate to a children’s hospital, and his brother was permitted to stay until his father was in a position to take him home.
4.228The following year, the nurse was praised for having ‘much improved and taken a greater interest in the school as a whole’.
4.229The report of November 1956 is in the same vein, and Dr McCabe noted improvement in the general hygiene of the children who were now very well supervised. She emphasised, once again, the necessity for each boy to have his own toothbrush and to use it regularly.
4.230The last two Medical Inspection Reports both focus on the inadequacy of the cooking facilities, which had repercussions for the quality of the boys’ diet. The Resident Manager, Br Santos,37 was singled out for praise as being kind and attentive to the boys.
4.231The annual reports furnished by the School to the Department of Education stated that children released on supervision certificate were supervised by the School by means of visits and correspondence. They also stated that former pupils returned to the School for visits and also corresponded with the Brothers. No details were provided to the Investigation Committee regarding aftercare provided to boys discharged from the School.
Closure of Greenmount
4.232The first indication that the Presentation Brothers were considering closing Greenmount was noted in Dr McCabe’s Inspection Report dated November 1952. She stated that the Manager had indicated to her that, once numbers fell below 150, the School would resign the certificate because it would cease to be economically practicable. The following year, numbers did drop to just below 150, and, apart from a slight increase in 1954, numbers remained below 150.
4.233In March 1959, the Chief Inspector of Industrial Schools at the Department of Education wrote:
Bro. Goyo38 of the General Council of the Presentation Brothers, Mount St. Joseph Cork called in to the office about six weeks ago and told me in strict confidence that his order was considering closing Greenmount Industrial School. He enquired what the procedure should be. I told him that under Section 48 of the Children’s Act 1908 the Managers may on giving six months notice in writing to the Minister for Education resign the Certificate. He was anxious to know whether the six months interval between the giving of the notice and the evacuating of the school would be insisted on and I informed him that we would do our best to arrange for the transfer of the boys in Greenmount to some other school or schools as quickly as possible.
Bro. Goyo rang me on the 17th Feb. and said his Provincial and he with the Res. Manager of Greenmount were anxious to meet me to discuss matters bearing on the closing of the Greenmount School. I met the three of them in the School on the 26th Feb. I pointed out to them that before considering the transfer of Greenmount school boys elsewhere we should contact the Res. Manager of Upton School to ascertain how many boys from Greenmount he would be prepared to accept. The great majority of the Greenmount Boys are from Cork City and County. We (the provincial and Res. Manager and I) arranged to meet [the] Res. Manager of Upton School and we told him in confidence that Greenmount school was to be closed and we asked him how many boys from that school he could accept on transfer into his school. [The Resident Manager of Upton] promised to consider the matter and let us know as soon as possible. He notified us on the 3rd instant that his school could accommodate 105 of the Greenmount boys. I further discussed with the Res. Manager of Greenmount the distribution of the boys and asked him on the 11th instant to furnish lists of the proposed transfer. He has contacted the Resident Managers of Upton, Artane, Tralee & Glin Schools and has recommended the transfer of the boys as follows Upton 98, Artane 9, Tralee 4, Glin 3.
The General Council of the Presentation Brothers is very anxious that Greenmount as an Industrial School be closed as from the 31st March, 1959 and the Resident Manager of Upton is anxious to have a decision on the matter as early as possible in order to arrange for the appointment of two extra teachers.
Schedules of the proposed transfers are attached for the Minister’s signature.
4.234Written in manuscript at the end of the letter is the note, ‘Greenmount Arrangements will be made for the transfer of the boys on 31/3/59’. The six months’ notice in writing required under the Act was being waived.
4.235By contrast, the Department attempted to enforce the six-month rule on Newtownforbes when the Sisters of Mercy withdrew in 1969.
4.236On 16th February 1959, the Resident Manager, Br Ernesto,39 wrote to the Chief Inspector:
The General Council of the Presentation Brothers has decided to close Greenmount as an Industrial School. I, accordingly wish to know:
(i)If the boys at present in this school can be suitably accommodated in the other Industrial Schools of the country.
(ii)If so, when may we hope that the evacuation can be conveniently carried out.
While I realize that the statutory period of notice for closing is six months, the General Council is anxious to effect the closing as quickly as possible.
I hope to hear from you as early as possible, as we wish to arrange at an early date for the renovation of the building for other purposes.
For various reasons, I should like to have this matter treated in strict confidence.
4.237There is no written explanation of what was meant by ‘the renovation of the building for other purposes’, nor was an explanation given as to why there was a need for such haste. Again, the Chief Inspector is exhorted to treat the matter in ‘strict confidence’.
4.238The Chief Inspector replied, asking for the particulars of the boys to be transferred and asked for the following to be done:
(1)The local authorities liable under the Children Acts to be informed.
(2)The five boys detained under the Health Act, 1953 to be transferred to Tralee by arrangement with the local authorities.
(3)Boys committed but whose period of detention was soon to expire to be released on supervision certificates.
4.239He ended with the caution that no action was to be taken without the approval of the Minister for Education. In this otherwise thorough and methodical letter, no mention was made about informing the parents of the boys who were to be moved.
4.240On 12th March, the Resident Manager duly provided the data needed. The schools at Upton, Artane, Glin and Tralee had been contacted and had agreed to the transfer of boys to their respective institutions. The letter ended:
Regarding the notification of Transfer to be sent to the Local Authorities, can I presume that the transfers will be put into effect on 31st March and mention that date to them?
4.241The local authorities were, in effect, to be presented with a fait accompli.
4.242On 23rd March 1959, the Department wrote to the Resident Manager that the Minister had sanctioned the transfer of the boys under detention as follows:
|Release – term expired||1|
|Release – supervision certificate||12|
|Transferred to Upton||98|
|Transferred to Artane||9|
|Transferred to Tralee||4|
|Transferred to Glin||3|
4.243With one small change (one extra boy was discharged and 97 went to Upton), the transfers took place on the agreed date. On 31st March, the Resident Manager wrote the following letter to the Chief Inspector:
I wish to inform you that all the boys have been disposed of to-day as arranged by previous discussion and correspondence with the exception of six boys, victims of influenza, whom we have detained in the school until recovery and three boys who are in hospital. We will arrange for the transport of these boys to their different schools when they are fit to travel.
I would like to take this opportunity of expressing sincere thanks on my own behalf and on behalf of the Superior General, for having treated this whole matter of disposing of the boys so expeditiously.
4.244The matter was not finished here, however. The decision to close the School was initially made without consultation with the Bishop. The Superior General visited the bishop on 16th January 1959 to inform him of the fact that the Brothers intended closing the School and opening a Juniorate for aspiring Brothers. The Bishop sought expert opinion on canon law on the subject, and wrote the following letter to the Superior General:
Dear Brother Jose,
I got your letter of. Jan 29th and, in view of your having told me (a) that you had already made arrangements with the Department about closing down Greenmount as an Industrial School and (b) that my permission was not necessary for your doing this and using the building as an extension to your Juniorate, I took expert opinion in Canon Law. That opinion is that my permission is required by Canon 497. There is question of closing down an Industrial School and opening an additional Juniorate. Can. 497 allows only changes pertaining to the internal management, etc to be made without referring to the Ordinary, whereas arrangements about your Juniorate may be regarded as pertaining to the internum regimen, the change from or concerning the Industrial School cannot be regarded as an internal one. As well there is the possibility that it was precisely in order to have this school there that you got the foundation at Greenmount originally.
In the circumstances, therefore, I have to inform you that Canon 497 has to be complied with and I have formally to register a protest at your having made arrangements with public authority to close down this schola or hospitium without first acquainting, much less having the permission of ecclesiastical authority; namely the Ordinarius Bishop of Cork.
That I am quite agreeable to such change, when duly arranged, is another matter.
4.245The Bishop was correct in his surmise that ‘it was precisely in order to have this school there that you got the foundation at Greenmount originally’. There was at least an ethical difficulty about taking property given at a peppercorn rent to provide a home for boys ‘untrained, steeped in misery, and with no means of support’ and to use it for an entirely different purpose. The Superior General replied as follows:
In your letter to-day you state that you would like us to put before you the reasons for the proposed change. Those reasons are as follows:—
1.Over a period of years, the constant decline in numbers has made the working of the establishment uneconomic, and consequently difficult to cater adequately for the temporal needs of the boys. We believe that if the temporal needs of the boys are not sufficiently catered for, their spiritual and moral well-being will suffer, and the Institution will fail to achieve its purpose.
2.We are satisfied that the public good and the good of the boys will not suffer as a result of the closing of the school. We understand that there is ample accommodation in other Industrial Schools in Munster for all the boys who are now in Greenmount. Consequently we feel that the need for Greenmount as an Industrial School no longer exists.
3.Because of the difficulty of providing suitably trained Brothers to staff such an Institution – Greenmount being the only school of its kind which we have in Ireland.
4.If we cannot use Greenmount as an extra Juniorate, we must build now, and at short notice, an extension to Douglas Juniorate, or provide alternative accommodation.
These are the reasons, my Lord, which we believe justify us in applying to you now for the necessary permission to effect the proposed change. I am sorry that this has been the cause of so much worry and trouble to you.
With dutiful respects [etc].
4.246On 11th February, the Bishop replied that, as the boys had suitable alternative accommodation, and as the Presentation Brothers were going to give up their holding in Passage parish, he was going to agree to the plan.
4.247The fourth reason was the only pressing one. The other three had been problems over the preceding years, and they did not need to be addressed with such urgency.
4.248An unexpected question arose soon after the closure of the School, when the Minister for Education, Mr Jack Lynch, was asked if there was any proposal to re-form the band of Greenmount in any other local institute in the Cork area. In the notes prepared for the Minister’s reply, to be given on 9th April 1959, the following statement was made:
In arranging for the dispersal of the boys every care was taken to ensure that the transfers would cause the least possible inconvenience to the boys’ parents or guardians.
4.249However, the document went on to add:
The boys’ parents/guardians were not advised of the intention to close Greenmount until the day the boys travelled to their new schools. This information was deliberately withheld for reasons of school discipline and lest it would create an unsettling effect in the minds of the boys.
Thirty two boys were allowed home on Easter Sunday and had they known of the proposed arrangements it is quite likely many of them would not have returned to school.
Should a supplementary question be asked, the Minister might say that: “It is considered that earlier notification to the parents might result in unsettling or upsetting the boys concerned in advance of their transfer”.
Of the 29 boys in the school from the Dublin area Artane were prepared to receive only those committed for non-indictable offences, i.e. a total of 9 boys. The remaining 20 boys would have been discontented had they known beforehand that they were being sent to Upton and not to Artane.
4.250The Dáil debate for 9th April records that Mr Stephen Barrett T.D. first asked the Minister about the band, and then asked if the Minister would ‘state the circumstances under which it became necessary to close down Greenmount ... details of the average number of boys in the institute for each of the three years prior to the close down, and the number on 31st March, 1959; and details of the manner in which the boys were dispersed upon the closing down and the manner in which Cork City and County will be catered for in this respect in future’.
4.251The Minister gave his replies and indicated he had no choice in the matter of the closure. He said, ‘The conductors of this institution desired to resign the Certificate under which it was recognised as an Industrial School and I had no option but to accede to their request’. He did not state that the closure could have been delayed legally for six months.
4.252Mr Barrett then asked:
Is the Minister aware that these children were dispersed without any prior discussion with their parents and that, in fact, the parents were not aware that the children had been removed from the industrial school to other industrial schools until after the dispersal had taken place?
4.253The Minister’s reply was:
I understand that is the situation but that the conductors of the school did so for what they considered good and sufficient reason and that there was no intention whatever to ignore parental rights or to disregard their interests. They did so in the best interests of the management and conduct of the school.
4.254Mr Barrett then asked:
Is the Minister aware that, in fact, the interests of the parents were ignored and that the promoters of this industrial school knew that they were ignoring the rights of the parents and, without any prior discussion or notice to them, removed the children and does he approve of that?
4.255Mr J Lynch replied:
I think it ought to be made clear that they acted strictly within their rights and within the terms of the Children Act, 1908, which governs the conduct of industrial schools.
4.256Mr Barrett pressed the matter further. He asked:
Does the Minister agree that it is a very bad precedent in such matters and would he indicate that if any further industrial schools are being dispersed this precedent should not be followed?
4.257An Ceann Comhairle protested, ‘That seems to be a separate matter’, but Mr Lynch went on to reply, ignoring his Department’s brief. He said, ‘It is very unlikely to arise again, I am sure’. This assurance from the Minister, that the way in which Greenmount closed was a precedent that would not be repeated, was as close as he came to expressing disapproval of the way the closure was handled.
- The secrecy surrounding the closure of Greenmount meant that the rights of the parents, and the emotional needs of the boys, were both ignored. It was carried out in a way that suited ‘the best interests of the management and conduct of the school’ without any regard for the right of parents to know where their children were being taken, or concern for the boys, who were suddenly transferred without any time to prepare themselves for the move. Parents were clearly upset, because they asked their TD to raise the matter in the Dáil.
- The documents concerning the closure show no compassion or concern for the boys’ emotions. The boys were kept in ignorance of the fact they were going to be moved from an institution they had lived in for months and, in many cases, years. To many, it was their home. Only at the last moment were they told where they were going to be taken. To many, this news must have been a shock causing much distress.
On the changing nature of the boys in Greenmount
4.259The letter to the Bishop of Cork from the Superior General had cited ‘the difficulty of providing suitably trained Brothers to staff such an Institution’ as one of the four reasons for closing. During Phase III, Br Minehane expanded on this problem. He explained that, in the 1950s, ‘Boys were assigned to Greenmount from the Dublin area and that created further problems’. The problems were related to discipline. The Dublin boys were more challenging of authority. They were hardened and street-wise. Br Minehane said, ‘we were dealing with a new and more difficult client, and ... training and expertise was required’. While the numbers of Brothers dealing with the pupils in Greenmount was about the same all the time, the management and care of the new kind of boy required an expertise and training that was not available to the Presentation Brothers.
4.260Professor Keogh concluded his report for the Presentation Brothers as follows:
This was the central point made in the report of the 1934–6 commission of inquiry – children in industrial schools were not ‘children apart’; however, they were still being criminalised in the public mind without any justification ... Industrial school children ought, accordingly, to have been treated and cherished as children and as citizens of the Irish state with rights under the constitution. But it seems that in Ireland in the 1930s, 40s and 50s the ‘old idea’ of treating such children as ‘a class apart’ had not yet ceased to be part of the mind-set of a society that was all-too-willing to seek an answer for complex social problems behind the closed doors of state-funded under-resourced institutions. It was tidier that way.
4.2611.A harsh regime with excessive corporal punishment was implemented by one Resident Manager, who continued to serve as a senior Brother after his period of office, and would accordingly have influenced the policy of the School, but there was evidence of a softening of the regime in subsequent years. No formal record was kept, as required by the regulations.
2.The Congregation and the Department of Education failed to supervise properly and were insufficiently objective. They placed too much reliance on the Resident Manager for information on how the boys were cared for and did not have independent investigation. Evidence of mistreatment was ignored.
3.The 1955 investigations into sexual abuse revealed grave failures on the part of the Congregation and the Diocese, and let two persons who were believed to be guilty of sexual abuse to continue careers dealing with children.
4.The interests of the Congregation were prioritised in the manner in which Greenmount was closed, and the lack of information to the parents and the boys themselves, by both the Congregation and the Department of Education, showed an indifference to the people most affected by the closure.
1 Dermot Keogh, ‘St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount, Cork’ (Report prepared for the Presentation Brothers, May 2001 and submitted to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse 19 May 2004), pp 187–188.
2 For the greater glory of God.
3 Fratrium Presentionis Mariae.
4 Keogh, p 54.
5 Keogh, p 57.
6 Cork Examiner, 28 March 1874, cited in Dermot Keogh, ‘St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount, Cork’ May 2001.
7 Cork Examiner, 30 March 1874, cited by Keogh, May 2001, p 41.
8 Cork Examiner, 30 March 1874, cited by Keogh, May 2001, pp 41–2.
9 Cork Examiner, 24 March 1874.
10 This is a pseudonym.
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13 Report on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, 1936.
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