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Chapter 7 — Artane

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Physical abuse


The Congregation commented in its Opening Statement that the main complaint of the second letter was that the boy’s character had been impugned. They further argued that, as there was no further document available on the matter, this was a case that they considered to have insufficient documentary evidence, and what was available provided evidence of opposing views and so left matters inconclusive. They did not refer to the first letter containing serious allegations of physical abuse.


Among the materials disclosed to the Committee under legal process of discovery was a statement by an employee who worked in the boys’ kitchen at Artane for over 20 years. He mentioned Br Gerrard who was in charge of the boys’ kitchen until the early 1960s when he was transferred to another position. This employee worked in the kitchen from the later 1930s until the early 1960s, and his statement to the Gardaí in 1999 named a number of Brothers whom he recalled working in the kitchen during this time. He particularly recalled an incident with Br Gerrard. He said: I had many arguments with Brother Gerrard mostly because of the way he would beat the kids. Sometimes he would go overboard when beating the kids. I can remember telling him to stop beating the lads on a number of occasions. One day when I came into the kitchens Brother Gerrard was really laying into a lad. He had him down on the ground and was beating him all over his body with the leather. I went over to him and pulled him away from the boy and I hit Brother Gerrard across the face. He said he would speak to the Superior and get me sacked. I never heard any more about that incident.


He went on to state that, ‘I had a leather myself and I often hit the lads from time to time when I felt they deserved it’.


A witness who was in Artane up to the early 1950s recalled Br Gerrard and said his ‘weapon’ was a: ... stretched out rubber from a pram wheel. I know there was never any prams in Artane, but that is what he used to use. When he would hit you my goodness me, the pain, you just cannot remember. He would take the very very tip of your finger and then he would say, “Come again” with a big evil smile on his face as he went up on his toes and he would whack again. Absolutely cruel, cruel man.


— This letter from a concerned parent was ignored. A person with a legitimate interest was expressing a serious concern, and it was not dealt with at any level by the authorities in Artane.


In a letter to the Department of Education from the foster-mother of a boy who was resident in Artane in the 1950s, only part of which survives, the woman complained that the boy’s head was cut following a blow from Br Searle. The Resident Manager prepared a report for the Department regarding her complaint, the relevant portion of which reads: The Br Searle mentioned in [the mother’s] letter was changed from Artane about two years ago. I have got in touch with him about the matter and the following statement is taken from the letter which I received from him: “I remember the occasion when [this boy] received a slight cut on the head. It will be remembered that on a prior occasion when I had a group of boys out on walk, one of them ... jumped out on the road, was struck by a lorry, and was killed instantaneously. The fear of a similar occurrence haunted me subsequently when taking boys on a walk. About four years ago when I had a group of boys out on a walk [the boy] began to act in a similar and even more dangerous manner. I was shocked at the thought of what could have happened to him. The impulsive thrust which accidentally struck him was a gesture of protection from a greater danger on a busy highway. I explained all this to [the mother] at the time but to the best of my recollection I never suggested that she should say nothing about what happened”. I am here for the past four years and never at any time did I receive a complaint from [this woman]. As a matter of fact she has expressed, frequently, her thanks for all that was being done for the boy.

Physical abuse


The injury to the head was not disputed. The Brother explained that it was an ‘impulsive thrust which accidentally struck him’. The foster-mother had, apparently, had all of this explained to her, yet she was concerned enough to make a complaint to the Department of Education.


— The unquestioning acceptance of the explanation given by the Brother, without even asking the boy what happened, was indicative of the uncritical approach adopted by the Department of Education to genuine complaints.


The parent who made a previous complaint in the mid-1950s about Br Gerrard, which is considered above, made another written complaint two years later that Br Verrill had injured his son. It seems that the letter was written during the course of a General Election campaign, as it refers to a visit to the writer’s home by a candidate who was a doctor by profession and who saw the injured boy and encouraged the writer to complain.


The letter stated: Dear Sir I wish to make a Complaint regarding my son ... I noticed he had marks of Violence on him, In fact a Candidate who called to the house to day remarked his face Swollen and Bruised as the man who called happens to be a Dr. He advised me to write in to you and ask for explanation from you and to get a reply within 3 days before he goes ahead with an investigation. This is not the first time it has happened it would appear that Bro Verrill takes out his temper on the children, in fact if it happened to a ordinary man he would get 6 months. As my Dr. Candidate said he looked as if he was Punched ontil he bleed. Trusting you will look into the matter as soon as Possible as my T.D. expects a reply within 3 days. Sorry again to have to Complain as its going on to long now. After all he is only a child and I am sure the High Author dose not Know about the treatment giving to those boys. Trusting again I will have a reply soon.


Recorded on the back of this letter is a handwritten note: Answered: [Date] Examined boy’s face no mark. Got him to examine it himself no mark. Boy asked not mention to [Br Verrill]. Wish acceded to. Reason? Mentioned boy was happy at Trade & Technical Course. Boy states that he did not see any T.D. Asked father to put me in touch with T.D.


It is clear that: Examining the boy for marks of violence was not an adequate response to the allegation of violence but was more consistent with a defensive attitude by the Superior. The father complained of assault by the Brother, and that should have been properly investigated. Instead, the focus was on disproving the allegations. A full record should have been kept. The Superior should have been concerned at the boy’s fear of being removed from his trade by Br Verrill if he discovered that a complaint had been made. He could have reassured the boy that he would not be removed from the course, while still carrying out an investigation.


In its Opening Statement, the Congregation referred to the following letter as a single allegation, but in fact it contained two separate complaints.


In an anonymous note to the Minister for Education, a boy had written: The treatment we receive out here in Artane is unbearable specially from Br Verrill if you say a Vulgar word and he hears about it he takes you out of bed ... gives you a shocking treatment, there has been proof of this in some boys faces during the last month. [The Boy] Yours sincerely PS Do what you can Sir


This letter was sent to the Resident Manager together with a letter from Mr Ó Síochfhradha, Inspector, Department of Education. He advised the Superior that a boy’s father had called to the office that morning, complaining that his son had been ill-treated by Br Verrill. He wrote: He alleges that Brother Verrill took the boy out of bed and beat him and that the boy, when on a visit home last Sunday, “had the remains of a black eye”. He also stated that the boy appeared to be going deaf as a result of the treatment he received. In this connection I am to enclose an anonymous letter received in this Office some time ago.

  1. Report on Artane Industrial School for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse by Ciaran Fahy, Consulting Engineer (see Appendix 1).
  2. Rules and Regulations of Industrial Schools 1885.
  3. Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934-1936 chaired by Justice Cussen.
  4. Dr McQuaid and Fr Henry Moore.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym. See also the Tralee chapter.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. Br Beaufort had previously also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. From the infirmary register it appears that while the boy was not confined in hospital he was due for a check up the day his mother called to see the superior so he may well not have been in the Institution when his mother called.
  24. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  25. It was in fact the Minister for Education who used those words. See paragraph 7.117 .
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. This is a pseudonym.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a pseudonym.
  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. This is a pseudonym.
  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
  37. This is a pseudonym.
  38. This is a pseudonym.
  39. This is a pseudonym.
  40. This is a pseudonym.
  41. This is a pseudonym.
  42. This is a pseudonym.
  43. This is a pseudonym.
  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
  47. This is a pseudonym.
  48. This is a pseudonym.
  49. Dr Anna McCabe (Medical Inspector), Mr Seamus Mac Uaid (Higher Executive Officer) and Mr MacDáibhid (Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in Charge of Industrial Schools).
  50. This is a pseudonym.
  51. This is a pseudonym.
  52. This is a pseudonym.
  53. This is a pseudonym.
  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
  57. This is a pseudonym.
  58. This is a pseudonym.
  59. This is a pseudonym.
  60. This is a pseudonym.
  61. This is a pseudonym.
  62. This is a pseudonym.
  63. This is a pseudonym.
  64. This is a pseudonym.
  65. This is a pseudonym.
  66. This is a pseudonym.
  67. This is a pseudonym.
  68. This is a pseudonym.
  69. This is a pseudonym.
  70. This is a pseudonym.
  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. This is a pseudonym.
  74. This is a pseudonym.
  75. This is a pseudonym.
  76. This is a pseudonym.
  77. This is a pseudonym.
  78. This is a pseudonym.
  79. See General Chapter on the Christian Brothers at para ???.
  80. He went there after many years in Artane.
  81. Dr Charles Lysaght was commissioned by the Department of Education to conduct general and medical inspections of the industrial and reformatory schools in 1966 in the absence of a replacement for Dr McCabe since her retirement the previous year. He inspected Artane on 8th September 1966.
  82. See Department of Education and Science Chapter, One-off Inspections.
  83. The fact that they were tired is noted in many Visitation Reports.
  84. Council for Education, Recruitment and Training.
  85. This is a pseudonym.
  86. This is a pseudonym.
  87. This is a pseudonym.