Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Br Edgard,63 the fourth Brother who was dismissed from Artane in 1944, was a teaching Brother who was not yet a fully professed member of the Congregation. In this case, the statements of six boys who complained of sexual abuse by the Brother were furnished in discovery. The boys ranged in age from 11 to 14 years. The case of this Brother was the only one that provided any information as to the nature of the sexual abuse that was alleged. The allegations were of fondling of their private parts, tickling their bodies, and embracing them. The incidents occurred in the classroom, in the Brother’s own room and in the boys’ dormitory. Br Edgard was transferred to a Dublin day school and was shortly thereafter refused permission to take final vows and left the Congregation. The Department of Education service history recorded the Dublin day school as his last teaching post.


The Visitation Report dated 30th October 1944 referred to the dismissal of these Brothers who were ‘accused of irregularities’. No direct reference was made to the fact that they had sexually abused boys in the School, it merely referred to ‘irregularities’ being ‘discovered some weeks ago in the Institution’. The Visitor who wrote this report took the view that ‘there was nothing to be alarmed at’ and went on to state that: In our Institutions it should be considered a very grave offence for a Br. to take a boy to his room on any pretext, or to be seen alone with a boy on any occasion.


He went on to state that this rule was breached in Artane: Unfortunately the Rule forbidding such was not observed in Artane. Boys were also taken out of the shops and off the parade by Brothers for various reasons. These have now been prohibited.


The Visitation Report, having acknowledged inappropriate conduct on the part of four Brothers, made a number of recommendations to prevent such events in the future. These recommendations provide some clue as to circumstances of the discovery of the abuse. One recommendation made by the Visitor was that: Brothers should not prevent or discourage boys to come to the Superior even with complaints. Boys should have free access to the Superior at all times. If that were the practice the disturbing conduct experienced lately would have been avoided.


Another recommendation was: No Brother – young or old – is to allow a boy to enter his bedroom, nor is any Brother allowed to take a boy from the school, shops, or parade. No Brother is to be alone with a boy anywhere. Any Br. who sees this Rule violated is to report it immediately to the Br. Superior.


It was also recommended that glass panels should be inserted in the doors of locked rooms near the kitchen and store-rooms, and that the ‘Superior should have access to all rooms and stores in the Institution at all reasonable times and keys should be provided to enable him to have such access’. A subsequent Visitor considered this unnecessary and the glass panels were not inserted.


A letter written to the Superior General by the Visitor in October 1944 stated: I have spent a week in the above Institution, and have come to the conclusion that there is very fine work being done here. The boys are very open and intelligent and now that the rotten bricks have been removed the structure will be more than safe for the future. The Brothers who were outside the circle were quite unaware of what was going on and knew nothing about it until all was over. Thank God the disease was discovered in time, and that such a drastic remedy was applied. I don’t think there will be any more “Dry rot” for many a long year.


One ex-staff member, Br Saber,64 spoke of the importance of the boys’ sodality introduced by the Resident Manager which met once a week: During my ten years there, there was no case against – of sexual abuse brought against a Brother. I would say due to, I suppose, the group that were there and due to the sodality and that the boss was conscious of it and that he would keep an eye out for it and ask the lads. He was an active man, he would come there, he would walk the dormitories at night, he would be around. He had his ear to the ground. Br Dennet was the same. There were Brothers there who knew more about institutes than I did, the younger Brothers. All we thought of was keeping them occupied, taking them out to games, taking them to circuses, you know.


The sodality gave an opportunity for boys to talk informally to the Resident Manager and this led to the discovery of sexual abuse.


Some years later, in a letter dated 19th November 1958 to the Superior following a Visitation, the author strongly recommended the establishment of a sodality or the introduction of the Legion of Mary for the boys: I understand there was a sodality in the past but that it was abused in some way. Therefore in introducing such a sodality again it would have to be done with discretion and I think it would be better for a member of the staff to introduce and look after it rather than the Superior.


It is possible that the level of sexual abuse in Artane in 1944 was an aberration, but it is also possible that discontinuing the informal contact between the Superior and the boys resulted in such behaviour going undetected in subsequent years.


Br Lancelin came under suspicion of sexual involvement with boys while he was in Artane in 1944 and was transferred to Carriglea. His personal card stated: Suspicion had been aroused by a tendency to particular friendship with a boy in Artane.


In Carriglea, sexual abuse was disclosed and several boys furnished written statements accusing Br Lancelin of ‘immoral conduct’. (These allegations are dealt with in more detail in the Carriglea chapter.) The complaints were investigated by the Brother Provincial, who referred the matter to the General Council. When the case came to trial before the General Council, Br Lancelin admitted to the offences and pleaded guilty. The personal card made reference to one of the offences committed saying, ‘One offence occurred on Xmas. day 1944, though he made vows on Xmas. morning’.


The General Council voted unanimously to dismiss him from the Congregation in 1945. Again, this Brother was not a finally professed member but rather a temporarily professed Brother and so dispensation from vows was not an issue.


Br Laurent said that he recalled Br Lancelin leaving Artane, but he did not know the reason for his transfer and had not heard his name mentioned in connection with child abuse. The Department of Education records indicated that Carriglea was this Brother’s last teaching post.

  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
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  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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  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.
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  87. This is a pseudonym.