Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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This primitive system remained in use until 1950, when the Visitation Report for that year stated: ‘The sanitary block completed by Br Tyce meets a long-standing want’.


Apart from identifying the sanitation as being in need of modernisation, Dr McCabe expressed herself as consistently impressed with the condition of the premises in Artane. Conversely, the Visitor was regularly critical of aspects of the accommodation of Artane.


Facilities for the boys were poor. There was no indoor recreation hall, as identified by the Visitor in 1945 and again in 1956: ‘The lack of a play-hall space is a crying need’. Similar comments were made in subsequent reports, but nothing was done until 1965 when an enclosed play shelter was erected, with recreation rooms for use during the winter. The financial position of the Institution was good during the 1950s, but the Visitation Reports reveal a marked reluctance to spend money on the Institution because of uncertainty as to its future as an industrial school.


This uncertainty dogged Artane from about 1954 onwards and materially affected the standard of care but, even before that, there was a lack of urgency in seeing to the needs of the boys. Facilities that were in everyday use by the boys were left in poor condition, for example the lavatories, the recreation hall, the classrooms, and the kitchen and refectory.


In 1955, Dr McCabe identified areas that required attention, including the kitchen and a new recreation hall. The Resident Manager accepted that the various improvements were necessary, and added that new schoolrooms were also required as the School building was in a dangerous condition and had been condemned some 40 years earlier. He stated: The only obstacle that stands in the way and hinders progress being made in scheme outlined is the lack of funds. The school is in a weak condition financially and for obvious reasons we are unable to meet fully our ordinary commitments at present. As a matter of fact I cannot see how the work being done in this school can be continued for long under the present conditions.


He sought confirmation from the Department as to the nature of any financial aid that would be available from the Department to effect the improvements.


Matters came to a head when, on 24th November 1957, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers wrote to the Department of Education following a visit to Artane. He stated that urgent repairs and renovations were necessary, particularly to the kitchen and roofs. Before entering into a consideration as to whether the Congregation would incur any liability to effect such improvements, he requested information regarding the Department’s position in relation to the future of industrial and reformatory schools. He noted that the number of boys in Artane had steadily decreased and that ‘it is proving more than uneconomical to try to run it’ with smaller numbers.


This letter caused anxiety in the Department, which is reflected in an internal memorandum dated 25th November 1957. The realisation sank in that, without Artane, the nearest location to Dublin of a senior boys’ industrial school was in Clonmel: If Artane school were to close down the question of the provision of alternative accommodation for the area now served by it would have to be considered as an urgent problem. It is doubtful if any Religious Order would be very willing to undertake the provision of new Senior boys Industrial Schools in the Dublin area without a substantial grant in aid from the State towards the cost of the new building and an assurance that the State and local authorities would give a substantial increase on the existing rate of capitation maintenance grants.


The capitation grant was increased by 50% as a result of the intervention by the Provincial. However, improvements remained outstanding and the Resident Manager pointed out that, despite the increase in the capitation grant, overheads remained high and were always increasing.


By 1961, the kitchen was complete and new classrooms were due for completion that autumn; the recreation hall was not completed until 1965.


Dr Lysaght was not impressed by the standards of cleanliness in the bathrooms and dormitories. He stated that, despite the School having being certified for 830 boys, realistically nowhere near this number of boys could be accommodated in the dormitories or dining room. In fact, of course, that number and, indeed, more than that number had been accommodated in Artane throughout the 1940s and well into the 1950s.


Even with the falling numbers, Dr Lysaght was of the view that the dormitories were far too large, with 90 to 100 beds in each dormitory. Such a large number ‘gives an impression of institutional care and regimentation which is of course objectionable and not in accordance with modern trends’.


In conclusion: The 800 boys in Artane had no toilet facilities other than dry buckets until about 1950. The Department of Education and the Congregation should not have allowed such primitive conditions to continue for so long. Some facets of the accommodation were poor and overlooked. Even when no uncertainty about the future of Artane existed and numbers were at their highest, provision of proper facilities for the boys was not considered a priority.


Primary school education was a right of every child in the State during the period covered by this investigation. Failure to attend school was the reason given for committing 1,045 of the 3,685 boys detained between 1940 and 1969.


It is clear from the section dealing with accommodation in Artane that the classrooms provided were poor, even by the standards of the time. Successive Visitation Reports decried the dilapidated and unsuitable condition of these buildings that had been condemned in the 1930s. As early as 1934, the Visitor commented: The Buildings are in good repair on the whole, but the class-rooms are said to be unsafe; they will hold until the findings of the Commission now in session will determine the school accommodation required.

  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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  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 .
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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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  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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  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.
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  87. This is a pseudonym.