Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Br Vailant told the Investigation Committee that life in Artane tended to revolve around the band and that the needs of the band took priority.


The boys who toured with the band stayed with families in the locality. They were taught table etiquette and instructed on ‘how to behave themselves in a decent home’. Their behaviour on tour did a ‘tremendous amount to win admirers for Artane and to counteract the smear campaign that would appear to be the settled policy of certain sections of the public Press,’ according to the Visitor in 1957.


Some of the boys who formed part of the band went on to make a career in the Army band. Almost all of the complainants who were in it and gave evidence to the Investigation Committee gave positive feedback regarding their experience with the band. One complainant stated that he was treated very well in the band, and that the majority of boys in the band had been transferred to Artane from convent industrial schools.


Participation in the band could be a positive experience for the boys involved, and it was an extraordinary achievement and an illustration of what could be achieved with proper direction and training. Boys who were part of the band fared better in Artane and afterwards. Boys who were not in the band missed an important part of the life of the Institution. The band absorbed a huge amount of time and energy, and similar efforts should have been directed at improving conditions for all the boys. The band was the public face of Artane, and members of the public would have been reassured when seeing the boys performing that they were receiving good care and education, but in fact the band did not represent the reality for most boys in Artane.


One of the more disturbing images of Artane that was presented to the Committee was the plight of the boys during recreation periods. Weather in Dublin is often cold, wet and windy and, until 1965, there was no proper indoor recreation facility where they could play. A barn-like structure had been erected in the mid-1940s, that had no walls and a tin roof, and which barely fitted the hundreds of boys. Dr McCabe formed part of a tripartite inspection team that carried out a two-day inspection of Artane in December 1962. On the issue of recreation, the inspection team stated: He [the Resident Manager] deplored the money spent by a predecessor on the erection of a huge play-shelter of hay-shed design which gave cover overhead but absolutely no protection from wind or cold. This indeed was a hopeless attempt at planning and a waste of money ... The recreation hall is a long cement-floored room, uncared for, dismal, depressing and dirty and with no redeeming feature whatsoever. The school classrooms are of the same ramshackle type ... demolition is probably the only solution.


Visitation Reports had identified the lack of proper recreational facilities from the early 1940s, but no improvements were effected until the mid-1960s. This directly impacted on the daily lives of the boys in Artane and should not have taken over 20 years to address.


Games and sports were part of the day in Artane. Teams were fielded in GAA events throughout Leinster. These teams reached a high standard of proficiency, and boys with a talent for sport had a more positive experience in Artane than boys who had not. In general, the Committee did not hear much evidence from these boys, although some did attend hearings and were able to distinguish the experiences with teams from other experiences in Artane.


The Brothers put a considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games. However, the lack of indoor recreational facilities represented a severe deprivation.


In 1947, the Department of Education wrote to the Resident Manager seeking information on the aftercare provided, following a query by the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers. The Resident Manager responded, confirming that a Brother was assigned on a full-time basis to deal with aftercare. Another Brother helped out in cases where boys had ‘slipped and fallen’. The Resident Manager stated that he himself settled difficult cases, which had meant ‘travelling as far as Leitrim, Westmeath, Wicklow etc’.


Contact was maintained with the boys by way of letters and visits. When boys were sent to the country, the Parish Priest of the town was informed and asked to ‘take a paternal interest in the boys ... Kind and encouraging replies to these requests are invariably received’. He also confirmed that the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Dublin were being encouraged to include past pupils as beneficiaries of their work. It was hoped that eventually this would become a nationwide initiative: Boys who have lost employment are helped to find new employment when practicable. On a number of occasions when it was considered necessary and advisable boys have been recalled and retained for a further period in the School.


Although Dr Lysaght was informed that the Manager placed the boys in suitable jobs upon discharge, ensured that they were properly treated, and if they left a job, found them another, he still expressed concern. He commented: this while outside the province of the School and Dept. of Education would seem an essential part of the support of young boys to make their way in the world. It can well be the case that all the time and care given them in the schools can be of no avail unless they are safeguarded during the first year or two after leaving.


He was told a Brother was assigned to visit the boys and keep in contact with them. Many of those who trained in the band found work in the Army bands; others were placed to work in hotels or in houses of religious orders. In fact, the vast majority of the boys did not go into such employment, but were sent as farm hands all over the country.


A common theme amongst the complainants committed to Artane is that Brothers were never in direct contact with them once they left Artane. When records were put to them that the Brothers did make enquiries with their employers to check their progress, they accepted this was true, but as far as they were concerned once they walked through the gates of Artane for the last time, they were very much on their own in the world.


Another common thread running through the testimony was that the boys were placed in low-income or, indeed, no-income jobs that offered no stability: they tended to move from job to job. Some complainants did fare well in later life, but they felt that this was despite, rather than because of, their experience in Artane, or indeed any assistance they received from the Brothers on leaving Artane.


One witness, who left Artane in the mid-1940s, went to work on a farm in County Laois. He worked seven days a week and slept in a hayloft above the horses. He earned up to 10 shillings a week. He moved from this job to another farm in the area where he was treated better, and from there he moved to another farm before moving back to Dublin. He was not aware that the Brothers were checking up on his progress, as revealed in the records.

  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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  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.
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  46. This is a pseudonym.
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  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.
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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.