Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

Show Contents



In an interview given in the late 1980s, Br Burcet described how hard he had to work there. He said that, on one occasion, 100 boys contracted influenza, and he was on his own in the dormitory looking after them. He described the utter exhaustion he felt at the end of the outbreak. Looked at from the perspective of the boys, one Brother in charge of 100 seriously ill boys was not an adequate standard of care. Whilst the tireless and selfless endeavours of the Brother in question are to be commended, the system that placed both him and the boys in such a situation must be condemned.


The Congregation stated that the overall judgement of Dr McCabe on Artane was positive. In some respects, this is correct, but an analysis of Dr McCabe’s reports reveals that she was impressed at the scale of the enterprise of Artane and the way a small number of Brothers managed the vast number of boys, rather than with the standard of care the boys received. Much of her comment was aspirational rather than factual. Rather than record conditions as they were, she tended to rely on promises that there would be improvements in the future. Successive Resident Managers did not inform the Department of Education as to the true financial position of the Institution, with the result that conditions were tolerated by the Inspector, in the belief that the Institution was barely surviving on the funding it received when she should have insisted on immediate changes.


1.Food: mealtimes were not properly supervised, and young or timid boys were bullied. Facilities for preparing and serving food for the boys were primitive. 2.Clothing: clothing was poor, patched and institutional, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was to no avail, despite a healthy surplus in the School accounts. Underwear inspections in public were unjustified and degrading. 3.Accommodation and hygiene: accommodation was generally poor. Toilet facilities were primitive until 1953. 4.Education: the Christian Brothers condemn the Department of Education for failing to cater for educationally backward children in Artane, but the Congregation is also to be criticised for its failure to provide secondary education to many of the intelligent and able boys who passed through Artane. 5.Training: industrial training was a key objective of the system and, as the biggest industrial school, Artane >should have provided a high standard. However, training was only an offshoot of work that met the needs of the Institution. 6.The Band: boys who were in the band had better experiences of Artane than those who were not, and participation for some was a positive experience. The band was an extraordinary success and illustrated what the boys could accomplish with proper training. 7.Recreation: the Brothers put a considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games, but the lack of indoor recreational facilities was a severe deprivation. 8.Aftercare: the purpose of aftercare was to ensure boys’ welfare, but direct contact was not thought to be essential, and it was often conducted only with employers to establish their level of satisfaction. It was, nevertheless, at a higher level than the ex-residents were aware of, and many were surprised at the level of contact maintained between the School and their employers.

Fr Henry Moore


Fr Henry Moore spent nine years in St Vincent’s Orphanage, Glasnevin, an institution run by the Christian Brothers, before he entered the priesthood. His first appointment, to the parish of Coolock, included the position of chaplain in Artane, which he held from 1960 until 1967. He prepared a confidential report on the School in July 1962 at the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr McQuaid. His report was severely critical of the organisation and management of the Institution. Contrasting conclusions on the Institution were expressed in three reports written by Department of Education personnel, after they carried out an unannounced inspection of the School in December that year. The most senior official concluded that the School emerged very creditably from the inspection. The two approaches were analysed in depth at meetings of an Inter-Departmental Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders in early 1963. Fr Moore gave evidence to the Investigation Committee, during which he reiterated and elaborated on the contents of his report. The Christian Brothers rely on the three reports from the Department of Education officials to defend the Institution against Fr Moore’s criticisms.


Fr Moore’s report to the Archbishop said that, with 450 boys in the School, the only way it could be successfully managed was by breaking the number down into small units. He was critical of the way the boys were indiscriminately admitted to the School without regard to their circumstances, background or special needs. He was particularly uncomplimentary about the general atmosphere in the School and the consequences for the boys: The very structure of the school is in dilapidated condition, colourless and uninspiring and reflects the interior spirit ... The atmosphere is somewhat unreal, particularly in regard to lack of contact with the opposite sex and this unnatural situation in a group of 450 boys plus a staff of 40 men invariably leads to a degree of sexual maladjustment in the boys ... The boys seem to be denied the opportunity of developing friendly and spontaneous characters; their impulses become suffocated and when they are suddenly liberated their reactions are often violent and irresponsible.


Fr Moore criticised the rigid and severe discipline in Artane, where every activity was marshalled and which he thought often approached pure regimentation: Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted, and in some cases, abnormal. Their liberty is so restricted that all initiative and self esteem suffers.


In addition to its general condemnation of the regime, the report made detailed criticisms of the care provided in Artane under the headings of diet, apparel, medical attention, religious observance, education, technical instruction, and aftercare.


In comments on the boys’ clothes, for example, Fr Moore thought that this aspect of care was ‘grossly neglected’ and had adverse consequences: A boy’s personal clothing is as much the property of his neighbour. Shirts, underwear (vests are not worn), stockings, footwear, nightshirts (no pyjamas) are all common property and are handed down from generations. When these articles are duly laundered they are distributed at random, sometimes without regard to size.


Stockings and shirts were replaced once a week, underwear once a fortnight. There was no change of clothing in summer, and the boys wore hob-nailed boots and heavy clothes all year round. In contrast, he was impressed when he visited the Industrial School in Salthill, also run by the Christian Brothers, and saw that the boys there ‘were attired appropriately and inexpensively for the summer season.’


Overall, Fr Moore suggested ‘a reappraisal of the system at governmental level ... and a major reform in the management of Artane’. He strongly recommended the introduction of female staff to the School and the renaming of the School to that of a patron saint, in order to remove the public misconception that Artane was in some way associated with the prison system.


In summary, the report concluded that Artane required drastic revision as ‘the methods employed are obsolete, proper training is neglected and there is no attempt at adequate rehabilitation’.


Fr Moore learned about an Inter-Departmental Committee that was considering submissions in relation to Industrial and Reformatory Schools and he contacted the Chairman, Mr Peter Berry, who was the Secretary of the Department of Justice. A meeting took place on 26th November 1962 attended by Fr Moore, Mr Berry and the Secretary to the Committee, Mr Toal. Fr Moore’s criticisms, as summarised in the minutes, included the following: the absence of aftercare; a big percentage of boys needed psychiatric treatment which was not available; a psychologist was also required; many of the boys were institutionalised from babyhood until 16 years; the educational standard was very low; trade training was poor and did not lead to jobs in those callings and boys ended up in dead end jobs; neglect in regard to clothing, bed clothes, food and medical care; the Manager was unsuitable and ‘an unwilling captain’; and the Institution was short of money. At Mr Berry’s request, Fr Moore agreed to attend a meeting with Dr Ó Raifeartaigh, Secretary of the Department of Education.


This meeting took place on 13th December 1962. Dr Ó Raifeartaigh gave Fr Moore a very different reception to the one he received from Mr Berry and vigorously cross-examined him on the minutes of the November meeting. He accused Fr Moore of being inaccurate as regards certain salient facts and effectively suggested that he had a vendetta against the Christian Brothers. Fr Moore was shaken after the encounter, and wrote to the Archbishop the following day, informing him that the meeting had been ‘a most humiliating and embarrassing experience’. Mr Berry was quick to distance himself from the stance adopted by the Secretary of the Department of Education and wrote to the latter reproving him on his hostile interrogation of Fr Moore.


The upshot of the December meeting was that the Secretary of the Department of Education ordered an unannounced inspection of Artane by three senior Department personnel. They were requested to focus on food, clothing and management in general: ‘they should state the facts reasonably and with discretion – good and bad to be included’. The inspection took place over two days on 20th and 21st December and each inspector furnished a report.


Mr Seamus Mac Uaid, Higher Executive Officer, wrote the principal report, which was described by the Chairman, Mr Berry, as ‘a model of its kind’. The general conclusion of the report was reassuring to the Department, but many of the detailed observations did not differ significantly from Fr Moore’s. The writer began with a summary of his findings: it is my opinion that the boys in Artane Industrial School are well fed, warmly clothed, comfortably bedded and treated with kindness by the Christian Brothers in an atmosphere conducive to their spiritual and physical development. I believe, however, that boys should not be reared away from the refining influence of women and am convinced that the introduction of female assistance at key points in the management would render more effective the work of the institution.

  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.