Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 9 — Tralee

Show Contents

Sexual Abuse


When the third Resident Manager, Br Roy, took over, Br Lisle again reported the boys’ complaints about Br Garon’s activity in the showers. He did not know if Br Roy did anything, but he now knows that the information did not go to ‘headquarters’.


Br Lisle said that it never occurred to him to tell the Brothers who were carrying out the Visitations, as he thought other Brothers would have reported it. He thought all the others knew about it. He was just the ‘junior member of staff’ and he did not think it was his place to confront Br Garon. He said that there were ‘more senior men there than me to confront him’.


He told the Committee that the boys were not embarrassed or awkward when they were complaining to him, and had no difficulty articulating the complaint. He believed they would have been talking about it amongst themselves.


He had told the Deputy Provincial in January 2006 that Br Garon was abusing the boys ‘most of the time’. He had not talked about it to anyone between 1970 and 2006. His understanding had been that ‘headquarters’ knew all about Br Garon, because he had told every Resident Manager.


None of the Visitation Reports over the 20-year period that Br Garon spent in Tralee refers to any complaints of this nature being made against him, so there is very little in the documentation to assist the Committee in the consideration of this case.


One Visitation Report in the early 1950s noted Br Garon was ill. In fact, he was absent from the School for approximately eight months that year. Br Garon became Sub-Superior in the mid-1950s. In a Visitation Report compiled over a year after his appointment, he is described as being ‘fairly well; he rises late and retires early; he has no school work but takes the boys for morning and evening prayers and gives a hand in the games and supervision during the out of class hours’. Later Visitation Reports both noted his poor health, and the latter noted that his Superior had ‘the utmost confidence in him’. His poor health was again noted in the Visitation Reports in the early 1960s. In the 1962 Visitation Report the following extract is of interest: The Superior says that the Sub-Superior, Br Garon, is the most useful man in the place. Despite his deafness and indifferent health he is on the go all the time, doing endless little jobs that are most essential to a place such as St. Joseph’s. He acts as Infirmarian, supervises the play yard, takes the boys for basketball in the yard, checks on all kinds of odds and ends and is generally most useful. He is in charge of the baths also and supervises the health of the boys generally.


His health was deteriorating by the mid-1960s and, in the 1966 Visitation Report, he was described as ‘almost totally deaf but continued to do good work’. By 1967 he was as ‘deaf as a stone’. The following year, it was noted that he was unable to take part in any Community conversations but busied himself as sacristan.


In addition to Br Lisle, four other former members of staff who had been in the School when Br Garon was there gave evidence to the Committee about him.


Br Bevis said that he never heard any mention of Br Garon’s being naked in the showers with the boys nor had he heard allegations of his acting inappropriately. He said that he never heard it discussed among the Brothers that he might have been in the showers with the boys, although he did acknowledge that it may in fact have been so discussed after his time.


Another member of staff, Br Mahieu, told the Committee that he was placed in charge of the showers, taking over from Br Garon, in approximately 1966. He did not know why this change took place, but said it was possibly because the Resident Manager, Br Sinclair, had asked him. When he took over, he insisted on the showers being upgraded and that was done. He knew ‘absolutely nothing’ about allegations that Br Garon took boys for individual showers on days other than Saturdays when he might not have been in charge. At such times the water would have been cold. He had never heard anything about Br Garon interfering with the boys in the showers, washing them or requiring them to wash him. He had ‘never heard it discussed’.


Br Aribert stated that he did not recall the subject of Br Garon’s showering with the boys being discussed. He told the Committee, however, that he did recall some of the boys not wanting to go to the showers but they never told him why. He felt it was because boys of that age did not like to shower in the middle of winter. He added, ‘it wasn’t for the reason that they were being abused that came across to me’. He never heard any boy complain about the ‘supposed carry on’ with the Brother. If Br Garon was abusing boys, he did not know how a tiny community could not be aware of it. He also told the Committee that he believed someone else was in charge of the showers when Br Garon was still there. He did not know why Br Garon was taken off that job.


Another Brother, Br Chapin, said that he never heard any discussion among the Brothers about Br Garon in the showers with the boys, or anything of that nature.


Br Garon was not mentioned in either the Opening Statement furnished by the Christian Brothers or in the Phase I or Phase III evidence.


In their Final Submission to the Investigation Committee, the Christian Brothers accepted that the evidence relating to Br Garon suggested that he ‘did behave in an inappropriate manner in the boys’ showers’. They stated that the extent to which he engaged in inappropriate conduct was obviously a matter for the Committee and said that it was worth noting that there was a ‘broad spectrum of evidence on this issue’. They believed that some allegations against Br Garon were ‘exaggerated’ but accepted that, even if his ‘activities went no further than requiring the boys to wash him ... this was totally inappropriate’. They also accepted that ‘from today’s perspective, it would seem to be unwise to allow one adult to supervise showers on a continual and consistent basis without any monitoring of that adult. This appears to have been what happened’.


The Submission conceded that the decision to place Br Garon in charge of the showers ‘was an error which was compounded by a lack of appreciation of the risks that might arise in such a situation’.

  1. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period. See Department of Education chapter, Vol. IV.
  2. The Visitation Report for February 1960 records the total number in the primary school as being 119 and the Visitation Report for May 1961 gave the total number of boys in Tralee as 130, with 107 boys on the roll in the primary school.
  3. The 1969 Visitation Report refers to 35 boys being still in the School, and the Opening Statement says that by 30th June 1970, the School had closed.
  4. Prior to leaving, the Visitor gave the Resident Manager directions as to certain matters that should be attended to without delay including cleaning the entrance path and flowerbeds, employing a woman to take over the care of the laundry, teaching the boys table manners and providing them with washing facilities before dinner and tea time. These were reiterated in a follow-up letter to the Resident Manager, without the reference to the paths and flowerbeds.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. He said that he thought it was probably another Brother (Br Cheney, the Principal at that time) who made the decision that he was to be kept away from the dormitories but he ‘would totally agree with that’.
  7. ‘Strong hand’ in Irish.
  8. The two Brothers referred to were Br Mahieu and Br Cheney.
  9. The letters to Br Sebastien, Br Millard and Br Beaufort mentioned below.
  10. He had also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. The school annals note that the Brother resigned from the post due to ill-health.
  13. One of the others was Br Rayce. The complainant did not know who the third one was.
  14. Br Aribert accepted that this was a fair summary of Br Lafayette.
  15. Brs Archard and Kalle.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. ‘Senility’ was subsequently changed to ‘septicaemia’.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. He confirmed also that it was not the general rule that you would be punished if you failed in your homework or schoolwork at class.
  20. Professor Tom Dunne, ‘Seven Years in the Brothers’ Dublin Review (Spring 2002).
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This Brother worked in Tralee from the mid-1960s to 1970.
  23. There were three Resident Managers during Br Lisle’s time in Tralee: Brs Sinclair, Millard and Roy.
  24. Br Sinclair was Resident Manager for a period of six years in the 1960s.
  25. Question Time was a radio programme
  26. The annals refer to ‘this tax’ ceasing to be paid when Br Dareau came as Resident Manager.
  27. This is borne out by the Department Inspector’s Reports, which until 1950 categorised the food and diet as ‘satisfactory’. The 1953 Report said that food and diet was ‘much improved’ and, from then on, was always described by this inspector as very good.
  28. A later Visitation Report noted that there was no evidence of the pilfering of food that had taken place before this Brother arrived in Tralee.
  29. The 1940s Visitation Reports only commented on the standard of the boys’ clothing in 1940, 1941 and 1943, and then only in positive terms.
  30. ‘The School has improved out of all recognition’ and ‘excellent manager’.
  31. This complainant was in Tralee from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.
  32. One complainant told the Committee about how the boys had to creosote the floor in hot weather, and without any gloves or goggles. ‘It was a very nasty job because it would get into your eyes and all over your hands and everywhere else’.
  33. There was a profit of £98 mentioned in the 1937 Visitation Report, and a profit of approximately £395 mentioned in the 1953 Visitation Report.
  34. According to the Opening Statement, the main recreational facilities were the hall, schoolyard, football playing pitch and the band room. When the primary school closed, the classrooms were converted into sitting rooms, with TV etc.
  35. The 1949 annals referred to Mr Sugrue, the Department’s Inspector, having made his first visit to the School and having spoken freely to staff and boys.
  36. This Brother to whom the shotgun was taken was the Brother who had the long history of physically abusing boys and spent two separate periods in Tralee.
  37. He also said this of Br Toussnint and of a lay teacher.
  38. St Helen’s was in Booterstown.
  39. 67 in 1945, 70 in 1946, 90 in 1947, 90 in 1949, and 45 in 1952. In 1960, the annals note that families were willing to take boys for three to four weeks, but there was no evidence of this actually happening that year. 68 boys went on home leave in 1968.