In a Report to the General Council dated 1954, reference was made to the farm and its produce: There are 10 milch cows, one heifer, 4 sows, 33 bonhams and 3 horses on the farm. There are two workmen besides a gardener employed. Brother Ignado10 is in charge. Brother Arrio11 in his poultry farm has 52 hens and 42 pullets. He gets about 15 eggs per day. (From that number he should get 36 or 40 eggs a day.)
During the course of the Phase II hearings, further, more precise concessions were made. Counsel for the Presentation Brothers said of one Brother (Br Arrio) who was Resident Manager/Superior at Greenmount in the mid-1930s and again from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s: My clients suggest that he was a strict disciplinarian, Br Arrio, he was a very strict man. We accept that certainly from time to time he may have overstepped the mark.
In summary, the Presentation Brothers made the following concessions: 1.Greenmount operated a harsh regime, especially in the 1940s. 2.The corporal punishment administered by the Superior, Br Arrio, during the 1940s was excessive.
Br Arrio was at Greenmount from the mid-1930s until his death in the late 1950s. As mentioned above, he was Resident Manager/Superior of the School in the mid-1930s for three years and again from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s. A Visitation Report from the mid-1940s noted that ‘The Management, discipline, the general tone and atmosphere of the school have dropped some points since my Visit [three years previously]’. The reappointment of Br Arrio during the mid-1940s soon turned this situation around, because the Visitation Report commented, ‘The management, discipline and tone of this school are on the upward trend. I am quite confident it will very soon hold the honoured place it occupied prior to [the appointment of Br Arrio]’.
The 1940s were precisely the years that the Presentation Brothers acknowledged to have been an era marked by excessively severe corporal punishment. Br Minehane was asked to explain the contradiction. He began by saying, ‘I would have question marks about it’. He then went on to explain that the Resident Manager, Br Arrio, was in charge of discipline, and was ‘the same person who wrote that report’. He then said: He was the Resident Manager and I have no explanation for it except that he regarded himself as the disciplinarian in the School. And from his point of view ... corporal punishment was part of it.
Mr Olivero21 (formerly Br Olivero) joined the Presentation Brothers in the mid-1940s. He spent a year teaching in Greenmount before going to a Training College in Waterford. He returned to Greenmount in the late 1940s, where he again taught for one and a half years. He left the Congregation in the late 1950s. He gave evidence to the Investigation Committee in respect of Br Arrio and his disciplinary regime.
Mr Olivero said that, when he arrived at the School, he was told that if any boy committed a misdemeanour he should be sent to the Head Brother, Br Arrio, who would look after him. He said that Br Arrio was regarded as a strict disciplinarian and the boys were fearful of him. He agreed that the boys had good reason to be afraid of him. He explained: if a boy did commit any misdemeanour, if he fought in the yard and if he didn’t try and pull himself together, all I had to say was, okay, do you want to go to Br Arrio and they’d say no.
Mr Olivero also confirmed in oral evidence a particular method of punishment that was referred to by complainants and which is outlined below. This involved the boys climbing a ladder in a storeroom and Br Arrio beating them with a cane.
Although he felt some complainants exaggerated the level of abuse in Greenmount, the complaints about Br Arrio were, he believed, justified. He said, ‘... I wouldn’t mind if they do make complaints about the treatment he meted out to them’.
A witness who was in Greenmount from the early 1940s to the early 1950s recalled Br Arrio taking over from his predecessor, whom he described as ‘a stern man, but he got on and I suppose he done his job’. Things changed for the worse, he said: I can still remember that man, if I can call him that, as a tyrant ... He took pleasure, and it helped him in some sick, sadistic way to beat children, and he had his own ways of doing it. If you were reported by another Brother to him you had what was commonly known in Greenmount School as "up the ladder". That will never leave my memory.
Another complainant recalled this method of punishment. He was a resident in Greenmount from the mid-1950s, and he also told how Br Arrio gave him a beating ‘up the ladder’. He told the Committee: Br Arrio would take off your clothes and you would have just an underpants on you and you would walk up the ladder and he would give you a slap of the cane ... That took place in a little room .....He brought me into that room and he said – he asked me what did I run away for and all this and I told him that I just ran away, I wanted to go home. So he gave me a hiding for it as well ... He told me to walk up the ladder ... It was one of those ladders that you could go up the top and come down the other side of it. You go up one side and down the other side ... I was asked to strip to my underpants and walk up the ladder ... He was hitting me [with a bamboo cane] so I ran up the ladder. ... He used to run around after you. He wasn’t as old as people was making him out to be, he was able to run and he was able to do his thing, what he had to do... Br Arrio always made ... the kids climb up the ladder.
Mr Olivero was asked if he could confirm punishment by Br Arrio that involved the use of a cane and a ladder in the storeroom, and he said: I knew it happened. I never saw it happening, it was just hearsay. It was known that punishment was administered there and that there was a record kept to be seen by a representative of the Department of Education.
One witness described another form of punishment used by Br Arrio to punish a boy at dinnertime: There was various degrees of punishment ... Somewhere, somewhere along the line that man worked in another job, or he was taught of keeping your toes off the ground, eat lying on your knees just and keep your toes off the ground but use your hands to go down to a bowl, like a dog, that’s the way you eat. That was another punishment of his.
A former resident of Greenmount who was there in the mid-1940s said: Br Arrio used to stand in the room, once you darned your socks, you had to go up for his inspection. If it wasn’t to his liking he would cane you and he would punch you in the head.
He also recounted an incident when Br Arrio beat him and his brother for complaining about inadequate food at Greenmount: It is the same story. My brother was beaten and he was beaten really bad. Why we were beaten so bad is when we went home – my dad was home from England one time and he said to us, "you look very skinny", in other words, thin. He said, "if I took you up would you say it in front of the monks, Br. Arrio?" We said yes. So my dad took us up and Br. Arrio was as nice as pie to him. And my dad said the boys said they are not getting enough to eat. He said, "is that right, boys?" We made a big mistake and said yes. He showed him the bake house, the farm and all that and said they were getting this and that. When my dad went down to England he called us in about a week after and he gave us a hell of a beating and [my brother] got the worse of it because he said he was the eldest and he was the ringleader.