In the mid-1950s the father of a boy wrote to Br Gerrard, who was in charge of the boys’ kitchen, to complain about the treatment his son had received while working there. He wrote: Sir, It has come to my notice about my son’s hand which is sepiet; and also the method used in your kitchen. My son is no robber and I hope you will be able to answer for the character you have given him, have you got any authority to use a rod with iron through it. You have noticed I hope I have not giving you the title of brother, as I don’t think you are fit to be one. I will make regular inspection of his body either at home or in the school. I have already wrote to the authorities about the matter. I will expect a reply and explanation from you as soon as possible. If the child concerned has suffer any Punishment through this letter I hope you will be prepared to face a court of Inquiry as I will demand it from the Ministry of Education. I am not going over your head yet that’s why I am writing to you, hoping you will have a explanation of your conduct. You will want to look after that childs hand if you don’t Artane will be getting into trouble for neglect by outside factors. Trusting you will reply soon as I am fed up listening to the treatment dealt out at Artane by others who have complained.
The father received no response from Br Gerrard, and wrote to the Superior the following month: I have already sent a letter to Bro Gerrard concerning an Enquiry about my Son; which he did not reply to in fact it is nearly a week ago, as you Know silence is to admit of guilt. I wish you would remind him and ask him to reply so I am not going to be treated as dirt ... If I do not have a reply soon, I will be forced to lodge a Complaint to the Board Of Education as well as the Minister of Education as I would not stand by and see my Son Branded as a robber ... Hoping you will look into the matter as soon as possible ...
Among the materials disclosed to the Committee under legal process of discovery was a statement by an employee who worked in the boys’ kitchen at Artane for over 20 years. He mentioned Br Gerrard who was in charge of the boys’ kitchen until the early 1960s when he was transferred to another position. This employee worked in the kitchen from the later 1930s until the early 1960s, and his statement to the Gardaí in 1999 named a number of Brothers whom he recalled working in the kitchen during this time. He particularly recalled an incident with Br Gerrard. He said: I had many arguments with Brother Gerrard mostly because of the way he would beat the kids. Sometimes he would go overboard when beating the kids. I can remember telling him to stop beating the lads on a number of occasions. One day when I came into the kitchens Brother Gerrard was really laying into a lad. He had him down on the ground and was beating him all over his body with the leather. I went over to him and pulled him away from the boy and I hit Brother Gerrard across the face. He said he would speak to the Superior and get me sacked. I never heard any more about that incident.
A witness who was in Artane up to the early 1950s recalled Br Gerrard and said his ‘weapon’ was a: ... stretched out rubber from a pram wheel. I know there was never any prams in Artane, but that is what he used to use. When he would hit you my goodness me, the pain, you just cannot remember. He would take the very very tip of your finger and then he would say, “Come again” with a big evil smile on his face as he went up on his toes and he would whack again. Absolutely cruel, cruel man.
The parent who made a previous complaint in the mid-1950s about Br Gerrard, which is considered above, made another written complaint two years later that Br Verrill had injured his son. It seems that the letter was written during the course of a General Election campaign, as it refers to a visit to the writer’s home by a candidate who was a doctor by profession and who saw the injured boy and encouraged the writer to complain.
The Visitor blamed Br Gerrard’s ‘slip-shod methods’ for the poor standards in the kitchen and refectory.
It is difficult to reconcile that Visitation Report of November 1957 with the one of just seven months earlier, in which the Visitor remarked: Br Gerrard has charge of the boys kitchen and does his work very efficiently. The food served is good and plentiful and the boys looked healthy and strong.