Although Artane had an appointed Disciplinarian to deal with serious offences, all Brothers carried leathers and administered punishment for a wide variety of infractions, and other adults were also permitted to punish. Witnesses did not generally complain about punishment that they felt was deserved, even if it was severe.
One long-serving Disciplinarian was acknowledged, by all the former residents who spoke about him, to have been strict but fair even though he sometimes punished them severely. This Brother was named and accused of physical abuse in many complainants’ statements, but the Investigation Committee did not find that the evidence at Phase II supported such a conclusion.
The Visitation Report of 1936 gave an early indication of the problems that were to dog the School until its closure. The Report spoke highly of the Superior, Br Rene5, but expressed concern that he was over-burdened, as he appeared to be running the School single-handedly. Br Rene asserted that, out of a Community of seven Brothers, only two were ‘active members’. The Brother appointed as Disciplinarian was entirely ineffective and was unfit for the task. As a result, it fell to the Superior or one of the lay staff to perform this function. On the few occasions on which it fell to the Disciplinarian to perform his role, the result had been ‘incidents and acts of insubordination on the part of the boys’, which the Visitor attributed to lack of tact on the part of the Brother. Despite the lack of involvement by the majority of Brothers in the Institution, they took umbrage when the Superior appeared to attach more weight to the opinions of the secular staff.
Br Ansel14 was transferred to Carriglea from Tralee in December 1945. He spent less than three months in Carriglea, holding the post of Disciplinarian before being transferred to a day school. Br Ansel had a reputation for being strict. He had spent five years in Artane. When the Resident Manager in Tralee had complained that his current Disciplinarian was not sufficiently strict, the Disciplinarian in question was replaced and, 12 months after that replacement, Br Ansel was transferred there. He later sought and was granted a dispensation in the mid-1960s. Br Octave,15 who was in Tralee at the same time as Br Ansel, described him as the best Disciplinarian and Principal. ‘He didn’t tolerate disobedience in word or act. Returned runaways had to “walk the line” for longish periods until they were broken’.
The Investigation Committee heard a total of 48 former residents. They tended not to complain about punishments that were justified, even if they were severe. As one witness said, ‘I didn’t mind being beaten if I deserved it’. Many witnesses often qualified their accounts by saying they had deserved the chastisement. One Disciplinarian was consistently described as a very strict but very fair man, because he did not punish unjustly.
A Visitation Report in the early 1940s referred to a complaint by the Resident Manager that the existing Disciplinarian, Br Piperel, was ‘not sufficiently strict as Disciplinarian’ and making a ‘strong appeal’ to have him changed. He left in the early 1940s and, 12 months later, Br Ansel was sent from Artane to take over the role.