Apart from these vows, the Brothers undertake to devote their lives to all people and are forbidden to enter into ‘particular friendships’. Professor Dermot Keogh, in a report he prepared for the Presentation Brothers in May 2001, wrote: Inside the monastery a Superior would strongly advise against the formation of what were known as ‘particular friendships’. No definition is readily available to help amplify the meaning of this phrase. But it was usually intended to refer to the development of a close emotional bond between two brothers.4
Professor Keogh made the point in his report that: There is no contemporary suggestion that the conditions under which the boys would live in Greenmount would be severe. The bishop had stressed the reforming nature of industrial schools. The school ethos was intended to provide a safe environment for the boys, who would range in age from six to sixteen.
The following ground floor plan of Greenmount was made available to the Committee: Source: Professor Dermot Keogh
After an interruption, he continued: All I have got to say is that these schools are under the management of religious Orders, who are self-effacing people, and who do not require any commendation from me.
This pessimism about being able to do more for the boys caused Professor Keogh to conclude, ‘it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that demoralisation had set in within the community as a consequence of the inquiry’. It was, of course, at this time that two Brothers were removed from their posts after a canonical inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of children. The report certainly makes it clear that food, clothing and hygiene often fell below acceptable standards. The quality of care varied according to the quality of the Resident Manager, and internal controls did not seem to exist. Department of Education – Medical Inspection Reports
Professor Keogh concluded his report for the Presentation Brothers as follows: This was the central point made in the report of the 1934–6 commission of inquiry – children in industrial schools were not ‘children apart’; however, they were still being criminalised in the public mind without any justification ... Industrial school children ought, accordingly, to have been treated and cherished as children and as citizens of the Irish state with rights under the constitution. But it seems that in Ireland in the 1930s, 40s and 50s the ‘old idea’ of treating such children as ‘a class apart’ had not yet ceased to be part of the mind-set of a society that was all-too-willing to seek an answer for complex social problems behind the closed doors of state-funded under-resourced institutions. It was tidier that way.