In 1860, the Institute, which had experience of running a Reformatory School in North East Yorkshire, was invited to run the proposed new Reformatory School at Upton, County Cork, which became the first Rosminian Community established in Ireland. Upton Reformatory operated for 29 years and closed in 1889, to reopen five days later as Danesfort Industrial School, certified for the reception of 300 boys.
The Community had a separate refectory and kitchen in the main house. The Rosminian Community residence was located in the main building. All of the buildings and land still in possession of the Rosminians was transferred to the State in 2002, apart from a small holding of land unsuitable for farming south of the river Suir.
The Rosminian Community in Ferryhouse generally consisted of 10 members of the Order, both priests and Brothers. All of the members of the Community lived in the School, and each had different responsibilities. The Resident Manager and the Prefects ran the School, and the Prefects had the most direct contact with the boys. However, other Brothers and priests had responsibilities with the boys to a lesser degree.
Many witnesses described being physically punished in circumstances that they considered being excessive, unfair and capricious. Although a few spoke of being punished by the Resident Manager, or by other members of the Rosminian Community, almost all focused on punishments inflicted by the Prefects, who were in charge of the boys.
As discussed above, the Lord Mayor’s criticisms in January 1965 led to an inspection by the Department’s Inspector, Mr McDevitt on 4th and 5th March 1965. The Mayor had not made any criticism of the food, but Mr McDevitt investigated that matter and uncovered a problem with the kitchen and the diet. The source of the problem, as he saw it, lay with the ‘neurotic’ Brother who was in charge of the kitchen. When questioned about the food by Mr McDevitt, this Brother replied that the ‘diet was highly satisfactory except that the milk and cake rations were inadequate’. He was also questioned about supplying margarine rather than butter to the boys, and his reply was that margarine was more nutritious. Mr McDevitt summed up this Brother as the ‘problem child of the community and as the likely original source of the complaints made to the Minister’. When he mentioned this Brother to other members of the Rosminian Community, they replied ‘with either a smile or an expression of sympathy for his nervous condition’. Yet this Brother was in charge of supplying the daily nutritional requirements for all the boys.
Fr Stefano was appointed Resident Manager of Ferryhouse in the mid-1970s, and he remained in that post until the early 1990s when he was appointed Provost Provincial of the Rosminian Community in Ireland. Prior to his appointment as Resident Manager, Fr Stefano had previously worked in Ferryhouse in the early 1960s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He also had worked as a volunteer in Ferryhouse.