Before Sr Bianca was appointed to Goldenbridge, Sr Vincenza7 of Carysfort had appointed Sr Divina8 as Resident Manager in the early 1940s, which prompted the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education to protest. He wrote: I am desired by the Minister for Education to call your attention to the fact that the new Resident Manager whom you have appointed in St. Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge, is 79 years of age. The Minister feels that the management of an Industrial School would constitute a very heavy burden and responsibility on a lady of this advanced age. The supervision of the feeding, clothing, education and health of about 150 children, together with the keeping of the many accounts, records etc., which are required and, in addition, the fulfilment of her duties as Reverend Mother of the community would, in the Minister’s opinion, constitute a heavy burden on a much younger and more active person. The Minister would accordingly be glad if you would reconsider this appointment with a view to appointing a much younger Sister who has had experience of children and on whom the complex duties of management would not be so burdensome.
Another respondent, Sr Carmella,11 who was both teacher and principal in the internal national school from the early 1960s stated that she did not bring any of her concerns to the attention of Sr Roberta who held the posts of Resident Manager and Reverend Mother: No, I did not discuss with the Reverend Mother. I just did what the Reverend Mother told me to do and my work was to teach in the School and that was it. That was what was allotted to me and I did what I could there. But it was – the Reverend Mother, she determined the lot of each individual.
At bed-time, around 8.30 pm, Stephen Cavanagh27 fell some 14 feet to the ground and suffered injuries including gum and lip lacerations. He was brought to the Mater Hospital, where he underwent an operation under general anaesthetic to repair the lacerations of his mouth. His condition deteriorated after the operation and he did not respond to treatment, and he died in the early hours of the next day. A post-mortem examination was carried out and an inquest was held in the hospital the next day, resulting in a verdict of accidental death.
In her General Inspection Report dated 22nd to 23rd June 1955, the entry under ‘General Observations and Suggestions’ stated: I visited this school to investigate a complaint made to me by the Mother General and Reverend Mother of the school about certain children’s behaviour in the school. As result of all this 10 girls were transferred to Kilmacud Reformatory. The chief cause of this outbreak was “lack of supervision” on the part of the community.
She described an occasion soon after the appointment of Sr Serena as Reverend Mother to Cappoquin: I remember that day, Sr Serena had just started, she was just made Reverend Mother and she had visited Group Home B that evening, we arranged that she come and have tea with the kids and staff and Sr Callida came in that evening. The kids had just left the table and she came in and she was clearly under the influence of drink when she came in.
The Department of Education replied to the above by letter on 30th April 1970. The letter stated: following on the letter from the Chairman of the Committee of the 14 June, 1968, the Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools had a discussion with the Resident Manager, Rev. [Luca] O.M.I., at which the manager was told that the boys should not be undressed for corporal punishment and that the aim of the management should be to phase out corporal punishment in the institution. At a special meeting with Fr. [Luca] on 21 April, 1970, the manager stated firmly that boys were no longer undressed for corporal punishment and that corporal punishment was being phased out in Daingean ... The omission of reference to the Inspector’s discussion with Father [Luca] from the letter to District Justice Kennedy of 22 May, 1969, is a matter for regret ...
Following this memorandum, it appears that Sr Hanna and Mr McDevitt paid a visit to the Laceys and told them that Annette’s grandfather was seeking custody, and Rev Mother wished to have her returned to the School by Sunday 7th October.
The Laceys wrote to the Department on 1st October 1962, expressing this as a great shock to them, as they had been told 18 months previously by the then Rev Mother that she was the only child available in Kilkenny that had no parents. They insisted that she did not want to leave them and had come to know them as her parents. They said they had inquired about the grandfather, who was out all day and only returned late at night, so she would not get the care and attention she needed. They also said that Mr McDevitt had indicated that it was a matter between Reverend Mother and themselves, as he could not force them to give up the child. They pleaded with the Department to assist them in the matter.
Four years later, the following letter was received by Rev Mother in St Joseph’s, Kilkenny from a Church of Ireland Vicar based in Northern Ireland dated 22nd May 1967, and read as follows: Very Rev and Dear Mother, I wish to make enquiries about a child who was possibly fostered or adopted from your Orphanage some years ago. I have only the scantiest details concerning her and I would be grateful if you could assist me in disseminating the facts. 1) Childs name: Annette – Surname unknown Age: 14½–15 2) Party who fostered or adopted her: Mr Lacey and his wife Roman Catholic and Church of England respectively. Occupation: Café caterers since 1966, formerly Industrial Caterers in England or Wales some years ago. The child has not practiced her religion since coming here nor has she been encouraged to do so. She has been absent from school since February at her “parents’” connivance. I fear she may be in real danger from lack of proper supervision. “Parents” unsuited to the task of properly rearing the girl. If this child has ever been in your care, and if you still have any legal authority over her would be grateful if you would let me know. The local Divisional Welfare Offices are also interested in the child and have left the matter in my hands to see if something could be done for the child before it is too late. Please forgive me putting such a problem before you – If you have any facts concerning her I would be grateful if you would let me know at your earliest convenience. Respectfully yours Vicar