Notwithstanding the reference in Br Vernay’s letter to the Provincial to the frequency of this punishment, later in the report the Visitor said: Boys appear to be happy and contented and I was assured that outside the case of severe punishment alluded to above there has been no excessive punishment.
The Congregation was aware that excessive punishment of children could be unlawful. The Visitor accepted an assurance that this case was the only case of excessive punishment, although the Sub-Superior’s letter, written less than a month before the Visitation, stressed that his reason for writing was the frequency of the acts. The Visitor did not look into the other matters of concern in the Sub-Superior’s letter, namely the duration, public knowledge, instruments used and nature of punishments. The recommendation that the Brother Superior should receive ‘more than a mere reprimand’ appears to have been ignored. The condition of the children who had been brutally horse-whipped was not given consideration in the correspondence. Br Leveret7 (1940)
By contrast, a Resident Manager who was appointed in the 1960s was clearly unsuited to the role. This was recognised by the Visitor who came to Tralee six months after his appointment. That Visitor said that he was somewhat slow mentally and would require the advice and guidance of an alert senior Brother: Owing to his deafness, the present Sub-Superior leads a life somewhat apart but is always ready and willing to help. Nobody else on the present staff would be a good substitute.
The next Visitor said that the Resident Manager was ‘inclined to remain too much in his office and it is said that he does not visit the school’. Much of this Resident Manager’s work was left to the Brothers. The Report stated: The Superior is kind and considerate with the community but it would seem that more generosity on his part towards the boys would have a very wholesome effect ... It has been pointed out to the Superior that it is necessary for him to assert his authority more. I can see that he has a good deal of office work to do between phone calls and callers and this perhaps distracts him from what should be his chief concern – the boys.
The Visitor described the School as a ‘most depressing establishment’.
The next Visitor noted that ‘instances of harsh treatment and severe punishment of boys’ by Br Eriq had been brought to his attention and that he, along with Br Beaufort, had been warned of the ‘possible evil consequences to the reputation of the school and to themselves personally of immoderate punishment of the boys’. Both expressed regret and promised to be ‘more watchful over themselves in their necessary correction of the boys’.
Subsequently, however, the problem recurred. The next Visitor found him ‘most devoted’ but he still criticised his behaviour and his potential for being a ‘danger’. He wrote: [He] had a few breaks re punishment, not TOO serious, but he is always a potential danger, and difficult to convince. I have warned of this danger and told him that there is to be no punishment except in the approved method and that as little as possible. He is inclined to lose control of himself and then anything could happen.
A later Visitor wrote that Br Marceau was ‘completely useless as an efficient staff member. He is not teaching and while the boys are at school he is free all day. He cannot be given any responsibility even in the evening time with the boys’.
The Provincial Reports and Visitation Reports that made specific reference to the welfare of the boys generally remarked that they appeared well cared for, well fed, happy and healthy. The use of words such as ‘the boys appeared’ would indicate that the Visitor’s assessment of the boys was a superficial one, based on observation rather than on any careful examination of actual conditions. In particular, there was no evidence that the Visitor spoke with the boys about their experience of the School. Despite spending two full days in the Institution on each visit, none of the concerns noted in the Department of Education Inspection Reports at various stages were commented on in the Visitation Reports. Visitors, as a rule, asked about the level of punishment administered and were usually assured that it was kept to a minimum. This assurance, however, was given by the persons who were responsible for the punishment and, in the absence of a punishment book, it was impossible to estimate the extent or severity of punishments administered. For example, the 1940s was a period when an acknowledged regime of harsh punishment operated in Greenmount, and yet the Visitation Reports did not reflect this.
Some of the Visitation Reports single out Br Arrio for mention, but always in a favourable light. After a visit in the late 1940s, the Visitor wrote: There is a full quota of boys. They appear to be happy and well looked after, and great credit is due to the devoted Superior and his staff for the successful management of this Institution.
The second preoccupation was the School finances. The Visitor in 1961 reviewed the financial situation of the School and found it in a healthy state and contributing its quota to the Province. At the conclusion of his Visitation, the Visitor wrote: 1.As religious, we must give to God at least what we vowed – the generous soul seeks ways and means of giving more. Be generous with God. 2.The morning rising needs attention – it is the first sacrifice of the day, Generosity towards God. 3.It is unbecoming and irreverent for Brothers to constantly come late to H. Mass. 4.Pray daily for one another, the works of your house, the Province, the Congregation – especially for vocations.
In 1938, the Visitor made a number of observations about the financial position of the Institution. There were 258 boys in the School in that year, and the total income from all sources including capitation grants was £8,256. A total of £1,600 was paid to the seven Brothers in the Carriglea Community by way of salary, which represented approximately £228 per Brother. Out of this, £500 was paid to the Baldoyle Building Fund and £320 in Visitation Dues. The salary paid to the Brothers did not cover housing expenses or food, which was paid for out of the overall budget of the Institution. Thus, £820, approximately 10% of the School income, was paid to the use of the Congregation.
Similar criticisms were made during the Visitation the following year, in terms of the lack of suitable activities for the boys. The Visitor was disturbed to see the boys ‘sitting or lying on the concrete yard for long periods when they could be playing in the field if games were organised for them’. Supervision of the boys was too lax and they could slip away all too easily with the result that ‘a few were caught acting immorally some time back in the garden’. The Visitor suggested that monitors be placed in the toilet area and that a tighter rein be kept on the boys. It seemed the task of supervision was left entirely to one Brother, namely the Sub-Superior, Br Rene, who was at this stage under considerable pressure. The Visitor was oblivious to the toll this was taking on Br Rene, as he noted that Br Rene ‘seems to enjoy it and does not ask for any relief’. It was also clear that Br Rene exercised a favourable influence over the boys, as ‘the nice, friendly spirit of the boys is attributed mainly to his influence on them. The ex-pupils appeal to him too when they need a friend’.
The Visitor was in no doubt as to the root of this insubordination: This unfortunate state of affairs has been brought about by weak discipline, lack of suitable occupation and an insufficiency of games and other amusements.
In his 1945 Report, the Visitor alluded to an even more sinister development. He noted that four workmen employed in the School received bed and board as part of their remuneration. Their sleeping cubicles were in or near the boys’ dormitories. The Visitor was informed by one of the Brothers that boys had been observed going into one of the workmen’s rooms several times. The Visitor was as much concerned by the fact that these workmen caused trouble in the kitchen, partaking in gossip and criticising their meals, as he was about the danger this man posed to the boys. A member of the General Council wrote to the Brother Provincial on 22nd October 1945, following receipt of the Visitation Report on Carriglea. He noted the ‘low standards in every department’ and blamed the elderly age profile of the staff. In his view, the staff required a complete overhaul. He surmised, ‘sin prevails in the school’.