Most of the children were heartbroken and terrified

An excerpt from the Goldenbridge chapter of the Ryan report.

“All of the complainants came to Goldenbridge in harrowing circumstances. Some had lost a parent, and the surviving parent was either not able to cope or was deemed by the State to be unsuitable. Others were abandoned. Some came from desperately poor families, and others were born out of wedlock to mothers who felt that society left them with no option but to place their child in care. Some of those committed were babies; others had spent a substantial part of their childhood with their families. Most of the children were heartbroken and terrified on entering Goldenbridge. They all shared a vulnerability that made them emotionally needy.

Complainants lived in an atmosphere of constant fear of arbitrary punishment for misdemeanours and of being humiliated. Despite always being surrounded by people, many expressed an overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness. Many of the complainants stated that they are left with deep psychological scars as a result of their time in Goldenbridge…

One witness spoke of arriving at Goldenbridge as a six-year-old child in the late 1940s after her mother had died of TB. She described the experience as ‘very very harrowing’: she said she was stripped of her clothes and that all her hair was cropped.

When asked whether she had understood at the time why her clothes were being taken from her, she replied:

No. You weren’t told. You were just used and abused … you were disposable … They didn’t give a stuff about what you were, whether you were a child, whether you were breathing, whether you were living, what you were feeling. Nobody bothered about a child. You were just a disposable item. That’s the way it seemed to me. That’s the way I have carried all through my life. I don’t like what I have carried all through my life. It has left me vulnerable, raw and it has affected the whole of my life.

I used to scurry around. I used to try to dodge and weave to get away from the beatings, the abuse. You didn’t. You were helpless. Wherever you were you were a helpless victim. You couldn’t get away from them. They used to clatter you, they used to batter you. The names you were called. The stuff you had to go through. The thing was you were always so alone. There was never anybody there for you. Nobody was there this is what I find so hard to tell you. You were lumped together and you were one of a many, many …

Multiply by thousands.

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