A History of Neglect, and Worse

Paddy Doyle has this page on Irish Industrial Schools. It’s useful background for Marie-Therese’s account. It’s wrenching stuff, too.

1868- The Industrial Schools Act. Industrial schools were established to care for “neglected, orphaned and abandoned children.” They were run by religious orders and funded by the public…1929- The Children Act allowed destitute children to be sent to industrial schools, even if they hadn’t committed a crime…1933- The Commission of Inquiry Into Widows’ and Orphans’ Pensions found only 350 of the children in industrial schools were orphans (5.3 % of the total)…1933- Industrial schools were abolished in the UK, but not in Ireland. 1934- The Cussen Report, which investigated industrial schools, had reservations about the large number of children in care, the inadequate nature of their education, lack of local support and the stigma attached to the schools, but concluded that “schools should remain under the management of the religious orders”.

I934. The Cussen Report had ‘reservations’ in 1934, and yet the horrible places went on for decades and decades.

1944- P. Ó Muircheartaigh, the Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools reported that “the children are not properly fed,” which was “a serious indictment of the system of industrial schools run by nuns-a state of affairs that shouldn’t be tolerated in a Christian community” where there was “semi-starvation and lack of proper care and attention.”…1946- Community pressure in Limerick, led by Councillor Martin McGuire, on the Dept. of Ed forces the release of Gerard Fogarty, 14, from Glin Industrial School after he was flogged naked with a cat of nine tails and immersed in salt water for trying to escape to his mother. A call for public inquiry into industrial schools was rejected by Minister of Education. Thomas Derrig because “it would serve no useful purpose”.

For trying to escape to his mother. Well we can’t allow that. No, obviously not, he has to be kept locked up in the nice Industrial School and starved, not to mention flayed and soaked in salt water.

1946- Fr. Flanagan, famous founder of Boystown schools for orphans and delinquents in the US, visits Irish industrial schools. He describes them as “a national disgrace,” leading to a public debate in the Daíl and media. State and Church pressure forces him to leave Ireland. 1947- Three-year-old Michael McQualter scalded to death in a hot bath in Kyran’s Industrial School. Inquiry found school to be “criminally negligent,” but the case was not pursued by the Dept. of Education.

Church pressure forces him to leave Ireland, so they could get on with scalding children to death and then doing nothing about it.

1951- The Catholic Hierarchy condemned the ‘Mother and Child’ scheme (4 April), which provided direct funding to expectant mothers for their children; Dr Noel Browne, Minister for Health, resigns; the scheme was abandoned on 6 April…1955- Secretary of the Department of Education visited Daingean Industrial School, Offaly, and found that “the cows are better fed than the boys.” Nothing was done for another 16 years.

That would be while Marie-Therese was at Goldenbridge. And on it goes, into the ’70s. Horrifying stuff.

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