May 272009

These are extracts from the Ryan Commission report on St Joseph’s Industrial School, Artane.


  • Although the initial proposal was that £1,600 would be spent building dormitories and classrooms, an Annual published by the Brothers in 1905 recorded that buildings costing over £60,000 had been erected at Artane by that time.
  • Artane was conceived on a grand scale. Dormitories accommodated up to 150 boys, sleeping in ordered rows of beds with no personal space. The dining area or refectory accommodated all 825 boys at one sitting.
  • The undertaking comprised the School, the trade shops and the farm, in addition to the Community house. The trade shops and the farm constituted a substantial business enterprise, of which the farm brought in a large yearly income.
  • The number of children detained in Artane from 1937 to 1969 was as follows:
1936 n/a 1944 820 1952 732 1960 421 1968 230
1937 679 1945 820 1953 696 1961 395 1969 211
1938 737 1946 811 1954 739 1962 367
1939 772 1947 797 1955 650 1963 341
1940 820 1948 830 1956 566 1964 319
1941 817 1949 803 1957 496 1965 314
1942 817 1950 776 1958 426 1966 307
1943 810 1951 749 1959 446 1967 230
  • These boys were ordered to be detained in Artane by the courts for reasons of inadequate parental care, destitution, neglect, truancy or the commission of minor offences. It is clear, however, that poverty was the underlying reason why children were sent to Artane, whatever the statutory category grounding the detention.
  • The reasons for committals during the period from 1940 to 1969 were as follows:
Improper guardianship School Attendance Act Destitution Homelessness Larceny Other crime
1374 1045 720 227 229 9

(*Bock Comment: An examination of the figures shows that 3366 of these children had committed no crime at all. 319 were incarcerated for larceny or some other crime, but the larceny might have included the theft of food due to starvation.)

  • In 1936, the Cussen report concluded that in Artane Industrial School, with over 700 pupils, only the minimum standard of literary education required by the regulations is provided, and pupils, however promising, cannot, as a rule, proceed beyond sixth standard.
  • The Institution was not adequately staffed. The report goes on to say that some Brothers did not participate at all in the running of the School due to age, ill-health or even, according to one Brother, because of disinclination. These Brothers were supported by the School, but did not participate in its work.


The Christian Brothers made similar submissions regarding Artane as they did in relation to other institutions. In particular, they submitted that:

the welfare and best interests of the boys was the paramount concern of the Congregation and of its members who worked in Artane. The evidence would also suggest that the quality of care which was thus provided to the boys was, in all the circumstances, of a particularly high standard

(* Bock comment. This statement was not made in the 1950s. The Christian Brothers made this statement two years ago in relation to an institution wehere children were routinely beaten and raped by their members. This represents what they still believe).

The spokesman for the Christian Brothers at Phases I and III of the hearings was Br Michael Reynolds, who conceded that:

There are three and possibly four cases there where I would say yes, there was certainly very severe punishment administered. I am not saying that is the totality of it, I am saying that is what I can work out of on record.

According to Ryan, the Congregation’s concessions stopped far short of what the complainants alleged and did not even match the admissions of individual respondents.

Br Olivier was also involved in a shocking incident that began when a 12-year-old boy accidentally defecated on the floor in the sports dressing room. The Brother came on the scene and some of the excrement ended up on his shoes. The Garda statements made by the witnesses differ as to how this happened, and the precise sequence of events, but what is admitted in statements made by Br Olivier is that he told the boy to lick the excrement from his shoes and he did so. The Brother, in his statement to the Gardaí, said that he was shocked when the boy did this and told him to stop: €˜I only said it out of frustration. I didn’t mean him to do it’.

In the 1990s, Br Olivier wrote an apology to the former resident. A copy was furnished to the Committee by the Congregation. Br Gibson had asked him about a statement made by the former resident. Br Olivier’s letter to the man was as follows:

Br Gibson … brought to my attention a statement you made to him some time ago.

I am deeply saddened to learn of your pain and hurt and I sincerely offer you my humble apology for my part in causing any of the above pain and hurt.

I hope you find in the goodness of your heart the courage to forgive me and I promise to remember you always in my prayers.

I pray and hope that you will find peace of mind and happiness in your life.

May God bless and protect you always.

(*Bock comment : he was deeply saddened to learn of the pain and hurt caused by forcing a child to lick shit off his shoes. What is most interesting is the Christian Brothers’ interpretation of the letter: While this letter acknowledges [the complainant’s] alleged pain, the letter is not intended to be an admission of the allegations made against Brother Olivier).

As the Commission remarks: there is a marked contrast between the apologetic position taken by Br Olivier and that of the Congregation.

Suddenly I find myself completely sick of this. I was going to write more about this vile organisation, and I will do so, but not today. I find their attitude so negative, so destructive and so life-destroying that I’m beginning to feel soiled by association with them.

For now, why not look at these photos of their gulag in Artane, and remind yourself why we need to shake off forever these vampires and their kind.




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