Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Days In The Life

Days In The Life
A DAY IN THE LIFE:> 1964 Some Autumn Day:-

It's the time of the year when we'd be off picking the spuds and other stuff in our boots with leather laces, no "wet weather gear" I afraid Fr. O'Reilly! We'd start marching to the fields in pairs at 9:30am and would arrive at the fields at 10:00am or so. We'd be in the fields sometimes until 8:00 pm, depending on how much was to be harvested. Most days we finished at 4:30pm and we'd be marched back for our "tea" of Skinners, dripping and a mug of tea. During our days in the field we would sometimes get skinners and dripping and other times "Oxtail" soup. The soup was basically dark brown stock with a thick coating of grease but after being working in the fields of "Ferryhouse Farms" it tasted much much better than raw spud, or beet, or turnips.

"Ferryhouse Farms" consisted 80 acres, not all of it tilled as they had fruit trees, tomatoes, salad crops and a modern Dairy Farm with cattle. If memory serves me I believe in my time the Dairy Farm had 120 cattle. The cattle were regularly washed after leaving the milking parlours. The place was scrubbed from top to bottom literally and hosed down. Some of us felt that getting out of the workshops or classes for a few weeks was okay as it was a change from the drudgery of knitting, sewing, stitching etc., even though the work in the fields was back-breaking and dirty. Some of even looked forward to the "shnagging" of the turnips because we used them as a "supplement" to our usual "food". And at the time of the year there were plenty of blackberries, haws, elderberries and Devils Berries in the hedges.

We'd nominate a few of us to sneak off into the hedges to "acquire" our real harvest. I don't want to paint a romantic picture of this work but each fistful of blackberries we could "acquire" was a victory for us against "Them", we'd have "feastS" in the fields and still have plenty over for our return. There was manny of us who had an almost permanent purple colour around our mouths. The Devils Berries had almost the same effect as watery cider as it would lift our spirits and make us more cheerful. These berries were fairly rare and that's probably a good thing as we always, always vomited after scoffing them. The vomit was very white and thick and I've heard since that they're supposed to be poisonous but we probably built up a resistance to them.

On the walk to the fields the sides of the roads would be covered with leaves of all colours and we used to drag one leg as we walked, this let us gather up huge mounds of leaves where we could then kick them and scatter them some more. It was just a childish thing with no harm and I'm sure we've all done it but Father Barry took exception to myself and Joe as we seemed to be having a riot. So he detailed the both of us to stay back and gather all the leaves around the front of Ferryhouse and bring them to the furnace to be burned. That meant we'd have no "diet supplements" that day! Anyway we made a game of it and gathered a few huge mounds of leaves on the road outside Ferryhouse, eventually we gathered them into one gigantic mound and played "cowboys & indians", or "king of the castle". Most of the time though we just dived into the leaves and burrowed our way through the mound.

The job of "bagging" the leaves and taking them to the furnace was forgotten and we eventually had moved all the leaves down to the banks of the River Suir where we proceeded to scatter them into the river. The sight of all these multicoloured leaves flowing down a fast flowing river is someting I've never forgotten. The length of this carpet of leaves flowing down the river was at least 500 yards long and I'm sure plenty of people downstream got sight of it. I've always wondered what they thought of this almost endless carpet of leaves as it sped by them. There were very few times in those places when we were allowed to be children - but that was one time a long time ago. <<<< THE KNITTER >>>>

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Day in 1962

DATE: 1962>>>>> Hard to know what time my day started at but as it was the Farmer priest who was calling me to serve mass I guess it was very early. Being able to tell the time in these gulags wasn't given any priority. We kind of went through our day too the sounds of bells. There were bells for every f**king activity.

A bell to rouse you, a bell to tell you to line up for washing, a bell to tell you to line up to receive your bit of toothpaste - two lines for the toothpaste as some of them were being tested with colgate while the other line got the gulags own brand.

A bell to tell you that washing yourself was over and a bell to tell you to get dressed. A bell to tell you to make your bed. A bell to tell you to line up for inspection. If you had a "tide-line" on your face you were put on the list for the Office. If your bed was not made properly your name went on the list for the Office.

Being put on the list meant you were going to be punished. A bell to tell you to line up for leaving the dorm, you were marched down the stairs into the yard where another bell told you to line up in ranks. You had to stand to attention in the yard whether it was raining, snowing or whatever.

The black garbs would then issue the instructions "Attention, Right Turn, Go Ahead " and rank by rank we would troop into the the "Ref", that's what we called the refectory. Once inside you had to stand to attention with your hands joind and one of the black garbs would begin to say the "Grace Before Meals"..."Bless Us Oh Lord, For These Thy Gifts..." where we all had to join in and finish saying the grace.

I could never understand why we had to thank God for what we were about to eat: lumpy, salty, foul tasting porridge and a skinner (thick slice of bread) with dripping, also a dishwater called tea, or was it cocoa, or maybe oxtail soup; it could also have been epson salts or that other stuff, very oily but it gave you the runs too. Jesus Christ Almighty it was f**king slop, to give this fare to pigs would be illegal and insulting to them.

Imagine that! Thanking God for THAT. Oh, We each had our own aluminium mug, plate and some of us even had weird shaped thingys. After saying the Grace a bell went telling us to start eating.

THE KNITTER

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Nine-year Garda inquiry

Nine-year Garda inquiry into abuse at boys' home

Two Brothers of Charity who worked at Lota have now been jailed for abuse, writes Barry Roche .

The investigation which led to yesterday's conviction and sentencing of Brother Eunan for sexual abuse at Lota in Cork began in 1995. At that time a 47-year-old man walked into Glanmire Garda station and made a complaint to Insp Senan Ryan that he had been sexually abused while in the care of the Brothers of Charity. Lota was established by the Brothers of Charity in 1938 to care for boys with learning difficulties. More than 600 stayed there. The man's complaint led to a nine-year Garda inquiry, and media reports prompted more former residents to come forward. GardaĆ­ took statements from more than 50 former residents of Lota, which were sent to the DPP. Some 15 of these made it to court, with the first five complaints leading to the conviction of Brother Eunan at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in 1997 when Judge Patrick Moran gave him a four-year jail term with three years suspended.

Two years later, in November 1999, James Kelly (74) - known as Brother Ambrose - was sentenced to 36 years by Judge A.G. Murphy at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He had pleaded guilty to 18 counts of sexual assault on former Lota residents Mr John Barrett, Mr Alan Carroll and Mr Joe O'Driscoll between 1956 and 1968. Judge Murphy said the abuse inflicted by Brother Ambrose had rendered his victims' lives "little short of a permanent crucifixion", but he fixed a review date of 18 months on his record sentence. However, when that date came around, Brother Ambrose was serving a three-year jail term for sexually assaulting 10 boys at the Brothers of Charity home at Renmore, Galway.

Extensive media coverage of Brother Ambrose's case led to further complaints against the retired brother. In March 2002 Judge Patrick Moran sentenced him to five years in jail with four suspended after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a further five boys in Lota in the 1950s and 1960s. The DPP appealed the leniency of both Judge Murphy's and Judge Moran's sentences of Brother Ambrose, but the Court of Criminal Appeal rejected both appeals and Brother Ambrose was released in November 2002. He had served a total of three years for sexually assaulting eight boys in Lota and 10 boys at Renmore in Co Galway.

Many of the former residents have also taken civil cases against the Brothers of Charity. In July 2002 a 47-year-old former resident at Lota was awarded more than €100,000 in damages for sexual abuse. Following yesterday's conviction of Brother Eunan, the Brothers of Charity issued a statement apologising to his two victims and expressing the hope "that the conclusion of the court process will help to create some healing for the hurt caused in their lives".

However, Mr John Barrett, of the Right of Place Group - he was abused in Lota - expressed disappointment that Brother Eunan had not been jailed. "It was what I expected, but if he had been given even a token sentence it would have been something," he said.

© 2004 The Irish Times

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Meaningful

When I was in those .....Places, (Now I’ve never thought of this before)
They always seemed like passing through places
Somewhere temporary
But now that I think on it
Look back at the days passed I realise I lived there
And I live Here now
This is my home
With people I care about I know they won't hurt me.
In those Places I lost all perspective
On what was truly love or hate
So I just flowed like a river
From day to day
And tried to guide my direction
So I could arrive somewhere
Meaningful

Who is paying?

Who is paying for the visit of this "false memory" organisation. People can spout out any kind of stuff from their mouths if they want, it is a "free" country, freedom of speech and all that; But why can't this organisation tackle the "religious orders" on THEIR memories?

Why attack ex-detainees? It's obvious why LOVE (and their black-cloaked conductors) is sponsoring this visit. It's to try to make fools and liars of ex-detainees despite the historical evidence.

Are LOVE and this organisation explain to us the findings of the Kennedy Report from 1970, the Department of Health's findings of 1967 on Ferryhouse in Clonmel which called that place a "Social Malaise". This 1967 report was due to the death of a fellow called Bowes who died of meningitis (caused by trauma). Or was all that happened in just Ferryhouse alone just a figment of the imagination?

LOVE's next mission is probably to get posthumous pardon for Brendan Smythe