PRIVATE REPORT ON ARTANE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL
38 Harmondstown Avenue,
7th July, 1962.
My Lord Archbishop,
In a letter of 18th May Your Grace requested me to submit a report on Artane Industrial School. I have pleasure in presenting herewith the findings of my enquiry.
Due to the confidential nature of my task and the wide terms of reference I was obliged to restrict my observations to personal experience. The details are none the less factual and complete.
I am, My Lord Archbishop,
Your Grace’s Obedient Servant,
Henry Moore [signed]
The Most Reverend John C, McQuaid, D. D.,
Lord Archbishop of Dublin,
Primate of Ireland
In this report I have attempted to describe and discuss the existing situation as the Industrial School system operates in Artane. It is not a complete examination of all aspects of the system. I have, however, studied the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Industrial School system of 1936 and the Report on Youth Unemployment of 1951.
In relation to the contemporary scene, and considering the advance in educational requirements, particularly as envisaged by the recent Apprenticeship Act, it seems to me that Artane is in need of drastic revision. Government policy as it affects the financial position of the school would indicate the urgent need of an enlightened approach to the problem. A serious decline in the number of committals reacts adversely on the school’s financial position, since overhead expenses do not decrease pari passu with a reduction in direct maintenance charges. Despite this hardship certain improvements have been made, notably by the installation of a fine modern kitchen and the construction, now in progress, of twelve class halls in the old building.
The management of the school is the subject of this report. As I shall indicate, the methods employed are obsolete, proper training is neglected, and there is no attempt at adequate rehabilitation.
The early association in the public mind of Artane with the Prison system is responsible for a misconception that persists regarding Artane and the boys in it. By agreement with the Department of Justice the authorities at Artane will not accept committals with a criminal charge. This means that the inmates are either school non-attendance cases – about one-third of the total – the majority being orphans or children in special circumstances. Many of these are transferred from Junior Industrial Convent Schools at Rathdrum, Drogheda, and Kilkenny; and so, the situation frequently arises where boys, on leaving Artane, have already spent 10 to 14 years in an institutional environment. It is readily acknowledged that all of these require specialised treatment.
GENERAL CARE OF THE BOYS
About 450 boys are resident at the school. For any measure of success it is necessary that this number should be divided into small units. Considering that the buildings were originally designed to accommodate 800 boys, proper planning might ensure the possibility of this. A fundamental defect is the manner in which the boys are admitted indiscriminately, without regard to their background, medical history, antecedents or suitability for the training which they are to receive. The very structure of the school is in dilapidated condition, colourless and uninspiring, and reflects the interior spirit. “Tibi saxa loquuntur”. The atmosphere is somewhat unreal, particularly in regard to lack of contact with the opposite sex, and this unnatural situation in a group of 450 boys plus a staff of 40 men invariably leads to a degree of sexual maladjustment in the boys.
Indeed in this respect Artane is a modern Mount Athos. The boys seem to be denied the opportunity of developing friendly and spontaneous characters; their impulses become suffocated and when they are suddenly liberated their reactions are often violent and irresponsible.
DIET: The boys are reasonably well fed. There is fair variety but obvious essential requirements such as butter and fruit are never used. Milk puddings are served but these are of poor quality and without relish. In general I feel that the boys are undernourished and lacking calcium and other components. At table I have observed the unruly indelicate manner of the boys. The services of a dietician and supervision under a female staff would considerably enhance the standards. In addition to the three meals the boys are given a light refreshment which takes the form of a slice of bread and jam. The method of serving this is crude and unhealthy. The bread is transported to the yard in a large sized wooden box and the boys are paraded to receive their portion.
APPAREL: It seems to me that this aspect of the general care is grossly neglected. The boys’ clothing is uncomfortable, unhygienic, and of a displeasing sameness. They are constantly dirty, both themselves and their clothes. The quality of the material is poor due to the fact that it manufactured on the premises. Overcoats are not supplied except where a boy can pay £3 to £4 in advance, which must come from his own pocket. It is pathetic to observe hundreds of boys walking the roads of the district on Sunday mornings even in deep winter without overcoats. Moreover, on returning from their walk they are compelled to change again into their ordinary work-a-day suit. This has the affect on the boys’ morale and their association of the Sunday is easily obscured. In the matter of the clothing, likewise, there is no individuality.
A boy’s personal clothing is as much the property of his neighbour. Shirts, underwear (vests are not worn), stockings, footwear, nightshirts (no pyjamas) are all common property and are handed down from generations. When these articles are laundered they are distributed at random, sometimes without regard to size. The laundry arrangements leave much to be desired. The boys’ stockings and shirts are renewed once a week and underwear once a fortnight. Handkerchiefs are not used. This fundamental disregard for personal attention inevitably generates insecurity, instability and an amoral concern for the private property of others. This I consider to be a causative factor in the habits of stealing frequently encountered among ex-pupils. In summer the boys do not receive a change of clothing. When I visited the Industrial School at Salthill I was impressed by the way in which the boys were attired appropriately and inexpensively for the summer season. In Artane the hob-nail boots, [and] the heavy burdensome material are as much a feature of summer attire as of winter.
MEDICAL ATTENTION: I fail to understand the indifference of Departmental Inspectors to the seriously inadequate medical facilities in the school. Apart from the twice-weekly visit of the Doctor there is no matron or nurse in attendance. A Brother without qualifications and who was transferred from the care of the poultry farm is now in charge of all medical requirements. A surgical dressing room is located adjacent to the dining hall. This dreary stone flagged and depressing room resembles a vacated dairy house. Many boys, even the older ones, suffer from enuresis and nothing is done to remedy their condition.
DISCIPLINE: In a school of over 400 boys, discipline must necessarily be firmly maintained. In Artane, it seems to me that the discipline is rigid and severe and frequently approaches pure regimentation. Every group activity is martialed, even the most elementary such as the recitation of the Angelus during recreation. The administration of punishment is in charge of a disciplinarian, but in practice is not confined to him. There seems to be no proportion between punishment and offence. In my presence a boy was severely beaten on the face for an insignificant misdemeanour. Recently, a boy was punished so excessively and for so long a period that he broke away from the Brother and came to my house a mile away for assistance. The time was 10:45 p.m., almost two hours after the boys retired to bed. For coming to me in those circumstances he was again punished with equal severity. Some time ago, a hurley stick was used to inflict punishment on a small boy. The offence was negligible.
Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted, and in some cases, abnormal. Their liberty is so restricted that all initiative and self esteem suffers. This is particularly evident when they leave the school. The boys find it difficult to establish ordinary human relationships and not infrequently are very difficult to manage. I recommend a more liberal approach in the matter of outings, holidays etc. This year 150 boys will be away for August. Some to their families, others to god-parents and friends. The remaining 250 will stay on in Artane. The trade shops close for two weeks but the boys are transferred to work on the farm. This naturally breeds discontent and frustration. Some effort should be made to provide a holiday, however brief, for the unlucky ones.
The introduction of interested parties and voluntary groups would lend a welcome change to the drabness and monotony of the Institute. The more winds of change that blow through Artane the less stagnation and ugliness there will be. Here I am thinking of possible work for the Volunteer Corps or its counterpart, which some day I trust will be available for girls. Greater co-operation could be obtained from the Brothers with regard to the God-parents Guild which does invaluable work in befriending destitute children. The Guild often complains to me of the difficulty in making contacts with Artane. The question of God-parents needs to be looked into, and full use of its potential obtained.
THE BAND : In my opinion the band is the only worthwhile achievement of the school. About 80 boys are involved, but this number is only a fraction of the total. The time used, the money spent, the number of engagements annually met are, I fear, out of all proportion to the results obtained. The maintenance of the band, although approximating £2,000 annually, is a continual strain on financial resources. Further, a serious gap in the boys’ education follows from prolonged hours of practice and days missed from school. There is no evidence that even a small number continue their musical career on leaving the school. Instruments are costly and encouragement is lacking. Indeed, the Brother in charge could be most helpful in placing the boys in suitable positions. Unfortunately, he is unwilling. I feel obliged to refer to the interest taken in the band boys by a Protestant layman whose constant practice it is to accompany the boys on each and every engagement. He renders no service to the school, and in my opinion should not be present. On one occasion when I questioned the Brother concerning this matter I found him not only discourteous but impertinent.
The band is good publicity but its prestige revolves around itself. It is unrelated to the true conditions obtaining in the school.
A great deal of discussion has taken place between the authorities at Artane and previous Chaplains about the problems arising in the matter of religious observance. In my experience these problems are very real. Religion seems to make little impression on the majority of the boys. With many ex-pupils the practice of their Faith is a burden to be shunned, and they associate their religious training with repression. Indeed, many of the problems I encounter are quite alarming. I suggest that much of the trouble arises from the regimentation attached to the various religious exercises.
Up to three years ago daily Mass was obligatory for the boys. It was the opinion of the Chaplains that this excellent practice was proving too much for the boys. It was decided that the boys’ attendance at Mass be voluntary, as the early rising for 7 o’clock Mass was unreasonable. The result of this decision was that only a handful of boys attended Mass regularly. Last year the Superior decided to go back on this decision and oblige the boys to attend Mass on two mornings each week. It seems to me a great spiritual loss that attendance at daily Mass should be relegated to the voluntary whims of adolescent minds. The obvious solution would be to put forward the hour of the Mass by one hour, but at this suggestion the Superior was unwilling to change the programme.
The Rosary is recited daily in Chapel. Many of the boys complain to me of the weariness they have in attending the Rosary. This is quite natural, but I would like to see a change in the practice to give the boys an opportunity of appreciating the value of praying in small groups or even alone. Too often the Christian Doctrine classes are without enthusiasm, and lacking incentive. I altogether repudiate the use of physical punishment for failure at these lessons. At times it is excessive.
CHAPEL : The Chapel at Artane does not inspire devotion, or indeed little reverence. It is stone-flagged and untidy, the furnishings are rough, uncomfortable and unattractive. It is greatly in need of decoration. The brass ware is inferior, stained and damaged; the sacred linen is carelessly handled and arranged. Some time ago mice were discovered in the Sacristy and on opening the Corporal before Mass I noticed it to be soiled by animal excretion. A few days later the Chasuble was in a similar condition. These isolated incidences merely indicate the general tone of the Chapel. The care of the Sacristy should be entrusted to females, preferably nuns.
PRIMARY: It is difficult to assess with satisfaction the extent of the problems attending the education, literary and technical of the boys. To my mind the standard is extremely low. Constantly I receive letters fro ex-pupils and at times I am amazes by their illegible form and unintelligible content. The majority of the boys are lacking in verbal ability. Last year a friend of mine took 22 boys on a camping holiday. He informed me that that although their ages ranged from 10 to 14 years, only 7 could write, and these had to be assisted. There seems to be an urgent need for some psychological assessment of the boys before grading them in classes. I believe that some of these boys are mentally handicapped and require psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately the Brothers are obliged to grade these boys as best they can. This is an undue hardship on teacher and pupil. I strongly recommend that the services of a competent psychiatrist should be sought.
TECHNICAL: It is, perhaps, in this department that the most glaring defect is noticed. At 14 the boy is admitted to the Trade shop. This year there are 150 boys in that department, but of these only 12 were eligible for the Vocational School examination. Last year, out of 18 who sat for the examination only 5 were successful. In view of the requirements of Technical education, the situation in Artane is obsolete. There seems to be no effort to train the boys satisfactorily at their trades. They might be described as juvenile labourer, uneducated and unskilled. This is evident from the variety of tasks to be done by individual boys. Vocational guidance is unknown. Boys are allotted to various trades without reference to their suitability or preference. This unhappy position inevitably engenders frustration. A factual proof of this is the way in which the boys are placed on leaving the school.
In the past two years 140 boys or so were discharged. Approximately 75% of these were placed at employment for which they were never trained. The purpose of the school is therefore defeated. The lay instructors are all of long standing in the school – some with service varying from 29 to 30 years. They are not acquainted with modern teaching methods and practice. Little encouragement is given them towards fostering an enthusiastic and progressive attitude towards the boys. Many of them that are competent are underpaid and unappreciated.
PERSONNEL : There are 26 Brothers in the Community. An analysis of their function reveals the shortage of specialised teachers who are kind and dedicated. Only 10 Brothers are directly involved in teaching; three of these in addition are attending the University. It seems to me that these men are overworked, for apart from the multitude of tasks attending the daily schedule and the prescriptions of their own religious life, they have in addition the supervision and care of a large dormitory and the supervision of recreation. Six Brothers are at the school from 15 to 35 years, and to these are entrusted authoritative and administrative positions. Clearly, a more enlightened and efficient staff is required, but in this connection the Provincial once complained to me of the difficulty in finding dedicated men. To me this is a startling revelation of the incompetency of the Brothers to conduct the school without the assistance of trained lay personnel.
The Report of the Commission in 1936 made specific mention of the lack of appreciation and responsibility in exercising aftercare by the authorities at Artane. Twenty six years does not seem to have brought about any change in this matter. The Children’s Act 1908 obliges the Brothers to exercise aftercare for two years on a boy’s discharge. This task is performed at Artane by an elderly Brother who is preoccupied in seeking employment for the boys. Within six months of my appointment I requested your Grace’s permission to use a car for this purpose. I intimated that my work was increasing in this field. I am happy to acknowledge Your Grace’s spontaneous and generous permission, and my work has been facilitated by Your Grace’s constant support and encouragement. I work in conjunction with a Praesidium established by the past pupils of St Mary’s College, Rathmines, which was requested by Father John Pierce, C.C., to undertake the running of a club for Artane ex-pupils. I am obliged to say that the Brothers’ attitude towards a Chaplain’s work in this field is uncooperative and even resentful. I am confident that your Grace appreciates the necessity of this work. The Praesidium informs me that in the past five years 80% of these boys have emigrated. It is my experience that many of these boys whom I know personally have lapsed entirely from the Faith. In Dublin I find these boys in dead-end jobs without any opportunity of advancing themselves. For some, the working conditions, especially in the country, are primitive; others are exploited for less than a living wage. Emigration in their case is a blessing. My remarks heretofore, refer to boys discharged at 16 years of age, but at least 70 boys between 12 and 14, school non-attendance cases, have left the school in the past two years. For these latter, the Brothers relinquish all responsibility in aftercare. The Superior in Salthill Industrial School is most attentive to this aspect of the boys’ training. By elaborate means and by painstaking methods he has shown what an efficient management can achieve.
In this Report I have endeavoured to illustrate, by factual information, the deficiencies in the Management of Artane. No doubt there are reasonable explanations for many of the inadequacies. It is my opinion, however, that a reappraisal of the system at Government level is necessary and a major reform of the management of Artane is desired.
I strongly recommend the introduction of female personnel, preferably nuns, who would take care of the domestic arrangements and the charge of the small boys. The school should have a patron saint by name, and the stigma of the present system should be removed from the public mind.
This Report would be incomplete without a special mention of the personal interest which Your Grace has taken in the welfare of these boys. I have been singularly impressed and I am deeply grateful for the assistance Your Grace has given me and which continues to hearten me no end.