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Thread: A Day In The Life of an Industrial School Boy - Punishment & Perspective

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    Politics.ie Member Andrew49's Avatar
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    Default A Day In The Life of an Industrial School Boy - Punishment & Perspective

    When I was asked about punishments in those places by someone who was never in those places I think she expected an answer like:
    "well they used their hands or fists to box us or clatter us, their feet to boot us and they used blackthorn sticks or big leather belts for more formal punishments."
    Sounds like an answer that couldn't be denied, that even she could relate to those types of punishments. She was about 40 years old and she was from the era of corporal punishment. But that wasn't the answer I gave her.

    In those places EVERYTHING was part of your punishment. Mealtimes were a PUNISHMENT. Our food was vile, it really would have been illegal AND cruel to feed pigs on what we "survived" on. Our main food really was bread and dripping. And the dripping wasn't the nice white strained stuff you'd see on the shelves of Tesco's all nicely wrapped, nope it was a funny yellow colour.

    Funny isn't the right word there - it was a kind of OFF-YELLOW/KHAKI colour. Having that spread on your skinner (slice of bread) in the morning at 7:00am was meant to sustain until 12:30 in the afternoon. I remember getting "porridge" too, note the quotes as when I became an adult and was given porridge I hesitated because what I was being served as an adult didn't look or didn't taste anything like what I got as porridge in those places. I firmly believe that this "porridge" we were given was something that the pigs had refused to eat.

    Dinners were another PUNISHMENT. Let me describe a STEW in those places. Imagine a gravy, not too thick now, with soft watery lumps, 3 strands of meat - these strands are THINNER than your laces and about the length of your thumb (this is the thumb of a 10 year old child), 2 round slices of carrot and 1 spud (green tinged of course). But wait now, we also got desserts sometimes, really we did. How ever so posh. May I describe the dessert? OK. Well it was a bread pudding. That's not very posh I hear you say - but hold on now - our bread pudding was also green-tinged AND had that OFF-YELLOW/KHAKI colour. Beat that if you can.

    Tea/Supper was the old reliable: Bread and Dripping again but THEY did try to vary our Tea/Supper because we'd get "Oxtail Soup" sometimes. Well THEY called it "Oxtail Soup" and I've watched, with something approaching jealousy, my own children having Oxtail Soup and let me tell you my children's Oxtail Soup is nothing like the "Oxtail Soup" dished up to us in those places. We'll never know what kind of dish it was as the Government of the day didn't have the right to demand from these orders the diet that we were fed on. I'm just talking about our diets in those places being used as way to PUNISH us. But really everything about those places was a PUNISHMENT.

    From the isolation from society, to the regimentation of little children - being forced to march from one place to another, children being forced to stand to attention in the yard semi-naked while the "nurse" inspected us OR, if the notion took her, have a good few of us scrubbed down with purple or brown iodine. Being forced to say rosaries was a PUNISHMENT, being forced violently to run around the yard with a lighted candle at night in the rain was a PUNISHMENT. Being forced violently to scrub toilets with your own toothbrush was a PUNISHMENT.

    Being forced violently to learn how to darn a sock was a PUNISHMENT. Being physically separated from your brother or sister was a PUNISHMENT. Being forced to listen to those black-garbed monsters denigrate you Mum and Dad was a PUNISHMENT. Being violently forced to become right-handed was a PUNISHMENT. And most of these PUNISHMENTS you became inured to, they became part of your everyday existence. You didn't think much of the rights and wrongs of them after a while, you let them lie in your sub-conscious mind until, as an adult, a certain aroma or sound or sight would bring them into focus and you'd rage against those black-garbed monsters. These black-garbed child haters are STILL working with vulnerable communities in this country, they've spread their particular poison around the world.

    PERSPECTIVE

    As a former detainee from Ferryhouse I'd like to state here that child detainees who wet their beds were punished...... Firstly they were segregated in the Dormitories. Secondly they were given a Special Name: SAILORS. Thirdly they were severely thrashed. Fourthly they were forced to wash their sheets with carbolic soap. Fifth they were separated from the rest of the boys for verbal and psychological humiliation. Sixth they were disallowed from washing themselves forcing them to go around all day smelling of urine - this meant that they received more physical punishments from those who were teachers or workshop managers.

    Another this representative said was that punishments were mostly spontaneous and not formal. That is another lie. Punishments were formal and they were entered in a book.


    • You were hit for Belching (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a hole in your sock (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a button missing from your shirt (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a button missing from your trousers (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a hole in your jumper (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for basically growing out of your shoes (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having dirt in your nails and this after spending the whole day picking spuds. (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a "tideline" after washing in the morning (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having soiled underwear - one of their obsessions (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for whispering in the chapel (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for walking when you should have been running (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for running when you should have been walking (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for turning left when you should have turned right (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for turning right when you should have turned left (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for not joining your hands in the chapel (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for getting a spelling wrong (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for not standing to attention when a Brother entered the room (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for not knowing your catechism (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for dropping a stitch in the knitting shop (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having dirty knees after being digging in the fields (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for being dirty after working in the pigsty (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for refusing to play hurling (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for refusing to play Gaelic football or hurling (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for being insolent - that's when you ask why you are being battered (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for snoring (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having your hands and arms under the blanket at night (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having a runny nose (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having scabies (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for reading the Victor, Valiant, Buster, Bunty or the Judy comic - these were deemed "corrupting" (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for looking sideways at a Brother or priest (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for making noises at night when you went to the toilet (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for not writing what was on the board when you got to write a letter to your mum or dad or a relative (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for scratching your head (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for vomiting during mealtimes (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for vomiting at anytime (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished for having nits in your hair (this was entered in a book)
    • You were punished if you cried for your mum or dad (this was entered in a book)

    You were punished for having a broken heart (this was NOT entered in a book).

    ......... Many of the witnesses commented on their lack of physical stature, which they believed was attributable to the inadequate diet they received in their formative years .....Over half a century later, the Committee noted that the lack of physical stature was still observable....
    ......... The physical hardship and deprivation described by the witnesses was observed and reported on in the course of the general and medical inspections carried out by the departmental medical inspector....
    ......... the method of enforcing discipline employed..., both in the classroom and in the school generally, was the infliction of physical punishment....
    ......... its frequency and its severity was suggestive of a regime in which infliction of severe physical punishment in the classroom was systemic....
    .......... A significant feature of the evidence was the fear which the enforcement of discipline engendered in the pupils. Witnesses testified that in later life, they had nightmares about being beaten....
    .......... From their hesitancy to recount their experiences and from their reticence about articulating the details, it was patently obvious that they were not accustomed to discussing such matters,
    ........... witnesses demonstrated a convincing and clear recollection of the core events. The evidence was characterised by idiosyncratic, unsolicited detail....
    Last edited by Andrew49; 29th June 2011 at 02:25 PM. Reason: removing formatting
    I watched with glee, while your kings and queens, fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

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    Politics.ie Member blacbloc's Avatar
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    It's heartbreaking.

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    I could not even reply to the above, other than as society we should hang our heads in shame..
    Dont stop talking or telling your story....
    To add to that I hope it will help us become better Irishman and women, we sure do need to in every respect..

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    Politics.ie Member blacbloc's Avatar
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    They say that there are none so oppressive as the oppressed. I wonder if there is something of that in what goes on in Ireland. Our collective psychology is forged in the severe oppression of colonialism and it has not made us very nice in some ways. As a society we are mean as sin about state provision and protection for vulnerable people. We love the expansive gesture but any suggestion of organised care and protection brings out the vicious little miser in us. I wonder if there wasn't some degree of sub-conscious self-hatred in what these priests and nuns - and others - were doing.

    We've still got a miserably funded health service (sure billions are being wasted on efforts to privatise it but money aint going to front line services); there has just been yet another report of ongoing neglect and abuse in mental institutions; disability services are chronically underfunded; no respite care for exhausted carers - there's a long list of things that we could and should be doing well if we really want to uphold the notion that we are a civilised country. Our politicians are horrible about these things. FF and FG alike.

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    Politics.ie Member Andrew49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbloc View Post
    They say that there are none so oppressive as the oppressed. I wonder if there is something of that in what goes on in Ireland. Our collective psychology is forged in the severe oppression of colonialism and it has not made us very nice in some ways. As a society we are mean as sin about state provision and protection for vulnerable people. We love the expansive gesture but any suggestion of organised care and protection brings out the vicious little miser in us. I wonder if there wasn't some degree of sub-conscious self-hatred in what these priests and nuns - and others - were doing.

    We've still got a miserably funded health service (sure billions are being wasted on efforts to privatise it but money aint going to front line services); there has just been yet another report of ongoing neglect and abuse in mental institutions; disability services are chronically underfunded; no respite care for exhausted carers - there's a long list of things that we could and should be doing well if we really want to uphold the notion that we are a civilised country. Our politicians are horrible about these things. FF and FG alike.
    I believe so ... the Industrial Schools kept us out of sight and so out of mind. There is/was a terrible hatred and fear of the poor in this country [probably a hangover from the Famine(?)] and that includes the working poor. The only enquiries the politicians made into the Industrial Schools was to ask, once every year, how many children were present in those places! Today there are only a handful of politicians seriously concerned about child care in Ireland.
    I watched with glee, while your kings and queens, fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

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    Andrew this is heartwrenching stuff. You should write a book on it.
    "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors"-Edmund Burke

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    Politics.ie Member L'Chaim's Avatar
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    There should be a sound archive founded so that the people who were abused when they were children can give their testimonies which would be preserved for posterity. The stories would most likely haunt and disturb anyone who listens to them in the future, but these stories should upset people. It should upset them so much that they will be used as an example of how children must never be treated. Feelings soften with time and people who can testify to what happened to them in these schools will die. There should be a sound archive

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    Politics.ie Member Andrew49's Avatar
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    Here are figures relating to the detention of children in Ireland in 50s and 60s. The middle column relates to how many children were indicted for some kind of delinquent activity. The third column shows the total number of children who were in those Industrial Schools for each year.

    Year -Indicted Total
    1950 56 - ----833
    1951 73 - ---789
    1952 - 70 - ---732
    1953 - 68 - ---626
    1954 - 55 - ---551
    1955 - 54 - ---553
    1956 - 47 - ---596
    1957 - 57 - ---572
    1958 - 63 - ---592
    1959 - 72 - ---623
    1960 - 50 - ---608
    1961 - 69 - ---664
    1962 - 79 - ---647
    1963 - 68 - ---611
    1964 - 70 - ---446
    1965 - 100 - ---433
    1966 - 93 - ---408
    1967 - 29 - ---226
    1968 - 24 - ---168
    1969 - 15 - ---112

    In those places we were treated as criminals and charity case - and the religious orders enriched themselves on our labour and our bodies.

    Gravesite of Letterfrack inmate Bernard Kerrigan - a four year old criminal !! - I wonder what his offence was? What kind of crime could a four-year-old child commit to deserve incarceration in Letterfrack?

    I watched with glee, while your kings and queens, fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

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    Politics.ie Member The OD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lidl_Shopper View Post
    Andrew this is heartwrenching stuff. You should write a book on it.
    And these books should be required reading in all Schools, irrespective of whether they are run by the state or by religious.

    We need it be instilled into people what happens when there is a dangerous relationship between a religion and a state - Iran & Saudi Arabia regularly abuse their citizens for transgressing against religious law - Ireland wasnt far off in many respects.
    Let's all raise a glass of frog milk to the ancient festival of Fargaltide!

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    Politics.ie Member powderfinger's Avatar
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    Powerful words Andrew49.

    You were punished for having a broken heart (this was NOT entered in a book).
    You have a gift which illuminates and should provoke even the blackest of cold-hearts.Those twisted phucks could not take that from you,thank God.
    Keep using it.



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