Sunday, 19 August 2012 Listen to internet radio with Fire Talk Productionon Blog Talk Radio WARNING VERY GRAPHIC DISCUSSION ON CHILD ABUSE! Panel: David Little Eagle and Nell Cole The Girl Nobody Wants – A shocking true story of child abuse in Ireland Lily O’Brien (Author) Please join us as we hear from the Author’s own words what she lived as a child. The show is dedicated to her brother Simon. Also, to all those children who lost their life or took their life because of the pain of living with what happened to them. This is the shocking true story of an innocent girl abused by the very people who said they would take good care of her. Lilly’s family began the path to her destruction – they used and abused her – but they never ever wanted or loved her. The little girl was sexually physically and emotionally abused by many people around her who were able to hide behind the security of Ireland’s Catholic Church-run institutions. She also suffered at the hands of other people around them who they called their friends. You only get one chance to live your life as a child, but Lilly was never given that chance – her childhood was taken from her before it ever begun. You may contact her at: https://www.facebook.com/Thegirlnobodywants
Parent/s had to partly pay for the upkeep of their children in Goldenbridge Industrial ‘School’. Intrinsically this would have been applicable to all parent/s in every industrial ‘school’, who had been ordered to do so by the Courts. My mother was exempt from paying because she was on a disability pension, having suffered with TB. I think it was such a pity, as, moreover, if she did have to pay for my upkeep there would have been tabs kept on her, and in all probability I may have gained some knowledge of her existence during or after Ieaving Goldenbridge at 16? Unfortunately fate never chanced that happening, which was to the detriment of my emotional and all rounded healthiness. In my estimation, I think she was let off the hook, as eventually she went on to gain a very successful job in Birmingham Assay office, and would have been deemed financially fit to pay for my upkeep in Goldenbridge. She spent a quarter of a century in that stable job. She was originally a poultry instructress, having gained experience at a college for farmer’s daughters, but moving to Dublin, there was not any call for jobs of that description. I know that she worked at a farm in Co WIcklow.
Ownership of Industrial Schools
At the time when Ireland obtained Independence, the Irish State inherited the capitation method of funding the Reformatories and Industrial Schools that was already in existence during that time. There was never any change to that system of funding until the 1960s.
The main players in the management of the system were religious Orders, the Resident Managers’ Association, the Departments of Education, Justice, Health, and Finance, and the local authorities. The key State roles were oversight and inspection, which were primarily inhabited by the Department of Education.
The Industrial schools and Reformatories were owned by the religious Orders. The latter were responsible for all the whole maintenance of their respective buildings. It was for delicate religious reasons that the British administration decided upon paying for the children as Catholic communities were ever fearful of the other side being given too much power by the authorities.
In the early 1950s, Sr Bianca made the decision to acquire a holiday home for Goldenbridge in Rathdrum, County Wicklow. In 1954, a large house was bought for £3,000. According to Sr Alida, the money earned from the bead-making contributed £1,000 of this purchase price. According to the Opening Statement to the CICA:
… it enabled everyone to have a summer holiday away from the institution. All children would spend some time in the summer at the holiday house and those who could not go home for a holiday spent the entire summer holidays there.Although some former residents did not enjoy going to Rathdrum during the holidays, for most of them it represented a welcome respite from school and, in particular, from bead-making.
A teacher in the Institution, gave evidence that, prior to the purchase of the house in Rathdrum, children went on holidays to other Sisters of Mercy homes that were in the countryside or beside the sea. To spend £3,000 on a house that was only used for a few weeks every year, at a time when food and clothing and basic educational equipment were lacking, does not appear to be the most appropriate allocation of scarce resources.
- The State is responsible for the certification and inspection of schools.
- The local authority is responsible for providing for the reception and maintenance of the child in a suitable certified reformatory or industrial school – which responsibility it can discharge by ‘contract with the managers of any certified school for the reception and maintenance therein of youthful offenders or children for whose reception and maintenance the authority are required under this section to make provision.’
- Both the State and the local authority have a responsibility to provide funding towards the costs of a child maintained in a certified Reformatory or Industrial School.
- The managers of the certified school have a responsibility, once they have accepted a child, to teach, train, lodge, clothe and feed the child.
These roles were implemented as follows:
- The Department of Education issued circulars defining the standards of treatment of children in the Schools.
- The Department of Education operated a process of inspection of schools.
- The State and local authorities provided funding through the capitation grant, the primary grant and, occasionally, other grants for specific purposes.
- The religious Orders owned and managed the schools, providing clergy to act as managers and staff, and hiring lay staff.
The Resident Managers’ Association acted as a vehicle for interaction with the Department of Education, including a role in seeking increased funding. The legislation that established the Industrial Schools system only provided for the maintenance of the children.The Department of Education’s Rules and Regulations were clear as to what the minimum standards were. Rule 5 stipulated that
the children shall be supplied with neat, comfortable clothing in good repair, suitable to the season of the year, not necessarily uniform either in material or colour.
Rule 6 provided minimum standards for an adequate diet:
The Children shall be supplied with plain wholesome food, according to a Scale of Dietary to be drawn up by the Medical Officer of the School and approved by the Inspector. Such food shall be suitable in every aspect for growing children actively employed and supplemented in the case of delicate or physically under-developed children with special food as individual needs require. No substantial alterations in the Dietary shall be made without previous notice to the Inspector. A copy of the Dietary shall be given to the Cook and a further copy kept in the Manager’s Office.
I wrote an article some years ago about the hunger and starvation in Goldenbridge.
Every morning in the chapel children fainted through weakness, because of the lack of food in their growing bodies. It was shameful. They were given out to by the nuns and told that they were seeking attention. The nuns were most mortified that they should faint in front of the rest of the convent nuns. there was no sympathy shown to them or any help given from any kind of nurse, as there were no professional nurses employed in the institution and the nuns were only trained in education or kitchen work, if they were interns.
Part 7 St. Vincent’s Industrial School – Goldenbridge
The application of State funding to the care of children in the institution
7.1 A limited amount of financial information is available in respect of Goldenbridge industrial school:
- — No accounts were available for the period 1939–50
— Accounts were available for the period 1955–69 in six-monthly sets with the exception of the six-month periods ended 31st December 1957, 30th June 1968 and 30th June 1969. The period ended 31st December 19606 has also been omitted from our analysis as this appears to be a duplication of the 30th June 1960 accounts and therefore is of questionable validity. Two different sets of accounts were made available to us for 1953. For the purpose of this analysis we have used SOMGB-00568/12 and SOMGB-00568/13. In the years 19617 and 19638 we note that the accounts of the Goldenbridge do not appear to tot correctly. We have used the detailed analysis in the accounts rather than relying on sub-totals as presented.
7.2 We have not received any financial information from the Sisters of Mercy in relation to bead-making. We have calculated, based on information from a company that Goldenbridge sold beads to, that the likely range of the annual income from beads was IR£717 per annum to IR£2,869 per annum.
7.3 We note that, with the exception of the 1953 accounts, there is no record of the school having received primary grant funding in respect of teachers in the Industrial School.
7.4 A building account was operated during the period under review. We received accounts for the period 1961–66 in six-monthly sets with the exception of the six months ended 30th June 1962 and 30th June 1964.
7.5 The income and expenditure statements for the industrial school, for the years provided, show a surplus of €33,409
7.6 The most significant items of expenditure can be summarised as follows:
|Building repairs and decorations||11||16|
|Fuel and light||7||7|
|Furniture and fittings||3||3|
The wages identified above consist of staff wages, payments to the Resident Manager and payments to the reverend mother.
7.8 Capital expenditure in the school account amounted to €68,745 recorded in the income and expenditure statements received. This was mainly attributable to repairs to building, decorations and furniture and fittings. Capital expenditure financed from the building account during the period 1961–66 amounted to €90,000, giving a total capital expenditure of €158,745 for the period reviewed. Due to the incomplete nature of the records we are unable to determine whether the lodgements to the building account represent capital grants or general funding of the school which was allocated to capital expenditure. It is unclear how much of this fund was used for properties other than for the Industrial School; although based on a review of a sample of such expenditure we did note a certificate for payment in respect of Rathdrum in the amount of IR£750 – suggesting that the fund was not applied solely to the Industrial School.9
Commentary on the effects of changes in the number of children in the relevant institutions over the period 1939–69
7.9 The number of children committed to Goldenbridge Industrial School peaked in the early 1960s and then began to decline in the late 1960s.
A commentary on staffing/student ratios over the period of the review
7.10 We understand that the staffing consisted of two nuns (both teaching and one having the dual responsibility of resident manager), two lay teachers and between approximately 8 and 10 other staff (seamstress, domestic, etc.). We understand that numbers of teaching staff remained constant during the period.
Financial consequences for the relevant institutions as a result of caring for the children over the period 1939–69
7.11 There was a surplus in the bank account of the Industrial school at 30th November 1969 of €16,265
7.12 The financial consequences for Goldenbridge of caring for the children over the period 1939–69 may be characterised as being close to break-even. This view is consistent with the available financial statements. We note, however, that the school accounts do not include funds from the industrial activity at the school, and that they do not include any amount in respect of primary grant received, with the exception of an amount of IR£878 in 1953.
7.13 There were peak years for payments of wages and salaries in 1953 and 1954 of approximated €4,900 per annum. These levels were not reached again until 1967. We note from the payments books, which are only available subsequent to 1960, that they show a payment, recorded as wages, to the reverend mother of IR£90 per month. We do not know whether this payment actually represented wages or if the funds were used for the school or for another purpose.
Is this the same Viscountess Jackson I knew in Goldenbridge?
Geraldine possibly did drink from a toilet bowl (I know I didn’t, especially as there was a tap in the yard).
During the time of the Goldenbridge controversy, it was claimed by someone close to Sr. Xaveria that they (her gang of cronies from the LOVE contingency) were to say to the commission to inquire into child abuse (CICA) that ‘there was a tap in the yard.’ I do have a vague recollection of a tap in the yard, but it can’t have been there always. Or, if it was it was hardly in working order. The reason I say this, is because I used to scoop up water from the cistern and toilet bowl at the end of the yard, as did other children. I also lifted water out of the toilet with a marmalade can at the end of the yard. I can still see the inner orange coloured reflection, as the water danced and moved inside the can. I can’t for the life of me fathom as to why other children and myself would have been drinking out of the toilets in the yard if there was a tap there? Whether it worked is another thing! However, there would have been no access to the yard at night-time, or the washroom, or laundry in the earlier years before Carmel was built, so that meant no access to water. Children who wet the bed were not allowed to drink fluids after 6: 00 p.m.
The poor Viscountess possibly did have teeth extracted by a dentist, like the rest of us, but I see hers were “yanked out . . . needlessly”
How utterly condescending to address a survivor of Goldenbridge in that manner. I would surmise that the author is personally digging at Geraldine’s title, as opposed to addressing the ‘teeth’ issue.
Geraldine is perfectly aware that Sr Xaveria always had the toddlers in the nursery running after her when she walked in. She’d hand them sweets, pat them on their little heads, and they’d run after her pulling at her habit. Wonder if the two Geraldine’s are related?
What a load of old baloney. Sr. Xaveria beat the living daylights out of small and big children – who were lined up every single morning in St. Patrick’s classroom – that was meant for teaching children. They feared for their lives of this fearsome nun who frothed at the mouth and danced, as she rained down the shiny bark of a tree on them. Some children even wet themselves they were so distraught. Last thing at night the same nun was to be seen flogging children who would have been waiting for hours on end in sleeveless nighties and bare feet on a cold landing, just outside her cell.
There was a room – I wouldn’t call it a nursery, as there were no special facilities befitting a nursery where babies and toddlers were strapped on potties for long durations. They were fed on these potties, and they slept on these potties. In all my time in Goldenbridge I never witnessed Sr. Xaveria going to that room to nurture and give them sweets. I really do not know where Angel Howard gets this information? Is she one of the clan who was told to say ‘there was a tap in the yard?’ ‘Pulling and running after her habit,’ is this for real? I never saw the nun lift a child in her arms from the day I went there to the day I left. I do know though, that she did soften when she went to Rathdrum, and maybe there she was openly kinder to children, as she would not have had the stresses and strains that she so obviously had to contend with in Goldenbridge. Rathdrum was also very open, and not an enclosed prison-like environment, so she would not have got away with such brutal behaviour there, that was the norm in Goldenbridge. Sr. Xaveria ruled the roost, and took it upon herself to boss everyone in sight. Children, nuns in the convent, parents, workers, the whole shebang. How dare Angel Howard make snide remarks such as “Wonder if the two Geraldine’s are related?” I too wonder if Angel Howard and Florence Horseman-Hogan are one and the same person with respect of this abominable article. It reeks of the latter.
Another letter was also written to the the media that followed the one above:
Irish Times, 1 May 1996, Letter from Ann Mahr
I am a former “Goldenbridge Girl” I was in Goldenbridge Orphanage from 1955, age 2 weeks to 1965. I have nothing but happy memories of my childhood during that time. When I saw the media coverage of alleged abuse in the orphanage I was shocked. I have shared many of my happy memories of my childhood with my children as most parents do but when they heard these allegations they felt I had misled them.
While I wouldn’t dream of disputing these allegations I feel that perhaps the whole thing wasn’t investigated properly. Before the media coverage nobody consulted me about my time at Goldenbridge or consulted me before a photograph of me in a group of girls which included Christine Buckley was printed in a Sunday newspaper. A number of people have contacted me who were also in Goldenbridge at the time who wondered where these allegations were coming from as we were not aware of any of it.
I feel now that my childhood has been taken from me, and just because I was unlucky enough to be an orphan nobody bothered to hear my side of the story. I sympathise with those who have suffered pain because of things which they endured, however, the loss of my childhood has caused me a lot of mental anguish and a sense of a loss of identity. “Who am I now?” Being referred to as an “inmate” of Goldenbridge by Pat Kenny horrified me as I always assumed that I was just a little girl who had no parents but who had caring people looking after me in what was my home for almost 10 years.
How do I now get my childhood and identity back? Who can help me? What about the unfortunate mothers who were forced to give their children up for one reason or another? Surely they are in anguish as to how their child was treated. This needs to be investigated thoroughly for people like me to get on with their lives. If a documentary follow up to Dear Daughter is to be made I hope the producers will research it properly and look into where these babies are that were supposedly strapped to potties as I was one of these babies.
(formerly Teresa A. Norton), Ballyfermot, Dublin 10.
Teresa Norton definitely had to be a La La (pet) at Goldenbridge. Pets were the bane of our lives, as they were treated so differently to the rest of the inmates. They were singled out for special care. For example, they were allowed to wear their hair long and had special aeroplane ribbons. They went to outside school. They were petted right in front of us, and were called by endearing names, while the rest of us were just the scum of the earth. They were given clothes that belonged to us – given by host families. They went out with rich families, while poor families were chosen for the rest.
I don’t remember Teresa Norton at all. I would have to see a photo in order to recognise, or perhaps know what her number was in the institution. What a lucky person she was/is that she has not been psychologically affected by Goldenbridge industrial school, since she was only two weeks old. I’ve met many survivors who have blocked out the reality of their childhood there.
I’ve met past inmates who worshipped the ground that Sr. Xaveria walked upon. The same inmates were given the opportunity to go to outside school and excel, and would have been treated leniently by Sr. Xaveria in Goldenbridge.
My friend, Sr Xavieria, the ‘evil monster’
Florence Horsman-Hogan recalls the contested legacy of a controversial nun,
10 MARCH 2013
My GOOD friend Sister Maura Lally passed away in late January in her early 90s. Aged 87, despite having undergone surgery, she was still well known for hopping on a bus and heading into a prison or city-centre flat where she’d visit some of her ‘past pupils’. Or sometimes, no matter how tired or unwell she was – she would diligently write letters and cards to send to her ‘past pupils’ who wrote to her or rang her, wanting to keep in touch with their ‘mother’.
Maura had gone to Goldenbridge Industrial School as a young nun in the Forties. She became resident manager in the mid-Fifties. She described her time there as one of “hard work, blood, sweat and tears”, as the school had up to 190 pupils with six staff to look after them. I just can’t imagine nowadays any teacher or childcare worker accepting 24-hour care of over 30 children each. Scabies, rickets, dysentery, malnourishment, child brutality and poverty was the norm for post-war Ireland, but at least within the walls of the school the sisters felt they could provide some sort of safety.
She appeared to have great memories. I don’t know if she was just trying to fool herself – or whether she actually did manage, as a young woman with no childcare experience, to achieve some level of happiness in what appeared to me to be a world of drudgery and broken dreams.
In 1963 she was transferred from Goldenbridge to a smaller residential care facility run by the Sisters of Mercy in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. Although she would describe her time in Rathdrum as very happy, always, to me, she appeared to hanker for Goldenbridge.
Her support of others was legendary – making wedding dresses and even helping to pay for the weddings of former pupils. She was also big into encouraging girls to advance in education at a time when education of females wasn’t so hot in Ireland.
But here’s the rub. Maura, otherwise known as Sr Xavieria Lally, has also gone down in history as one of the most evil monsters to ever care for a child. Serious allegations of child abuse as the resident manager in Goldenbridge were featured in a programme called ‘Dear Daughter’ in 1996. The programme, which achieved worldwide fame, portrayed her as an evil child-beater, even bursting one girl’s leg open with a baseball bat, such were the beatings she gave.
A Prime Time programme featuring Maura and many past pupils from Goldenbridge was aired later. At the time Maura was 76. Pupils came forward to accuse and defend her with equal fervour. In one case, a girl directly contradicted an allegation by her sister that Sr Xavieria had thrown her into an old disused ‘furnace room’ and left her there for days, stating that it was a housekeeper who’d locked her there for less than an hour
By her own admission, Maura admitted “she used the stick” far more than she’d ever like to think about – but this was in the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ era.
Yes, there was abuse in Goldenbridge. But to hold one nun, herself a victim of the terrible poverty and oppression that had swept post-war Ireland, to blame for a poorly State financed, overcrowded and understaffed institution was cruelty itself. Even in the final Ryan Report, the most savage allegations made so publicly against her were omitted.
Despite garda investigations of the allegations of severe physical abuse in ‘Dear Daughter’, no criminal charges were ever brought against Sr Xavieria Lally. Such was her public vilification, that when 20 of her former pupils from Rathdrum tried to get a support letter published in the media, they had to get a solicitor to do it for them.
I don’t know the full truth of Goldenbridge. I only know through my own upbringing by a Sister of Mercy who was also accused of abuse in the Redress Board, that while there were many guilty of visiting terrible abuses on those of us who were vulnerable and unprotected – not all of those accused were guilty.
Spare a thought for abuse victims
If “Sr Xaveria was so big into education”, how come only a handful went to the nearby secondary school, given that Goldenbridge school was free, thanks to the generosity of the late Archbishop Cullen as stated in the Ryan Report?
The Dear Daughter documentary in 1996 was a small example of the horrors perpetrated in Goldenbridge. It was not stated in that documentary that “one girl’s leg was bust open with a baseball bat”, rather what I stated was that I received a savage attack with a stick which was like the bark of a tree and necessitated 80 to 90 stitches. This happened when I passed a letter to the breadman begging him to bring our nightmare into the public domain. Sadly, my letter found its way back into the hands of Sr Xaveria and hence I received that savage beating. With regards to the furnace episode in ‘Dear Daughter’, firstly, the furnace at that time was not disused as stated by Ms Horsman-Hogan. It was in daily use. The sister who contradicted her younger sister, on the Prime Time programme following the Dear Daughter documentary, of being locked in the furnace did not arrive at Goldenbridge until three years after this incident occurred. Her young sister was only a few days in Goldenbridge when this ordeal occurred.
The howling of this young girl in the furnace continues to haunt me even to this day – I remember it vividly.
Now that Sr Xaveria has passed away, Ms Horsman-Hogan might spare a thought for the hundreds of survivors/victims that Sr Xaveria has left behind. Given Ms Horsman-Hogan’s profession, that of a nurse, I find it difficult to have to remind her of the qualities of a good nurse, qualities such as sympathy, understanding, compassion and empathy are paramount in the care of sick children or children who find themselves, through no fault of their own, in State care. Ms Horsman-Hogan’s stay, as stated earlier, was happy under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. She was born lucky. The majority of us were not.
Director & Co-Founder, Aislinn Education & Support Centre for Survivors of Institutional Abuse, Dublin 1
I don’t know the full truth of Goldenbridge.
Exactly. Ms. Florence-Horseman-Hogan knows nothing about Goldenbridge. As with Sr. Helena O’Donoghue, the then Leader of the provincial order of the southern region of the Sisters of Mercy, she is a mere third party. It appears that she is suffering with confirmation bias, and wouldn’t that be only natural seeing that she was a good friend to Sr. Xaveria. I don’t doubt one bit that Sr. Xaveria R.I.P. didn’t do good work at Goldenbridge. In fact she took on too much responsibility, and dominated everyone. Nuns, children, and parents.
Calls to release Irish adoption records
Dan Griffin Thu, Oct 4, 2012, Irish Times:
Two women who were “illegally” adopted at birth have called on the Minister for Children to release State records which would enable them to find their biological mothers.Theresa Tinggal and Maria Dumbell travelled to Dublin from the United Kingdom to hand a letter to Frances Fitzgerald asking her to make available records relating to informal adoptions in the 1950s.Ms Tinggal and Ms Dumbell estimate housands of children were taken from women deemed unfit for parenthood and put up for adoption during the 20th century.“[I was] not adopted in the normal sense, but informally or illegally,” Ms Tinggal said. “I was handed over to my adoptive parents at two-days-old and then registered as their legal child.”
She discovered she was adopted a decade ago when, aged 48, she was told by a family relative. “Since then I have been searching relentlessly,” she said at a press conference in Dublin. “I still haven’t discovered my birth mother or discovered the circumstances surrounding my birth.”
Ms Dumbell found out she was adopted when she applied for a passport aged 20. When she requested a copy of her birth certificate for the application, she was told by Custom House that no such certificate existed under her name.
Both women pursued the Health Board for files which would help them to establish the circumstances of their births but received only partial records. The board granted Ms Tinggal documentation of her life from the age of two to 16 years, the last statement of which read: “Theresa still doesn’t know that she is adopted”.
Ms Dumbell received a similar document covering her life from the age of 14 months.
Ms Tinggal and Ms Dumbell said they have been frustrated by the HSE, which has told them it cannot legally release files relating to informal adoptions. Many of the records are currently in private hands, namely religious and other societies.
Independent Dublin North TD Clare Daly joined the women in calling for the drafting of legislation to allow for the release of the records.
“It is known that these records exist,” she said. “All the powers of the State should be used immediately… to ensure that the children taken from their mothers can find their mothers’ details.
“It is not good enough to talk about guaranteeing children’s rights in a new referendum if we continue to ignore children failed in the past.”
I pasted the whole article here, as the Irish Times articles disappear into archives when they’re dated.