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2006-11-03 14:47:37 Marie-Therese O’ Loughlin

Re: From the Guestbook {2}

The Sisters of Mercy have denied there was “any deliberate, severe injury to anybody” at St Vincent’s industrial school in Goldenbridge, Dublin which they ran.

They also insisted the food there was always adequate, and progressed from being adequate to being varied and appetising, the investigation committee of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was told in April 2006

As the committee’s phase III public hearings continued, Sr Helena O’Donoghue, leader of the Sisters of Mercy south central province, said the order denied that any child at Goldenbridge was referred to by number. “Every child was known by their own name,” she said, “numbers were used for laundry purposes only”.

On the subject of Goldenbridge Industrial School, Sr Helena O’Donoghue, who gave evidence, on behalf of her order The Sisters of Mercy to the Commissions Investigation Committee specifically did so ‘as a third party’. All those concerned with Goldenbridge must never forget this fact. Sr. Helena’s portrayal of the institution was in total contrast to the one where I was detained for almost a whole childhood, at the pleasure of the Irish State. We cannot accept as correct allegations of extreme physical punishment, starvation, and malnourishment” is just one example of the blatant inaccuracies. I COULD FILL A BOOK WITH SUCH outrageous falsities that were uttered on the day by the good sister. Undoubtedly, Patrick Gageby SC had her well groomed. Sr Helena O’ Donoghue, of course, cannot accept otherwise as her unfathomable saintly,- deeply spiritual mind would notwithstanding smash to smithereens if she were to indisputably comprehend the truth. The harsh regime that existed in Goldenbridge was a fundamental realism & it blighted the lives of incalculable ex detainees. The ethos of the Sisters of Mercy’s Foundress, Mother Catherine McCauley may have been practiced by the nuns in the convent attached to Goldenbridge industrial school, but it did not cast a shadow on the cold, unreceptive, uncongenial, gloomy wretched child labour camp. “Will you tell the Sisters to get a good cup of tea when I am gone and to comfort one another.” so said the Foundress, There were never comfort cups of tea available to the children in the gulag. We had to make do with rationed black sugarless cocoa from malodorous plastic cups,
Supper, was served at 6; pm each evening, it consisted of two slices of bread/margarine & cocoa. It was the ultimate meal until breakfast the next morning. Children, had, in the interim to return to the classroom which was turned into a makeshift rosary-bead factory to finish their quota of 60 decades & 12 threes of the rosaries. It was a strenuous protracted task indeed! Mother McCauley also said “It is for God we serve the poor, and not for thanks” She did not say that the poor in the guise of gullible, vulnerable children should be serving the Sisters of Mercy for no thanks, as that is unerringly what did happen. .She also told her nuns to “be ever ready to praise, to encourage, to stimulate, but slow to censure, and still more slow to condemn”. The nuns never praised children at all, indeed; the nuns incessantly denigrated & reminded same of their disadvantaged parental background, unluckily and unhappily once too often children were never either encouraged, that was the preserve kept for the ‘specials’ – ‘pets’ – ‘la la’s’ – as we mere inferiors despondently stood by. The only encouragement we got from the nuns/untrained staff was when they told us to ‘get on’ with the rosary bead making, the scrubbing and cleaning of the entire institution. You’ll notice study or education of any kind did not come into the ‘encouragement’ equation. Education was a non – word. Yet the Sisters of Mercy were/are primarily a teaching order. Only one person in Goldenbridge, since the 1800s did a Leaving Cert, that person was Christine Buckley. It tremendously backfired – as Christine went on to tell of the atrocities that occurred in Goldenbridge when she did a documentary some ten years ago – Dear Daughter – Louis Lenton, it inevitably in the aftermath – shocked the entire nation. When I left the institution I learned reading skills from – name captions above shops, buses & advertisements in general – as I was hungry to learn. There was no such thing as a library in Goldenbridge with the exception of religious pamphlets which were given to ous when we did yearly silent week-end retreats. Most of us left with great learning deficits. In every sense of the word – the nuns/untrained staff deprived us of much needed stimulation Children were cooped up every day in a beads factory after so-called school, so how could  they in all candour derive any stupefaction/beguilement of their imprisoned environment, let alone from the ‘outside world’ of which, most knew nothing. There was a field directly on the periphery of the industrial school, behind the pertinently named, everlastingly locked ‘wicket’ gate, it was albeit only for the usage of Neddy the donkey. We had to make do with an enclosed high prison wall yard. Christine Buckley succinctly described it to a tee “there was a yard where the sun never shone.” Brendan Beehan’s mother, who was also incarcerated in Goldenbridge, made reference to it – in a depreciative, disparaging manner in a written form.
When or how are we expected to take up our cross and follow Christ, if we are not to meet with it in those with whom we are associated? Can Sr Helena O’Donoghue & Patrick Gageby answer that question posed by Mother Catherine MaCauley?

Marie-Therese O’ Loughlin. Convict. 155 + 39. I state quite categorically that these were the numbers I went under during entire internment.

Last edited by Marie-Therese O’ loughlin (2006-11-03 18:56:19)


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