Name: Marie-Therese O’ Loughlin Date: 07/10/2009
“Do you remember we were handed old shoes worn by many over the years, once a year, from that shoe cupboard”
Firstly, thanks for that information re the letter. I cannot decipher who M.D. and T.R. are, by their initials? Yep, I remember clearly getting every year horrible old shoes and toe-lo’s, as we called the latter and plastic sandals during the summer months. The summer sandals, etc, were tied in pairs and piled up in a big heap in a very small cupboard opposite Ms. D’s room. I know from a lot of survivors that they subsequently suffered feet problems because of having to wear grossly inadequate foot-wear throughout their young lives. The large shoe-room (the one I was locked in for hours upon end), right next to Our Lady’s dormitory, housed all the new patent leather shoes and hornpipes that children wore for their communion and confirmation. They were faithfully returned to their respective shoe-boxes after the duration of their special holy days. Children attending court sessions also received shoes from staff members, from this room – which they instantaneously had to return after their appearances in court. You would never see La la’s hanging out of the small cupboard in search of appropriate footwear. They wore only the very best- sized shoes from the posh shoe-room. I remember as a child distinctly having to polish all the children’s shoes in the rec – in winter, and in summer – in the yard. Newspapers were laid out in a large space and I polished and polished away over a hundred and fifty pairs of shoes with the help of a handful of other children. We just took it for granted that this was the kind of thing children generally did. We became experts – the prison numbers of children had also to be refreshed on the insides with a special black marker. I know that there was a time when children had to wear hobnailer boots – so we should have considered ourselves lucky in that sense that we escaped by a mere scrape that prisoner boots era. I remember going into a dreadful tantrum because my communion hornpipes, that were bought especially for me by a host family, were suddenly snatched from me by a staff member, the moment I returned back to the institution, after a week-end out with the host family. I was flogged black and blue by the head honcho for the outburst. This family were big- time into the clothes business and they showered me with handmade beautiful frilly clothes and they too were all confiscated upon my return to Goldenbridge. The pets were to be seen by me afterwards wearing them and oh, how oftentimes, I pulled at their aeroplanes, which were hovering neatly over their swelled heads and caused disarray. BTW, Bridget S, is a pseudonymous name – am I correct? I personally refuse to hide behind another name anymore – as people in the blogosphere world have the propensity to abuse one and try to rip one even further apart – and it simply compounds unjustifiably the pain and trauma that one suffered as a child. I do not have to worry any longer about people trying to out me as a victim/survivor of institutional abuse. I am proud to stand up and be counted. There is so much fear within most victims/survivors of institutional abuse and I feel that they are still enslaved by their pasts. Why should they feel beholden to their loved ones and hide their pain to safeguard their loved ones security – because in the end it is a false security that is being passed on to them. The truth is better in the end as it sets one free. I have B&W to thank for being able to express myself as the person I am – now. I would thoroughly recommend to all ex Goldenbridge institution comrades that they should feel free to be themselves and not be what others in their lives might want them to be. We may have been part of the judicial system when we were children, through no fault of our own – but we do not have to always remain criminals or slaves – to ones’ families or the world at large.
Name: Marie-Therese O’ Loughlin Date: 27/09/2009
Re: Leo Igwe’s Public Symposium on Witchcraft. Thank you L. I. for opening our B&W eyes to witchcraft in Nigeria. Crikey, you really had to put up with a lot of nerve-wrecking bullying at the Cultural Centre in Calabar. So called Evangelist Helen Ukpabio and other pastors (who are presumably raking in exorbitant amounts of dosh from their nefarious, monstrous witchcraft rag trades) have certainly got a lot to answer for trying to foist these fiendish witchcraft labels on to innocent children. Because of the dastardly presence of them and the Boko Haram Islamic sect, life sounds so utterly discomfiting for ordinary folk in Nigeria. On several occasions in the past I accompanied a person to a Pentecostal “Victory” church in Westland Row, Dublin. I was bowled over with the beautiful singing. I shall be thinking differently about what the real ideology of this church is, in future. A lot of the attendees and organisers would be of Nigerian or African nationality. The Nigerian Humanist Movement and Stepping Stones Nigeria are doing marvellous work and are to be congratulated indeed! Well done, Leo igwe!
Name: Marie-Therese O’ Loughlin Date: 23/09/2009
“I remember there were a few girls in Goldenbridge who were born extremely bright, had they been given the chance could have been high achievers in the outside world”
Were not the names you mention given the opportunity by the Sisters of Mercy to go to the outside national/secondary school, during the same time as Christine (Chrissie West) Buckley? From what I gather some other children bowed out due to school pressures. I learned from CB that M.C. and P.J. were exceptional (outside school) scholars. Do you have any recollection of Sr. M.B. from whom Sr. X alleged learned her skills? I believe she was even worse than the latter. Yeah, a lot of children used to hide in the cupboard when they did not want to go to evening-times benediction in the chapel. I recall being locked (for an inordinate amount of time) in the shoe-room on the landing, when I was very small. I also remember staff threatening to throw children out of the two storeyed high Sacred Heart window if they were tumbling about in play. “None of us could take any more of the beatings neglect, cruelty, the pain of having to watch floggings by nuns and staff” Do you ever remember children (who either wet their beds or whatever else) having to line up in St Patrick’s – the queue even sometimes extended into St. Philomena’s and beyond into the washroom. Sr. X relished so much flogging and lashing the living ‘bejasus’ daylight out of them. It seemed to me that this ‘fix” was so desperately needed by her in order to get through her day. Yeah, children were absolutely worn out with the beatings and there was nobody around to rescue them as the other staff who stood by were too much in awe of her. Some victims/survivors who went to the commission to inquire into institutional abuse to tell their stories to Judge Ryan were still controlled by Sr. X. as when they were asked by Sr. Helena O’ Donoghue if they wished to see Sr. X. they did not refuse and even gave the latter a big hug. Nonetheless, it is very much understandable. “Marie and Pauline wrote the letter and gave it to the postman, but the next thing the head nun, the other horrible cruel nun and staff lined us all in the rec demanding to know who wrote the letter as the postman had given it back to Sister X.” I heard a similar story and outcome of it on the “Dear Daughter” documentary which depicts life in GB. Did this story happen on another occasion? It was sad to hear about the death Kathleen O’ Neill, Mary Gavin and Valerie Logue and Bridie Gaynor. Would you have remembered them at all? “The only available water for us to drink was from the toilet – with mouths dry with fear there was a rush to the toilet.” Yeah, I vividly remember sticking a can (with gold mirrored lining inside) into the end of the yard stinking toilets to scoop up water to drink. It was so refreshing. I also remember being dragged out of bed in the Sacred Heart (‘wet the bed’ dormitory) in the early hours of the morning and being forced to sit two to one toilet. Children invariably slipped on the drenched urine floors in their confused overtired states as well as from being pushed by staff to hurry up. I also used to wash my underclothes at the dead of night and place them between the torn army blanket or underneath my sheet where I lay. This way I got out of being humiliated when we had to show them to the staff for inspection. As you know, children who were not crafty enough were subjected to having them put up on display in the workroom.