Goldenbridge: Childhood story and poems

I had to learn the following children’s story and poems off by heart in first and second class in Goldenbridge industrial school in the late fifties. They were taken from the very first schoolbook I received in Miss Lowe’s (St. Bridget’s rosary bead sweat-shop.) I still remember them all to this very day, as they were drummed and thumped into me every single day of my life. Unbeknownst, I find myself subconsciously reciting them with a rather accentuated exaggerated posh accent. That must have been the way I learned them as a child.

Getting up.

 We are very sleepy this morning as usual. Why… we wonder what time it is? Goodness  gracious me…it must be nearly 9 O’clock? Why didn’t they call us? We were late for school yesterday and we don’t want to be late again today. There is no help for it–we must leeeeeeeave the blankets and tumble out on to the cooooooold floor. If we hurry with our washing and rush our breakfaaaaaaast. We may be in time after all.

I used to always wonder who they were who didn’t call the children in time for school? Not Having having had parents to identify with they were indeed a complete mystery?

I recall Bernadette Fahy, author of Freedom of Angels – a book about a childhood spent in Goldenbridge relaying the story about the pictures of *parents* and children in utter domestic bliss situations; that adorned the classroom walls, were utterly at variance with the reality of the lives of the child inmates. Children were mostly clueless as to what families were for, as they’d absolutely no experience of parents, given their institutional backgrounds. I remember the chapel crib of the holy family with the animals in the backdrop breathing out warm air to keep the baby Jesus warm. I desperately wondered if Mary & Joseph could look at me in the same loving way. Families equated with belonging to nice cuddly nice babies like Jesus in the crib and good children that adorned the walls, and not disturbed, disruptive child inmates whom I later learned were classed as the scum of the earth, and the offspring of low-lifes and only fit to be hidden away in child prisons with numbers for identities. It’s no wonder that mostly most of us who are still living, still do not get to enjoy life in people’s houses as we have written all over our foreheads, keep a wide berth…not to be acknowledged, lest one becomes contaminated with the affection-less thieves mindset.

Three Pigs.

There are three pigs.

The first pig is fat. The next pig is fatter

The last pig is fattest. He is the fattest of them all.

If I were an apple

If I were an apple. And grew on a tree

I think I’d drop down. On a nice boy like me.

I wouldn’t stay there. Giving no one any joy–

I’d fall down at once. And say, “Eat me, my boy.”

Here’s an As Gaeilge (Irish) counting poem where one points to different body parts as one says:  i.e., for the first line – one points at one eye (“súil”), then the other eye (“súil eile”), then one’s first eye again (“a haon”) and then the other one again (“a dó”).

The translation of each line is in brackets and the phonetic punctuation is at the end.

Súil, súil eile, a haon, a dó ( eye, other eye, one, two)
Cluas, cluas eile, a haon, dó ( ear, other ear, one, two)
lámh, lámh eile, a haon, a dó ( hand, other hand, one, two)
cos, cos eile, a haon, a dó ( leg, other leg, one, two)

Ceann, srón, béal, smig, (head, nose, mouth, chin)
Fiacla geala sa bhéal istigh (shiny teeth inside the mouth)

Pronunciations follow:

Súil = sue-il  haon = hay-on dó = dough  Cluas = clue-us  lámh = law-of cos = kuss

You know this next poem is one that all toddlers in Goldenbridge could so easily have identified and claimed as their own.


By Fay Inchfawn

The Baby over the way, I know
Is a better Baby than me;
For the Baby over the way is all
That a Baby ought to be.The Baby over the way is neat,
When I’m not fit to be seen;
His frock is smooth and his bib is sweet,
And his ears are always clean.‘He’s wide awake when he’s put to bed,
But he never screams nor cries;
He lies as still as a mouse, ‘tis said,
And closes his beautiful eyes.‘He never wanted a comforter,
Nor sips of tea from a spoon;
He never crumpled his pinafore,
He never cried for the moon.‘He’s a dear little, sweet little angel bright,
A love and a dove, they say;
But when I grow up, I am going to fight
With the Baby over the way!

One thought on “Goldenbridge: Childhood story and poems

  1. Thanks for posting these poems – I came across them when looking for the baby over the way poem to read to my baby daughter – my mother always recited it to me. How poignant you are when you link how this poem reflected how you felt – I am so glad you survived the horror of goldenbridge – I wish you every happiness now and in the future.

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