Britain’s Got More Talent: Charlotte and Jonathan. ‘Only Boys Aloud’ Welsh Choir.

Listen to that! What a voice Jonathan has and him a mere 17 year old lad. What a tonic it has been listening to these two beautifully unassuming talented young people. They come across as being quite a humble pair. Gosh, I hope they don’t lose that gift of humility on the way up to the top. It’s a nice trait in Charlotte, seeing her so protective of Jonathan and she herself only 16 years of age. As the Americans say, ‘Go’ Charlotte and Jonathan – you are both such a class act, with a lot of principles [by the sound of it] to boot. I was utterly blown away with the Welsh Male choir. I’m so partial to Welsh music, anyway. The song is truly very touching. Crikey, I’ll be listening to it over and over again, as it’s that kind of song that resonates so much in the brain. The choirmaster is to be complimented for his enthusiasm and positivity. He appears to instill so much confidence and belief in the lads. Music is very therapeutic. I do like the sixties hairstyle of the main solo singer.


Ryan Report. Christine Buckley-West. Commission to inquire into institutional child abuse 2009.

A survivor of child institutional abuse tells her shocking, heart-breaking story. An Irish hero, courageous and strong, Christine Buckley was one of the first inmates to break her story and is an active campaigner for justice. Christine attended Goldenbridge industrial *school* and is now director of the Aislinn education and support centre at Jervis House in Dublin.

I’m wondering whether the average age of 8, that Christine talks about, regarding Justice Ryan’s commission to inquire into institutional child abuse report, concerns only those who went before said commission? Or, is, the average figure pertaining to the 165,000 who entered these hell-holes per se? I must find out…

Very sad seeing Mary Raftery R.I.P. on the Vincent Browne Show.

Yes, you are so god-darn right, when you say “the public cannot stomach stuff of this ilk for too long”.

The same nun at Goldenbridge whom Christine talks about, refused to tell twins for nigh on fifty years anything about their family background, despite being friends with two of their aunts who were in the same order. It meant that the twins were deprived of knowing who their mother was, as they went into Goldenbridge at the ripe old age of three years old. The nun was forced to relinquish the information to Bernadette Fahy, when the Goldenbridge controvery arose in 1996. One of the twins had been taken out of Goldenbridge by the same nun when she was moved and brought to work in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow. She was 13 years of age. The other twin was never given any info about her sister and fretted something terrible when she suddenly disappeared. It was only, per chance, when the sister who was left behind in GB went on the annual holiday to the summer home in Rathdrum, that she accidentally bumped into her sister in the town. There were tearful reunification scenes. They both finally landed in Rathdrum where they remained throughout their lives.

Ironically, it rather makes sense as to why the nun that Christine talks about in the video attended the weddings of the sisters. She knew something that they didn’t know of course.. By rights too, it should have been the two aunts who attended the twins’ weddings. it should not have been the reserve of the head honcho of Rathdrum. The laughable thing too is that the photo of the nun at one of the weddings was used by the religious to point out how much in touch they were with past *residents*. That was when the media got hold of it at the height of the controversy. The hyporicy was so typical. Joe Public was not to know the raison d’être as to why the nun attended the wedding. Hoodwinking was always the name of the game the religious played on the vulnerabilities of the identities of children in Goldenbridge.

Thankfully the twins were finally reunited with their mother. They looked after her very well and spoiled her rotten.

How that nun can sleep in her bed at night knowing that she put the church before the rights of children to know who their parents were, I just don’t know. The church protected itself and its good image to the last and made innocent children suffer dreadfully as a consequence.

Not only were they on one hand calling the mothers of some children prostitutes, they were on the other hand depriving some other children of any knowledge of their mothers, as in their eyes they too were fallen women and on a par with prostitutes, only they were the ones that one dare never to speak about, not even after fifty years, if they could get away with it. That nun had probably expected to go to her grave never having to divulge the identity of the twins mother and aunts. The church must come first at all costs.

Well, I too, was told by the religious that my mother was dead. The nuns kept my background secret as well. They also whispered about it to others.

The nuns constantly reminded the children of their lowly status. I used to pity those who had a parent in a mental hospital, as they really got stick for it. One family in particular were called the crackawley’s.

I was just listening to Vincent Browne near the end of part 1 of the video asking Christine if she would give personal details of the nun that she was talking about. His aim was to contact her in the aftermath, and invite her on the programme. Well, methinks that was VB covering himself. It’s obvious from where I’m standing, anyway, and also given past history, as well as having to produce a balanced view, he would have to be seen to be playing by the rules. Irrespective of his own personal views, which have always been pro-survivors. I would gather that he wasn’t expecting Christine to go off on a tangent regarding the commission to inquire into institutional child abuse. Well, not really a tangent, but I would expect that he was looking for an overall general response to the commission’s report, as opposed to a personal response from a Goldenbridge perspective.

There was also a controversy before with respect of the nun that she was talking about and RTE 1 and a programme Christine did – which did not go down too well. It would be a given that Christine would use every golden media moment to point out the failings of Goldenbridge and crucial aspects that were not covered properly in the Ryan Report.

I’m totally with Christine in all that she says about the starvation and eating from the rabbits hutches. The few animals there were better fed than the children. Yeah, the babies too were strapped on their potties for very long durations, they were fed from their potties and they slept on their potties. Let me out of here quickly before I scream. It’s too nightmarish to contemplate.

Adrienne Rich R.I.P.: At a glance

Issues of inequality based on race, education and financial status fuelled Rich’s writing, but she was particularly critical of imbalance between the sexes. It was a recurring theme in her work dating to 1951, her senior year at Radcliffe College, when she published her first book of poems, “A Change of World.”

The collection earned her the Yale Younger Poets prize, which has championed promising new American poets since 1919. W.H. Auden, in selecting her for the honour, wrote that Rich’s poems “speak quietly but do not mumble, respect their elders but are not cowed by them, and do not tell fibs.”

Read the rest here

Irish Times: Feminist poet Adrienne Rich dies

Adrienne Rich R.I.P. Poet: Trying to Talk with a Man

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1929 into what she called a “white and middle class” family

Her father encouraged her to write and taught her how to write poetry.

In 1951, Rich graduated from university and, that same year, won the much esteemed Yale Younger Poet’s Prize for her first collection of poems:  ‘A Change of World’.

In 1953 she married Alfred Conrad, a Harvard economist.

In 1966 she moved to New York. In 1970 she left her husband. He died, by suicide, that year. While her earlier poems are formal, her later work was more distinctive and individual, reflecting her political and feminist concerns. She won the National Book Award in 1974 for her collection “Diving into the Wreck” She has received numerous other awards for her poetry. She has had a deep and profound influence on the women’s movement in America  over the past 50 years. She explores the nature of power, particularly male power, in many of her poems. She writes with a political purpose in many of her poems. She has written extensively on the relationship between language, power and sexuality. As a result of her poetry, essays, campaigning and lecturing, Adrienne Rich has had a huge influence on the women’s movement in America  for the last half century.

In 1971 Adrienne Rich penned the extraordinary poem “Trying to Talk with A Man” about the attempt of a woman and man to salvage their relationship by taking the extreme measure of isolating themselves in the desert:

Out in this desert we are testing bombs,
that’s why we came here.

Sometimes I feel an underground river
forcing its way between deformed cliffs
an acute angle of understanding
moving itself like a locus of the sun
into this condemned scenery.

What we’ve had to give up to get here –
whole LP collections, films we starred in
playing in the neighborhoods, bakery windows
full of dry, chocolate-filled Jewish cookies,
the language of love-letters, of suicide notes,
afternoons on the riverbank
pretending to be children

Coming out to this desert
we meant to change the face of
driving among dull green succulents
walking at noon in the ghost town
surrounded by a silence

that sounds like the silence of the place
except that it came with us
and is familiar
and everything we were saying until now
was an effort to blot it out –
coming out here we are up against it

Out here I feel more helpless
with you than without you
You mention the danger
and list the equipment
we talk of people caring for each other
in emergencies – laceration, thirst –
but you look at me like an emergency

Your dry heat feels like power
your eyes are stars of a different magnitude
they reflect lights that spell out: EXIT
when you get up and pace the floor

talking of the danger
as if it were not ourselves
as if we were testing anything else.

I haven’t studied the poem as yet. It is on the Leaving Cert for this year. There could be the possibility that one of her poems will come up in the exam due to her recent passing. She is a very popular poet in the schools in Ireland.

Update: I’ve just read interpretation of poem here. It is the hardest poem I’ve come across thus far. Without the notes I would have been at a complete loss to comprehend it. I must check to see if it’s only on the higher level Leaving Cert Paper. It has to be as it is such a challenging poem.

Adrienne Rich has ventured into very darkest terrains to try to bring across, not only the grave difficulties of her own marriage, but a political message about marriage and how men are the ones in control.

Adrienne Rich: “Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler—for the liar—than it really is, or ought to be.”

Retweeted by Rónán Burtenshaw

“The moment of change is the only poem.” Adrienne Rich

Retweeted by Rónán Burtenshaw

Feminist poet Adrienne Rich RIP “Politics is imagination or it is a treadmill- disintegrative, stifling, finally brutalizing or ineffectual”

Retweeted by Rónán Burtenshaw

Father Brendan Smyth: Betrayal of Trust

Kilnacrott Abbey, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan

The following post is comprised of passing memories I have of Father Brendan Smyth when on his meanderings into Ballyjamesduff from nearby KIlnacrott Abbey. I still have to watch the videos, so they’re not based on the contents therein. I was eager to place them here. The very thought of the ghastly priest just brings back floods of memories. My heart goes out to those who suffered so dreadfully at the hands of this cunning paedophile. Update: I’ve watched Part 1. It’s very harrowing stuff. It opens up with two boys signing secrecy documents in Kilnacrott Abbey in 1975. The priest who asks them to sign same is none other than Father Sean Brady. Now Cardinal Brady. (He comes from Stradone, Co. Cavan. My mother’s husband’s niece is married to one Lawrence Brady of Stradone. He is a farmer/undertaker/publican of The Cross, Stradone. His brother also had a pub and other establishments in the tiny hamlet. No Relation. The townland is full of Brady’s.) The boys have signed the document under threat of excommunication from the church if they should ever divulge the secret they were sworn to by the church. The whole debacle was in the media not so very long ago.

People wanted the cardinal  to resign, but he flatly refused. The story, which is based on facts, then follows the footsteps of Father Brendan Smyth to Belfast. He originated from there, so would oftentimes frequent it. I lived in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan for approximately five years. It was after I’d returned from England in 1986. I had three occasions to come into personal contact with Father Brendan Smyth during the latter part of my stay there. I also saw him regularly at a distance in the town. It was common for people living in the tiny town to stand on the Virginia Rd. when they needed a lift into Virginia town (six miles down the road) to catch the Dublin bus. There was no bus service to Virginia from Ballyjamesduff. So I’d obviously no other alternative than to be at the mercy of passing drivers. I was not considered of any high standing in Ballyjamesduff, so did not have to worry about keeping up an image. Besides, I’d thumbed my way through continental Europe when I was younger, so it was no skin off my nose to stick my thumb out. (I never did it in England) I had to go to Wexford to visit my uncle who was not well. I was given a lift at both of these times by Father Brendan Smyth. I now realise that he would have been attending hearing sessions in the Four Courts in Dublin. I think he thought I was a member of the traveller community, as I was wearing a sovereign ring. He had made some remark to that affect. I did not know at the time that travellers were fond of sovereigns. I know now that they are very fond of expensive jewellery, so we have that very much in common. The ring had been given to me by a farmer friend who had retrieved it from a field. I had it mounted. I remember being very preoccupied at the time, as my mother had passed away, so would have been out of touch with media stuff pertaining to the erring priest. He was also then not a high profile media figure. I was still very distraught over bereavement of my mother and wouldn’t have taken any notice of the driver who was later to become infamous in Ireland and abroad for not only child paedophilia, but also for nearly bringing the Irish government down. I also had another of many occasions to see Father Brendan Smith prior to getting aforementioned lifts from him in BJD. I had been visiting  a woman in the town with a small child (I was minding for a neighbour) when a knock came on the door. It was Father Brendan Smyth. He was delivering mass-cards to the occupant of the house and was also collecting monies from said sold cards. The cards were a nice little earner for the priest from Kilnacrott Abbey – the latter of which was only three miles from BJD town.

Kilnacrott Chapel – where All Night Vigils were held.

People flocked from the far reaches of Co Cavan to Mrs. McL to buy the very cheap mass-cards. The reason being that they only cost a punt, as opposed to one example of that of a fiver that the local priest Father Hannon was charging for them. I remember a lot of people not being too happy about exorbitant price, and they voted with their feet by trotting off to Mrs. McL. I found out later that my own mama’s mass-cards would have come from this source, as I have countless cards with Father Brendan Smyth’s signature. I remember some people being very edgy about the fact that the priest was going to a house of a widow woman of nine children. There was only a lad of sixteen still living with her at the time. The rest had flown the nest. Mrs. McL was not perceived – by a long chalk – as being an overly religious person in the town. She always sat at the back of the chapel each Saturday evening for Sunday’s mass. She was not involved in the church at all, so it was mystifying to a lot of townies that a priest from an order three miles out yonder would be going to her house in order for her to sell mass-cards. The Norbertine order has sold its Kilnacrott Abbey monastery in County Cavan to Sheelin Nursing Home, which will now erect a 60-bed residential centre for the ill, and elderly.

The order is reported to be getting €900,000 for the complex including 44 acres of grounds.

The collapse in property prices has hit the vendors hard and the sale price is less than a third of the €3m asking price Kilnacrott was valued at when it first went on the market in 2008.

Having expressed interest in buying, Sheelin Nursing Home made closing of the sale conditional on the vendors securing planning permission for a nursing home on the property and this was granted last year.

New accommodation will also be constructed opposite the nursing for the six Norbertine priests still at Kilnacrott, including Prior Fr Gerard Cusack and former prior Fr Kevin Smith.

The sale marks the end of an era that started in 1924, when the order was invited to the area by the then bishop of Kilmore Patrick Finegan.  The first abbot was Fr Felim Colwell, who was replaced when he died in 1968 by Fr Smith. The abbey gained notoriety in recent years as the base of the late Fr Brendan Smyth, against whom many allegations of child abuse were made and who was convicted and jailed in Northern Ireland for paedophile offences.

The Norbertines have pledged that some of the proceeds from the sale of Kilnacrott will go to compensate victims of Fr Smyth.

In a statement, the Order said that  it had sold the farm and stock fifteen years ago and was now selling the abbey and remaining land “in an attempt to respond in some meaningful way to victims of abuse.”

“We appreciate that none of this will be sufficient to repair the immense hurt caused by our failures,” the statement continued.

“The monies that will accrue from the sale of the property will be used to clear our current debts, which are related to the support of victims, to care for our elderly members, and the possibility of building a modest residence in keeping with our present needs, in the immediate locality.”

“At a pastoral level, we will continue to support, as best we can, people who have been abused and are in contact with us.”

Oesch’s die Dritten – Es blüht ein Edelweiss 2010

Oesch’s die Dritten – Es blüht ein Edelweiss 2010

Es blüht ein Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand dort droben einsam und allein im Sommerwind

Das kleine Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand blüht nur für dich so schön mein Bergeskind (Jodler)

Das kleine Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand blüht nur für dich so schön mein Bergeskind

Frühling in den Bergen das Lied der Liebe erklingt Frühling in den Bergen mein Herz heut’ singt

All die bunten Blumen die sind so wunderschön doch ich hab’ heut’ die allerschönste dort geseh’n

Es blüht ein Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand dort droben einsam und allein im Sommerwind

Das kleine Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand blüht nur für dich so schön mein Bergeskind (Jodler)

Das kleine Edelweiss auf steiler Felsenwand blüht nur für dich so schön mein Bergeskind blüht nur für dich so schön mein Bergeskind

There blooms an Edelweiss on a steep rocky wall, yonder, so solitarily and lonely in the summer-wind

The little Edelweiss on the steep rocky wall, flowers so beautifully just for you my mountain-child. x2

Maya Angelou: Still I Rise

This is again such powerful stuff by Maya Angelou, just when I most needed to listen to someone who ekes of utter sincerity. Thank you so much for your beautiful gift of words.

Still I Rise


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Maya Angelou is an African American woman poet who is such an exceptional writer. She was born on April 4, 1928 and is known to be called “America’s most visible black female autobiographer”.  She was a member of the Harlem Writers Guild in the late 1950s  and also took part in the Civil Rights Movement. Most of her books are based on the theme of identity, family, and racism which are distributed in schools and universities internationally. I chose Maya Angelous because I can relate to being an African American woman in terms of overcoming obstacles and looking past all negativity.

I am honored to have a relationship with one of  her poems “Still I Rise”. I strongly believe that this poem gives every reader the assurance that no matter how much someone may put you down that you must always rise above the situation.  The repeating words “I rise” was extremely captivating and was a great theme for this poem. I became uplifted after reading and annotating this particular poem. Still I rise is such an inspirational poem and is directed to women in my opinion. In the third stanza Maya Angelou seems to correspond her attitude with nature. I believe this was a creative way to express her feelings. Overall, Maya Angelou is a wonderful poet who excels in painting pictures for all readers.

It should not hurt to be a child.

It should not hurt to be a child. But on the contrary it did hurt to be a child for generations upon generations of children who were illegally incarcerated into industrial *schools” in Ireland. The montage of images you see of children crying were the norm in Goldenbridge. The only difference between these children and those from GB is/was the latter inmates under no circumstance were allowed to have long hair. Hair was kept chopped. The nuns made it their personal business to see that the heads of children were kept free of long flowing locks. The pets, or rather, the la la’s were the only ones spared that ignominious act by the nuns, as they had their minders to look after them.

It should not hurt to be a child, not even a ‘traveller’ child, of whom there were many in Goldenbridge. Some ‘traveller’ siblings recalled to me about being torn away from their parents who came to visit them, as it was self evident to some staff that some of them  would be contaminated if there was any physical contact between same. The ‘traveller’ inmates were also treated abominably from a psychological perspective. For example, two particular sisters who went to  Goldenbridge as wee tots had been specifically singled out for diverse reasons. One for ‘petting’ and the privilege of going to the national/secondary outside school. Whilst the other one was treated as the lowest of the low and was constantly reminded of her lowly status by the staff. Mary was also given the most degrading jobs such as cleaning out the sewage shores with her bare hands and  moreover too that her bare feet were covered in excrement. Mary was a child plumber. She was also called out each day of the internal *school* to do menial tasks in the kitchen and laundry. The two of them were on the other end of the institutional spectrum altogether throughout their whole childhood in the child prison camp. Chalk and cheese!

The other child inmates used to regularly taunt the la la sister whenever they saw her on the stairs and out of sight of her minder Ms. D. and make fun of the aeroplane ribbon in her hair. They would sneak up behind her and pull the ribbon off her nicely-combed long hair. Pets only were allowed to have pretty ribbons and clothes that were taken from other children who may have got them from their visitors. Children had to make do with hand-me downs. I know that hand-made clothes that were given me by the Boyne’s of Westland Row, were taken from me upon returning to Goldenbridge. I cried so much when I saw the la la girl wearing them. One particular dress was a sailor-suit. It was so pretty. It had a beige pleated skirt attached to a navy-blue sailor top. I had nothing else to identify with the outside world except the beautiful clothes that they made for me. The Boyne siblings were big into dressmaking. They were so talented that they even created their own wedding dresses for family and friends. So the staff member who petted the traveller child was cute enough to know that by the appearance of clothes.

The sisters were not allowed to bond with each other. In fact they were so discouraged from even liking each other. The minder would have been the biggest culprit in separating the siblings. She was a side-kick to every nun in charge that ever darkened Goldenbridge.  She wielded great power. She did not like children in general befriending each other too much. If two small children held each others hands they were jeered. ‘Would ya look at the get-up of the two aul love-birds” she would cry out with a pointed index finger. Then told them to get away from each other immediately.

One traveller sister was treated like a special by one powerful staff member, while the other one was cast to the mercy of a another inmate who just might have shown her some sort of affection. It should not hurt to be a child, but it did hurt so much to be from the travelling community in Goldenbridge. Other inmates isolated and shunned the pet and because of this, she, too, suffered in a different way to her sister who was treated as scum of the earth. Period! It hurt so much to a be a traveller child in Goldenbridge. They would have had better lives living in the communities they came from originally, as traveller families are well known to be fiercely fond of their children. I consider what that staff member did was a form of cleansing one from their rightful heritage. That kind of behaviour  repeated itself with countless other traveller children by the same staff member for 40 years and also by religious.

I had the above 1969 ‘gypsy boy’ painting by Bruno Amadio over my bedsit wall at Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. I remember some locals telling me how depressing the painting appeared to their eyes. At the time I wouldn’t have ever dreamt in the whole wide earthly world of divulging to any person a single thing about my past. That was a well-kept secret. The painting on the wall spoke silent tearful volumes. It hurt to be a child and the gypsy boy mirrored back my own image as a child and that too of my travelling counterparts who were locked up for the most part of their childhood in an industrial *school* from hell. Incidentally, I never knew as a child or young adult what a traveller child was indeed. I knew nothing about the outside world – or, if I did, it would have been learned from time spent with the Boyne’s. GB inmates were all very institutionalised.

I’m glad that the two traveller survivors got to have their say at the commission to inquire into child institutional abuse. I spoke up for Mary, as indeed did many other survivors who could express themselves in written statements, which were very few and far between, as she was unable to write. I’m very sad though that Mary passed away a few years ago. She never recovered from her childhood in Goldenbridge. She was well liked by survivors because of her outward bubbly personality. She was seen as a rebellious character, who. even as a child, when all the dirt was thrown at her every day, she somehow managed to verbally express herself to the nuns and staff. That is something that very few internees ever dared to do directly, the rest acted out in more devious and cunning ways.

It should not hurt to be a child, but it did in Goldenbridge, if an inmate had six or seven brothers or sisters, or even less to watch over and protect. It hurt the ‘protecter’ child so much as s/he invariably would have helplessly looked on in St. Patrick’s each morning where so-called erring children queued up to be flogged to bits by Sr. X. S/he would have felt every blow of the thick bark as it reined down on the sibling child’s hands by the frothy-mouthed cruel nun. The older protecter would have cried so much on behalf of his/her siblings, as the responsibility weighed heavily on his/her shoulders. Children who hadn’t got an iota of what a sibling was would oftentimes hang around these child protectors as they would have had some semblance of empathy in their veins, due to having to take on the caring-role – out of no choice of their own. Those with siblings were able to express concern for each other, which was not the same with children who had no siblings, or who presumed they had none. I was one of the latter and personally experienced clinging on to another child who appeared to have some emotional normality due to being forced to care for her brothers and sisters. This child was indicative to me of a normal child that I’d encountered in Boyne St. off Westland Row, Dublin, when I went went to stay with a kind of family until I was nine years old. (I never saw sight or sound of them thereafter. To me this was of the most painful episodes of my childhood. To be selected by a family one minute and taken out on special occasions, and thereafter to stay with them for almost a year. Then suddenly without further ado for an unknown reason to be plonked back into the institution. I felt just like a rag-doll who had been tossed up in the air and pulled apart by adults. I do not trust strange people to this day over that dreadful emotional experience. The template is still very much being replayed.) It should not have hurt to have been a child, but it did – because children in Goldenbridge were inconsequential. The protector child had lost her mother to cancer. She was lucky being the older one to have had loving warm memories of her mother, it carried her somewhat through adult life, whereas most of the younger ones were more messed up having had little adult nurturing.

It should not hurt to be a child but it did hurt thousands upon thousands of children on a gargantuan level when they first walked up Goldenbridge avenue and were signed in by the mother superior at the convent door – seen in centre-fold of picture. Little did they know at the time that their tiny lives would be destroyed from the moment they arrived at that fateful convent door to the day they left the child prison camp – seen to the left of picture – and for the rest of their lives. The haunting screams and convulsions of wee children as they were torn away from their loved ones is something that countless survivors still relive to this very day. I personally did not experience this particular traumatic separation at the convent, however, I do have memories of going into convulsions in Goldenbridge, as I was persistently dragged away from a very tall dark-haired young woman, whom I now gather must have been my mother. It should not have hurt to be a child in an institution that to all intents and purposes was considered a safe environment for children, but it did hurt because children were flogged and beaten to a pulp every single day of their lives by the religious who perpetually preached about love in the chapel seen to the right.

Ironically, the only inmates who were ever allowed to darken the convent door thereafter were the specially hand-picked ones who were deemed presentable by the religious at the industrial ‘school’ to do floor polishing on their hands and knees and other menial convent work. I was never on the middle rung of the Goldenbridge hierarchical ladder, so thus would not have been selected. It was classed as a real privilege to enter the convent. Those chosen inmates also had to polish on their knees the confessional boxes and the chapel benches and sacristy, etc. The very few inmates who were also allowed access to the convent were the attendees of outside school. They would not have been there in a work capacity, though, mostly, as it would not have looked good, I guess, with them attending the national and secondary school to be then seen to be inferiors by the religious and normal children from the Inchicore catchment area. The nuns had plans for those whom they educated, and being convent and industrial *school* skivvies definitely did not come into the equation. Skivvies in general was the reserve of those like myself who were on the lowest rung of the Goldenbridge ladder. That’s not saying that some of them might not have done convent skivvy work. I know that they had to do work in the industrial *school* like the rest of us, though not as much, but then they would have been hidden away. Besides, children from homes in the catchment area who attended the aforementioned school were warned never to have anything to do with industrial *school*  children. I learned of this fact from some of those who went to the school. We remained a complete mystery to everyone. We were looked upon as orphans who were to be either pitied or set as an example to children by their frustrated parents, that if they ever erred or crossed the line in being bold they would end up in Goldenbridge. Goldenbridge was a hidden place where only bold child lived. It should not hurt to be a child but it did hurt children who were forced to keep their heads down whenever they had reason to be frog-marched down the convent avenue. We were warned not to look at other children from the outside world as we were not from the outside world.

I should add that the national and secondary school was situated in Goldenbridge grounds, and really only a stone’s throw from the industrial *school*, however, as far as the child-inmates were concerned, it could have been a thousand miles away. You see, they were kept so far apart and ignorant of the outside world. The religious management made sure that it be kept that way and not even the nuns at the convent were allowed to mix with the vile inspoken products of the fallen underclasses that inhabited the institution. The stigma attached to us was something else.

It hurt to be a child in Goldenbridge, as children were made to line up for 7:00AM mass in the cloister (see rare image of cloister which lay to the left of convent. It was later demolished) on dark, freezing, wintery mornings without appropriate clothing, such as coats. They probably would have been deprived of hats too only that they were compulsory to wear in church. They had to wait there patiently in silence for the local priest from St. Michael’s parish in Inchicore to arrive at the chapel. See: right of image. The same harsh treatment was not afforded the nuns in the convent who were comfortably perched in their pews at the centre-back aisle of private part of the chapel.

The children would have had no breakfast, as it was a sin to eat for hours before receiving holy communion.

I was thinking just as I was writing about the box of hats on the floor of the porch-hall entrance of the industrial school. We never owned anything, not even the berets we wore to the chapel every single day. The nuns were very meticulous about our hair and at every hands turn, cropped it short.

Every single morning after breakfast children lined up in the wash-room to have their hair fine-combed with a steel-comb which was dipped in pink paraffin oil. The hair was scraped off them by some nasty, uncaring, clinical staff. There would be blood on their scalps in the aftermath. It seems contradictory to me that if they were so fussy about clean heads why were children given random hats to wear to chapel? It doesn’t add up hygienic-wise. But then the whole cruel system that hurt habitually children never added up at all. It should not have hurt to b a child in Goldenbridge, but it did dreadfully every single day.

It hurt to see children faint in the chapel every morning without fail. They fell down like flies. They would not have had food in their stomachs from 6:00PM the night before. Children who wet their beds were not allowed to drink after 6:00PM. Not even water, which children scooped from the toilet cisterns and bowls. as there was no access to water. They then would have had two thin slices of bread and black cocoa only, which was expected to sustain them, despite all the hard work they had to do in the interim. I remember seeing Chrissie West-Buckley as white as a sheet. I also saw children being helped out of the chapel by bigger girls while the religious looked on callously. The latter could not be interrupted under no circumstances from worshipping the Lord. He took precedence over children who had fainted. Those who had the audacity to faint, were, well, looking for attention in the eyes of the nuns. How dare they show up the nuns who worked in the industrial *school*. They were called notice-boxes and would even be punished by the nuns. It hurt to be a child when they were expected to spend inordinate amounts of time praying in the chapel on empty stomachs.

I recall thinking as a child that the reason children fainted was because they put blotting paper with ink down their shoes. I really don’t know from whence that ludicrous idea stemmed. I was convinced Chrissie West had done that to make her dark skin go pale. How stupid of me! I learned to while a way the time in the chapel by making various shapes with very cheap pale blue plastic corded Virgin-Mary rosary beads. No fancy rosary-beads were ever given to us. We had to make do with the type the legion of Mary hand out when trying to bring in lost souls to the flock.

It hurt to be a child in Goldenbridge in the rec (wreck) hall. See: rare photo of four windows behind narrow tree-lined side avenue that led up to the industrial school – as their lives were invariably put at serious risk each mid-morning at 11:00AM break-time, when the nuns were up in the convent. There was one particular minor staff member left in charge of the children who was mostly responsible for the abominable child abuse that occurred in the rec (wreck).

They had to sit on hard wooden thin benches that lined the whole rec (wreck) with their fingers on their lips for the duration of the break-time. If some children decided to be giddy or obstinate it was common for children to be used as an example of what would happen to them if they dared not to toe the line. They were dragged from their benches by the head of the hair and viciously kicked about by the cruel minor staff member. The other staff who did not beat the children just watched on silently with folded arms as the children were being tortured by the very inhumane person. She was not satisfied with just kicking them while they were on the floor, but she had to drag the clothes off their frail little bodies. They would scream the recreation hall down but there was nobody to give a damn as the nuns were in the convent sipping tea and cake. Children sitting on the benches just froze and went into panic-mode. They would swing their legs, or they would start crying. The next thing they would be boxed in the ears for crying. A lot of children claim to have had ear damage as a result of the daily beatings in the rec (wreck) hall.