This photo of children from Goldenbridge circa 1970 will definitely bring back huge memories to past inmates. [I’ve heard that a lot of survivors specifically residing in England have recently frequented the site, so have subsequently placed it here for their benefit]. I would have left the institution at the time. The backdrop is set against the outside of Goldenbridge Convent facing in the canal/graveyard general direction. The children would have been going on a rare outing on the SPECIAL bus – courtesy of nearby CIE. The latter company was very good to children in Goldenbridge. The staff organised Christmas parties for them in the rec (wreck). Kindness incarnate! They would pick up the wee ones in their arns and bring normality into their lives for those few precious hours. There are a lot of men in the photo. They must be CIE men taking them on the outing. I don’t see any adult women in the photo, excepting the nun hidden at the back to the right. I would surmise that the girl with smiling face holding small boy must be a sibling? However I don’t know, it could have been just an older girl minding him as was the norm in the institution. Doubtless the boy would have been wrenched away from her – if she was the sibling – at the age of seven/ten and sent to Artane industrial school, probably never to be reunited in harmony with each other for the rest of their lives. That sort of thing was common.
I see that a lot of the children have long hair which would not have been allowed in my time – only a few short years prior to when the photo was taken. I’m also amazed that a lot of the children are wearing white bands in their hair. WOW! That would have been a sight only seen on the SPECIALS in my day. I also see some girls wearing blazers and striped cardigans which look very familiar to the type of clothing that was being introduced in the latter years of my incarceration. We always got special dresses/cardigans for wearing out in public – just like the ones they’re all wearing in photo.
I can also tell that it was just after my time from the post Vatican 11 modern veil of the Mercy nun at the back of top right hand corner. I don’t recognise her at all. I think Sr. Clement would have left by then. though I’m not 100% sure? I’ll check it out with X who told me that she has original newspaper cutting. Besides she would have still been there the time. They look gleeful and contented in the picture. That would have been to do with the rare fuss that would have been made of them on that particular day. They would never have been together as a group outside of the gates.
I know that when the SPECIAL bus came each year to take us to Rathdrum we went out of our minds with excitement. We sang at the top of our voices.
I must find out more information on this photo. They could have been going just on a day’s outing to the Gresham hotel in the centre of Dublin, or perhaps they could have been en-route to the annual to St. Joseph’s Rathdrum holiday home. A home that ex-inmates are adamant is theirs because of it having been purchased by the nuns in lieu of the rosary beads making industry. It was handed over to CICA.
Oh, wait, I think I see some kind of a minder in the centre to far right of the picture. She’s not holding a child, so that might be the case. She appears to to be surveying her surroundings. I could be totally wrong. She could be just an older girl? Remember that there would not have been probably three untrained minders in charge of approximately 150 children. Am not exactly sure if the ratio changed after I left. I should look up the statistics at the commission to inquire into child institutional abuse site. However I find doing research like that re-traumatises me. So I keep clear.
I always speak about Goldenbridge from what is in my head, that way I can get rid of the demons. A large amount of survivors try to block out completely the memories. I don’t think that is healthy. as they only push them deeper into places that they’ll surely have to confront. When I wasn’t able to express my past incarceration there I found that I acted out huge time.
Anyway, getting back to the photo, I would be very interested to know who the faces are – they can’t all be hiding from their past – just like I did for almost a life-time?