A counsellor once pointed out that some survivors of industrial *schools* who were very badly damaged did not pass the mental age of sixteen years of age. I’m definitely included in that category. I wish I wasn’t, but sadly to say it’s the truth. So with that knowledge to hand, here’s a photo I just took this very instant of a doll I purchased last week in Enable Ireland on Camden St.. It was going for a song and a dance and besides, this was my way of supporting the good work of the charity, which helps handicapped people.
I was also reminded of the comparison between Evelyn Doyle’s childhood experiences of having dolls to play with in High Park industrial *school* and those of us from Goldenbridge who didn’t have that privilege at all. I’d heard some shocking stories about High Park, so it was such a surprise to hear positive ones of this vein outlined in her book, “Evelyn”. It could have been that she was singled out to have dolls because the nuns were afraid that her family might cause an uproar? Those of whom had visitors and family to stick up for them in general always fared better in industrial *schools*. I never had a visitor, so my experiences would be to the contrary. I was so amazed to read about her being able to share her dolls with friends. I definitely think that if the same scenario pertained to the rest of the children there, that I definitely would have much preferred to have been at High Park than Goldenbridge. I note also in her book that they got the opportunity to go to outside school, a privilege that was afforded only a handful of children during my incarceration period in GB. That was a privilege that would even put the dolls she was allowed to play with into insignificance.
I couldn’t help but think also that when Evelyn was at home she never had the kind of presents like the dolls to play with that were showered upon her by her parents when she went into High Park. It took for her to be separated for the latter to see in that sense where they went wrong. I could be totally wrong. I couldn’t help thinking on reading the book, that If only they had been as generous to her when she was at home, instead of being left to starve, it would have lent more to the generosity from my standpoint. I think there was such a falseness in that kind of behaviour. I think that the nuns would have been cognizant of the contradiction. It appeared to me to be so utterly incongruous with the way she heretofore had been treated in Fatima Mansions where she’s been mostly left to the mercy of the woman with 13 children.
The voluntary assistant in Enable Ireland must have sensed that I never had a doll to play with as a child. Holding the doll into the air she remarked, “ah, isn’t she so gorgeous, you know, we never would have had a doll like that to play with when we were children. I replied, “how did you guess?”
I remember getting a doll for Christmas when I went out with the Boyne’s on Boyne St., off Westland Row, Dublin. I remember wheeling her around in a huge pram that belonged to the little girl next door called Olive. She was the kindest, most softest girl I ever knew and was so generous to me in every way. I was in seventh Heaven with my new-found doll and pram. All the people around were very kind to me because I was an *orphan*. They had huge respect for Mrs. Boyne because she took me out of the *orphanage*. There was a family overhead who were especially kind to me and the woman would have tears in her eyes as she stooped down to smile at me. I would eat with her children, who befriended me. I now know that the family would have been settled travellers. I will always remember that it was the poor people who were the most kindest to me and children of my ilk as children. They were the ones who gave us dolls to play with, the selfsame dolls invariably were snatched away from us when we went back to Goldenbridge. Bernadette Fahy found out to her chagrin that a doll of hers that had been taken had literally ended up armless and limbless on the top of Goldenbridge roof. I somehow do not think that Evelyn Doyle would have had that sort of thing happening with her precious dolls – unless, of course, she was super la la special at her institution and allowed to have dolls to play and share with her friends. I know that my doll would have vanished, as too did the very pretty clothes that were especially hand-made by the Boyne’s.
I’ve been an avid collector of dolls since I was a teenager, but because of reasons of upping sticks so often in life, the dolls either got lost, were left in luggage booths at train stations or were simply stolen or vanished. Hence my recent visit to the dolls house in Aungier St. on the eve of its closure. And last but not least my latest visit to Enable Ireland to purchase the doll that was bundled into my arms by the lovely friendly assistant.