Goldenbridge industrial *school* inmates, premises, and parts of grounds and stone wall at St. Joseph’s holiday home, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow. Bernadette Fahy made a reference to the wall in her book – Freedom of Angels – it was in relation to the red-headed Fox brother(s) who sat on same.)
I explicitly put the second photograph of the holy communion boys (who would have had nothing to do with the industrial *school*, but would have come from the surrounding area for photographs to be taken on their special day) in this montage because in the background it shows the cloister that was knocked down. It must have been demolished in the very late sixties or seventies, as it was there during my incarceration period. The cloister that children from the industrial *school* had to stand under in all weathers waiting for the priest to arrive at the chapel to say mass every morning at 7:00am. There were also poor men who used to sit under it for shelter or were waiting for food from the convent gate.
When I think of all the land that lay to the front of Goldenbridge convent and the way that *outside* children were propped there for holy communion photographs. All a religious charade in my estimation. The same land that was deprived to children who were hidden away in the back, never to show their ‘shameful’ faces, until it had something to do with going to mass or walking along the avenue during certain holy times of the year to pray the rosaries. The same children – whom capitation grants were paid for by parents and the government – should have been given the freedom to romp around and play like natural children, instead of being hidden away in a school-room that became a makeshift mini-factory for the purposes of bringing in revenue for the religious, – or were given short periods of time to play in a prison-yard that Christine Buckley remarked ‘where the sun never shone.’ Human beings are well known to hide away those whom they are ashamed -novels are full of suchlike stories.
It was well known that children who attended the outside national day school (that industrial *school* inmates yearned to be a part) were warned that they would be punished if they attempted to speak or look at children from the industrial *school,* this was even applicable to children who would have been cousins of the inmates. There was such a stigma attached to us – even children from ordinary homes where threatened with being sent to industrial *schools* if they were bold.
The shame caused countless inmates to flee Ireland when their time was up at sixteen years of age, never to return again to Ireland. I know that it took me years before I could ever relate to Dublin. I had a fear of it and avoided it like the plague for decades. I literally got panic attacks. Thank goodness, I’ve now mostly got over that fear. I feel that I can talk about it, even to the detriment of nauseating people with my industrial *school* banter. I do feel sad for my counterparts who are still so ashamed of their industrial *school* backgrounds. What a price they have to pay for keeping silent? They mostly do this to appease their families, friends and the communities from which they belong. Some of them are so ashamed that they haven’t even told their spouses. I know there are great risks of losing friends when you reveal your past. I know there are risks of being shunned. However painful though the latter might be, it’s best to be true to oneself, as the people who shun you for being a survivor of an industrial *school* are not worth knowing, anyway.
I can say, though, that it does not make me friends with some people knowing that I talk about my industrial *school* past. I find that some people don’t want to be associated with those who’ve suffered in their lives, as they’ve never experienced it, and simply don’t know how to handle other people’s pain. Disturbed voices are scary to most of those who’ve come from nice, cuddly, warm and sheltered home-loving families. Well, that’s what becomes of being hidden away as children by society in an industrial *school* such as Goldenbridge. The imprint is forever indented on our foreheads and it is only very special people who will look beyond the imprints and embrace us because of our suffering or because we are worth knowing, in spite of our despicable pasts.