RIRB Dodder tributary

I’m not a very conventional person in any sense at the best of times. So one can make what one likes of this video that I took adjacent to the Residential Redress Board. The gushing water represents [to me, anyway] the torrent of anxiety that was hidden behind survivors of industrial *schools* visages, who went before the commission of inquiry into institutional child abuse to tell the harrowing stories of their despicable, decrepit, inhumane lives in their respective industrial *schools*.

I’ve now exhausted my limitation on uploading snaps. I got following message:


Looks like you have used 3.0 GB of your 3.0 GB upload limit (100%). Since you are close to your limit…

I could paste the snaps in, but would have bother aligning them, which has been the case with others, and really, I found therefore that they would be more trouble than they’re worth. I enjoyed uploading my own photos. They helped incredibly with learning how to express what I saw in the snaps in writing. It’s not as easy as it looks to someone in literacy education.

On another level one could see the video as a rejuvenation and cleansing experience that also would have taken place when survivors outpoured all the pain and hurt to the RIRB. I know that it was for me a very cathartic experience.


Residential Institutions Redress Board

Photo – by Marie-Therese O’Loughlin Sept 2012

This photo is self-explanatory to all those survivors of industrial *schools* who went before the RIRB to tell their stories regarding excruciatingly harrowing times spent long ago, and not so long ago in institutional care. This building is the last one in a cul-de-sac at Belfield Business Park, Clonskeagh, Dublin, Ireland.

I live only a stone’s throw away from the RIRB. I was meaning to go the office before it closed down – which I gather shan’t be too long. I had to pluck up an awful lot of courage to go there. Every time I passed by the outside and saw this sign in the distance, I made a mental note of going there, but it never came to fruition.

So, I took a vagary and went there in the quiet of a Sept. eve, when workers in the business park at Clonskeagh, I had perceived, would have all gone home. It was painful just thinking about it.

In order to arrive at the RIRB building I had to walk the very length of this road within the confines of the park, which lay to the right inside the tidy, neat sized Bellefield Business Office Park at Clonskeagh. The RIRB is the very last building in a long cul-de-sac. So it wasn’t easy by any means walking up this long avenue. All sorts of emotions were flying around in my head. I had even wanted to turn back at one stage because of all the reminders that were flooding and spinning and going into overdrive in the delicate grey matter.

Then I thought… that, well… maybe sometime down the road some survivors of industrial *schools* especially those living abroad in America, Australia and Great Britain might want to revisit memories of the times they physically went there, and why not get a few snaps of actual surroundings they would have driven up. For example, too, if you look at the second column, you’ll see a faint hint of deleted defunct Mahon Tribunal. That tribunal was also a very crucial one in Ireland’s history. Well, the same will be applicable with the RIRB sign. So strike while the iron’s hot was my motto. We all had free transport, courtesy of the government. So every survivor would have taken this route to the RIRB.

Photo – by Marie-Therese O’Loughlin Sept 2012

I took some photos of flowers en-route to try to distract myself from protruding thoughts. So when I finally arrived at the actual building and saw the writing on the window here, I instantaneously thought, yeah, this would be the best photo ever of the RIRB. It would epitomise the whole summing up of the building, as even the media over the years would have used this sign when discussing the subject.

Alas, I was suddenly met with ferociousness that made me feel so distraught. Hands were flailing and shouting was coming from a person inside the building telling me to ‘go away’, that I wasn’t to take photos. I suddenly felt nauseated and very anxiety-ridden given the emotion I had experienced on the journey there. I immediately was knocked for two and thus went into mental fight mode. It was like as if someone was telling a crying child to stfu, without bothering to try to empathise and discover as to why the child in the first instance was in such a distraught state.

The security man at the RIRB was extremely abrupt and quite adamantly told me not to take photos, such as the one seen above. I BLATANTLY TOOK NO HEED. I was too fired up to take a blind bit of notice because of the emotionality of the surroundings and the build up. His venting went on deaf ears completely. It didn’t bother me in the slightest bit whether he called the Gardai = Garda Síochána = Irish for police, or not. I know the gardai in general are totally sensitive and understanding to most survivors. I somehow do not think they would have liked a scene outside the redress board. I understand that the security guard was only doing his job, and that being abrupt towards me was probably normal type of behaviour from the country he hailed. I can only surmise, I don’t know at all. I tried to take that summation into consideration, as well as knowing that indeed I hadn’t any permission to take photos in the first instance, so he was well within his rights to tell me not to take them – but not in such an aggressive manner. He simply could have chided me. Well… to be perfectly honest, though, that wouldn’t have worked either given how I was feeling inside. I got the same feeling when I went to Goldenbridge, but broke down crying when a person came up to me and said in a rather unbecoming huffed voice not to take photos.

I sometimes too see bus-drivers whom I think, may come from similar countries portraying the same type of aggressive behaviour. Again, I can only guess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s alien to Irish people, it’s most definitely not, but I think that most Irish workers would be afraid of being too outspoken in a professional capacity. That’s my opinion, anyway. They would be afraid of being chastised and losing their jobs.

I remember hearing on the radio one time that aggressive behaviour from people from some particular foreign countries, may indeed be natural behaviour to them. That the aggressive tone is instinctual / cultural and that they don’t mean any harm at all. I’m speaking here on a professional working level where people have to be mindful of their manners. I don’t mean that in any derogatory way, as most survivors like me can get hot under the collar very easily because we don’t have adequate emotional / social skills to handle situations. We are distrustful and extraordinarily hyper-vigilant at the best of times. Besides, I’ve always found that those who are more outspoken can be nicer people behind it all, as they do not necessarily hide behind facades. The nastiest people can be those who have outwardly all the big pusillanimous smiles whilst simultaneously can be negatively chuckling at people underneath their chameleon-like hidden, ignorant exteriors. Behind the scenes they can also be wont to gossiping and dragging people down. In other words to put it bluntly – they can be two-faced. I always feel safer with people who are forthright and honest. You know what they’re like upfront.

Ayway, getting back to the RIRB, I thought it was kind of funny in the aftermath when I looked at the full length image of photo above, as the security man in question was as large as life in it, and came across as being terribly irate. Giving out yards, he was, from behind the thick secure panes of double-glazing glass doors. If only he knew that I was doing exactly the same kind of thing from his same power-based vantage point many years ago. Little must he have known, I thought, that if it wasn’t for people like me, he wouldn’t have been in the position of shouting at me through the glass-paned residential institutions redress windows. We created his job. Talk about irony! It stood a metre long! Not only that, but when he was balling his head off the lettering Residential Institutions Redress Board shone right over his head, as if it were a flattened halo, along with the reflection of the evening sky and they looked so ridiculously incongruously at variance and contradictory with his ranting tone. So out of synch. It was a redress board, for god sake, set up because of inhumane unspeakable despicable cruelty meted out to children of the past in Ireland’s begotten hellholes. Security guards in general should be made more cognisant of the nature of properties they’re protecting and the effects they may have on survivors. It would be unsurprising to find that I wasn’t the only survivor who decided to retrace my lonely tortuous RIRB tracks. It’s the nature of the beast.

On a tangential note. I heard that ex-soldiers from war-torn countries sometimes man city pubs. One can sometimes get real eerie vibes from the clinical frozen stares and black clothing they don, when one passes by certain aforementioned premises.  They appear oddly ambivalent, especially when one sees the joyous faces of those out on the tiles for the night. They can be scary. I abhor authority figures at the best of times. I know that most of my counterparts are very similar in that vein. They trigger so much fear, which doubtless derives from our gruelling authority-ridden past lives in our respective institutions. When people threaten us with the long arm of the law for perceived / minor misdemeanours we freak out so much, the rejection can be so hard to handle. Situations can all too simply get out of hand and become exceedingly exacerbated. Just like a person who goes into hospital with a primary illness and is dogged down by a secondary one in the heel of the hunt. I know this also happens to those who are socially ill-equipped to handle fired-on situations who have never been in institutions. They may lack certain chemicals in their brains that require people to think logically. Think serotonin. Think personality disorders that one would find in the American psychiatry manual for mental health. So we are not unique. One a personal level, I would walk away forever from a person, even if I considered myself friendly with that person if ever said person attempted to threaten me with the authorities. My trust in the person would have broken down forever, that’s how strongly I would feel, as, in my estimation the person would not be any different to the person who tells the child to stfu without trying to discover the real problem to hand.

To go off on another similar vein. With respect of the Celtic Tiger era, the scary boogey-men in black; with fixed miserable stares; and apparent histories of being soldiers in their respective war-torn countries; that became part of the Irish scenery – think specifically Temple Bar – brought with them in their wake an intense suspicion, negativity and absolute fear to some ordinary working class harmless folk that was mostly unknown in the past. Some of the same men manning these establishments appear to all intents and purposes – if one was to go by body language – are seemingly more traumatised than some of those whom they’re trying to protect Joe Public from. Yeah, they’re only doing their jobs. It can be utterly depressing walking through Temple Bar and seeing such stern alien- natured looking faces standing outside recreational establishments. They don’t blend in with the scene at all. I was less feared of Irish soldiers with guns who stood outside banks trying to protect them during the Celtic tiger. They did not have such gruesome, fearfully aggressive testerone-body build exteriors. Even the gardai – don’t display that macho image. These stern looking men remind me of the all powerful alpa-males.

Anyway, going to such place as the RIRB triggered off floods of related bad memories, and those memories, still and all have to be faced. Our demons come home to us every now and again and that is the price one pays for the past. I’m sure, if the security man knew from whence I was coming, he might have acted more kinder.

I try to be nice to people who come from foreign countries, as I’ve travelled a lot and have seen what it can be like for an Irish person in a strange country. I think of the times when Irish people and dogs were not allowed inside premises. So, I would never make a foreign person feel uncomfortable in a country that treated me and survivors of industrial *schools* like aliens. I know that the security guard has a living to make, but it would be nice if someone sat down and explained to him the nature of the people who go to the redress board. I know for a fact that the staff who work there, were given a dressing down a long time ago by Christine Buckley because of the dismissiveness of some staff members in their handling of some highly traumatised survivors of industrial *schools*. They were to be forgiven, as they knew not from whence they’d derived – given the generation gap.

It came to mind that more prominent survivors and survivors like me fought to change the mindset of how children were treated in the past and by creating a residential institutions redress board, and now here was I outside the building innocently taking photos and was being hounded out of it by a security guard who was just doing his duty.

I felt all lachrymose, as I wandered down the long avenue, and thought to myself, the story of my life and that too of all those who frequented the building to tell of the brutality in their young lives in industrial *schools* are written on the walls of the RIRB. What a shame that returning there had to be marred by a rotten security man that was only doing his job.

I was talking to Anne-Marie from a survivors group in Cork recently. She told me that Australian government officials came over to Ireland – not so very long ago – and had wanted to meet up with her. They had wanted to know all about the Irish redress board and how it fared out. She would be half the age of those who were industrial *schools* in harsh times. However, she has a real in-depth knowledge regarding the background to the redress board. As well as a wealth of experience in dealing personally with survivors of industrial *schools*. I was gobsmacked by her wealth of information. The Australian official would have been well advised whilst in her capable hands. I thoroughly enjoyed her company. We spent many hours talking about all the countries she had travelled to and made comparisons with European ones I visited. The list of countries she went to would fill the length of my arm in writing. I just couldn’t get enough of all the cultural stuff she was regaling me about the amazing amount of countries she explored. For example, she told me that the warrior soldiers in China are much smaller in reality that what she’d expected. She also said it was a myth about the Chinese being of small stature, that it depended on which part of the country one went to. Say, like, up the north, they tended towards being taller. I asked her which country would she go to again in a hurry. She didn’t hesitate to tell me Cambodia. I always loved talking to my relatives about their travels and was transported back to the good old times I had with them when AM was giving me the run-down on the customs, etc. I’m left in no doubt that the Australian government were in safe knowledgeable hands when they encountered Anne-Marie. I’d surmise that she must have kissed the Blarney stone. 🙂 The Corkonians are very chatty folk. Anne-Marie’s last words to me where that the thing that struck her hugely about survivors of industrial *schools* was the fact that they were the most vulnerable people she has ever come across in her entire young life. I second that sentiment.

*schools* = euphemism for child labour camps.

I shall place some background links pertaining to the RIRB.  

Adieu! Adieu! Adieu! Penultimately!

Sept flower taken by Marie-Therese O’Loughlin

Sometimes when you think the world and its mother is against you… and has drenched you out. You suddenly get some warmth peeping through, to slowly dry you out. You discover that there are people out there who will give some of their time to say genuine things. For instance – I received the following comment from Adrienne Foley. It was in response to a letter post Adieu! Adieu! Adieu! One response begot another so to speak.

Hi Marie Therese,

What a beautiful letter thank you so much, I’m sorry to say I only saw it yesterday as you popped into my mind and I decided to check to see ”if ” in fact you had replied, now I am so glad I did. I’ve just been reading some of the stories you put up here about your life…. you should be very proud of yourself and how far you have come in dealing with all the hurt and the lies you encountered, regardless of what life has thrown at you over the years ….you survived . I think you are a wonderful, talented , strong gifted women so keep on writing and I love the photo’s!!! “It’s better out than in” as they say and it heals the child within us all to speak out ….

I just finished reading Evelyn Doyle’s second book during the summer, about when her father gets them out of the home and moves to England. It’s horrific what happened to her and many other’s.

Also Martha Long’s ”Ma He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes” and ” Ma I’m Gettin Meself a New Mammy” are great, she has more, but I haven’t read them yet….something to do over the winter. I may rush off now, kids to bring to a match, sorry my reply is so short, but I hope to here from you again soon.

P.S. Just to add, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence either!

We should never hide where we came from or who we are, just to ease someone else’s mind and keep their secret hidden, after all ….we did not ask to be brought into this world, but yet we pay the high price of someone else’s mistake all those years ago!! Our lives, names etc., changed forever ……the unwanted! On a lighter note, keep up the studies and we’ll talk soon.

Thanks Adrienne.

P.S.: I think the yellow flowery weed is gorse? Will check it out.

Upper Baggot St. Dublin

The Royal hospital was built to the designs of the architect Albert E. Murray in 1832. The hospital was first called Baggot Street Hospital. Its facade is of red brick and terracotta tiles.

It was later renamed The Royal City of Dublin Hospital in 1900. For more information. See: Seanad Éireann – Volume 117 – 29 October, 1987 Adjournment Matter: Baggot Street (Dublin) Hospital here  See: also Baggot Street: A Short History of the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Davis Coakley here.

I’m very partial to clocks. I thought this one was really smashing. The red-brick always reminds me of Boyne St., off Westland Row,  – where I stayed with a host family who took me out of Goldenbridge industrial *school*.

Searsons’ History:

The Searson name is well known in the pub and wine trade in Ireland, largely due to the successful Searsons public houses in Upper Baggot Street, South Richmond Street (Portobello), and Blackrock. The publican branch of the Searson family hail from Garretts Mill, Killea in North Tipperary.

Read the rest here

Baggot St. Barge – La Peniche

I was recently down at Portobello canal (a couple of miles away) nearby the Barge pub, where young people and workers sit along the edge of the bank sipping drinks etc. I thought I saw the barge that is anchored here cruising along that neck of the woods?! It could have been just a look-a-like barge. I shall root out photos and compare.

The barge acts as a restaurant. I would suspect that it is hired out to private parties, as the one I saw at Portobello had a large gathering of people, approx. 20, who were all enjoying themselves.

I don’t know anything about the restaurant. I saw this sign. I’ll google and find out later on. Here’s what I found: La Peniche the only cruising Dublin Restaurant – Welcome

Baggot St. Mallards

Mallards at upper Baggot St., on a balmy Sept 2012 day, was a sight to behold.

They looked so peaceful and tranquil as they glided along together. I thoroughly enjoyed observing them. 

I got an opportunity of getting some close-up shots of them whilst they were relaxed in the water.

And even managed to get better shots as they turned in the opposite direction to retrace their tracks, as they were at  much better angle. Am really pleased with this particular one, as it’s so clear. Getting clear focussed ones in general is not an easy task. One has to persevere and wait for the golden opportunity. Especially, if one is not using a professional camera. The Lumix one I use is more for taking family photos.

This one is nice. It’s a pity though that it’s not more slightly centred. However, that would have knocked the tail out of the picture? Perhaps I should have zoomed in slightly less? Ah, well, you can’t win unless you are a trained photographer. That I’m definitely not. I’m almost clueless, but I do like trying my best, anyway. I learned to crochet and play the guitar by self discovery and through trial and error. I keep promising myself to go to classes for photography, as well as the violin. I love the colours they’re almost look like that of a young tiger cub.

This young one surely has the look of a male about it. I find that after looking at them for so long, I can almost detect the males by their build. They have that masculine, stronger appearance. I can spot them immediately in the swans as well.

They were such a delight to photograph, as they were so accessible, and there wasn’t much work needing to be done with the inbuilt Leica lens because of that factor.The tranquility did not last for too long, as the young ones appeared to want freedom from the watchful eyes of the parents. Suddenly, there was no stopping the family of ducks in their tracks as they swam close together and danced to a different tune, as they swam in the opposite direction. It was as if the lives of the young depended on the security of the older ones. There were no other birds around, and they were in a wide open vulnerable space at the canal, and they appeared very hyper-vigilant. Perhaps the adults were teaching them how to fly, and they were helping the young ones build up speed?

I’ve seen the swans at Portobello do the same thing when they’ve practiced with the young ones before they learned to take flight. It appears as though the older ones are coaxing the younger ones. Ah, it dawned on me too, that I’d seen that kind of behaviour before at the Dodder in Donnybrook. See: Mallards: Dodder Donnybrook Dublin May 2012 I had observed the mother duck frantically following the young energetic one around. She would give the bird a bit of freedom, then suddenly appear on the scene. The young one would fly away and she would be after it again. I guess the mother is teaching the young ones to fly the coop. Can’t be hanging out of teenagers all the time, they have to make their own lives sooner or later

An aside: The Sisters of Mercy’s was established at Baggot St.. I must get a photo of the statue of Mother Catherine McAauley next time I’m in the area, which is quite often, as it’s only a few bus-stops away on the 39 bus from Donnybrook.

Harold’s Cross / Portobello meanderings

This photo was taken at Harold’s Cross road park a while ago. I lived not too far away at one time and always meant to get a photo of the wonderful display of annual perennial flowers. The park is betwixt two roads that merge together to take one towards the city centre in one direction and to Rathgar in the opposite one. It’s not very large. It’s so well kept and a credit to the Co Council workers. It has a really small nice play-ground for the children with swings and slides. When the weather permitted, I liked coming here to read and just soak up the ambience.

This is a separate part of the park, which sees St. Clare’s convent in the background. It is kind of sad that in all the years I lived in the area I never once went in to say hello to a teaching nun who was part of the Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan community.

I knew the very gentle sister – albeit not very well, and had oftentimes seen her on the bus, but just couldn’t bring myself to say hello because of all the controversy regarding industrial *schools*. You see – I  had never told anyone in the small close-knit community of BJD about my institutional background.

I had once visited Sr. Concepta – who was principal at St. Clare’s Primary school in BJD. She was always exceptionally kind to me – at the Harold’s Cross convent, when she moved here after the convent closed down in BJD. Last time I heard she’d moved to Kenmare, Co. Kerry, which would have been the place she started out her religious profession.

The whole thing rather saddens me, as the same was applicable with my recently deceased uncle, whom I lost all contact, because of the same issue.

I took this photo of McGowan’s pub from within the park.

This one is also taken from inside Harold’s Cross park.

I meandered on down towards my favourite Portobello canal haunt and came upon the Dublin bikes for hire.

The bikes are very popular in Dublin. One very rarely sees the vans that carry them. There were no swans in the canal, so my attention was turned to my immediate surroundings.

Here are some more bikes that were parked further up the road. They’re fine and sturdy.

I really missed not seeing my favourite swans, there were none at the canal at all. I was very puzzled about them, and really missed their presence. I therefore concentrated on some young ducks.

I never tire of taking photos of mallards. Look at the neat curly tuft at the tail-end!

The mallards have a hard time with their young, as giant water rats and other predators see them as easy prey.

This is a nice photo of the branches almost touching the water. It is actually my favourite one because it is so focused and clear.

Here’s another one of a healthy looking teenage mallard. I think the male ones are usually bigger in appearance.

I like this one too with the last of the sun peeping thorough. It looks just like a lamp-post.

Last of the summer flowers

Photo: Marie-Therese O’Loughlin

It won’t be too long now before most of the flowers will have gone to their reward. So too will this journal, as the following is what is presently showing when uploading snaps.

Looks like you have used 2.7 GB of your 3.0 GB upload limit (89%). Since you are close to your limit,…

Am a devil for taking photos. I find it helps enormously in saying things, that wouldn’t otherwise be that easy to express. They give me food for thought. They’re an excellent tool for people – such as myself – who is into adult literacy education. However, it can be hard talking to oneself for most of the time – which is what has occurred here from the very outset. So… better to dispense with the journal when it reaches a 100/%, rather than keeping it on indefinitely. Besides – it would become too clustered if its life-force were forcefully extended. Every flower blooms only for so long. Every dog has its day. I must bow out gracefully.

Penultimately – I’d like to say thank you to the two or three people who saw fit to acknowledge my existence here. I’m ever so grateful. I would like very much to continue on, but the incentive is not there, when there is hardly a commentator to acknowledge one’s presence.

Blarney Woollen Mills – Aran

I saw some Aran jumpers, cardigans; ponchos; hats and scarves which I’ve always been a lifelong fan. I waited for the assistant to move before getting this nice shot of the counter nearby the Aran woollen knits section.

I always think of my mother when I look at Aran wear, as she was the owner of many such items, due to her in-laws having personally knitted them for her. She kept them for years. She gave me one that she had for over twenty years and I proudly wore it — it was at the time when old Aran cardigans were all the rage and young people scoured the markets to buy them up.

I was always fond of the more vibrant coloured ones, such as this jumper – which I owned one of – in the past. I should add that these Aran gear are not hand-made. A handmade one would cost treble the price and more.

I also had a burnt orange and green one with the same modern pattern.

The children’s arans are so pretty. The workmanship is so impressive.

Here are more traditional children’s styles. I know these too would be made on a loom. I forgot to watch out for the hand-made Aran jumpers, etc.

Goldenbridge inmates – who went before me – were connoisseurs at knitting Aran cardigans – or ganseys – the word used in Irish is geansaí, a gaelicisation of guernsey which has been re-Anglicised to gansey in Hiberno-English –  as my mother called them. I just missed out on making them. However, I do remember knitting Aran fishermen type socks on four needles for the outside market.

I used to visit an older woman in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, who knitted traditional Aran cardigans/jumpers for the American market. She was supplied with wool, but still got a pittance for her work. I’ve always wanted to knit an Aran cardigan.

I’ve knitted plain jumpers, mittens; crocheted wedding/special occasions metallic glittery stoles, skull-caps for children’s Communion with bags; scarves, little handbags, and neck-chokers, and ear-rings in glittery metallic embroidery spool wool and fancy place mats. I even won a prize in a big competition at one of the big Co. Wicklow country annual fairs. I also made jewellery to match the items, which comprised of silver ear-rings , bracelets, necklaces. I created them all minus patterns. I have a penchant for artistic, creative designs in wool. I also crocheted an Aran king-sized bed-spread for my mother. It was really heavy, as I used two balls of Aran wool, instead of one.