Attachment loss: Goldenbridge survivors

Attachment loss early on in life can send survivors of industrial schools into the abyss of the deepest quagmires. A morass of sorrow that can afflict them for a lifetime and seep into generations upon generations of survivors offspring. There were hundreds of very traumatised children in Goldenbridge at any one given time with no caregivers, unless they were the lucky few to have been petted by older child inmates, siblings, or untrained ex-institutional minders who may have favoured them over others. A good perentage of them were babies, toddlers, low and high infants who should have been with their mothers / caregivers and not left STRAPPED TIGHTLY to potties till their ENTRAILS HUNG OUT in an unprofessional child friendless institution. The babies were so bored that they soothed themselves by sucking their thumbs / fingers or banged their wee heads against the condensation cold, dark, dank institutional Goldenbridge walls every single day of their tiny lives. Or rocked backwards and forwards to soothe the tension of their unfulfilled lives without parent/s. They really should have been with their mothers and caregivers. It was wrong of the judiciary system, the Irish government, and religious to have torn them away in such a heartless fashion from their natural environment at such tender years. It was wrong of the aforementioned authorities – known colloquially as the cruelty men to send babies / toddlers into Goldenbridge (and other industrial schools) where there was no trained staff to look after them. What were they thinking at all. Ireland fought for it’s independence from Britain, but hung onto industrial schools until the mid-seventies, that were dispensed with in 1933. As a consequence children suffered the loss of loving parent/s if the government had not sought to care enough about children. Attachment loss at a very young age is a very serious issue and has life-long detrimental consequences to those who were fortune enough to grow up in Goldenbridge and industrial schools in general.


Attachment is an emotional bond to another person. Psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life. According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, thus improving the child’s chances of survival.

The central theme of attachment theory is that mothers who are available and responsive to their infant’s needs establish a sense of security in their children. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.


There are four key components of attachment:

    • Safe Haven: When the child feel threatened or afraid, he or she can return to the caregiver for comfort and soothing.
    • Secure Base: The caregiver provides a secure and dependable base for the child to explore the world.
    • Proximity Maintenance: The child strives to stay near the caregiver, thus keeping the child safe.
  • Separation Distress: When separated from the caregiver, the child will become upset and distressed.

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