Sr. Fabian’s Classroom – One afternoon
Valerie made a clatter as Sister Fabian tackled inhumanly with her “soiled” clothing in order to remove them. Valerie clasped forcefully on to them to save herself from this loathsome embarrassing act. All was in vain as poor Valerie was conquered by this malevolent piece of work. She succeeded in savagely stripping her of her soiled clothing – this sister of mercy – who always said to Valerie “you have evil eyes, you have the devil’s eyes.” It caused her to keep her head untiringly down, as she was so feeling shame at having even been born with all the systematic abuse that was consistently thrown at her. It was said, by Sister Fabian to Valerie, “it is nothing more than the devil that is coming out of you”.
This episode occurred in front of young girls in St Philomena’s classroom. Children were totally beside themselves frightened out of their wits and with ignominy and astonishment and did not know where to put their heads. Unexpectedly, like lightning, Valerie roared like a wild animal and with all her power went for the jugular, the “sacrosanct” holy “veil”. All hell was let loose. Sister Fabian then let go of Valerie as she tried to fix her veil into position. She then said to us “get on with your work”.
The raison d’être behind this whole monstrous performance was medical. Valerie had a severe hormonal problem whereby she haemorrhaged profusely. Her face was always as white as snow. She thus became delirious and hallucinated, and constantly talked about ‘moving’ statues before they ever came into vogue. Also because of the nature of her illness and no medical treatment/supervision, she was at a loss as to what to do. There was no considerate or kind adult in Goldenbridge to direct her in her need. Ironically, the washroom was right next door to St Philomena’s but it was out of bounds, so when she was having hygiene problems there was nowhere for her to go. As a corollary, foreseeable accidents occurred which resulted in overshadowing repugnant smells. It permeated all over, but what was she to do? Well enter Sister Fabian, she indisputably sorted it out. A lot of victims and survivors have never forgotten this sad sordid saga.
Sr. Fabian for all time held her nose at children and said “you dirty thing, get out of my sight.” She was a very intolerant sister and caused huge damage to children because of it. One afternoon in St. Philomena’s was no exception to the rule. Valerie died last year due to self neglect, but she lived long enough to tell the sad tale.
Valerie, who unendingly held her head down in shame, had Bambi-type beautiful brown eyes. She also made the most neatest of rosary beads, and we always complimented and sought out her assistance. I wrote in my best English a long witness statement to both the CIRCA and the RIRB on behalf of Valerie, who was not conversant. Bernadette Fahy also stood up for her.
Valerie’s mother who hails from the North of Ireland was only fourteen years old when she gave birth to her first boy child, and was sixteen years old when Valerie was born, there was also another girl some years later but she was lucky enough to be contentedly adopted. The boy went to another disreputable Industrial School – Artane. So he too was just a stranger to his sister.
The adopted sister some years ago suddenly arrived at Valerie’s abode. It caused great consternation as Valerie never knew of her existence. She took Valerie under her wing, but the wounds were way too deep for her to appreciate any kindness. Valerie could not grasp the logic as to why she was also not adopted, and it caused deep friction and resentment. This type of thinking is very common with those who were detained in Goldenbridge. The sadness of it is that one is not dealing with just normal sibling rivalry.
Valerie’s mother went on to have a second family and wanted nothing to do with any of her children who were born outside of that union. A cousin whom she had no contact with sadly died in the Northern Ireland Omagh Bombing of some years ago. Christine Buckley, Bernadette Fahy, and a host of us from Valerie’s era were all present at her funeral. She had insisted on being cremated. Everything about one’s bodily functions was cloak and dagger stuff. Prepubscent children were an enigma to sister Fabian.