PRIVATE REPORT ON ARTANE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL COMMISSIONED BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHARLES MCQUAID, ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN AND PRIMATE OF IRELAND. 1962. This report was held under wraps by the Department of Education for 45 years and was only made public on the 18th of August 2007 by the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

38 Harmondstown Avenue,
7th July, 1962.

My Lord Archbishop,

In a letter of 18th May Your Grace requested me to submit a report on Artane Industrial School. I have pleasure in presenting herewith the findings of my enquiry.

Due to the confidential nature of my task and the wide terms of reference I was obliged to restrict my observations to personal experience. The details are none the less factual and complete.

I am, My Lord Archbishop,

Your Grace’s Obedient Servant,

Henry Moore [signed]


The Most Reverend John C, McQuaid, D. D.,
Lord Archbishop of Dublin,
Primate of Ireland


In this report I have attempted to describe and discuss the existing situation as the Industrial School system operates in Artane. It is not a complete examination of all aspects of the system. I have, however, studied the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Industrial School system of 1936 and the Report on Youth Unemployment of 1951.

In relation to the contemporary scene, and considering the advance in educational requirements, particularly as envisaged by the recent Apprenticeship Act, it seems to me that Artane is in need of drastic revision. Government policy as it affects the financial position of the school would indicate the urgent need of an enlightened approach to the problem. A serious decline in the number of committals reacts adversely on the school’s financial position, since overhead expenses do not decrease pari passu with a reduction in direct maintenance charges. Despite this hardship certain improvements have been made, notably by the installation of a fine modern kitchen and the construction, now in progress, of twelve class halls in the old building.

The management of the school is the subject of this report. As I shall indicate, the methods employed are obsolete, proper training is neglected, and there is no attempt at adequate rehabilitation.

The early association in the public mind of Artane with the Prison system is responsible for a misconception that persists regarding Artane and the boys in it. By agreement with the Department of Justice the authorities at Artane will not accept committals with a criminal charge. This means that the inmates are either school non-attendance cases – about one-third of the total – the majority being orphans or children in special circumstances. Many of these are transferred from Junior Industrial Convent Schools at Rathdrum, Drogheda, and Kilkenny; and so, the situation frequently arises where boys, on leaving Artane, have already spent 10 to 14 years in an institutional environment. It is readily acknowledged that all of these require specialised treatment.


About 450 boys are resident at the school. For any measure of success it is necessary that this number should be divided into small units. Considering that the buildings were originally designed to accommodate 800 boys, proper planning might ensure the possibility of this. A fundamental defect is the manner in which the boys are admitted indiscriminately, without regard to their background, medical history, antecedents or suitability for the training which they are to receive. The very structure of the school is in dilapidated condition, colourless and uninspiring, and reflects the interior spirit. “Tibi saxa loquuntur”. The atmosphere is somewhat unreal, particularly in regard to lack of contact with the opposite sex, and this unnatural situation in a group of 450 boys plus a staff of 40 men invariably leads to a degree of sexual maladjustment in the boys.

Indeed in this respect Artane is a modern Mount Athos. The boys seem to be denied the opportunity of developing friendly and spontaneous characters; their impulses become suffocated and when they are suddenly liberated their reactions are often violent and irresponsible.

DIET: The boys are reasonably well fed. There is fair variety but obvious essential requirements such as butter and fruit are never used. Milk puddings are served but these are of poor quality and without relish. In general I feel that the boys are undernourished and lacking calcium and other components. At table I have observed the unruly indelicate manner of the boys. The services of a dietician and supervision under a female staff would considerably enhance the standards. In addition to the three meals the boys are given a light refreshment which takes the form of a slice of bread and jam. The method of serving this is crude and unhealthy. The bread is transported to the yard in a large sized wooden box and the boys are paraded to receive their portion.

APPAREL: It seems to me that this aspect of the general care is grossly neglected. The boys’ clothing is uncomfortable, unhygienic, and of a displeasing sameness. They are constantly dirty, both themselves and their clothes. The quality of the material is poor due to the fact that it manufactured on the premises. Overcoats are not supplied except where a boy can pay £3 to £4 in advance, which must come from his own pocket. It is pathetic to observe hundreds of boys walking the roads of the district on Sunday mornings even in deep winter without overcoats. Moreover, on returning from their walk they are compelled to change again into their ordinary work-a-day suit. This has the affect on the boys’ morale and their association of the Sunday is easily obscured. In the matter of the clothing, likewise, there is no individuality.

A boy’s personal clothing is as much the property of his neighbour. Shirts, underwear (vests are not worn), stockings, footwear, nightshirts (no pyjamas) are all common property and are handed down from generations. When these articles are laundered they are distributed at random, sometimes without regard to size. The laundry arrangements leave much to be desired. The boys’ stockings and shirts are renewed once a week and underwear once a fortnight. Handkerchiefs are not used. This fundamental disregard for personal attention inevitably generates insecurity, instability and an amoral concern for the private property of others. This I consider to be a causative factor in the habits of stealing frequently encountered among ex-pupils. In summer the boys do not receive a change of clothing. When I visited the Industrial School at Salthill I was impressed by the way in which the boys were attired appropriately and inexpensively for the summer season. In Artane the hob-nail boots, [and] the heavy burdensome material are as much a feature of summer attire as of winter.

MEDICAL ATTENTION: I fail to understand the indifference of Departmental Inspectors to the seriously inadequate medical facilities in the school. Apart from the twice-weekly visit of the Doctor there is no matron or nurse in attendance. A Brother without qualifications and who was transferred from the care of the poultry farm is now in charge of all medical requirements. A surgical dressing room is located adjacent to the dining hall. This dreary stone flagged and depressing room resembles a vacated dairy house. Many boys, even the older ones, suffer from enuresis and nothing is done to remedy their condition.

DISCIPLINE: In a school of over 400 boys, discipline must necessarily be firmly maintained. In Artane, it seems to me that the discipline is rigid and severe and frequently approaches pure regimentation. Every group activity is martialed, even the most elementary such as the recitation of the Angelus during recreation. The administration of punishment is in charge of a disciplinarian, but in practice is not confined to him. There seems to be no proportion between punishment and offence. In my presence a boy was severely beaten on the face for an insignificant misdemeanour. Recently, a boy was punished so excessively and for so long a period that he broke away from the Brother and came to my house a mile away for assistance. The time was 10:45 p.m., almost two hours after the boys retired to bed. For coming to me in those circumstances he was again punished with equal severity. Some time ago, a hurley stick was used to inflict punishment on a small boy. The offence was negligible.

Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted, and in some cases, abnormal. Their liberty is so restricted that all initiative and self esteem suffers. This is particularly evident when they leave the school. The boys find it difficult to establish ordinary human relationships and not infrequently are very difficult to manage. I recommend a more liberal approach in the matter of outings, holidays etc. This year 150 boys will be away for August. Some to their families, others to god-parents and friends. The remaining 250 will stay on in Artane. The trade shops close for two weeks but the boys are transferred to work on the farm. This naturally breeds discontent and frustration. Some effort should be made to provide a holiday, however brief, for the unlucky ones.

The introduction of interested parties and voluntary groups would lend a welcome change to the drabness and monotony of the Institute. The more winds of change that blow through Artane the less stagnation and ugliness there will be. Here I am thinking of possible work for the Volunteer Corps or its counterpart, which some day I trust will be available for girls. Greater co-operation could be obtained from the Brothers with regard to the God-parents Guild which does invaluable work in befriending destitute children. The Guild often complains to me of the difficulty in making contacts with Artane. The question of God-parents needs to be looked into, and full use of its potential obtained.

Read more »