2018 10 – Industrial Schools


by W J Haire

I haven’t read Paddy Doyle’s book THE GOD SQUAD, published in 1988, in which he writes of his life in an industrial school in Ireland. But it can be bought from Amazon. As I have a deadline to write something about industrial schools for this journal I have no time to wait for its arrival. But in the meantime I can read reviews of it on the Internet. One such review is from THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR THERAPEUTIC CARE which appears in their magazine: THE THERAPEUTIC CARE JOURNAL. They start by saying: `Industrial schools were set up in the nineteenth century in Ireland. In England the name was changed to Approved Schools in 1933 and into Community Homes with Education in 1969. But in Ireland there was no new child care legislation between the Children Act 1908, when Ireland was under Westminster rule, and 2001 when the Republic brought in a sweeping new Children Act. So in Paddy’s day they still had Industrial Schools, many of them run by Catholic Orders.

Paddy Doyle was born in 1951 and both his parents died in 1955, his father having committed suicide after his wife died of cancer. His uncle couldn’t care for him so he was put into an industrial school at the age of four. He met with both cruelty and kindness. The review does mention that in many homes there isn’t much difference when a child becomes stroppy. I myself have good reason to hate my late parents and to love them. Some days are hate days and some days love days. My father was a Belfast Protestant and my mother an Omagh Catholic. I had equality of disrespect towards both faiths because of what happened to them. My mother could recount being beaten by nuns at her convent school but she remained a practising Catholic. My father recounted his ill-treatment at his Presbyterian school where they had a teacher and an assistant teacher who whacked the children from behind for the slightest misdemeanour. But he never said that put him off his faith, rather it was his later communist beliefs.

I, as a totally rebellious boy who gave the teachers a lot of problems, was a victim of the cane, the pointer, and the tae. My elementary school inspired me to read the best literature and to write so I bore no grudges and still don’t. Anyway, the physical punishment of children was normal then. Paddy Doyle, says the reviews, wrote a very fine memoir. This is not to excuse religious orders for some of their wanton cruelty but beneath it all they are humans with human failings. I am only dealing with Industrial Schools here but I am aware of religious-run institutions in Ireland in the past which were little better than prisons with hard labour, where their young inmates, including babies, sometimes died through lack of love and care.

I have read the IRISH GULAG by Bruce Arnold, published in 2009. He has worked for more than 40 years as a political journalist for the Irish Independent. The cover says: `He has covered every administration since Sean Lemass and has written 21 books.’ Some of his books have titles like: `Haughey: His Life and Unlucky deeds’ Another one: `Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis.’

This might have some significance for the Irish readers of this magazine but pass over the head of an English reader. But he does give some interesting facts for readers in both Ireland and the UK. The map of Ireland (ROI), in the book, shows 60 industrial schools dotted all over the country like the military installations of an occupying power. There are 10 in Dublin and 9 in County Cork. it makes you wonder why there were so many. They were set up under the British occupation and seemed to have been allowed to remain until 2001. He calls them: `A Prison System for Children.’

  • St Coleman Industrial School for Girls, Cobh/Rushbrook, County Cork.
  • Baltimore Fishery Schools for Senior Boys, Baltimore, County Cork.
  • Benada Abbey Industrial School for Girls, Ballymote, County Sligo.
  • Mount Carmel Industrial School for Girls, Moate, County Westmeath.
  • Our Lady of Mercy Industrial School for Girls, Kinsale, County Cork.
  • Our lady of Succour Industrial School for Girls, Newtownforbes, County Longford.
  • Our Lady’s Industrial School for Girls, Ennis, County Clare.
  • Pembrook Alms (Nazareth House) Industrial School for Girls, Tralee, County Kerry.
  • St Aidan’s Industrial School for Girls, New Ross, County Wexford.
  • St Aloysius Industrial School for Girls, Clonakilty, County Cork.
  • St Anne’s Industrial School for Girls and Junior Boys, Renmore, Lenaboy, County Galway,
  • St Augustine’s Industrial School for Girls, Templemore, County Tipperary.
  • St Bernard’s Industrial School for Girls, Fethhard, Dundrum, Tipperary.
  • St Bridget’s Industrial School for Girls, Loughrea, County Galway.
  • St Columba’s Industrial School for Girls, Westport, County Mayo.
  • St Columba’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Killybegs, County Donegal.
  • St Conleth’s Reformatory School for Boys, Daingean, County Offaly.
  • St Dominic’s Industrial School for Girls,  Waterford.
  • St Francis’ Industrial School for Girls, Cashel, County Tipperary.
  • St Francis’ Xavier Industrial School for Girls and Junior Boys, Ballaghdureen, County Roscommon.
  • St George’s Industrial School for Girls, Limerick.
  • St John’s Industrial School for Girls, Birr, County Offaly.
  • St Joseph’s industrial School for Boys, Tralee, County Kerry.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls and Junior Boys, Ballinasloe, County Galway.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls and Junior Boys, Clifden, County Galway.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls and Junior Boys, Liosomoine, County Kerry.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls, Cavan.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School , Dundalk, County Louth.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls, Kilkenny.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial Schools for Girls, Mallow, County Cork.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls, Summerhill, Athlone, County Westmeath.
  • St  Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, County Tipperary.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Glin, County Limerick.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Letterfrack, County Galway.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Salthill, County Galway.
  • St Joseph’s Reformatory School for Girls, Limerick.
  • St Kevin’s Reformatory School for Boys, Glencree, County Limerick.
  • St Kyran’s Industrial School for Junior Boys, Rathdrum, County Wicklow.
  • St Laurence’s industrial School for Girls, Sligo.
  • St Martha’s Industrial School for Girls,  Bundoran, County Donegal.
  • St Martha’s Industrial School for Girls, Monaghan.
  • St Michael’s Industrial School for Girls, Wexford.
  • St Michael’s Industrial School for Junior Boys, Cappoquin, County Waterford.
  • St Patrick’s Industrial School for Boys, Upton, County Cork.
  • St Patrick’s Junior School for Junior Boys, Kilkenny.
  • St Vincent’s (House of Charity) Industrial School for Junior Boys, Drogheda, County Louth.
  • St Vincent’s Industrial School for Girls, Limerick.
  • St Finbarr’s Industrial School for Girls, Sundays Well, Marymount, Cork.
  • St Joseph’s Industrial School for Boys, Passage West, County Cork.
  • St Joseph’s industrial School for Senior Boys, Greenmount, Cork.


  • Artane Industrial School for Senior Boys, Dublin 5.
  • Scoil Ard Mhuire, Lusk, County Dublin.
  • Carricklea Park Industrial School for Senior Boys, Dunlaoghaire, County Dublin.
  • St Anne’s Industrial School for Girls, Booterstown, County Dublin.
  • St Anne’s Reformatory School, Kilmacud, County Dublin.
  • St Joseph’s industrial School for Girls, Whitehall, Drumcondra, Dublin 9
  • St Laurence’s Industrial School, Finglas, Dublin 11.
  • St Martha’s Industrial School, Merrion, Dublin 4.
  • St Mary’s industrial School, Lakelands, Sandymount, Dublin 4.
  • St Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge, Inchicore, Dublin 8.

According to the author : `The first industrial school for children in Ireland was erected in the Coombe in Dublin in 1805. It was part of the Eramus Smith Foundation and was designed for boys and girls. No distinction was made in respect of the religious faith of the pupils, but within 10 years of its foundation it had become exclusively Protestant, with more than 300 pupils, evenly balanced between boys and girls.’

I had to find a list of Industrial Schools in Northern Ireland from another source:

Articles on them, on the Internet, seems to have been withdrawn. Since the Good Friday Agreement and the now overt apartheid system operating between the two nationalities with its Israeli-type wall system dividing the two communities in Belfast it is unlikely that either side will admit to the Industrial School system and its physical and sexual abuses, especially during the one-party rule of Unionism. So here is what I found:

  • Balmoral Industrial School for Protestant Boys, Belfast, County Antrim.
  • Hampton House Industrial School, Belfast. (females)
  • Lisnevin Training School, Millisle, County Down.
  • The Malone (Reformatory School) Belfast, County Antrim. (Males)
  • Shamrock Lodge Industrial School, Belfast, County Antrim. (Females)
  • St Patrick’s Training school, Belfast, County Antrim.

It was around 1939 that I became aware of Industrial Schools. We as a family were living in a thatched cottage – not of English-style village vintage – but an everyday old farm cottage that had belonged to the father of the farmer now living further up the lane in a then modern farmhouse, in Mealough, County Down. It had white-washed walls, and a rat might jump over your shoulder from out of the thatch as you startled it when coming and going through the one and only door, which could be a half door during good weather. My parents noticed a new young man working on the farm up the lane. Today we would call him a teenager. (they weren’t yet invented back then). A shed of breeze blocks with a corrugated-iron roof and a concrete floor had been built for him, and maybe for others in the future. He was worked from dawn to dusk. One day he asked my father if 5 woodbines a day (a cheap cigarette) was a day’s wages. He seemed illiterate. It turned out he had come out of an industrial school on licence for the task of farm work. He did admit to stealing a horse’s harness and was given two years. Any breach for the slightest misdemeanour and he could be recalled. Even at my young age I could see that he had been bullied and was now cowed. Broken, maybe destroyed.

Industrial Schools were for young criminals I was told when I grew older and frisky with adolescence. And many’s the time I was threatened with being incarcerated there by both parents. If that yardstick on morality was used today most young people would be locked up. The fact was parents and adults generally believed in the system of the Industrial and Reformatory Schools. That’s why it ran and ran.

Today’s protesters against this past should ask grandparents or better still, great-grandparents, if still alive, if they supported this barbarous system. There was no home-haven for a young pregnant girl nor for the boy who got her like that. Both were candidates for the Industrial school. If a parent drove you crazy with their constant beatings and you lashed out in desperation to save your dignity that also made you a candidate. Parents could be very cruel during my time as a boy. it was sticks, kicks and the jabbing of a spoon-handle into the spine. Girls fared no better than boys.

You were a young criminal and you could be put into the hands of the Industrial School which would straighten you out. There was no notion of education and being cared for properly. In the North of Ireland you got beaten at home and you got beaten at school, and if a Catholic in a hard-line Protestant area you also had to face the murderous hatred of that community.

England, Scotland and Wales also had its Industrial Schools despite the name changes. But the focus now seems to be mostly on paedophilia in the children’s homes, and the cover-up of elites involved in this practice. (waiting for them to die rather than charging them, then having the media deny they were ever involved in child abuse))

Haut de la Garenne, in Jersey, the Channel Islands has been in the news. Haut de la Garenne (known also as the Jersey Home for Boys) began in 1867, according to Wikipedia, as an industrial school for young people which became the scene for serious sexual abuse.

So now Ireland, North and South, the UK and the Channel Islands have awakened to what past generations have done to them and it doesn’t look there were any innocent bystanders like parents, for example.