Music rising from the ashes of abuse

During the time of big Irish families in the pre-pill era, boys might be under less parental control than ought to be possible today when the Irish birth rate, although the highest in Europe, is a modest 2.1. So, it was not unusual for boys to get into trouble and be deemed dangers to society or to property or to apple orchards.

The result was that they might be sent to the large industrial school run by the Christian Brothers in the north Dublin suburb of Artane. A frazzled parent might well threaten their child with such an outcome in an effort to frighten the recalcitrant one into conformity.

In practice, many of those who ended up in Artane were there because they had been abandoned or because it was the opinion of authorities that their families were unable to look after them. It was not a badge of honour for the family or a situation fondly anticipated by the child.

I came across the story of one such boy recently. Danny Ellis was an inner city kid, his father in America for work, his young mother not able or not willing to look after him and his four younger siblings. These were taken away to be cared for by nuns and finally his mother took Danny to Artane, telling him she had to go to hospital and would come back for him at Christmas. He never saw her again. Continue reading

Image: Random House

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