Dear Chris­tian Broth­ers and teach­ers,

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - THE LETTER I WISH I’D SENT -

IWALKED into your school in 1977 fresh from Holy Com­mu­nion from a school which was served by kindly teach­ers and Sis­ters of Mercy. I en­tered your school and look­ing back, I and many oth­ers were set upon daily, ei­ther phys­i­cally or men­tally, for 10 years un­til Leav­ing Cert.

In sec­ond class, we saw boys, in­clud­ing me, reg­u­larly caned for get­ting ba­sic sums wrong and went home with marks on our hands. Third class saw the daily event of two boys (with ob­vi­ous learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties) smashed up against a wall and slapped across the face re­peat­edly. Slaps across the head dur­ing the day could be meted out to any­one.

Fifth class was when we had the Head Brother un­til we left for first year. While they brought us on trips it didn’t ac­count for the vi­o­lence meted out — boys run­ning in the yard were picked up and lit­er­ally thrown to the ground; boys in the class were punched and slapped around the head in vi­o­lent tem­per. My head and ears still ring when I think of the punch to the back of the head I re­ceived for not an­swer­ing a ques­tion about my fam­ily. I mean a punch to an 11-year-old like it was nor­mal thing to do?

On into first year the beat­ings dis­ap­peared as cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment was redacted, so the new Head Brother of the sec­ondary school and some of his lay teach­ers re­sorted to daily men­tal abuse. “You will only ever sweep the roads” was the reg­u­lar in­sult to many of us, (a fine job by the way) or the com­ment that we were all only “wasters”. The class di­vide of a fam­ily like mine which availed of free books where we were ridiculed for look­ing for the re­bate cheque from the school. “You are a fam­ily of spongers” was the in­sult in front of the class as the cheque was handed out to some of us. “These fam­i­lies need to sponge off the State.”

To the teach­ers who were kind and con­sci­en­tious, why didn’t you speak up? To the Broth­ers and teach­ers men­tioned, shame on you. You left noth­ing but a trail of de­struc­tion to so many boys whose for­ma­tive years con­sisted of a daily threat of phys­i­cal or men­tal abuse and worse still for some it ac­tu­ally hap­pened. We were only boys, chil­dren, and in the main good kids who were just keen to play foot­ball or some other sport and learn as much as pos­si­ble. Boys who many were grow­ing up with dif­fi­cult fam­ily lives also.

Shame on you. You have noth­ing to be proud of in this life or the next if that’s where you al­ready are.

BC Name and ad­dress with Ed­i­tor

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