Boy died after being beaten by industrial school Brother
Fergus Black A YOUNG boy died in hospital days after he was beaten by a Christian Brother in an industrial school, it was revealed yesterday.
And another Christian Brother who broke a child's jaw was allowed to continue a "catalogue of mayhem" in three industrial schools before he was eventually removed from teaching.
The details emerged at the Commission on Child Abuse which is examining allegations about St Joseph's industrial school in Tralee, which was run by the Christian Brothers until its closure in 1970.
But Brother Seamus Nolan, a member of the Christian Brothers provincial leadership team, said the history of the school was not all grim and bleak and it was regarded as a worthwhile venture.
The commission was told that the boy from St Joseph's who died in 1958 - named in extensive press reports in 1995 as Joseph Pyke - had become a "cause celebre".
Brother Nolan told a commission hearing yesterday that it appeared the boy died in hospital. Stories later emerged about a beating he received in the school by a Brother who was in charge of the kitchen. Efforts had been made to find out if the incident in the school had affected his death, but the death certificate later referred to septicaemia and pneumonia.
The commission also heard how an "out of control" brother, referred to as brother X, who broke one boy's jaw, was allowed to continue to teach in three schools, including St Joseph's, before being withdrawn from teaching in 1969.
Brother Nolan said that the man originally worked at an industrial school in Clonmel in 1956 where it was alleged he had pulled a boy's hair. He was then moved to Tralee in 1961 and then to Glin, Co Limerick the same year before returning to Tralee in 1963.
The incident where the boy's jaw was broken occurred in Glin and he had also been accused of pulling another child's hair while he was "out of control" in the Clonmel school and beating boys with a stick or leather strap.
"We have no defence either for his actions or [for] not stopping it," said Brother Nolan.
When the brother was eventually removed, it was far too late, he said.
Counsel to the commission, Brian McGovern suggested that the methods in dealing with the brother showed a "remarkable uncaring attitude" towards the children in the care of the Christian Brothers. Gardai
Brother Nolan admitted it certainly did. Their efforts in dealing with the problem were not good enough.
To his knowledge, no reports about the abuse were sent to the gardai and while reports were sent to the Department of Education, the department "eased off" and did not really press the matter once the Brother was not involved in the school.
Brother Nolan also told of allegations about two other Brothers, named as L and M, who were over-severe in their use of corporal punishment.
While there were also allegations by former residents of the school of sexual abuse, he said there were references to some "peer abuse" among the boys themselves, but there were no references about allegations against the brothers.
Commenting about the Tralee school, Brother Nolan said an "effort of generosity" prevailed during the school's 100 years of existence. There had been regular inspections which showed by and large there was satisfaction and some of the surviving Brothers were still friends with the former pupils.
On occasions things were not right but the general impression was the work of the Brothers and the boys in the school was praiseworthy and worthwhile.