"You'd hear the younger ones screaming during the night, the twelve and thirteen year olds . . . There was a night watchman who used to patrol the dormitories with an ash plant on his shoulder. You'd see him constantly bringing down that stick onto a boy in a bed with his full force, about five or six times . . . There were an awful lot of priests and brothers there in my time . . . The priests were unimpeachable, they beat the boys with complete impunity. No one ever interfered. They were a total law into themselves . . . It was the closest thing I've ever seen to an SS prison camp. The kids were just kicked and bullied and beaten and starved, all the time." (Hugh, a former Oblate priest who worked in 1957 at St Conleth's Reformatory, Daingean, run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.)
- - - - - - - - - -
A Department of Justice official describes the questioning in 1968 of Fr William McGonagle, Manager of Daingean and Chairman of the Association of Resident Managers of Industrial and Reformatory Schools: "He replied openly and without embarrassment that ordinarily the boys were called out of the dormitories after they had retired, and that they were punished here on one of the stairway landings . . . Punishment was applied to the buttocks with a leather . . . Some of the Committee members asked why he allowed boys to be stripped naked for punishment, and he replied in a matter of fact manner that he considered punishment to be more humiliating when it was administered in that way."
BUT only a year earlier, in 1967, the Secretary of the Department of Education, Mr T.R. O'Raifeartaigh, could report to the Minister for Education on a visit to Daingean: "Such is the spirit of dedication on the part of the staff, religious and lay, that one's principal feeling on leaving is that it is good to know that such people exist."
- - - - - - - - - -
Shortly after that he called me down from the dormitory at night and he flogged me. They'd beat us on the stairs below the dormitories and the sound of the strap would echo all over the place. I was stripped naked and had to be spread-eagled on the stairs. One brother stood on my hands to keep me there, and another held my legs. Then the Brother who made my life such a hell in the church flogged me with the leather. I always felt that this was his way to get me - if he couldn't get me sexually, then he could do it by beating me. (ex-child detainee Daingean)