Letterfrack Industrial School.
We were children.The Industrial Schools, Orphanages, Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries of Ireland, were just child brothels, rape rooms for the Clerics. A smorgasbord for pedophile Clerics and Christian rapists who preyed on and terrorised vulnerable children in all the religious run Institutions in Ireland. Floggings and nights of stark terror as Clerics took their pick of the frightened children as they hid in their nightmares. Vulnerable children whose childhoods and lives the Clerics destroyed and stole. The rape was worse for the girls, who were sometimes violently impregnated by their Christian rapists.
The screaming children were passed around, from pedophile Cleric to pedophile Cleric. The rapes would stay with the child for eternity, the Clerics would simply smile and confess their filthy sins, holy water was used to cleanse their foul mouths, sinful spite was used as a lubricant for their uncleansed members. The full magnitude of the children's suffering has yet to be entirely understood, but each child, now a man or woman, hides their delirium of shame, some bury their grief, in oceans of soothing alcohol. Others swam with psychedelic drugs, hoping to change their perception of their altered state of consciousness. Many vulnerable children, damaged as men, ended their hopeless lives of misery at the end of a crying rope, or a cocktail syringe of Christian hypocrisy, pumped into drug hungry veins, or a multitude of other sad endings, rough sleeping on cold, wet streets of despondency. Desolated streets filled with shame and wondering despair are full of dead humanity’s bones and everything unclean.
Still tens of thousands of apparitions of children haunt and roam the ghostly mass graves, overflowing septic tanks and haunted Industrial school hallways. 150,000 vulnerable children passed through these forbidden gates, 21,579 survived today. Each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, each year, we die, stories are untold. Sadly our band of Survivors decrease, even as I write and record our collective history.
I walk daily with both the living and the dead, I recently walked in the soulless cemetery while in Letterfrack Industrial School with a six year old boy, a kindred spirit. Yet I knew his name, though unspoken was Sean. Sean whose brutal death he wore on his exposed back. The scars of a flogging and rape at the hands of endoparasite Christian Brothers, was still raw, raised welts and strafe marks crisscrossed his back.. Sean led me safely through the spiky evergreen hollies, he recognised our mutual pain and suffering. Sean brought something else, his benevolent spirit to sooth me, a very angry man. Ectoparasite infestation was and is Christianity, which is a cancerous parasite feeding on the body of humanity. Clerical parasites with their snouts, buried daily, deep into the rape and murder of children.
God didn’t send this Kindred Spirit as I stood with Sean, as I witnessed the secret graves, beyond the giant evergreen hollies, used to guard the forgotten graves. The children’s stories, untold, their shame is engraved on any passing leaf, the murmuring wind carries a voice, their voices that pass through the drooping evergreens. The holly bears the crown of a child suffering, each spike carries a tear that drops into the crevices of this unswept earth. Beneath the carpet of wild moss rests charity and maternal love, the unwanted children hide, beneath a hundred years of brutal Christian hate, fed on superstitious fears. Many Winters of Conifers of fallen leaves, deposit and hide their suffering, but their brutal pain can be seen, if one looks, etched and felt in the surrounding air or hidden by a small clump of moss, lurking beneath a confused conifer.
The hidden cemetery floor is covered with 85 broken heart shaped stones, used as grave markers, each stone was engraved with a name, age, and passing year. The cause of the children’s death was never recorded- age 5 one read, name unknown, my tears of anger seeping into the crevices of their anguished graves. For here lies a genocide of crimes against vulnerable children. This forsaken cemetery while barely kept is guarded by a drunk, leaning Virgin Mary, she denies the horrors, the Mary Cult of death, now deny these horrors, their worthless clerics and their religion caused the rape and murder of the innocences, the children, now unfolding in her name. While a few feet away one large granite stone obelisk, covered, partly in creeping fine moss, now cracked, listing the names of 61 children disposed of, beneath the corrupt obelisk. The front panel reads —--
“ Dear Lord Grant Eternal Rest to all our Deceased” You are all Remembered by The Brothers, Lay Staff and Pupils of St. Joseph’s
How insulting that the 210 plus children, now dead, were in the care of the Christian Brothers, who flogged, terrorised, raped and then murdered these vulnerable children, and disposed of into these thankless mass graves. Only to be remembered by their pedophile tormentors, chiselled in cold stone on a stone obelisk by their rapists for eternity- These degenerate clerics, these murderous pedophile Christian Brothers. This is truly outrageous.
No amount of fresh colourful paint on the cold grey stone walls, can hide the stench that percolates the suffering and pain, of floggings, rapes, torture and murder of vulnerable children, that took place within this godforsaken hellhole of Letterfrack Industrial School. Now the brilliant red colour to the front of the Industrial School outer walls, acts as a flash beacon in the lush wild Connemara landscape. In reality the red colour of hell is a bleak reminder that it was a real hell on earth for the thousands of vulnerable children who resided there, a living hell and a continuous nightmare on a daily basis for its few remaining Survivors. Owen Felix O’Neill
751 Secret unmarked graves were found at former Canada Industrial School, run by the Catholic Church
In Canada's Saskatchewan Province has found unmarked graves of 751 children on the grounds of a former Industrial School, run by the Catholic Church. It comes just weeks after a similar discovery of a single grave of children 215 in British Columbia Canada. The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on 2 June, after the discovery of215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia. This was and is cultural genocide. The last of the Industrial Schools in Canada closed in 1996. The British Columbia, Industrial School closed in 1969. The Industrial Schools in Canada as in Ireland were known for raping children physically, and emotionally, and finally murdering them, disposing of their battered bodies into mass graves.
The Cowessess First Nation of Saskatchewan Province said there were 751 "recorded hits" at the site and noted there could be more than one set of remains at each "hit." . The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997. The Canadian Police would be treating the site "like a crime scene.” And the lying Catholic Church said that the removal of headstones from the cemetery was wrong. "It was a terrible thing to do, which, given the history of Residential Schools and the pain and suffering that many survivors felt on top of all that, it's a disaster," Archbishop Donald Bolen said. Of course here in Ireland they, the Catholic Church, disposed of 800 babies and children into Septic Tanks, that in truth the Catholic Church never had the respect for the sanctity of life especially of children.
Chief Wayne Semaganis from the First Nation in Saskatchewan says;- "Even today there is still dismissiveness from the general public — that it's a history, it's in the past.” "No it's not in the past. It's today. It's ongoing.… [The children buried at residential schools] were murdered — because if there were accidents, if they died of natural causes, somebody would have been alerted.” "The Catholic Church denies us our right to grieve. That is what really hurts.” The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina said the removal of headstones from the cemetery was wrong. "It was a terrible thing to do, which, given the history of residential schools and the pain and suffering that many survivors felt on top of all that, it's a disaster," Archbishop Donald Bolen said.
The Catholic Church that ran the Industrial School for children, knew of the secret graves, and destroyed any and all documents which would implicate the Catholic Church and its crimes against vulnerable children. "There are oral stories that there are adults in this gravesite as well.” According to people in the know. As of yesterday, June 24th. 2021;- 751 unmarked graves" were found at the site of the former Industrial School for children. "This is not a mass grave site, these are unmarked graves of raped, tortured and murdered children” The Canadian Government says the Catholic Church is not fully cooperating with the investigations, 150,000 children passed through these Industrial Schools in Canada.
According to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the country's residential school system of Industrial Schools run by the Catholic Church, that many of the staff were Irish and trained in Ireland, a few of the Clerics also worked in similar Industrial Schools here in Ireland. The deaths of the vulnerable children amounted to cultural genocide. A local Monsignor, Owen Keenan, said that people were ignoring the “good” done at these ghastly Industrial Schools. Monsignor Owen Keenan doesn't talk about the 15,000 children hidden in secret mass graves, on the site of these Industrial Schools, the youngest child was 3 years of age.
The Brothers and Priests of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been involved in several sex scandals in both Ireland and Canada, since the founding of the Religious Order in the 19th. century. The Oblates are a known group of roving pedophiles and have been directly convicted in the rape and murder of 10s of thousands of children in their care. 85% of Missionary Oblates Brother and Priests that operated in Canada’s Industrial Schools were born and trained in Ireland. Any Religious run Institutions in Ireland, Canada, North America or Australias was a place where childhood died, and that’s a fact. The Oblates ran one of the worse Industrial Schools/ St Conleth"s Reformatory School in Daingean, Co Offaly, in which the daily rape, torture, floggings and murder of hundreds of boys by The Oblates was the norm. Let’s read what the Ryan Report said about St Conleth"s Reformatory School in Daingean run by The Oblates Brothers.
Something else discovered at the secret burial site of the 751 graves of children was that the Brothers and Priests of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate- deliberately removed the headstones, so families would not find the graves. In Canada removing headstones is a crime. The Canadian Police are treating the vast secret grave site as a crime scene. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron described the finding as "a crime against humanity”. "The world is watching Canada as they begin to unearth and discover the remains of genocide, the slaughter of defenceless children, murdered, tortured and raped in the Catholic Industrial Schools. Chief Bobby Cameron said "We had concentration camps here, concentration camps of children, like they had in Ireland. Canada will be forever known as the nation that tried to exterminate the First Nations children.” The Catholic Church will forever be known as The Death Cult, in the massacre of tens of thousands of vulnerable children.
The Industrial School’s discovery, run by the Catholic Church, will reopen old wounds in Canada and here in Ireland, about the lack of information and accountability surrounding the Residential School System of slave children, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families. The same happened here in Ireland, where there are still 28 secret graves of thousands of unaccountable children, raped, tortured and murdered in Ireland’s Industrial Schools yet to be discovered.
The Canadian Government said that 4,100 vulnerable Children were murdered in one Industrial School in British Columbia Canada. But in reality the number of defensible children raped, tortured and murdered in another Industrial School in Canada's Saskatchewan Province is shocking. The vulnerable children were dumped into secret graves and the numbers are likely to be 15,000 plus, vulnerable children.
So far, over 1,300 secret graves have been located at 6 Industrial Schools. There are Hundreds of Industrial Schools across Canada and America, all run by the Catholic Church, many of the staff who ran these Industrial Schools will be Irish Catholic Priests, Irish Nuns, and Irish Christian Brothers.
To put this horror into perspective, the Canadian Government originally estimated that 4,000- 6,000 children were raped, beaten and murdered in searching only 6 of the Industrial Schools across Canada. In the 6 Industrial Schools they found 1,300 unmarked graves that the Catholic Church did not tell the Canadian Government about. The Catholic Church deliberately removed all visual markings, like headstones at all their secret burial sites at the Industrial Schools so that the thousands of raped and murdered children would never be found. That is a true crime of Humanity, the Slaughter of the Innocence, the Massacre of tens of thousands of vulnerable children by the Roman Catholic Church. Owen Felix O'Neill
Can remembering past atrocities prevent future ones? I say a resounding yes. The question I was asked very recently, was should we dig up all the babies and children found or known in the mass graves that dot around the religious sites in Ireland, like, The Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, Orphanages and Industrial Schools, and Convents. I replied yes we should and I will tell you why… I accept this can be a very painful subject to many Survivors, but we must hold both the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Irish Government to account no matter how painful. I maintain that we must have true accountability, the Irish Catholic Church has lost all credibility. The death of trust and the triumph of suspicion, we can never again take the word of the Irish Catholic Church. Total transparency is now a must, because cover-ups always make matters worse. The mere suspicion of a cover-up makes trust impossible, we can’t afford to trust a morally corrupt Church. The Irish Catholic Church has lost all moral authority, Time to dismantle it once and for all. It's not that there are a few fetid apples, the whole putrid tree is rotten to its core, and now emitting a fetid smell of decay.
The devilish Clerics of The Cult earned their infamous reputation, for their violent tactics, brutal beatings, murder and torture of vulnerable babies, children and women in their pastoral care. Gestapo like Clergy used torture, rape and brutal violence in all their Religious run Institutions in Ireland. The bigot Clergy of The Cult were indeed a frighteningly efficient bureaucracy of thugs, killers, pedophile rapists and religious fanatics, child traffickers, and slavers. Its field agents, the Nuns and Priests were masters in the black arts of terror, meted out not infrequently with a hefty dose of religious sadism, which further perpetrated Irish Catholic Church crimes. These delinquent Clerics brutally and cruelly forced vulnerable women and children into a lifetime of domestic servitude. Even in death the Clerics flushed and disposed of thousands of rejected babies and children down into their septic tanks, a final act of utter humiliation. After all the murderous Clerics of The Cult viewed these babies and children as shit to be used and disposed of. Their mothers, also by the thousands, were similarly disposed of into cesspools, which can still be found to this day on convent lands.
Religious fanaticism, practiced like the Irish Clerics in general were and are dangerous and terrifying because of their mindlessness. It is futile to try to reason with them because they are epidemic feral creatures, entirely focused on infecting other people with their plague of religious bigotry. Some of their collective crimes-on women and children were- Sex Trafficking-Child Sex Trafficking-Baby Trafficking-Forced Labour-Domestic Servitude-Forced Child Labour.
We must remember the lessons of its genocidal past by the Irish Catholic Church, known as The Cult. Ireland must also remember the haunting question. - “How should a nation of former perpetrators mourn its victims?” Genocide was practiced in every Religious run Institution in Ireland by the Clerics of the Irish Catholic Church and Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people, like the babies, children and their unwed mothers because of their mothers had the babies out of wedlock.
Survivors struggled for official recognition as targets of mass rapes, slavery, brutalities and killing. We need a complete reckoning with the scope and scale of Irish Catholic Church’s crimes. We also need a proper memorial to mark the killing of thousands of babies, children and mothers in Ireland’s religious run Institutions. A memorial for atonement and remembering to serve as a perpetual reminder of Ireland’s particular responsibility to never again allow such atrocities.
Today leaders of Ireland’s Catholic Church have repeatedly voiced revisionist and untrue, that minimise Irish Catholic Church’s era crimes. Worse still, the Irish Catholic Church has downplayed the genocide and its role both the Clerics and their Religious run Institutions played in the thousands of deaths and rapes, religious brutalities of babies, children and women in their care. The mass graves, septic tanks, cesspools must be uncovered and no matter how painful, we must know completely what happens in these killing fields of Religious run Institutions, so that it can never happen again. We must also hold Irish democracy accountable for the crime of complacency. To showcase the dire consequences of failing to stand up to tyranny, committed by the powerful Irish Catholic Church. I call for a permanent installation of babies, children and women remains. I see myself as engaged in a war against forgetting, as do all Survivors.
Mass Grave burial grounds in all Religious run Institutions in Ireland are sacred but they must be excavated, no matter the cost or embarrassment to the Irish Catholic Church. The land must never be sold off to developers. It’s not enough that the Irish Catholic Church beg for forgiveness, we cannot accept forgiveness when we don’t know the full extent of the atrocities committed in their Religious run Institutions in Ireland. Until every bone, every baby or child’s body is identified, reburied and treated with dignity. “Never Again”
Tens of thousands of the dead babies, children and women came to dot the Irish landscape, and the recurrent past. “No baby, child or woman will be forgotten, nothing is forgotten.” A remembrance slogan shows the will and the necessity of remembrance. Survivors did and do not forget and so remembers, The Irish Catholic Church must be confronted with its heinous crimes and guilt. In spite of its twisted ideology and propaganda.
The Religious run Institutions were heavily dependent on a large supply of slave women and children, agricultural, industrial and domestic labour and, to a significant extent, on practices that were, only “slavery by another name.” The Religious Orders of men and women were the sole owners and exploiters of the vast, rich resources of Ireland and its ever growing population. The system of exploitation was most potent in the hundreds of Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, Orphanages and Industrial Schools, and Convents, throughout Ireland.
The Irish Government and its people must take collective historic responsibility to denounce the Irish Catholic Church’s genocidal crimes, committed in their Religious run Institutions which must become public knowledge, despite being already accepted as a fact by both Survivors and historians. The Irish People must also jostle itself from numbness and apathy to these genocidal crimes committed by the Irish Catholic Church. The crimes and Ireland’s responsibility for the victims of the Irish Catholic Church’s atrocities and sufferings must be recognised. Survivors are still fighting for compensation. The Catholic Church and the Irish Peoples confrontation with the past is still in process and still waiting to be fully unraveled. And to quote Charles de Gaulle, “The culture of a people can be recognised in how it treats its dead” So the cruel culture of the Irish Church was to dispose of the babies, children and their mothers into septic tanks, cesspools and other mass-graves, contemptuous death and human extinction. The annihilated of unwed women, their children was murder by another name.
The presence of the past we must continue to confront the remains of the Clerical Irish State. If I was to visit a proper cemetery, rather than the septic tanks, cesspools, or mass-graves, with an additional 50,000 or 150,000 tiny crosses stretching to the horizon, I would understand, like other Survivors, the collective overwhelming feeling. The names of the dead—babies, children and women, their life dates would reinforce the senselessness. For Survivors the human will to bury the dead with dignity, of their unknown, mothers, brother, sisters and to commemorate them. The dead babies, children and women will hold a place in our individual memory. I myself, cannot pay homage to a septic tank, cesspool, to other mass-graves. The dead babies, children and women, who lost their lives through forced labour, deportation, exploitation, disease, religious brutalities, drug experiments and murder, still lie in death, in the many septic tanks, and cesspools of their former labour camps. The quiet complicity of the Irish Government in their servitude was precipitated only in response to the horrors perpetrated by the Clerics of The Cult, the Catholic Church in Ireland, who despised unwed women and their children. I have waited for 67 years to bury my mother, brother and sisters, I want true accountability. I want the right to visit her and their graves and shed a tear in silence. Owen Felix O’Neill
The Poor Clares and the 35 Orphans they Murdered.
The Tragedy of St. Joseph’s Orphanage & Industrial School Fire. While World War 2 rampaged throughout Europe and the wider world, closer to home, here in Ireland a complete disaster was unfolding and for two days, the tragic inferno that raged through St. Joseph’s Orphanage & Industrial School in Cavan Town, killing 35 enslaved children and an elderly care woman, Miss Margaret Smith at 80 years of age, still enslaved as the Cook, dominated the headlines here at home and further afield. This cataclysmic fire brings the chaos and tragedy of that night vividly to life. The Nuns murdered 35 Orphans out of 72 enslaved children that were wilfully murdered.
The four or five packed bars in and around the Convent had just closed their doors in the country town of Cavan Town, with the locals chatting and heading home late on the cold and wet night of Tuesday the 23rd. of February 1943. At about the same time as the local pubs were closing, a smouldering fire broke out in the basement laundry of St. Joseph’s Orphanage & Industrial School run by the enclosed Order of Nuns, the Poor Clares, where their existence literally consists of a life of work, prayer and penance. Their Convent sits on the Main Street of Cavan Town. Within a few minutes the smouldering fire had turned into a raging inferno, consuming the entire basement, which was now dangerously out of control at this stage. A few of the Nuns up late praying in their overstuffed sitting room, saw and heard the rage of the fire, the Nuns panicked and stampeded for the exits amid total “chaos”, the Holy Nuns reneged on their basic sacred duty to care for these vulnerable orphan children, in which the Convent made a handsome living from the child slaves running their Laundry.
Scandalously The Nuns did nothing to contain the raging inferno which began late in the night as the fire grew and grew to an inferno engulfing the main laundry buildings. The only thing the Nuns did as the inferno raged was to gather most of the children to the top room of the laundry building, gave them a few rosary beads and locked the frightened children alone into the top floor darkened room, the electrics were out of action due to the fire. At this stage the overwrought emaciated children were hysterical, trapped in a death grip of uncontrollable fear and anxiety as a few knelt weeping to pray. A few ran to the bolted door, but to no avail, A few more of the desperate children went to the sealed windows pulled down the torn curtains in a frenzy, struggling to open or break the windows, with their now bloodied hands, cut from the broken glass they managed to break, hoping to crawl out, but to no avail, there was no place of safety for them, they were to high up almost in the attic of the locked darkened building. Their piercing cries and pleads could be heard from all over the town. Nine children escaped, some two or three by jumping from the high windows, breaking their limbs. Many of the orphanage children suffered from tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery, pneumonia and other infectious diseases. Physical injuries were common, caused by beatings, and other forms of physical and sexual abuse, melted out by the cruel Nuns.
The dormitories swarmed with various sorts of vermin and rats. A constant shortage of water for washing, and the lack of suitable sanitary facilities, aggravated the situation. All the slave orphan children were emaciated because of starvation rations in the Industrial Laundry, the Nuns ran with the age range of the vulnerable children, 4 years of age to 18, all the children began to experience organic deterioration that led to extreme physical exhaustion. All the orphanage children faced daily abuse and violence.
The wretched children, now in total despair, were crying in high-pitched, frenzied ways for help, urgently and vociferously calling attention to the top windows at the top of the laundry building. A few of the children started to call out different names of the apathetic Nuns, or the elderly woman who was normally with them, but nothing, a few loud noises of men calling out asking where they were, a few of the men, worse for drink could be heard pleading with a group of obdurate Nuns at the locked front gates, the anxious men could see and hear the overwrought children, but the Nuns ignore the men, finally allowing just two men to enter the convent grounds and the stubborn Nuns directing the two men to fight only the uncontrollable fire in the basement, which within forty minutes the inferno would tightly grip the entire building where the screaming children were locked into. A few of the hysterical children who were not locked into the top rooms could be seen escaping through different windows with screaming, angry Nuns running after them, in a desperate attempt to keep the children locked in the building so the men couldn’t see them in their nightgowns. A bigger crowd of concerned men and women from the various houses nearby had now gathered at the convent's locked gates, offering to help, but still the obstinate Nuns refused any help. The wailing of a fire engine could now be heard and within minutes the Firefighters were at the locked gates of the Convent, but the cloistered Nuns refused to let them into the Convent grounds to fight the fire.
The angry Firefighters and intransigent Nuns were bickering as the inferno could be seen consuming the entire building, a few of the Nuns knelt to pray out loud amid the screaming and distress calls of the desperately trapped children, which grew louder and louder. A crying Firefighter broke the lock of the Convent gates and the angry Firefighters ran in to set up their equipment, but it was far too late. The inferno was now completely out of control, the tenacious Nuns kneeling were still praying, while the screaming children, in thrall of death, died first from carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to smoke inhalation, the trapped children suffocated to a certain death. The fire savagely consumed their emaciated bodies as the roof of the laundry building caved in on them. The door of the room where the children were confined was still locked, when finally the Firefighters found the room, the closed door stood, still locked in its charred frame. The children’s blacked and cremated bodies were all hurled together, under a few burnt out metal beds, pushed together in the far corner of the burnt out room, the hardened Firefighters now crying were sickened at the sight that awaited them and also angry at the indefatigable Nuns still kneeling saying the rosary.
The morbidly obese, local Parish Priest come to administer to the kneeling Nuns and offered his concerned that all the good Nuns were safe, the Parish Priest offered no condolence to the 35 cremated children now among the ruins of the burnt out building, the slavery laundry were the children lived and worked, morning, noon and late into the night. The Convent proper were the Nuns lived and prayed, was untouched by the inferno, the lard-arsed Parish Priest offered to say mass in the morning in the Convent chapel for the safety of the Nuns, there was no enquiry about the ungrateful despicable children who the lard-arsed Parish Priest felt and viewed as deserving hatred and contempt, he told the gathered nuns, according to a passing Firefighter who heard the corpulent Parish Priest speak, that the black-hearted children must have caused the fire. The heinous Nuns obvious to the screaming children they locked into the room at the top of the convent, hastily returned to their part of the Convent with the paunchy Parish Priest in tow for late night supper, and a spot of Irish Whiskey for the very reverend lard-arsed, also to inspect their treasures, money and their ill gotten gains, rescued from the office of the burning laundry building, while abandoning the now screaming children to their certain fate, after all the irreligious children were mere vermin, born out of holy wedlock was their collective manna, and the collective manna of the entire Irish Catholic Church.
As is now known, the Nuns didn’t raise the fire alarm, nor used their telephone, instead the fire alarm was raised by horrified townspeople leaving local bars long after closing time, who tried in vain to help. At first they could not gain access to the Convent because the Convent was locked up like a high security prison. Some local people forced their way into the Convent but it was to late, they didn’t know where the children were, but all the local people could hear were the frantic screams and cries of the frightened terrified children stemming from the top floor of the laundry building, a few men made there way to the source of the screaming children who were trapped, trapped in the top floor dormitories, but to no avail. The willing men were actively prevented from helping the screaming children by the Nuns gather below. Within forty minutes to an hour the flames had taken hold of the entire laundry building, the roof had caved in and the laundry building was left just a burnt out shell. Thirty five frightened and screaming children were burned to death that night, plus an elderly slave woman, Miss Margaret Smith, all burned to death in the hell that was the Convent and the laundry building. All the Nuns got out safely of the inferno fire at their laundry building within minutes of the fire, once the children were secure in the top floor rooms, the Nuns made their escape to safety with their church treasures and monies. While the local people and brave Firefighters tried to help and gain entrance to the burning laundry building, the Nuns prevented the Firefighters and local people from entering the Convent grounds. The Nuns told the locals and Firefighters that they couldn’t help the now screaming children because they were locked into the top floor rooms and that the Nuns were worried that the local people and Firefighters might see the young girls inside the building in a state of undress, that’s why the Nuns locked the young girls away into the top of the laundry building, so that the locals couldn't see the children in their nightdresses, a Nun at the time said, to one of the Firefighter, that it would be better if God took them now, then you men seeing the semi naked children.
The following day the remains of the thirty five charred bodies of children and an elderly woman, Miss Margaret Smith age 80, were recovered from the smouldering ruins. They were put into just eight coffins and dumped subsequently into a mass grave. Because of the public outrages and concerns about the causes of the fire and the standard of care by the Nuns, a Public Inquiry was set up, the first public inquiry ever set up in Ireland, which was run and greatly influenced by the Powerful Catholic Church who sat in on the Public Inquiry. The whitewash began immediately as the Report’s findings stated that the loss of life occurred due to faulty directions being given, lack of fire-fighting training, and an inadequate rescue and fire-fighting service. It also noted inadequate training of staff in fire safety and evacuation, both at the orphanage and local fire service. There was no criticism of the Holy Nuns, nor the fact that children as you as six were working as slaves in the Convent Laundry for vast profits for the Nuns, nor was there any criticism with the fact the the Nuns, both actively obstructed the locals and fire services and locked the screaming children into the top rooms of the Convent, when in fact the Nuns could have easily led the frightened children to the yard and gardens within the Convent grounds where the Nuns themselves waited, actively blocking any local help from entering the Convent grounds to help the screaming children while the fire raged and consumed the children and the laundry building. There was only one fire exit on the top floor which the Nuns came to and left it deliberately bolted and locked, hence trapping the screaming children to an almost certain death. Many local people said the children could all have been saved, but the cruel Nuns who locked the exit doors claimed that they had no keys, nor they couldn’t find out where the keys were kept. The children could have been easily evacuated safely, but instead the mendacious Nuns brought rosary beads into the room to give to the imprisoned children, asking the frightened children to pray while they the duplicitous Nuns bolted and locked all the escape doors, and they themselves left the burning building after they took monies and account books from the laundry office on the ground floor.
Being an enclosed Order, the Nuns were reportedly reluctant to leave the Convent grounds themselves, which they considered would be a violation of their vows, but the abandoned Children must never leave. Yes the Nuns, themselves all left their Convent, but rejoiced in the knowledge that the 35 frightened and screaming children who were held in human bondage and one elderly woman, Miss Margaret Smith, who lived all her natural life, (80 years) in the servitude of the Holy Nuns, were locked away safely by the Holy Nuns in the dark room at the top of the building, praying, while an inferno, engulfed the entire laundry building as the treacherous Nuns deliberately obstructed the locals and the local Firefighters from entering.
What was clear at the Official Inquiry proceedings was that the Irish Catholic Church which was the State at the time, were determined to take no blame. In fact what became clear during the Official Inquiry was that the slave children lived as prisoners in the Convent. A picture of what happened that night in 1943 emerged from local newspaper archives, interviews with the locals, and transcripts of evidence given to the Official Inquiry. Terrified children were ordered into and trapped in smoke-filled dormitories, endless references to finding keys to open locked doors and terrible confusion in the dark. And there was the great bravery of townspeople in their frustrated attempts to find and rescue the children, and all the time the open hostile obstruction of the Nuns. The fickle Nuns it would appear were immune to the suffering and screaming children that were burning, the despairing children were detained though not for any crime, but because they were born of unwed mothers.
The unscrupulous Nuns couldn’t even be bothered to attend the Official Inquiry but instead were allowed give their evidence from the comfort of the Convent, and hired senior Barristers at huge cost to represent them.The exploitative Nuns themselves in whose care the children were placed were virtually unquestioned and treated with holiness deference. At the Official Inquiry the surviving Children were treated as young ruthless criminals, never to be rehabilitated. The 35 children who were burned to death were posthumously slandered as the real culprits who some suggested had caused the fire in the first place. The surviving Children, whose words couldn’t be accepted against the words of the holy Nuns, were verbally beaten and easily confused and intimidated by unscrupulous shysters, passing off as Barristers at the Official Inquiry.
The callous, relentless cross-questioning of the child survivors was seen as repellent. Those children who were rescued through windows were asked to describe the last minutes of other children's lives, an attempt to pin responsibility on the rescued themselves. The only interests not protected at the inquiry were those of the screaming children who were viewed as spawns of the devil by the shameless Nuns, deserving to die. All the children survivors of the inferno at the Convent told stories of casual brutality, by the brutal Nuns, even towards the youngest children, and of semi-starvation and slave working conditions at the Convent’s Laundry.
The permanently emaciated children were fighting over the contents of the waste peel bucket and the scrapings of the Nuns' generously-covered food table. There has never been a financial audit of any of the Orders' Accounts, all the money the Nuns rescued during the inferno they hid away among themselves. The Criminal Nuns at the Cavan Convent operated unchallenged, flouting the law and ignoring the protective regulations of the 1908 Children's Act that governed the Industrial Schools. There were unregulated punishments melting out daily to the slave children by the Nuns. There was a growing public voice of criticism and a number of people like Owen Sheehy-Skeffington and Noel Browne spoke out about the whole system of imprisonment of children in what were, essentially, slave-labour camps run unopposed by the powerful Irish Catholic Church. It took another 50 years before the Industrial Schools finally closed, and still the deaths of thousands of other children which could have been preventable, but were allowed to continue, unashamedly, by the powerful Irish Catholic Church. Owen Felix O’Neill
There were 72 slave girls in the Industrial school and 35 of them died in the fire along with Margaret Smith.
The Children who Died were: Eight of the Girls were Sisters, and there was one pair of Girls Twins.
1. Mary Harrison -15 years of age from Dublin
2. Mary Hughes - 15 years of age from Killeshandra
3. Ellen McHugh -15 years of age from Blacklion
4. Kathleen Kiely - 12 of age from Virginia (Sister)
5. Frances Kiely - 9 years of age from Virginia. (Sister)
6. Mary Lynch - 15 years of age from Cavan (Sister)
7. Margaret Lynch - 10 years of age from Cavan (Sister)
8. Josephine Cassidy - 15 years of age from Belfast(Sister)
9. Mona Cassidy - 11 years of age from Belfast (Sister)
10. Kathleen Reilly – 14 years of age from Butlersbridge
11. Mary Carroll – 12 yrs years of age from Castlerahan (Sister)
12. Josephine Carroll – 10 years of age from Castlerahan (Sister)
13. Mary McKiernan - 16 years of age from Dromard (Sister)
14. Susan McKiernan - 14 years of age from Dromard (Sister)
15. Rose Wright – 11 years of age from Ballyjamesduff89
16. Mary Barrett - 12 years of age – from Dublin-(Twins)
17. Nora Barrett - 12 years of age – from Dublin-(Twins)
18. Mary Kelly - 10 years of age from Ballinagh
19. Mary Brady – 7 years of age from Ballinagh
20. Dorothy Daly – 7 years of age from Cootehill
21. Mary Ivers – 12 years of age from Kilcoole Wicklow
22. Philomena Regan – 9 years of age from Dublin
23. Harriet Payne - 11 years of age from Dublin (Sister)
24. Ellen Payne - 8 years of age from Dublin (Sister)
25. Teresa White – 6 years of age from Dublin
26. Mary Roche - 6 years of age from Dublin
27. Ellen Morgan – 10 years of age from Virginia
28. Elizabeth Heaphy - 4 years of age from Swords
29. Mary O'Hara – 7 years of age from Kilnaleck
30. Bernadette Serridge - 5 years of age from Dublin
31. Katherine Chambers-9 years of age from Enniskillen (Sister)
32. Margaret Chambers - 7 years of age from Enniskillen(Sister)
33. Mary Lowry – 17 years of age from Drumcrow, Cavan
34. Bridget Galligan -17 years of age Drumcassidy, Cavan(Sister)
35. Mary Galligan -18 years of age Drumcassidy, Cavan (Sister)
36. Margaret Smith 80 years of age employed as Cook
Postscript;- In the days that followed messages of sympathy flooded in to Cavan Town, though they were seldom addressed directly to the families of the deceased or the survivors. They were directed instead to the Abbess of the Poor Clare’s Convent, none of whom had perished, and stranger still they were sent to the Catholic Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Patrick Lyons. In the requiem mass the bishop spoke of the “… terrible ordeal it has been for the good Nuns to have the fierce glare of publicity turned on their quiet sheltered lives.” Nothing was said about the children who died, huge sums of money at the time were raised for the Nuns and the Bishop, all the money was spent on improving the convent which was not touched by fire, the families of the dead Girls received NOTHING… Owen Felix O'Neill
Travellers and Systemic Racism in Ireland
Since the founding of the Irish State and even before when the Brits controlled Ireland, Ireland had a Racism problem with the Travelling Community. Racism is Ireland’s “original sin.” plain and simple, the horrendous treatment of the Travelling Community is widespread throughout Ireland. Talk to most Irish people about the Travelling Community and listen to what they say-
Racism fuelled Catholic ideology and policies. The Irish Catholic Church viewed the world as being divided up into competing inferior and superior races, each struggling for survival and dominance. Many Catholics believed that the Irish Travelling Community were not a religious denomination, but a dangerous non-European “race.” The Irish Catholic Church racism would produce, brutality, confinement, hatred and even murder on an unprecedented scale.
From the 1920s to the present day, both the Irish Government and The Irish Catholic Church began a more rigorous campaign against those who followed a lifestyle labelled "Gypsy." Travellers, or Roma, and the dozen other derogatory names, like Tinkers, Tramps, Pikey, Knackers.
Irish Travellers or "the walking people", also known as Pavees or Mincéirs are traditionally itinerant or travelling groups in Europe whose families maintain a set of ancient traditions and are one of several groups identified as Travellers. Although they are often referred to as “Gypsies” - Irish Travellers are not genetically related to the Romani.
Both the Irish Government and The Irish Catholic Church judged such people to be racially "undesirable" and enacted systematic measures of persecution against the Travellers. Both the Irish Government and The Irish Catholic Church orchestrated a plan to settle forcefully and contain Irish Travellers, especially their children. Most Travellers children were forcefully removed and thrown into the forced labour camps of the Religious run Industrial Schools in Ireland. Where most children of Travellers were systemically beaten, humiliated, raped and murdered on almost a daily basis by the Religious Orders that ran these Gulags in Ireland.
The ignorant stereotyping of the Travellers Community, as subhuman, supported by ecclesiastical records, starts with that they are carriers of "degenerate" blood not Irish blood and inherited criminal characteristics which constituted a danger to Irish society at large.
From secret documents kept in the Irish Catholic Church’s archives. The Irish Bishops in the 1940s established a Central Office for the Suppression of the Gypsy/ Pavee problem. The Irish Catholic Church made plans and took measures to systematically persecute and lock-up most children of Irish Travellers. Young unmarried girls of the Travellers Community were secretly sterilized, in the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland. The Catholic Church was shocked that young girls of the Travellers Community, as young as 12 or 13 were having children within their communities. Once the child was born, the child was forcefully removed from its mother by the Nuns, the young mother was then forced-into a network of labour camps of The Magdalene Laundries of Ireland, never to see their child or family again. Sadly, many of these new mothers died from ill-treatment and lack of medicines. Their stolen children, treated as "asocials" or "habitual criminals" and sent to the concentration camps of different brutal Industrial Schools, to a life of racism, humiliation, beatings, and even death.
Every concentration camp of Industrial Schools in Ireland had Children of Travellers in the Industrial Schools system. All Children of Traveller were singled out by the Religious Orders that ran these camps, which identified the children as less than human to be humiliated and beaten on a daily basis. The Industrial Schools grievously harmed Children of Travellers significantly more than other vulnerable children of unwed mothers. Purely by the fact that they, the children were of the Traveller Communities.
These Children were degrading more at every opportunity and not just in removing them from their families, but depriving them of their culture, their unique way of life, exposing many of the children to physical and sexual rape. I was in St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Tralee, I was treated just as bad, but a child of Travellers was treated worse. The Christian Brothers carried out barbaric acts in the name of Christianity, their hatred of the Children of Travellers bordered on the psychotic in melting out cruel, murderous and barbaric torment.
The system ultimately proved successful in disrupting the transmission of the Traveller Communities way of life, practices and beliefs across generations. The legacy of this cruel system has been linked to an increased prevalence of post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, drug abuse and finally suicide which persist within the Traveller Communities to this very day.
It’s a fact that the mortality rate of Children of Travellers was more than double that of the whole Industrial School system in general in Ireland. Due to their ill-treatment, like beatings, rape and denial of medicines. Residential Industrial School deaths were common and have been linked to the childhood diseases, appalling hygiene which were always poor, and yes the very lack of basic food.
The actual number of Children of Travellers deaths remains unknown due to inconsistent reporting by school officials and the deliberate destruction of medical and administrative records. My estimates while low and from studying available known records is as low as 3,500 Children of Travellers to as high as 9,500 since the foundation of the Irish State in 1922. I accept that many Children of Travellers died, mostly from disease, like tuberculosis within the Industrial Schools of Ireland. The point I’m trying to make is many of the deaths of Children of Travellers were needless, many died simply because they were Children of Travellers, and treated with utter contempt, less than human by the Irish Catholic Church and the Religious Orders that ran the death/labour camps in Ireland.
In my class of 46 boys, 12 or 14 were Children of Travellers and most were below even a passable standard of health, with lack of basic food, lack of basic medicines, some of the Children of Travellers were infected with Christian racial hatred, akin to some form of fatal tuberculosis. In my classroom, Children of Travellers lived in fear, and abject poverty, forced to sit through a brutal religious lesson on hatred, or twisted history of privileged people.
The Christian Brothers didn’t care when it came to a child known as a Traveller, the child would be sought out for extra beatings, purely because he was a Traveller. Yes, we were all beaten and raped, but the Christian Brothers' hatred knew no bounds when it came to brutal pain inflicted on Children of Travellers. I cried for the few I knew, I didn’t and couldn’t know the difference, to me we were all Travellers, Patsy was a boy of my own age, I played with, I didn’t see a Traveller, I saw a boy, a friend, as vulnerable as me. I liked Patsy, he made me laugh, we played, prayed, shared and stole food, tears, shared clothing to stay warm, smoked bootlace cigarettes, played sports, fought with our common bullies, dreamed of running away together. Patsy and I didn’t know how to discriminate, we didn’t even know how to hate, all this we learned from our tormentors, the Christian Brothers. All we wanted to do was survive. I survived, Patsy hung himself, he learnt on a daily basis that he was subhuman, by his haters, the Christian Brothers.
Children of Travellers as Survivors of Industrial Schools, Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes and their families have been found to suffer from historic trauma that has had a lasting and adverse effect on the transmission of their unique culture between generations. Historic trauma as the process through which "cumulative stress and grief experienced by the Travellers Community is translated into a collective experience of cultural disruption and a collective memory of powerlessness and loss”. It has been used to explain the persistent negative social and cultural impacts of the Catholic Church and their Forced Labour Camp rules, including the prevalence of sexual rape, alcoholism, drug addiction, lateral violence, mental illness and suicide among the Travellers Community. Children of Travellers who attended the brutal Industrial Schools were more likely than those who did not to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic medical condition.
Many Children of Travellers as Survivors of Industrial Schools, 89% went on to have criminal records, simply because they were of the Travelling Community. 96% Children of Travellers as Survivors of Industrial Schools have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 87% have been diagnosed with major depression; 78% have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, 35% have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. In reality Children of Travellers as Survivors of Industrial Schools, felt ashamed for being Children of Travellers as they were made to view their traditional identities as subhuman, ugly and dirty animals. This was the Christian teaching taught in all the Religious run Institutions in Ireland, hatred of being different, in this case simply being human, and Travellers are human, not subhuman as was taught and is still shamefully taught in Irish Society to this day. Owen Felix O'Neill