Coming to grips with the dark secrets of Devil's Ireland
Irish Sun.Com 27-02-2013
THE DARK SECRETS OF DEVIL’S IRELAND
Current child abuse scandals are opening wounds for Dubliner Richard (Mickey Finn). He battled demons after years spent in a children’s prison in Ireland.
As a 12-year old child, in 1964, he was sentenced to three years hard labour for what, in more enlightened times, would be considered minor misbehaviour.
Letterfrack Industrial School reformatory was situated in a remote countryside. For the immoral Christian Brothers who managed the unit it was perfectly isolated. A malevolent place of correction for youngsters, many of them orphans, the sentenced boys were at the mercy of a coven of dissolute monastic brothers.
Mickey, and hundreds of boys who passed through this den of depravity, were routinely physically, sexually and mentally abused. The judicial system was responsible for providing the maverick band of brothers with a steady supply of child victims.
With Taliban-like zeal the Christian Brothers methodically administered life-threatening beatings on a whim. Many such acts were witnessed by fellow brothers and terrified children.
Ghost writer Michael Walsh, who ghosted Mickey’s book Still Running, was often distressed as he set down the author’s recollections. The writer, whose family hails from Moville in Donegal and mother‘s lineage from Wexford, says, “There were times when I had to walk away from my keyboard; I needed space to compose myself,” he says.
Children, many as young as ten and all under sixteen-years of age, were chosen as concubines or slaves. The toil was unrelentingly hard manual labour. In many cases, it meant being awoken before dawn and worked until dark. Unsuitably dressed to withstand the elements their labours took them to farms, bogs for turf cutting, the husbandry of farm animals including their slaughter.
Harvesting, tree removal, wall building, rock breaking and removal were some of the soul-destroying backbreaking tasks set for them. How could such things happen at a time when most of us were dancing to Beatles numbers?
The children’s labours were invariably accompanied by kicking, beatings and constant demands that they work harder. No fewer than 147 children died at Letterfrack; untold numbers simply disappeared.
Michael Walsh is urging victims of institutionalised violence to get in touch. For Mickey, telling his story opened wounds but were therapeutic in that it allowed him to confront his ghosts and come to terms with his abusive past.