It seems the Irish Catholic Church can now add slavery to its list of scandals…

Just when you think the reputation of the Irish Catholic Church can’t get any lower the Irish Independent reports on what amounts to slavery:

A notorious industrial school in Limerick was paid to send boys under the age of 16 to work for traders, merchants and big farmers, according to hundreds of documents that have remained hidden for decades. Experts say the find demonstrates local communities were involved in the industrialisation and exploitation of marginalised children.

There is no record of the boys receiving money for their work among the files rescued from Glin Industrial School. An abuse survivor from the school called the contracts “slave deals, tying boys to a ‘master’ for up to three years”.

Former Glin boy Tom Wall, who saved the documents from being destroyed, said he believes the commission of inquiry into the abuse of children should be reopened as the records show the practice of “licensing out” children was widespread. “I would never have thought slavery existed in Ireland until I went through these. All these documents need to be gone through now. Someone needs to look at it,” said Tom.

“The congregations that were set up to help the poor children totally strayed from their foundation. They finished up exploiting the children and that is the saddest part of this. They ended up making money out of poverty.”

The indentures, or contracts, between Glin and local businessmen or farmers tied the boys to new masters for three years. The monthly sums paid for the use of the boys increased for every year served, often from £3, to £5 and £8.

Under the terms of the indentures, the boys – referred to as apprentices – were prevented from getting married or working for a competitor. They could not drink, play cards or “absent himself from his said master’s service day or night unlawfully”.

The indentures seen by the Sunday Independent are dated between 1895 and 1914. However, Tom also has more recent documents and ledgers dated up to the 1950s.

At a human level the individual stories make for very bleak reading:

Tom was born to a single mother in a mother and baby home in Newcastle West and was admitted to Glin Industrial School when he was three years old. His committal form was discovered among the rescued documents and shows he was deemed “illegitimate”.

Letters from to and from his mother were among those that were never delivered.

“I asked about her on numerous occasions and I was told she was dead. I found out she was actually living in Newcastle West. I searched everywhere looking for her but nobody had heard of a Josephine Wall.

“By the time I found her she only had about six weeks to live. She was dying of cancer. I just made it but she was very sick in bed. I met with her a couple of times and asked why she never came to see me. She said: ‘I called three or four times but I wasn’t allowed in. The brothers told me you wanted no more to do with me.’

Tom said growing up in Glin was horrific. He was sexually abused and faced regular beatings. He can recall most of them and still bears the scars from one of the beatings on his forehead. He fell while being thrashed and his head was “split open”.

It is important to remember that the Catholic church does not shoulder all the blame in these scandals. A lot of their activities were done with the support of the Irish state and wider society who were only too happy to let the Catholic Church deal with these ‘problem’ children. Likewise, I am sure these types of activities were happening in other countries.

You do wonder how all these past abuses and scandals affect the Irish psyche. Just when you think the scandal cupboard is empty more skeletons keep tumbling out…

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  • Karl

    Im pretty sure no one thought the laundry workers were flying high off the back of their progressive wage structure and pension fund. Its another handful of soot to throw at the church but its doesnt blacken them further because that would be impossible.

    Its not like you can grade their multiple sins as any worse than the other. Theyre all despicably horrendous.

  • cj

    being put in slavery and raped by a priest ! sorry where are my manners? we shouldn’t speak of such horrors. would like to see your manners when your getting abused away back to the hole you came from

  • Neil

    Back under yer bridge with ye.

  • Korhomme

    The Irish state did indeed ‘farm’ out problems to the voluntary sector; this sector was almost entirely Catholic church institutions, Christian Brothers and Nuns. Perhaps it fitted with the ethos of the time, that such people would help the afflicted, and that they would be kind and generous, offering real Christian charity.

    Surely the lesson from Industrial Schools, Magdalen Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and now this is that there should be a complete separation of Church and State. Let the Church bid for funds for voluntary services by all means; but let them be fully and properly inspected, and let them be accountable for failure. It’s not acceptable today for such organisations to attempt to shield themselves from criticism or financial recompense behind legalistic manoeuvers. That is far too redolent of the organisation being superior to the wants and needs of those it’s supposed to serve.

  • David

    ”anti Christian rhetoric” yes I’m sure child rape, slavery, trafficking and dumping babies in a sewer is exactly what Christ would have done.

  • Donagh

    Oh ffs, such practices were commonplace across the world and especially in the British Empire up until relatively recent times. How much do you reckon Lord Brookeborough paid his 12 year old stable boy in the 1950s?

    Child labour (often unpaid) meaning those under the age of 14 was only outlawed in the UK in 1966. In parts of England the 1911 census records up to 80% of boys aged 10-14 in work. If the Catholic Church is guilty of slavery then everyone else was as well, including the parents.

    Runaway presentism:

  • AntrimGael

    When the British left Dublin in 1921 they were replaced by another set of sadistic, depraved, selfish oppressors in the Catholic hierarchy. They made a fortune out of the cheap, inexhaustible labour within the orphanages and Magdalene laundries. Not only were many of these children work slaves, when the lights went out many of them became sex slaves as well. The Catholic Church has lost ALL authority, morality and right to stand on pulpits and preach righteous indignation to anyone.

  • MalikHills

    What is new here?

    We have established beyond doubt that the Irish state, ie the legitimate, democratic government of Ireland, farmed out its social policy to religious institutions, primarily but not exclusively the Catholic Church.

    This policy was wholeheartedly endorsed by the Irish people who fully supported the measures taken to deal with social problems by the Irish government and their proxies in the religious institutions.

    We can now affect outrage, we can now claim to be “shocked, shocked” by what our parents and grandparents knew full well what was going on. No doubt such virtue signalling will make us appear better people.

    But the fact remains that what was done was done in the name of the Irish people and with the enthusiastic endorsement of the Irish people. It was not “the Catholic Church” wot dunnit.

  • grumpy oul man

    Was that place in the priests bed or slaving in a laundry.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I said in the post that similar things happened elsewhere but it does not make it any less shocking.

    A lot of these victims are still alive. What do we say to them? Sorry but it’s bad luck you were born in a time of calous social indifference?

  • Abucs

    Yes it’s pathetic.

  • ted hagan

    And now we read the Sisters of Charity will own the new €300 million maternity hospital in Dublin. Yes there are pledges thta there will be no interference in the running of the hospital by the nuns, but this is still truly shocking and sends all the wrong signals after the revelations of recent years .

  • ted hagan

    That’s a joke, right?

  • eamoncorbett

    The state did use the Gardai to “round” up these lads if for some reason they failed to make it back to Glin , I can remember one such incident in my very early youth . I remember talking to one of these lads and being told later by my grandfather that he was out of Glin and would be returned there . I did hear rumours that they worked for local farmers .
    If the government of the day even knew what was going on I don’t think they cared anyway , these institutions were very tightly run by the church and Glin was one of the most notorious. Local people did take pity on these lads and gave them food . Every issue outside of agriculture had to be in consultation with the church and the Gardai who had to have some knowledge of the activities in Glin judging by the state of some of the boys they found wandering the roads of West Limerick turned a blind eye to the assaults and sexual behaviour in that institution.
    The Catholic Church today seem to blame individuals rather than the church itself for the wrong doings of the time , because to accept blame would mean that the church was in fact involved in organised criminal activity .
    Glin Industrial School will always be a blot on the landscape of West Limerick though there’s not much left standing now the hurt and embarrassment will always haunt the community and surrounding districts .

  • eamoncorbett

    You never met one of the boys from that institution.

  • Donagh

    Shocking only to those who managed to dodge a history book during their education.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh dear,it was the Catholic Church wot dunnit,
    And the enthusiastic endorsement of the Irish people, how if these horror stories are only coming out now,how could they have the the enthusiastic endorsement of people who didn’t know.
    Or are you claiming that everybody knew that priests and Brothers were buggering little boys and telling lies to keep mothers and children apart.
    So I doubt the people “knew full well” what these monsters were doing, are you claiming that the shock,disbelief and disgust that erupted when these horror became public was a collective lie pulled off to save face.

  • grumpy oul man

    Imagine complaining about priests buggering little boys,truly shameful.
    When will people remember their place and let the church away with mistreating our youth.

  • the rich get richer

    The State were all too happy to hand over these Social problems to the catholic church .

    The State are guilty of running away from their responsibilities .

    The Irish people of that time are also responsible .

    Where does that leave us…? I hope we are doing better now and in the future .

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Who’s shocked – and the British Empire has bugger all to do with it – different days & different ways since the dawn of “civilisation”?

    And what on earth do you think we’re going to say to them – sorry? I didn’t do it, and I assume you’re not going to cough up for it, so why would me or thee saying sorry for something we had no hand in make the slightest bit of difference?

    They were “born in a time of callous social indifference” to our modern-day lights; or maybe most people thought they were doing the right thing according to the times.

  • mac tire

    It’s pathetic that people do not know their place according to Gavin? Or are you annoyed that an auld bit of slavery can’t go on without someone poking their nose in?

    Is it pathetic that people have called out these anti-Christian attitudes from those that claimed to be doing Christ’s work?

    C’mon, reveal the answer!

  • Zig70

    I’m just amazed how little damage putting social misfits in positions of power whilst making them abstain has brought.

  • Abucs

    It’s pathetic that people want to have such a one sided bigoted view of history for their own justifications.

    What an intellectually regressive collective basket case of miserable people.

    Not worth the effort.

  • Croiteir

    Is this the same system that my great granny worked under at the time – hiring fairs were you hired out children to farmers for 6 years – what was different between this and the apprenticeships that children worked under? My own father worked under similar when he was 13.

  • grumpy oul man

    Was your father beaten and raped!

  • grumpy oul man

    As usual a lot of insults but no explanation,
    Are you claiming that it didn’t happen or that there was no wrong done.

  • Croiteir

    No – but my great granny was – it was rife

  • Nevin

    Last month: Mass grave of babies and children found at Tuam care home in Ireland.

    The good work of the huge majority of the religious has been drowned out by the actions of the few – as well as the silence of the laity who knew what was going on.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Amazing to think hiring fairs, a variation of a slave auction existed throughout Ireland in living memory for many – well into the 1940s; a combination of poverty, big families & the relatively wealthy ready and willing to exploit the poor.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh well that’s ok then,and no problem if she got pregnant then a laundry for her and maybe a common grave for the child.
    Ah the good old days .

  • mac tire

    “Not worth the effort.”

    Now that *is* pathetic.

  • Enda

    These children weren’t apprentices, they were indentured servants.

    They weren’t allowed to socialise, marry (although they may not of been the age for that, they would of been denied the chance to meet a partner) and they had to be at their ‘master’s’ back-and-call day and night. What thanks did these poor souls receive for their years of unfettered obedience and loss of childhood freedom and innocence? Repeated beatings and rape.

    In the absence of colonial British withdrawal the world over, more often than not despotic regimes stepped up to fill the vacuum, the Catholic Church was Ireland’s regime, although this regime was in full swing before the Brits left, and capitulated with them when it suited too.

    I do not gloss over the many good things that the church has done for communities, or the hard work many priests have done for communities, but we cannot make excuses for the evils that the church committed for decades.

    Apathy and ambivalence ensured that these crimes against humanity continued for longer than they should have. If the church wants to be respected today, then the pious can no longer brush these abominable acts under the carpet.

  • Enda

    ‘Knowing their place’

    What place would that be? On their knees perhaps?

  • grumpy oul man

    Something I wonder about, you great Christains make a loud noise about the unborn child but once born you don’t give a dam about them.
    The rape and mistreatment of orphans and illegatmate means nothing to you and refugee children even less, care to explain it

  • eireanne3

    it was a business – along the lines of “you don’t like having wet hair? might you catch cold? here’s a hair-dryer I’ve invented!!
    Wet hair problem solved! hair dryer sales stratospheric. Every household has one or more!

    The catholic church created the problem and the circumstances (obsession with sex), the product (as there was no abortion) and secrecy in the cover-up

    Money was made as the product was sold in adoption, farmed out as a worker , and the producer was exploited until laundries became automated.

  • john millar

    “How much do you reckon Lord Brookeborough paid his 12 year old stable boy in the 1950s?”

    Did he have one? Was he passed into his orbit by the roman catholic church?

  • Croiteir

    Not at all – she was looked after – which sort of asks the question – why did other families throughout Europe not have the same approach? Hardly the Church at fault – more the people – but it is good to have a societal scapegoat

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Eamon, Did State or Church ever make an Apology ?

  • grumpy oul man

    Of course your right,we don’t want to blame the people what actually done the rapes and beatings,we will blame those they fooled into trusting them,
    Good idea.

  • ted hagan

    Shocking by any standards and why can’t you simply condemn he practices of the Catholic Church exposed over recenr years instead of trying to fudge and sidestep the issue; You may think you are being ultra smart whereas in fact you are betraying the victiims.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Yes. A new scandal to add to the old scandals. What guarantee is there that they have changed their self-righteous ways? Have they pledged this?

    I have too many friends who were damaged by the Catholic Church to be complacent about them. I “thank god” I was never in their clutches. Saying that though, my old leader of the protestant “Lifeboys” movement was indicted for paedophillic practices.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Did Lord Brookeborough profess a belief that he was the anointed servant of God, and did he sexually exploit his stable boys? If not, his hypocrisy was on a lesser scale than that of the Catholic Church, who profess to be the living word of Christ on earth. He was a man who allegedly said “Let the little Children come unto me” He didn’t add “so that I can exploit and bugger them at will”.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Far better idea just to abolish the Catholic Church, as well as the Presbyterian, Anglican and other assorted varieties, and all the other “Religions of the Book”

    The “Book” is a load of assorted fairy stories, accounts of ancient gang warfare, genocide, rape and similar unsavoury rubbish. It is well past it’s sell-by date.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    And what exactly would be your ‘place’ in this hierarchy? Laying down the law for your inferiors, presumably. Dream on – these days are long gone.

  • Croiteir

    Of course you are right – we will blame the people that dome the wrong – not their brothers sisters and children, just the individuals involved.

  • Croiteir

    That was what was involved in being an apprentice – you were indentured

  • grumpy oul man

    And forget the organization that covered it up and had responseabilty for protecting the children in there care, bullied victims to be quiet and when a priest was accused of interfering with children just moved him to a different parish with different children to abuse.
    No sorry the church will get the blame it deserves.

  • Abucs

    Hi Croiteir. In Ireland the wonders of capitalism has worked its way to produce enough wealth to be able to more easily look after such people now, both as a society and in families. When the heavy lifting was needed, when the wealth was not there, it was organisations within the church which stepped into the breach and performed a fundamentally good act. I am in a third world country now and the church is still helping poor people when no one else will. The reality of a lack of wealth here means that we don’t have a pride of pampered princesses pretending that finding work for such people to help with their collective charity is akin to being a slave master. Such a pathetically pessimistic view is clearly prejudiced.

  • grumpy oul man

    So it would have been ok to bugger the stableboy and beat him,did he also lie to the stableboys mother so they could not meet,
    Are you suggesting that Lord Brookborough done these things?

  • Korhomme

    I am a secularist: I go for the freedom of religion, and the freedom from religion. (A secularist is not a synonym for an atheist or an agnostic.)

    I can well see where you are coming from, and I also find that people can be very selective with their ideas and quotes from the Bible. And it’s not a good idea to suggest to such people that Christianity might actually be a reinvention of a sun-creation myth, or that all the festivals have a pagan origin.

    Nonetheless, I’m not in favour of abolishing the Churches; I recognise that for many people, they do provide comfort and succour. People are entitled to their faith, no matter how strange you or I might find it.

    Now, whether such organisations should have preferential treatment from the state, whether they should be part of the law making process, or otherwise seek to influence the law is another matter — in my view, their views might be interesting, but not the basis of law.

    Should such organisations be given the care of the vulnerable? Their record to date is very, very poor, so I’d say no in general terms. Let them ‘bid’ for services, but if what they provide is substandard, let them honestly acknowledge this — and if necessary pay full compensation, something that to date they have been very unwilling to do.

  • LordSummerisle

    So there is nothing beautiful in the book at all ? There is nothing relating to the human condition that has any meaning whatsoever ?

  • grumpy oul man

    And buggering little boys,beating them and living to their mothers to keep them apart, where does this all fit into you rosy hued vision of the church’s charity.
    Oh and see if you can find room for institulised cover up and bullying victims to keep silent.
    I am so looking forward to your answer.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    See above.

  • Abucs

    Hi Croitier,

    I think some people are so prejudiced that they cannot see their thinking is not only incoherent but actually making them narrow minded. To look for and concentrate on narrow negative aspects and happenings, both real and imagined of a fundamentally good and laudable act such as charity and compassion in order to denigrate the vast majority of people providing that charity is close to a regressive mental condition.

    It is like taking real and also imagining false Allied atrocities during World War II and concluding the act to fight Hitler’s National Socialists was such a bad time in history that the Allies should be ashamed. Over and over again in the Progressive dumbed down version of education we had this way of thinking imbued to the students.

    It is the very definition of madness. A madness based on narrow minded hate.

  • cj

    “It’s pathetic that people want to have such a one sided bigoted view of history for their own justifications.”

    Exactly like religious people, who have a one sided bigoted view of history. they not only pick and choose history that happened but pick and choose what they want from the bible and choose what outssider group to hate next.

  • Abucs

    To generalise such a large varied group like ‘religious’ in that a way is clearly narrow minded bigotry.