Boarding pupils 'beaten and kicked' as punishment
By Ralph Riegel
September 12, 2011
Children at a prestigious former boarding school at the centre of three abuse probes were beaten for missing scores in matches or failing to achieve specific class results.
A former pupil at Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Cork revealed to the Irish Independent that youngsters faced a range of punishments -- including beatings -- for a variety of disciplinary breaches, some as minor as missing a score in a school match.
The litany of complaints now being examined by gardai include allegations that:
• Students were routinely beaten if their dormitories or beds were untidy.
• Teens were punished -- including being punched or kicked -- if they failed to live up to expectations in matches, cultural competitions or in examinations.
• Punishments took the form of slaps, pinches, being lifted up by armpit hair, or being humiliated in front of classmates.
• Older students were on occasions recruited to help punish younger pupils including an infamous 'gauntlet run' where they would be hit with wet towels.
• Punishments were 'targeted' at boarding students who wouldn't see their parents for weeks at a time.
Three separate probes are now under way at the former boarding school in Carraig na bhFear, Co Cork, into allegations of both serious physical and sexual abuse.
The past pupil -- who is now married and a successful businessman -- said one teacher was notorious for his short temper.
"The vast majority of teachers there were grand... but you knew that there were one or two that you daren't cross," he added.
"I have no doubt that an investigation into Carraig is going to make for very difficult reading."
Gardai, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the church's own watchdog body, the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children (NBSC), are now conducting separate probes into the former Colaiste an Chroi Naofa boarding school.
Gardai are ultimately expected to be dealing with up to a dozen complaints. One source confirmed that the complaints include several "very serious sexual abuse allegations".
Gardai could end up interviewing up to 500 former students who attended the boarding school from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
The NBSC is auditing how the religious order that once ran the school -- the Order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (OMSH) -- handled complaints lodged over the years. The school ceased boarding operations in 1995 and is now under new management, totally separate from OMSH.
Former Carraig na bhFear dean, Fr Tadhg Daly, received a three-year prison sentence in 1999 after being convicted of 10 sample counts of indecent assault on a 12-year-old child.