A letter to the Irish Times, May 25, 2009:
Madam, – From the age of seven (1930) to 17 (1940) I was a boarder in a Christian Brothers-run Dublin orphanage after the death of my father in 1930. My mother died in 1938, having been left in poor circumstances after the death of my father.
During the years I was a boarder I was not abused in any way by the Christian Brothers and knew of no abuse of the approximately 100 other boarders.
I was given free board and lodgings; a good education to Leaving Cert standard. Facilities were made available for all who wished to avail of them to engage in Gaelic football and hurling; handball, outdoor parallel bars; outdoor tennis during summer months; table-tennis for indoor amusement, and every effort was made to occupy us during summer holidays (for those without a home to go to) including occasional day excursions in CIÉ buses to places of interest within reasonable distance of Dublin. As anyone will tell you, looking after 100 lively boys required discipline but, in my experience, any discipline (eg slaps with a leather) was administered without excessive severity. I speak from personal experience.
The education given so generously was first class and some Brothers gave special classes in their own free time to bright children to help them sit for scholarships.
When schooldays were over, the Brothers worked might-and-main to secure employment for school leavers. They even provided a hostel in the grounds of the orphanage where low-paid ex-boarders were accommodated until they found their feet.
I will always be grateful to them for the help they gave me and my brother at an extremely difficult time, and the peace of mind they gave my mother in the last few years of her life. So please don’t tar all these fine men with the same brush. – Yours, etc,
DONAL KAVANAGH, Dublin 12.