Call for Inquiry into Industrial School
Father Michael Kenny blessing 77 marble memorials at the Letterfrack Industrial School graveyard on Saturday. Approximately 350 people, many of them former residents at the industrial school, attended a special memorial Mass on Saturday for the boys who died in Letterfrack.
Photograph: Joe O' Shaughnessy
The Irish Times - Monday, November 4, 2002 By Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent
There has been a call for "a full public inquiry" into the deaths, care and treatment of boys who attended the industrial school at Letterfrack in Connemara, following what is believed to be a discovery of the grave of a 99th boy who died there.
Ms Christine Holt of the Joseph Pyke Memorial Trust, named after a 15-year-old boy who died following a beating in Tralee industrial school in 1958, said they were also asking the Government to have each boy's parents named on their death certificates.
Currently the boy's parentage on those certificates is given as, for example, "son of a tinker", "son of a butcher", "son of a labourer", "son of a British soldier", she said. This is despite the fact that each boy's parents are named on their educational and birth certificates.
She also wanted it established why "five or six" of the boys who died didn't have their names registered with the registry of births and deaths in Galway.
Yesterday the grave of what is believed to be the 99th boy who died at the industrial school was pointed out to gardaí and members of the Pyke Memorial Trust by his brother. It is located in a wooded area beside the graveyard where the other boys are buried.
It is believed that this boy, John Flanagan, was eight when he died of pneumonia on January 28th, 1932. The deceased boy's brother, who is seriously ill, had travelled from Dublin expecting John to be among the 77 boys named as buried in the graveyard at the school, but he was not there. On arrival he remembered, from attending the funeral, the spot where his brother was buried.
Mr John Prior, of the Joseph Pyke Memorial Trust - who was in Tralee Industrial School for the longest period of all boys there, from 1950 to 1964 - explained there were just 61 boys named on the original gravestone at Letterfrack. Through research, the group established that 77 boys were buried there.
This rose to 97, when they sought details of all deaths at Letterfrack from the Christian Brothers. And in the past week two further names have been uncovered, including that of John Flanagan. The trust intends erecting memorials to every boy who died at all 76 industrial schools which existed in the State.
Approximately 350 people, many of them former residents,attended a special memorial Mass on Saturday for the boys who died in Letterfrack. The Mass, which was followed by a blessing of the 77 new marble hearts in the graveyard, was said by the parish priest of Letterfrack, Father Michael Kenny.