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Patrick Touher and "Fear of the Collar" - 2001 Edition compared to First Publication in 1991

Pain of the Leather Strap Whipping the Naked Soles of our Feet was Unbearable; Author Reveals Life of Torture at Artane.

The Mirror (UK) 30 August 2001 by Caoimhe Young

IT has taken 50 years. But former Artane boy Patrick Touher has finally revealed the full horror of the sexual and physical abuse he suffered at the notorious school.

Author Patrick has written two bestselling books telling of other youngsters' ordeals.

Now he opens his heart to tell how he was attacked, raped and beaten in his new no-holds-barred book Fear Of The Collar.

Patrick, 60, said yesterday that his memoir, out next month, will shock young and old.

He said: "It's the uncut version of Fear Of The Collar and it's dynamite. This is the first time I have told of the sexual abuse I suffered. It is a horrific story.

"Ireland was not ready for this before now, but the time has come to tell my story.

"I was beaten and sexually abused by the Christian Brothers for eight years but no publisher would print the real story of what happened - until now.

"Lawyers cut most of it out and I couldn't do anything about it.

"But now Ireland has changed - for the better.

"My dear late wife Pauline pleaded with me to ensure that the truth be told and this is my tribute to her."

Fear Of The Collar: My Terrifying Childhood in Artane details a litany of horror inflicted on helpless young boys.

Patrick tells how the youngsters were:

WHIPPED with leather straps on the soles of their feet and if they cried were beaten all the harder

MADE to face the wall for wetting their beds, soiling the sheets or kneeling on their pillows at prayers

PUNISHED in the "boot room" and told to take off their nightshirts and beaten mercilessly, and

HIT with straps in which Yale keys were inserted to increase the pain.

He also reveals how he was:

FORCED to watch while Brothers abused his school pals in the dorm where he slept

MADE to survive on a miserable diet of bread and dripping, pig meal and gristly meat, and

HAUNTED by nightmares and flashbacks of the sexual and physical abuse he lived through as an orphan.

The Artane Boys Band was a familiar sight on the field at Croke Park for every All-Ireland final.

But behind the pride and dignity of the country's finest was an industrial school of hardship, hunger and abuse.

Away from the crowds, the boys became slaves of their masters.

Patrick said: "The Christian Brothers ruled by fear.

"Sometimes their greatest achievements are forgotten or simply overlooked.

"But that is because so many of them could have been more human and kind to the boys in their care.

"Their hallmark was discipline and they were feared because of it."

Patrick can never truly leave behind his tormented childhood.

He said: "My late wife often told me how I used to scream and shake at night with the nightmares.

"I wasn't just abused by one Brother, I was abused by several.

"But the physical abuse was just as bad as the sexual abuse.

"Being beaten with a leather strap is not something I can forget.

"Sexual abuse would come out of the blue. There were more than 150 boys in my dormitory and abuse was rife.

"We knew nothing sexually and newspapers or magazines were not allowed into the school."

Patrick grew up in Barnaculla, near the Dublin mountains.

But life took a cruel twist and at seven years old he was sent to Artane.

His mother died and his father never came back from the war.

He said: "I was eight years in hell, and I was to hell and back.

"You could never really go through a day in Artane without being flogged.

"As a kid I was taken from a normal life and left in Artane to suffer terrible pain, fear and sexual abuse.

"The pain of the leather straps whipping across the soles of our naked feet was unbearable.

"In short, it was a military prison where fear was the key to sexual and physical abuse.

"I saw boys being sexually abused in the classrooms, in the cinema, in the showers and in the dorms.

"I want justice for me and the other victims of the Christian Brothers.

"I have written this book to help past pupils of these schools.

"I have done all I can and I won't lose any sleep.

"It is the men that carried out these atrocities who should feel guilty."

The horrifying abuse took place before the Northside school was closed in 1969.

But Patrick has found it in his heart to try to understand why the Brothers were so cruel.

He said: "Their life was never easy. They had to remain celibate.

"Sometimes at 16 or 18 years of age they were promised to the order and sent off before their young hearts and minds had developed.

"I feel celibacy only frustrated these young men and made them bitter. They vented their anger on children in classrooms or in the dormitories."

Patrick, who trained as a baker while he was at Artane, has the full backing of his children - Paula, 27, and John Patrick, 26 - for his memoir.

He said: "They have known what I went through for years and they are behind me all the way.

"I moved on from Artane and started a new life. I worked as a baker for years and now I am doing part-time jobs.

"They want the truth to be known and questions answered."

Since the first edition of Fear Of The Collar was published in 1991 he has received hundreds of letters from all over the world.

He said: "People just want to talk about the horror we went through back then.

"It wasn't just in Artane, it was in state-run schools all over the country.

"But this book leaves nothing untold. It is the undisclosed story of the horrific regime in Artane."


SURVIVORS: Patrick and his former classmate Stephen Caulfield and, above, Artane industrial school; VICTIMS: Youngsters at the Artane school in the 1950s and, right, Patrick's book Fear Of The Collar