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Patrick Touher, "Fear of the Collar" and "The Hell of a Boy's Life at Artane (Part 3)"

BEATEN, ABUSED. JUST FOR PLAYING SOCCER; THE HELL OF A BOY'S LIFE AT ARTANE: FINAL PART Evil Brother's sex assault on me after school yard game.

The Mirror (UK) 25 September 2001 by Caoimhe Young

TODAY the Irish Mirror brings you the final extract from one of the most harrowing stories of sexual and physical abuse you will ever read.

At the age of eight Patrick Touher was sent to Artane Boys Industrial School in north Dublin because his father had left the country and his mother was dead.

In his new no-holds-barred book Fear Of The Collar, My Terrifying Childhood in Artane, he opens his heart about how he was attacked, raped and beaten by the Christian Brothers.

As a young boy alone Patrick was defenceless against the men who ruled his every move.

Here, he tells how an innocent game of football turned into a sex abuse nightmare and remembers the day he said goodbye to the grey gates of Artane.

I WAS playing football in the field in front of the refectory and the classrooms.

We agreed that we wouldn't touch the ball with our hands and we would attempt to head it into the goal.

But if we did this we would all be in very serious trouble as the playing of the "English" sport of soccer was strictly forbidden.

If you were caught playing soccer you would get a severe flogging and your head would then be shaved bald.

A huge crowd had gathered to watch the game. There was at least 18 boys on each team and no one wanted to lose.

It was then I noticed The Macker, Brother Farr, The Sheriff and The Drisco all standing watching us.

Farr held a hurley in his hand.

The Drisco carried a blackthorn stick and as the ball came towards me, he shouted: "Collie my boy, pick up the ball, toe to hand and score for the love of Mike!"

I was frightened as we agreed there were to be no hands on the ball.

I tried to dribble the ball past a boy. I could see one of the Brothers staring hard at me, he shouted to me to pass the ball but I toed it hard and it went high over the crossbar.

The Drisco cheered with sheer delight and embraced me for my awful misdirected kick at a goal.

Then he came closer and his voice was menacing.

He said: "Get to the back hall at once. You disobeyed my order you fool. Move, on the double."

I had been singled out from at least 40 boys, I was the only one standing in the hall and fear had engulfed my body.

The Brother appeared through a door and beckoned me to him.

This Brother always asserted his power over us in a very cruel and aggressive way.

His voice was sharp as he said: "Boots and socks off, trousers down."

My underpants were wet. I was utterly ashamed and frightened.

He pulled out a long, narrow leather and faced me as I stood semi-naked.

Then he kicked my boots and pants to one side, glanced down at a wooden bench and up at me.

"Lie across it, hands on the floor you pup."

He was so aggressive, I really feared him.

I felt his saliva on my skin as he fondled my body, pressing himself against me.

My backside and thighs ached as though they were on fire.

I don't know what he was doing on top of my body but I felt my buttocks saddled by him as he beat and bounced against them.

Finally he groaned: "Oh dear God... for the love of Mike."

He sighed and then there was a long silence.

I lay sobbing, almost naked and too scared to move.

He swiftly wiped the sweat from his flushed face.

Then I felt his hands on my feet.

"What are you doing?" I blurted out loud.

"What are you doing? Please don't do it sir."

A sudden, fiery pain ran through my bare feet.

I gritted my teeth in pain and tried to scream but I was upside down and naked from the waist down.

When he let my feet go I thought it was over but then I felt a knee on my back. I screamed.

He withdrew his knee but as my back was freed, the hard leather came down across my naked buttocks in rapid, savage blows.

My head was touching the floor. It felt as though I was being flogged with a hot bar.

I cried out: "I'm cut, I'm bleeding sir. Stop." But then I heard his voice. "You won't sit on this boy for a few months."

After this I became very defensive in my outlook and suffered from awful nightmares and bouts of sleepwalking.

I cried for hours on end and day after day went by without a bowel movement.

In the end I knew I would have to tell Macker.

The Macker faced me, his arms folded, his thin lips closed.

"I'm in some trouble sir. I can't go to the toilet sir."

I waited, wondering why I had to tell him these things. I felt really dirty.

A wide grin spread across his face as he shouted: "So you can't s**t boy?"

"It's a good hiding on your rear end you need, to remove the dirt. How long is it since you last had a stool?"

"Stool sir?" I was confused, I grinned but he gripped my ear.

"Gosh," I gasped, "I don't know what stools you mean sir. I haven't sat on one, honest sir."

He sneered: "Stools from your backside you fool, like you pass water with your penis.

"You remember mine, don't you?"

I blurted out "Yes sir."

"Tis time you held it again boy. Go down to the infirmary, tell the nurse and she will relieve the blockage in your rear end." He gave me a dirty look.

As I made my way back across the playing field, I came face to face with another Brother called Baby Face.

He was new to the school and probably on summer relief.

"You don't look well son."

"No sir." I was too afraid to tell him but I reckoned he'd ask anyway. And he did.

"What is it boy? Is it your tummy?" His smile was for real and I immediately thought he was different to the others.

"I feel so sick, I can't do anything sir."

I was light-headed and feeling faint, wishing Baby Face would go on his way.

Then I felt his arm around me, smothering me as he lifted me up to him.

"God, you are heavy boy - very solid I must say."

He put me down. "Can you walk by yourself?"

"Yes, sir," I blurted with some relief, though my stomach felt knotted.

"You could be constipated, boy." He stared at me. I liked him though I was afraid to stand too close to him.

"It's at least three weeks, sir, since I was beaten."

"Beaten - ah. Your bottom is bruised and cut is it?"

"I guess so sir, it's still very painful."

"Then you had better stay out of trouble."

I replied: "How sir? It's always me sir. I get beaten in class for getting things wrong - I just can't get anything right sir."

But on I went into the infirmary to see the nurse.

"The black treacle will move your motions like a dream, Patrick," she told me. To my relief it did.

Constant fear, fear of the expected and the unexpected, was the way Artane was run.

Physical and sexual abuse were the powerful ingredients that shattered the dreams of so many children.

Children like me - in the care of the Brothers, homeless and without love or real friendship.


BETTER TIMES: Patrick enjoys a holiday on the Isle of Man in 1958 after his 16th birthday; LOVING COUPLE; LESSON: A group of Artane boys listen to their Christian Brother teacher; PRAYERS: An open-air mass at Artane School; Patrick Touher and his late wife Pauline work on a draft of his other book Free As A Bird which chronicles his life after being brutally raped, abused and beaten at Artane Boys Industrial School