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Mairéad | all galleries >> Snapshots and stories >> pad_year2 > Childhood's End
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Childhoods End

Childhood's End

Childhood ended for hundreds of thousands of Irish children when they entered the doors of orphanages and industrial schools such as this one. From the middle of the 19th century up until just a few decades ago, children were subjected to terrible neglect, physical, mental and sexual abuse in institutions run by religious orders. It's only in the last ten years or so that the extent of the horrific cruelty which was meted out to children sent to these so-called homes began to emerge.
Most of the children were sent there due to family break-up, the death of parents, poverty or simply because they were born out of wedlock.
The findings of The Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse in Ireland published earlier this year makes grim reading, so grim that I only read the report surrounding St Joseph's Industrial School in Dundalk. By and large, the children sent there fared better than those sent to other institutions whose names have become by-words for horror. I have spoken to former pupils: some had fond memories of nuns who cared for them, while others remembered only neglect, fear and punishment.
The revelations of what happened in these homes as well as countless instances of young boys and girls being abused
by priests has shaken the faith of many Irish Catholics of all ages. A report into the handling of child abuse by clegry in the Dublin diocese due to be published tomorrow found decades of attempts to cover-up what was happening rather than efforts to prevent the priests from abusing other children.

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Dawn B27-Nov-2009 03:25
This is such a strong image and goes along with the disturbing story as well... thanks for sharing it. Haunting.
Cindi Smith27-Nov-2009 01:51
Oh, I like this. You did a great job on the image and your words and the shot are so powerful. It is hard to understand why people can abuse our little ones. It just saddens my heart to hear of any child hurt by the hand of another. A very heart wrenching story! V
bill friedlander26-Nov-2009 19:16
Your image of the neglected and uncared for doorway is a metaphor for the neglect and horror suffered by the children. V
Kevin Chester26-Nov-2009 18:48
A striking image to go with the report. You just don't expect it from people who claim their life has been given up for God. It was sad to here the outcome on the news today, but as always in these cases, not at all surprising. I'm pleased they are people like yourself picking the key facts from these reports, I wouldn't and couldn't read one myself.
Mary Terry26-Nov-2009 17:06
A very stark image, which so well illustrates the sad narrative. V
laine26-Nov-2009 15:09
There is no justification for the crimes committed against those poor sad & lonely children from many countries around the world....then or now. The very people meant to protect & care for them have finally been named now that the large cloak of the church that covered them has been drawn back.
Thanks Mairead, a great piece, though sad as it will always remain.
globalgadabout26-Nov-2009 15:03
a chilling take on this title..the perspective here is very effective, like the upward gaze of a child entering this ominous building, only to endure yet more torment...and a sudden and disturbing end to their innocence...
Sheila26-Nov-2009 13:21
Of course it is not just in Ireland this happened, Australia and America and anywhere the church has orphanages, the children were abused. Thank goodness it is all in the open now, sickening though it is.
Máire Uí Mhaicín26-Nov-2009 12:53
A bleak and sad feel to this image, accentuated by the greys, the obvious neglect of the building, the upward POV and an excellent one to illustrate the tragedy you recount in your text.
Neal Nye26-Nov-2009 12:33
A powerful and effective image to illustrate this disgusting series of events.
Maaike Huizer26-Nov-2009 09:45
Impressive image. Love the angle and the focussing. Informative.
Doug Cruden26-Nov-2009 06:56
A truly shocking thing to have happened, and all the more so because these crimes were committed by the very people who were supposed to look after the children, and whom the children no doubt trusted implicitly. Heartbreaking, absolutely a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of what these little ones experienced. What a terrible indictment of so-called religious, caring people. V
borisalex26-Nov-2009 06:34
Good idea for that subject and it´s so true and a shame on the church, I don´t trust them at all!
Mieke WA Minkjan26-Nov-2009 05:15
at last the Australian government has said sorry to the all those children who have been send to Australia or have been put in so called children homes, thank you for your picture and sharing this sory
LynnH26-Nov-2009 02:36
Stark, solemn and a bit frightening image. Perfect for your narrative. V
Barbara Heide26-Nov-2009 01:42
Thank you the historical background... V
Inga Morozoff26-Nov-2009 01:39
We have our fair share of priests that molest and abuse children sexually here too. It's disgusting, regardless of one's faith.
Nora van Beek26-Nov-2009 00:09
A very strong and effective image. It's very hard for most of us to understand how these things could happen, especially at the hands of men and women who are supposed to represent the best in all of us. ~V~
carol j. phipps26-Nov-2009 00:09
Heart-breaking! Jesus of Nazareth reportedly said, anyone who harms one of the little ones who believe, it would be better if the one doing the harm had a noose around the neck and was thrown into the sea!
Colin Storey25-Nov-2009 21:48
Very emotive image and story. v
lisamidi25-Nov-2009 21:39
It is so shocking and disturbing what has happenend there and in other places around the world. Hard for me to express myself about this in english, but thanks for reminding and telling us, Mairead, so we keep this in mind and prevent! v
Walter O. Koenig25-Nov-2009 21:31
A very strong image Mairead. I read about this tragedy in Ireland earlier this year in the Guardian. The story had links to some of the reports and I was shocked and disturbed by what little I read. The cover-ups are not confined to your area, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has also been covering up the crimes of priests for many years. Your image captures the helpless feelings, the neglect, the abandonment and the loneliness. "V"
Stephanie25-Nov-2009 21:29
Wow - a very powerful image and writing. Thank you for sharing this Mairead.
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