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St. Patrick's Industrial School, Upton

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Title: St. Patrick's Industrial School, Upton  
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Language: English
Subject: Rosminians, St Joseph's Industrial School, Clonmel, Industrial Schools in Ireland
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

St. Patrick's Industrial School, Upton

St. Patrick's Industrial School, Upton was an industrial school in Upton, County Cork, Ireland.


A local judge suggested setting up a reformatory school to serve Cork and the local Society of Saint Vincent de Paul set up a committee in 1858 to plan it.[1] They bought a 112-acre (0.45 km2) farm near Upton, County Cork and asked the Rosminians to run it.[1] Richard Brask designed a building which was completed in 1860. The main building was in the shape of a square around a central courtyard.[1][2] In 1872 the lease was transferred to the Rosminians.[1]

When the Industrial Schools Act was extended to Ireland in 1868 the Rosminians applied to have the school classed as an industrial school, which happened in 1889.[3] It was called Danesfort Industrial School[3] and operated until October 1966.[4]

The farm increased in size over the years, eventually reaching about 220 acres (0.89 km2) at the time of its closure.[2]

The school closed because of the falling number of boys, lack of trained staff, and reorganisation and rationalisation led to the closure which had been discussed for a number of years.[4] A fire that occurred a few months before the closure destroyed a large part of the building, but it was not the reason for closure.[5]

In 1972 it reopened to as a centre for adults who were mentally handicapped or who had learning difficulties.[6] Although the Rosminians handed over ownership to the state in 2003 they continue to exercise a pastoral role.[6]

Commission to investigate Child Abuse

Physical Abuse

Industrial schools were required to keep punishment books - records of misconduct and punishments.[7] Of all the industrial schools, only Upton and St. Joseph’s Industrial School, Dundalk were able to produce them, even then they only covered a fraction of the time under investigation.[7]

The latter book covers a period covered by the Commissions' remit, but the Commission criticised it for being less systematic, less complete and inconsistency in breaches of rules listed.[8][9][10] Despite this, there is enough evidence in the second book to show that punishments were as described by those complaining of abuse and not as described by some former staff.[11]

Punishment was excessive and brutal.[12] It was used by both religious and lay staff for control and was not supervised.[12]

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse by members of the religious order was a chronic problem and it was dealt with in a manner that put the interests of the order, the institution and even the abuser ahead of that of the children.[13] Abusers were transferred to other institutions, putting children at those institutions at risk.[13] The order was aware of the criminal nature of the abuse, but did not treat it as a crime.[13] The action of one Brother Alfonso (a pseudonym) exposed many abusers.[13]

Abuse by boys was not regarded by staff as serious and was downplayed to protect the reputation of the school.[14] The Department of Education did not carry out its responsibilities in regard to supervising the school or protecting children.[14]


Food clothing and accommodation were below acceptable standards.[15] Boys went hungry and the food that there was for them was of inferior quality to that eaten by brothers and priests in the school.[15] Punishment and fear interfered with learning.[15] The remote location of the school caused emotional harm to the boys.[15]


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