The Redress Board is something that is not well known outside of Ireland. This is because it is the way that the Vatican would like it to be.
Geraldine, what a sweet little girl. She sure didn't deserve that black eye that she got from the Mother Superior. Geraldine and I were in the same "school", though I must confess that I don't remember her.
Once I was adopted to the States, well, my new Mom got many letters from the Mother Superior. There was no mention of the "school". It was called an orphanage and Sister wrote from "St John's Convent". She even wrote about Geralding on occasion. So much so, that I figured that I must be Geraldine's twin sister. Mom sent clothes on to the Orphanage, as she and my Dad had never heard of anything called an Industrial School. Mom also sent money. For the benefit of the children, of course. I knew that I had been very lucky to have gotten such good parents. Being that I was an orphan and all.
Except that I wasn't. None of the kids in the "orphanage" were orphans (meaning that our original parents had not died). Some stayed, like Geraldine, and suffered additional abuse. Some, like myself, were set aside for sale. That's right...........we were sold. My unsuspecting parents to be never knew the truth, of course. They were given a list of "expenses" and found it reasonable. It didn't seem like much money, and they didn't have much either. But, Ireland was a very poor country then, and the US dollar was quite valuable.
My parents were honourable people, and had they known the truth, they would never, ever, had been snookered. They were told a lot of lies, and never knew that they had bought some babies. Brokering babies (or small children, as I was) was unfortunately quite a common occurance in the Ireland of the 1900's.
We were starved, beaten, neglected, sexually molested, and some were killed "by accident". The trouble is, that we children grew up. Then, we started talking. No one believed us. The stories were told again and again. But, how could all of us children be lying ? We weren't.
Finally, enough of the children's stories got told to the Irish media. A book was written, replete with pictures. Geraldine made the photos. So did "our playroom". Except that the playroom was always closed. When it was picture day, they opened it to show "how well we were treated". The fact that Mother Superior overlooked Geraldines black eye indicates just how much she lived in denial. A three year old with a black eye given by Mother Superior. A brilliant move on her part to have her photographed. In the photo, little Geraldine is seen happily smiling and holding hands with a friend. I would venture a guess that Mother Superior featured Geraldine that day so long ago since she had a smile on her face..............
Our school was selected as one of the more horrible, and it was the only girls school featured in the book "Suffer The Little Children. The Untold Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools". It was written by Mary Rafftery and Eoin O'Sullivan. The book is available through Amazon.com, but it took awhile to get over here to the States.
Seriously, who would want to read about such a depressing subject? There are more uplifting stories to read. As a former resident myself, I'll just give you the cliff notes. Surely you are all aware of the horrific images from Rumanian orphanages under the Ceauşescu regime. Or perhaps anywhere in the world. We have all seen them. Ireland's Industrial Schools were like the images that you have seen.
The Ceauşescus were killed by a firing squad. None of the perpetrators in Ireland were killed or even imprisoned. They were protected. Their names never revealed. Of course, we the children know them. Here is where I will not tell you the Mother Superior's name. You see, she was a human being. An evil one to be sure, but I just won't stoop to the level of exposing her name. Just her deeds. To publish her name would be to expose her, and perhaps to cause shame to her family, who would be innocent. I prefer to let God sort it out.
In time, here in Northern America with my new parents, my swollen belly disappeared. I came to slowly understand that there was more than milk to "eat". I was cuddled, and loved, and played with. In time, the memories faded. But, they never went away completely. I still remember the dark room, being separated from the other little children, the light blinding my eyes when a Sister would enter with a tray. Did the tray contain medicine or milk, or what? I can no longer remember. Sometimes, the mind blocks out the unimaginable in order that we might remain sane. I must have been in that dark room once parents in the US had been found for my purchase. It is the only reason I can think of that I would have been taken out of the Junior children's dormitory.
I want to make something perfectly clear. It wasn't the Irish parents' fault. Once a child was taken, they had no recourse. The Church was all powerful in those days. Once a child was taken, it was forever.
Once this all came to light in Ireland, the Irish people went into an uproar. THEY would not be silenced.
Hence the Redress Board was born circa 2002. Any child who was a proven resident of a qualifying Industrial School could file a claim. I did. The average payout was 90K Euro, once all was said and done. The records are now sealed. And, I'm not supposed to tell you about this. Since I did get a payout. But it wasn't the 90K, no, nothing near that. I'm still supposed to be living under the gag order. But I just broke that rule, didn't I?
They don't scare me. They sure did once, but that was then and this is now. The Vatican and the Irish Republic had to pay the claims. Actually, the Vatican did not pay very much. Just a bit of hush money. The State was stuck with most of the bill, in the Millions of Euro's.
The responsible nuns have mostly died by now. The poor nuns who did nothing to us issued apologies. It wasn't fair to them, since we did not suffer by their hands. But, they could not pay any money to us. The Vatican denies them any money as they are growing into their own old age.
These good nuns are also victims, and I feel very sad for them.
But for those who were the perps, they had to face what they had done to us when they died. I'd be praying real hard if I were one of them.
I don't believe in Hell, go figure.
But I think we have to account for our sins in this life. I'll have to face my own when my time comes.
I just hope that I don't have to run into Mother Superior.
And, I won't be gagged. It's time that America knows what happened. And I just told you. And, I'm no longer a scared defenseless little child.
The Redress proved to be a kangaroo court for me. I refused to play the rape victim, reliving the nightmare over and over again. So, I got thrown a few Euro and the case was closed.
All the files are now locked.
Geraldine, darling, I hope you made out alright in life. But, of course, I know you didn't. You and Betty were so brave to tell your stories.
Thank you to all who read this, for the listen.
The message here: Never try to silence a child when evil is done to them. Because, eventually they will tell the truth. And, eventually, someone believes them.
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse can be found in Wikipedia as additional reading information.
The Popes, all of them, knew of this. All of them, and did nothing. Father Flanagan, founder of Boy's Town, referred to this chapter in Irish History as "Ireland's Holocaust".
I would have to agree with his assessment.