Abuse in trolley schools in the 1950s: ‘Boys from big houses, whose fathers did good jobs weren’t touched’

Trolley native Edward Walsh (76) has lived in Nottingham, UK, for nearly 50 years since leaving Dublin in the late 1970s.

The rally is still a big part of Edward’s life as he enjoys charting the vast changes the city has seen since he attended elementary and middle school in the 1950s.

Not all his memories of that time are filled with affection. This is the era when the unfortunate people who faced the wrath of religious orders were subjected to grisly cruelty and punishment.

Edward points out that while the abuse suffered in industrial schools and the Magdalen laundry has received the most attention in recent times, the abuse in Trolley’s primary and secondary schools is rarely discussed openly. .

Edward talks about the Christian brothers and how they propagated their authority against the pupils, usually those from poor, socio-economic backgrounds.

In 1956, Edward witnessed a classmate being brutally beaten by a brother at an elementary school in Edward Street.

The boy was beaten up for saying that he wanted to work as a messenger boy for a week instead of progressing to secondary school.

For this the boy was brutally kicked and punched. Edward regrets not interfering to this day.

“He beat her across the room and no one objected. If one of us stood up, the rest of us would follow him. It taught me later in life that if someone is being bullied, I should stand up for them,” he said.

He describes some of the brothers as ‘neurotic’ in misbehaving with boys, and that teachers would not engage in misbehavior. The exploitation of students was a daily occurrence which also included sexual abuse.

“For some reason I was often called to the brother’s office where he would hug and press himself against me. This happened several times,” he said.

“It wasn’t until later that I dropped out of school and talked to some friends that they mentioned that they had experienced the same thing. Nothing was ever done about it.”

Edward believes that many brothers behaved unfairly because they were institutionalized at an early age, and were often forced into the Brotherhood because it fostered a sense of social pride for their parents. was.

“Society at the time is to blame. They ignored what was happening, that simple. No one would believe you. If you took it to the guard, they wouldn’t take you seriously,” Edward he said.

“Think about it: there was no way for media to be abused. And a lot of people moved to England at a young age and left that life behind. What happened then will not happen now,” he said.

“Brothers can be very violent. One day I was sick and my father wrote a sick note for me on a piece of cardboard. He had beautiful writing.

“The brother said, ‘Do you expect me to believe this?’ And he beat me.

“In Green, there was another brother who was extremely violent. He used to punch students in the back of the head around the aisle.”

Edward says that discrimination and stigma against the boys of Trolley’s council estate was endemic among the brothers.

He narrates how the sons of prominent businessmen in the trolley sat at the front of the class and were never abused.

“Poor boys used to be very insulted at that time. But, of course, the Brothers can be very selective about who they kill. Boys from big houses, whose fathers did a good job, were not touched,” said Edward.

“I remember I applied for a job in a garage in the city and was first asked for my address. He said that at least I was not from one of the council estates as he found the youth workers there useless.

“They condemned him. But when he came to know that I was 16, he did not give me a job because he had to give a stamp for me. People were stigmatised,” he said.

When Edward was in his second year, he remembered that the brothers had given forms to the students asking if they wanted to join the Christian brothers.

A simple yes or no answer box was provided. Edward remembers that some of the boys were being bullied into ticking the yes box.

“The parents had no consent, they just dropped the paper on our desk and more or less told us what to do. I told her I didn’t want to participate. I stopped saying I’m not one of you wanted to be, but I knew I would be beaten for it.

“I’m not sure how many ticks there are. But with no parental permission, we were only 14,” he said.

Edward remembers seeing the boys of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in the trolley passing through the town.

“I used to see them every Sunday at their crocodile walks where they were monitored at both ends of the queue. They could not talk to anyone,” he said.

“You could see from their clothes that they were hands-down. Those can be horrifically brutal times.”

Edward decided to share his memories because he wants more people his age to come forward and talk about the abuse that goes on in schools.

“I certainly hope more people will. I think if they were encouraged to reach out, they would. I’m not bitter about the time because I’m not that kind of person,” Edward said.

“But there are many untold stories of abuse involving trolley schools at that time. This was done against boys who had parents and families.

“How this ever went under the radar is beyond me. Maybe now is the time to talk about it,” he said.