cover

Table of Contents

Scars that
Run Deep

Scars that
Run Deep

Sometimes the Nightmares Don't End

Patrick Touher

Scars_that_Run_Deep_01.jpg

ISBN 9781407023120

www.randomhouse.co.uk

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Published in 2008 by Ebury Press, an imprint of Ebury Publishing
A Random House Group Company

This is a revised and updated edition of Free as a Bird, first
published in Ireland in 1994

Copyright © Patrick Touher 1994, 2008

Patrick Touher has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this
Work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at www.randomhouse.co.uk

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 9781407023120

Version 1.0

To buy books by your favourite authors and register for offers visit www.rbooks.co.uk

To Paula, John and Suzanne,
May the future be kind to you. A little faith
goes a very long way

*

In grateful thanks to Bishop Dermot O'Mahony
for being there for Pauline

And to Father Michael Carey for his pastoral care of Paula and Suzanne

Disclaimer

This book is a work of non-fiction based on the experiences and recollections of the author. The names of most characters in the book, including the proper names of the boys in Artane Industrial School, have been changed where necessary to protect privacy. Any resemblance of the substitute names to actual persons is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Acknowledgements

It is with the greatest of pleasure I get to this part, knowing this book is complete. It's like letting go of a magnificent obsession! I would like to thank the following people for their invaluable help: Colin Guild, my very helpful next-door neighbour, for the huge amount of faxes and emails, and his wife Ellen. My brother-in-law Jim Brennan. I was almost overwhelmed by the encouragement of Jim's wife, Anne. My typist Carine O'Grady. And to Rachel Gordon, April and so many in their office for all the kind help. 'Twas great.

When getting a job done I believe it is the little things that count for so much. I'm so grateful to you all.

My heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff of the Medical Centre, Balbriggan for their kind support for Pauline, and to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. To the Eastern Healthboard and Fingal County Council, whose support to Pauline was invaluable.

To all the readers of my last book Fear of the Collar for helping it to become a bestseller in the UK. You all deserve this one. Thank you.

To the staff of Ebury Press: the executive contracts manager James Peak – 'it's as good as it gets', thanks James. To Two Associates, Getty and Alamy for the superb cover design and photographs. To publicist Sarah Townsend. To my editor Justine Taylor for the excellent and expert job you have done editing my huge manuscript. It can't have been an easy task. It flows as it goes now, Justine. For those who have faith and hope and believe in themselves can succeed and achieve their goal. To commissioning editor Charlotte Cole, whose wisdom, vision, faith and belief in my story made this possible. Beholden to you Charlotte.

May the road rise to meet you and fate be kind to you all.

1

March 1958. The day before my sixteenth birthday. The day before I was to leave Artane Industrial Christian Brothers School, the place that had been my home for the past eight years. During those eight years I had suffered many forms of abuse – physical, mental and sexual — and yet what I felt wasn't relief at being free from my tormentors at last, nor was I looking forward to the future; no, what I was experiencing was fear.

I had experienced this emotion many times before, in fact fear engulfed me on a daily basis, but that was the fear of abuse, of being interfered with. What I was going through now was something much less tangible: fear of change.

I was nervous and frightened of having to face a new beginning once again, and to face a world outside, a world so far removed from the one I was leaving behind. The past eight years had been desperately hard and lonely, but at least at Artane I knew what to expect.

Each morning we would march to Mass, and that morning, the one before the day I was to leave, was no different. The sound of marching feet was enormous, a boys' army stamping their hobnail boots loudly down upon the concrete parade ground as though tomorrow would never come. Whenever I think of Artane, that sound comes back to haunt me. The Sheriff's voice echoed from the handball alleys to the church doors: 'Left, left, left right left, lift 'em up or face the wall.'

I wept as the choir sang in Latin at the Mass. In my awful loneliness I had found sanctuary in this beautiful chapel. I found peace and comfort just to sit alone listening to the haunting sounds of the choir as they practised, and as their wonderful sound filled the heavenly air. 'Adoro te Devote' and 'Panis Angelicus' were engraved in my memory.

After Mass I began my last day at work in the bakery. As the last batch of the day was drawn from the two stone ovens I helped Joe Golden, the baker, peel the batch for the final time. Joe winked at me and said, 'Come here, son.' His arm rested around my shoulders, his voice soft. He said, 'Now boys, 'tis time for prayer,' as he said every day. Joe took his baker's flat hat off his bald head. He gazed around at all the boys and said, 'Now let us say a decade of the Rosary for our friend here.' He paused for a moment to look at me, and then continued, 'Patrick leaves us as he came, a friend, but we shall pray to God that he be kept safe and out of harm's way. As he has no home to go to we pray he finds a nice place to rest. We wish him well, wherever he travels, and we pray that the road rises to meet him. Let us pray. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, let us pray together, boys.'

I felt emotionally drained as I waited for the prayers to end. When they did, old Joe put his flat baker's hat on and led me to the front door. The boys were streaming out of the workshops. 'God be with you, son, all your days,' said Joe. Few men I met in my childhood were worth their salt; Joe Golden was worth his weight in gold.

It was normal finishing time, four o'clock, and we would get to the parade ground between 4 and 4.15 to relax and play games until the Dude, Brother General, blew the whistle for fall in at 4.45pm. Fall in meant every boy had to line up in his division. There were nineteen divisions all lined up for drill exercise given by the drillmaster, who we called Driller the Killer. We marched, slow march and quick march, and marched time, as the Driller, aided by the monitors of each division, shouted, 'Left, left, left right left. Lift 'em up.' In my eight years at Artane the system never changed. At five o'clock we marched to the toilets and out again and then we marched to our classrooms for night school, after which we marched to the chapel at 6.40pm for the Rosary, Benediction and hymns.

fter chapel we marched once again in division formation to the refectory for supper. Supper was a loaf of bread between four boys with a bowl of warm dripping to dip bread in and a mug of boiled sweetened tea. Breakfast and supper were always the same, except on Easter Sunday morning when at breakfast each boy received two hard-boiled eggs.

The last day was the same as any other, but as I marched from the refectory I was informed that Brother Shannon – alias Segoogee – wished to see me in the chapel. Segoogee was a quietly spoken, very friendly man. His dog, a red setter, was always by his side. Us boys liked him, and his dog. 'So you are leaving us, boy,' he said to me kindly.

I looked at him, misty eyed, and muttered, 'Yes, sir.'

His smile widened as he held out a piece of paper to me. 'Here, boy, take it. You will go to work for this man in Fairview.'

I remember that the organist was playing all the while I was in the sacristy of the beautiful old chapel. The Latin hymn 'Pange Lingua' filled the air scented with the blessed incense after the evening Benediction. I left Segoogee, the piece of paper unopened, feeling more confused and depressed than ever. As I made my way to my dormitory for the last time, a strange feeling came over me. Tomorrow I'll be free, I thought, and smiled to myself.

I entered the dormitory as the Sheriff was beating the kids who were facing the wall. His stern voice rang loud and clear. 'Brogan, you pup, playing soccer. You know it is an English game and strictly forbidden, yet you defy us and insist on breaking the rules. Bend over that bed, lift up your nightshirt, this will teach you to obey. You will suffer for the poor souls in Purgatory.' The sound of the leather crashing against naked flesh made my body crawl. Each stroke brought another terrifying scream and shouts from the terrified child. 'Please, oh please, sir, I won't play soccer again I promise, sir. Please, sir, you're killing me.'

The Sheriff's response was loud and crystal clear. 'I know you won't, boy, because I will crucify you, you pup.'

I got into my bed that night as terrified as any night in the previous eight years, all the fears of my childhood haunting me.

That last night of my eight years at Artane was just like any other gone before. In my dreams I was being hounded by men in black chasing after me over the hills with guns. I screamed and screamed for help as they drew closer and closer to me as I came to the cliff's edge. Looking down I was terrified and screamed.

When I woke up I was outside on the parade ground in the freezing cold, dressed only in my night-shirt. I had been walking in my sleep again. Arms were around me, a voice spoke softly in my ear. 'You've been sleepwalking, come back with me now, son.'

I was safe in the arms of Angel Face. I felt good.

'What time is it, sir?' I asked.

'It's almost 4am, boy. Time you got some real sleep.'

When I woke up it was my sixteenth birthday. I was awakened, as usual, by the voice of the Sheriff shouting, 'Up, up, up, you pups, first three rows into wash, last two in face the wall.' It was the day I was to leave Artane, the day I had to stand on my own two feet, to work for my keep in a world far removed from what I had been used to for the last eight years.

As I made my bed to perfection I felt a twinge of sadness. I glanced up and there I could see my pal Rasher, his towel at the ready. He winked at me. I nodded over to Quickfart, who smiled and pretended to look busy while we waited for our turn to go into the washroom.

There were long rows of white wash-hand basins. A rack on the wall held the toothbrushes, and I shared mine with a lot of other boys. I dived on a red lump of carbolic soap and scrubbed my hands and face; then I scrubbed my teeth with the same soap and handed my brush to Quickfart. He was delighted. 'Thanks, Collie, you're a pal.'

Rasher shouted, 'Can I have it after yeh, Quickfart? I don't aim to be last out. The feckin' Sheriff is on, yeh know.'

I paused for a moment to look out the tall windows of the washroom, facing south. I got a glimpse of the outside world — Marino, Donnycarney, and beyond. I'd be out there within a few hours. But instead of anticipation, I was dreading my departure; I was not used to change and it terrified me.

My thoughts were broken by the Sheriff screaming, 'Last two out will face the wall! You'll suffer for the poor souls in Limbo, I promise!'

Poor Blossom and the Skunk were the last out, and the Sheriff wasted no time in dealing with them. 'Last again, Blossom! You'll have to learn to hurry yourself up. Bend down, touch your toes, boy. Remember the poor souls in Purgatory and Limbo.' He gave him six of the best then he told the Skunk to bend over. The lad was a tough sort; he refused. The Sheriff grabbed hold of him and forced him over the nearest bed a few feet away and flogged the backside off him, to the sounds of 'Leave me alone, leave me alone, you swine!'

That morning, as the boys' choir sang the Latin hymns, I wept openly. I was a Christian Brothers' boy through and through, and after such a long period in their care I had become institutionalised. Even though I lived in a state of fear for most of my days at Artane, it was preferable to the unknown terrors of the world outside its gates. At that moment, if someone had offered me the chance to stay, even though it would mean continuing with the abuse I had undergone over the past eight years, I would have grabbed it with both hands. When I glanced up I saw the Sheriff singing with all the strength of his conviction. I knew he was a dedicated man, like so many of his colleagues. But for all that conviction he had such an evil streak in him. Even as a child of just ten years old I had experienced the violent, sadistic nature of this tall, fearsome Christian Brother.

As we filed out I was stopped by Brother Monaghan, who smiled and took my hand in his. He spoke softly. 'Take good care now, and remember us in your prayers, Collie. Go to Mass and visit the house of God often.' His last words almost had me in tears. 'I hope we were not too hard on you, Collie.'

I stumbled out of the church.

I quickly joined up with my division. The monitor came towards me, smiled and said, 'Last day, Collie! Soon you'll be free of all this.' Then the Macker blew his whistle for us to march off to the refectory for the first meal of the day.

As the last of the fifteen divisions marched up the centre passage to chants of 'Left, left, left right left', I felt tears in my eyes. I had no thirst or hunger for food or drink, as my thoughts were elsewhere.

The Drisco approached me and spoke quickly. 'You're leaving after all these years. How are you going to manage without us?' I wondered that too. As I was about to say, 'I don't know,' he reached out his fat hand to say goodbye. I just cried.

The Drisco was a tough, hard Brother, short, stocky and with a fierce temper on him; a difficult man to get to know. As a boy working in the kitchens, I feared but never totally disliked him. When he was in a bad mood he was dangerous, like a mad bull. There were times when he punched the head off me or beat me with a long, heavy stick for some silly thing that went wrong in the kitchen, forgetting to put the sugar in the tea boiler, perhaps, or leaving out the salt in the soup – yet when he was being nice, he was likeable. He was an odd sort of character. As he gripped my hand I could tell he was being sincere. 'Have you a home to go to now when you get out?'

I said, 'No, sir. I don't know where I'm going, sir.' I hadn't yet had the courage to look at Segoogee's instructions.

Suddenly the Sheriff blew his whistle for grace after meals, and the Drisco boomed out in his clear Cork accent, 'Good luck now, and may God be with you. I'll say the Rosary for you; and you'll go to Mass and say your prayers now.'

The Sheriff's whistle sounded for march-out. The monitors shouted, 'By the left, quick march! Left, left, left right left! Lift them up or face the wall!' I glanced behind me and caught sight of the Sheriff for the last time as he clattered a boy across the face so hard that he was knocked to the floor.

Some things just never change, I thought, as I marched to the parade ground. I had as much fear as ever in me as I swung my arms high and stamped my hobnailed boots as hard as I could, even knowing it was the last time I would have to go through it. I was glad when the monitor shouted, 'Halt! At ease! Fall out!'

I was tense and emotional as I stood before the Macker, who was standing with the drillmaster on parade. They smiled, shook my hand and wished me well. As I marched up to the storeroom to collect my new suit and working clothes for my life outside, thoughts of my first day back in 1950 flooded my mind – it was here I had come to when I received my first Artane clothes and hobnailed boots.

After saying goodbye to my pals and a few Brothers I encountered, I was on my way out of one of the toughest institutions in Ireland, yet I found it hard to hold back the tears.

I put my hand into my pocket to take out the address Segoogee had given me earlier. He said they would put me up and I would be at home there – but I could have kicked him! The writing was just a scribble. I couldn't make out the home I was to go to, or indeed the address of the bakery I was to work in either.

It was a long walk from the parade ground to the bus stop on the Malahide Road. I felt utterly alone. A car approached as I passed the old quarry to my right. I noticed two young lads aged about twelve years old in the back. The driver shouted, 'Could you tell me the way to the main office?'

'Yes, sir, you'll find it on your right, just as you pass the statue of the Sacred Heart.'

I glanced at the two boys seated in the back and I couldn't help it – the tears flowed down my cheeks. I hurried across the Malahide Road and waited anxiously for the bus that would bring me into the future.

2

Although I entered Artane Industrial School just before my eighth birthday, I remember my life before then well, and with great fondness. Mr and Mrs Doyle, my foster parents, treated me with kindness, and their children Margaret, Edward and John were like sister and brothers to me. We lived in a small, whitewashed cottage in the hills of Barnacullia, past Sandyford, County Dublin. The little cottage had just two rooms and a pantry. How and where we all slept – the Doyle family, five in all, with me making six – I cannot quite remember; yet we were comfortable and happy.

Back then, in those days, I can't recall ever being so much as slapped. I had no fears of anything or anyone, not even of the dark. Life was so carefree then. I often walked home from school with my pals through the fields and across the hillside to Carthy's Green, where they'd help me bring in the cows with Margaret Doyle. Margaret taught me how to milk the cows; one of them – the oldest cow – was nicknamed Big Betty. A great cow was Betty. Shep the collie dog followed Margaret and me everywhere over across the hills to bring in the cows. And every morning Shep would follow me down the dirt track to as far as the Tiller Doyle's shop. A real pal was Shep.

We had no running water or electricity in them days up in Barnacullia, not that I recall, though we were all happy then. Bridget Doyle, my foster mother, baked our bread, scones and apple pies. Every day after school it was my job to fetch buckets of clear water from the well along the hillside.

Even though I was not related to the Doyles, I was treated just like a member of their family. In fact, after I left Artane, I was never once interested to find out who my father was, or even if he was still alive. As far as I was concerned, even back then in 1958, any man worth his salt would never desert his own flesh and blood, so I couldn't care less about him. All I knew of my mother, Helen, was that she died when I was very young. When she became too ill to take care of me she left me with the nuns in St Brigid's Convent, Eccles Street, Dublin, opposite the Mater Hospital. I was just twelve months old.

In my later years I would be plagued by nightmares, but as a child I can't recall ever experiencing bad dreams. My dreams were pleasant, happy ones, just like my days living up on the hillside of Barnacullia.

Memories of Barnacullia From the clear mountain streams In the hearts of my dreams To the beauty that surrounds Barnacullia. Of my fond childhood days Through the sun's twilight rays In my thoughts, you should know I am with ya! My childhood dreams like visions to me Of sunlit waters and children carefree From the Doyle's cottage door My vision so clear Barnacullia to Sandyford and the road to Glencullen I walked without fear. The cottage of my dreams, I see visions Of Bridget, Roseanna and John As I gaze through the window with sadness No light in the heart — 'tis gone Fond memories of Barnacullia, inscribed so tenderly As I remember young Margaret. As a wee orphan, she cared for me.

I was in foster care from November 1942, when I was one, until just before my eighth birthday in March 1950. No one that I know of ever came to me and explained much about why I was an orphan living in such a picturesque home. It was never explained to me who I really was, I was not even sure of my actual birthday or my real name. To this day no one ever bothered to explain to me the reasons for my arrest from the cottage, and driven away by the police in a big black Ford estate car to a courthouse, and stood before a judge at 10am on a cold, bright, spring morning. In fact the judge didn't even tell me I was to serve the remainder of my childhood in the incredibly brutal notorious Artane Industrial School, run by the Christian Brothers. However, I learned in due course that I was not alone in my grim mysterious world. At least five of my best school pals from Barnacullia were to join me within a year of my arrival. Although they had real parents, they had been in foster care as I had.

I will always remember my arrival in Artane. I was in the main office. Outside the sky was an unbroken shade of blue. The boys were at work on the flowerbeds as I stood at the long pull-up window staring out at them.

I didn't worry about how awful the boy gardeners looked in their awful drab serge tufted clothes. I believed the judge in the Court House in Kilmainham when he said I'd be only away for a few weeks.

As I enjoyed the plateful of fruit cake one Brother gave to me, I had no reason to be afraid, or to fear these nice Brothers dressed in long black cassocks. To me at that time I thought they were all saints, just like the one who gave me the cake – the very old Brother who, I was soon to learn, was nicknamed the Saint.

I waited, as I had been told to by the Saint, for the clerk of the office to come out to see me. When the brown-panelled office door opened, I looked towards the tall young office clerk. 'Here, take this and remember it. It's your serial number, boy. It will stay with you until you are released,' he said. 'It's stamped on your boots and shoes, suits and day clothes.' He smiled at me as he handed me the dog tag with my serial number. I glanced down at it in amazement. It read No. 12928. 'You won't forget it will you.' His smile was warm and sincere.

'No sir.' But I'm only here for a few weeks I thought as he returned to his office.

As I look back to that moment on a beautiful spring morning in March 1950 I never once realised that this would be my number until my release on reaching the age of sixteen, a full eight awful years, half of my childhood locked up as number 12928 in Artane Industrial School. My childhood as I had known it was gone for ever, yet no one had the courage or decency to tell me.

Some tunes will always linger or remain in the back of one's mind. A tune that when you hear it, no matter where you are, will remind you of the time and place you were in when first you heard it. As I was being led down the granite stone steps by the monitor to meet the Dude, the Brother General, 'The Foggy Dew' swept the grounds of this mighty Christian Brothers boys' industrial school. 'What's that?' I said.

The monitor, whose name was Billy, smiled as he explained, 'That's our famous boys' band. They're playing "The Foggy Dew". They're practising for the St Patrick's Day Grand Parade. Come on, follow me. You've got to meet the Dude.'

Sure, I couldn't quite take it all in as Billy seemed to be so excited, explaining all these things to me. But then I was very slow on learning, on the uptake of things. However, I had a mind that stored up what I'd seen, heard and had done to me, and I'd never be allowed to forget such things!

As the hauntingly beautiful sound of 'The Foggy Dew' swept through the air, the boys' parade ground, where 900 boys were lined up in their respective divisions, looked like a mighty boys' army. I was shocked at the awesome sight. 'What are they doing?' I asked.

Billy quickly explained, 'The boys are lined up in their divisions. Each division goes by age, see.' He pointed. 'Look, there, that's Division One, they're the older boys, fifteen years of age and over. At sixteen they are set free. You will be in a division called the nineteenth, as you are the youngest. Now you've got to meet the Great Brother General.'

'Who's he?' I said, scared, confused and bewildered.

'He's the Dude, Pat. He's the General Brother in charge. He likes good kids, so you'll be okay.'

Suddenly a thundering sound, like a drum roll; the beat carried like a huge echo. 'What's that?' I said, looking at Billy. I reached for his hand. Relief swept through me as he clenched it in his. 'That's our boys' band playing "The Minstrel Boy", it's a famous march. We hold our own parades here. Every division marches in it, and the boys' parents are allowed to attend all parades for great occasions such as St Patrick's Day, Easter Sunday and Corpus Christi, which are the school's biggest and best. When you're older, you will get to march with your own division.'

'Gosh, really,' I shouted over the music. 'I'd only ever followed our local band from our school in Sandyford to over yonder in Stepaside.'

Billy gasped, pulled me to one side and said, 'I want you to forget words like gosh, and over yonder, as it's far too posh for us in here!'

Suddenly, I felt change sweeping in over me, change I'd never believe I'd get used to; change was a word I grew to hate. As the monitor explained angrily to me, 'Look Pat, you got to change, your choice of words will bring nothing but trouble to you. The kids here will make shit ou-ra-yeh, over bleedin' yonder, are you kidding me, Pat? Even the kids in your nineteenth will laugh their heads off at yeh.' His tone softened as he continued. 'Look at me. I want you to listen to me. This is a very tough place for a kid as young as you. But being so young without any folks won't get you special privileges. Believe me, this is a very unforgiving place. There is no room for posh, fancy words, Pat. In here, we got our own slang words for most things so I'm asking you to change. It's not for the best but it's for your own good. You drop your fancy expressions such as "over yonder", and "oh, gosh", do you understand?'

I nodded, a silent, frightened yes. I began to hate him as I felt so scared.

'Look, Pat. They call me The Sly. It's my nickname, okay? You'll have one by the end of the week. Now watch me carefully, Pat!'

As I was very slow on grasping things, and on the uptake, it would take a long time for me to realise I'd never again be allowed to return to my cottage home, to a normal life in the hills of south County Dublin in Barnacullia.

Billy was right, of course. As a monitor he knew the ropes. Nothing would ever be so normal again, not in my childhood. I was only just eight years of age, and I had been thrust into Artane Industrial School, just one in an army of 900. The scars run deep.

I was no longer the child with the blushing smile from the hillside cottage home in beautiful picturesque Barnacullia. I became hardened and Artane slang words took over from my way of expressing myself.

My pleasant boyhood dreams of clear-water streams, plush pastures green, of the hills, and my pals, and going to school through fields, and growing up in a normal life in a cottage home all began to fade. As my dreams slowly became darker I began to walk in my sleep. My dreams turned to nightmares as I fought my demons. I was hunted and haunted as I ran from men in black.

New visions haunted my dreams. Boys wet their beds through fear, fear of the collar; fear of the men in black. I wet my bed on just a few occasions in the early years, 1950 to 1952. I remember one bitter cold morning in the winter of 1951. The Brothers known as the Apeman and the Sheriff were on duty. After wash-up time we knelt down for morning prayers by our well-made beds. The Apeman marched up and down the long centre passage. The Sheriff stood in front of the altar and said the prayers, which we repeated together out loud. At the end he said, 'Remember what Christ Our Lord Jesus said, "Little Children come unto me". Remember in your prayers the good the Christian Brothers do for you.'

'Pray for us,' we repeated aloud.

Then he said, 'Any boy who soiled or wet their bed, report to the monitor and bring your soiled and wet sheets with you as we leave. Boys with dirty sheets must march around the centre lamp on the parade until all the boys are in the chapel. Boys with wet or soiled bedclothes must then march to the laundry and hand in your dirty linen.'

That freezing cold morning I was one of the kids who'd wet the bed. I marched around the tall lamp post in the snow and ice. I had no overcoat, or gloves, as I recall. I cried with the pain of the cold as my fingers ached. I remember that, as I marched in a circle with a dozen boys, the Brother on parade duty was dressed in his long black cassock and a cloak was draped round his broad shoulders, his hat down over his forehead to keep the snow from his eyes. The Dude's voice rang out crisp and as ice cold as the bitter east wind, 'Left, left, left right left, lift 'em up or face the wall.'

That wall haunted my dreams. We were made to stand there with our hands held high straight above our heads. It was torture. On bitter cold winter mornings no mercy was shown or given to those of us who were told to face the wall. We would face the wall just for being the last two or three in or out of the freezing cold wash room. And as we stood there, we'd be beaten across our naked bottoms, six of the best from the Apeman or the Sheriff with their iron-hard leathers. The pain was more cruel and excruciating as a result of the cold.

In the autumn of 1952, late in the afternoon, I was playing with my pals the Burner, Oxo, Minnie, Stewie, Jamjar and Bubbles. We were playing conkers when Bubbles threw one at Jamjar. The chestnut missed its intended target and hit the Brother known as Hellfire in the face. It was around five, an hour before night school, as I recall.

The Brother came over to us. He was clutching the handle of a hurley stick. 'Hands up the boy who threw the large chestnut at me.'

I stood back as I feared this evil man.

Bubbles went forward. 'It was me, sir. I'm sorry sir. It was an accident sir.'

The Hellfire's voice rose. 'Good. I like honesty. Now I will put the smirk where your pals can't see it. Trousers down, you pup. Touch your toes. Now one stroke for every day in the year, to set an example to other brats like you.'

I counted silently as the Brother wielded the stick across the boy's buttocks 365 times. The Hellfire paused to wipe the sweat from his flushed face when he had completed the horrendous beating. Bubbles was lying in a heap on the ground, his body shivering beneath the gold of the late October sun. The Hellfire looked at me and my pals and said, 'Take him down to the Infirmary. Let the nurse take care of him then get back in time for class.'

My nightmares were formed out of such awful moments. My nightmares and sleepwalking and shouting in my sleep came about as a direct result of the constant brutal beatings I experienced, and from witnessing other boys in my class and in the same dormitory receiving the same violent attacks.

But there were other forms of abuse, too. I first experienced sexual abuse as early as the autumn of 1950. My dreams began to darken as a direct result of the hard core of Christian Brothers who enjoyed beating boys, naked, black and blue for minor trivial offences, physical and sexual abuse of boys in their care.

I had been torn away from a normal life in the loving bosom of a family home in the hillside in Barnacullia, and that scarred me. And Artane scarred me, it shattered my hopes and dreams. These scars are deeply engraved in my memory, in my heart and in my soul.

I was in my first year. I was in dormitory five, it was mid-November, an awful windy night. Since then I have always dreaded the month of November, always have done since.

The Macker and the Bucko were two tall men. We all feared them as they could be so cruel, even inside the classrooms.

That evening I awoke to find the Macker standing by my bedside. His voice was huskily deep. He'd scared me as he pulled the bedclothes down, pulled up my night-shirt to reveal my nakedness. His foul breath smelt of tobacco.

I've never ever forgotten his first words. 'Why are you sleeping on your tummy?'

At that moment I was so frightened, so alone and in fear. Not just of the November storms but because I had no one to cry out to for help. When the Macker spoke again I cried out, 'I want to go home, sir. Please, sir.'

He leaned in over me and smiled, 'Yes, now why were you lying on your tummy, boy?'

'I don't know, sir. I don't understand, sir,' I half muttered, unaware what was on his mind or why he was asking such a question. It was then the very tall, very strict Brother arrived, known as the Bucko. Most kids called them the Terrible Twins. Two dark, evil men.

The Macker put his hand on my penis. I was shocked and I felt really awful as now there were two of them. 'What's this for, boy? Tell me no lies.' The Macker held my penis. The Bucko leaned in over me. His voice was low, his breath was stale, and made me feel sick. I've hated the stale smell of tobacco ever since.