Authors: Patrick Touher
Leaving his abusive Irish boarding school after eight long years, Patrick Touher thought his troubles were over. But the adult world was a dangerous place for a naÃ¯ve adolescent. From the Dublin Catholic boys' home to arriving alone in London, again Patrick is seen as easy prey.
Yet Patrick's strength, honesty and sense of humour never left him. The boy they couldn't break fought back and eventually found love and a family. But the shadow of his early years was always with him. With the encouragement of his wife â a constant witness to his traumatic nightmares â Patrick set about taking the Christian Brothers to task.
The eagerly awaited sequel to bestseller
Fear of the Collar
that doesn't disappoint,
Scars that Run Deep
is a deeply moving and ultimately triumphant true story.
An orphan, Patrick Touher spent his early years in a foster family before being sent to Artane Industrial School in Dublin at the age of seven. Living there from 1950 to 1958, he was trained as a baker and went into this trade on leaving at 16. He spent the 1960s and 70s travelling, and in 1972 he married his late wife Pauline and they had three children together. In 2003, Patrick received a settlement from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and he was finally able to put the past behind him.
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
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.
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 â physical, mental and sexual â 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: âLeft, 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. âAdoro te Devote' and âPanis 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, âCome here, son.' His arm rested around my shoulders, his voice soft. He said, âNow 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, âNow let us say a decade of the Rosary for our friend here.' He paused for a moment to look at me, and then continued, âPatrick 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. âGod 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, âLeft, 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.
After 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 â alias Segoogee â 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. âSo you are leaving us, boy,' he said to me kindly.
I looked at him, misty eyed, and muttered, âYes, sir.'
His smile widened as he held out a piece of paper to me. âHere, 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 âPange 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.
âBrogan, 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 night-shirt, 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. âPlease, 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. âI 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. âYou've been sleepwalking, come back with me now, son.'
I was safe in the arms of Angel Face. I felt good.
âWhat time is it, sir?' I asked.
âIt'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, âUp, 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. âThanks, Collie, you're a pal.'
Rasher shouted, âCan 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
â 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, âLast 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. âLast 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 âLeave 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.