John Cameron with Kathryn Rogers
Christian Brothers ran schools with a bible in one hand and a torture strap in the other. This torture strap was made with intent to hurt. To really hurt. Sting your hands or legs. I was on the receiving end of this torture a few times in my early school years.
One day I had to go to a meeting of the schools hurling team. We had a school final that week and the team had a meeting over lunch. I got back to class a few minutes late and was told to stand front and centre. I thought maybe some recognition was heading my way. If recognition meant getting slapped by a leather strap 6 times on each hand then I sure received my fill.
Or then there was the time my head was down in daydream land as a Christian brother addressed the class. My crime was not looking at him while he was talking and I felt the full force of a duster whizzing past my ear. I felt the breeze as the chalk remnants touched my skin. Amazed I looked up and was picked up by the ear. “Care to share with the class what you were dreaming of?” I was asked? It was one of the easier questions to answer. While my answer was “nothing sir” I wanted to scream “leave me alone you bullying bastard”
These memories are small, irregular happening and almost insignificant to me but for John Cameron they were almost daily reminders of a life he fell into. Orphaned, abandoned and with little love shown for him in his early years he ended up in Artane Industrial School. Ran by Christian Brothers and subject to damning reports since it’s closure in 1969. This is 2 tales in one. First we hear the horrific tale of the pain the author endured, him and many others. We then hear the story of his parents, a twisted love tale but one with feeling left devastated as they cut through their lives.
An important read to enable us to remember the enduring legacy of pain that has been inflicted on elder generations in ireland.