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Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools Paperback – June, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826414478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826414472
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,801,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Between 1868 and 1969, more than 100,000 Irish children were taken from their families by the state and placed in so-called industrial schools run by various orders of the Catholic Church. The conditions in these schools, as documented by Raftery first in her award-winning TV documentary States of Fear and now in this book, were appalling. The documentary so shocked Ireland that the prime minister was forced to offer an apology on behalf of the state. Collaborating here with O'Sullivan, a lecturer in social policy at Trinity College, Dublin, Raftery presents a child welfare system out of control. Most of the children in industrial schools were placed there because of their parents' poverty. Then the state closed its eyes as the children were abused physically, mentally and sexually by the nuns and priests who were supposed to take care of them. The testimonials of the former students themselves are heart-wrenching. Mary Norris remembers being remanded because her mother, a widow with eight children, allowed a man to stay the night. Don Baker tells that, when he, aged 12, arrived at his school, the priest pointed at his groin and asked, "Do you play with that?" Baker remembers the school as something out of Oliver Twist old, filthy clothes, terrible food and repeated floggings. Interspersed throughout the testimonials are political details: which government and which minister either ignored allegations or quickly passed the buck. It is noteworthy that Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boystown, on a visit to Ireland in 1946 condemned the highly abusive and punitive culture within the Irish industrial schools. Raftery and O'Sullivan perform an important service in recording the ugly story of these institutions.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...vivid personal records give the book its central voice and they make for some compelling reading..." -- Irish Edition, July 2001

"An interesting, though painful, read." -- Catholic New Times, July 1, 2001

"Solidly researched and harrowingly reported." -- America, August 27, 2001

"Well-documented...compelling...Suffer the Little Children provides plenty of food for thought." -- Social Service Review

“Heart-wrenching….Raftery and O’Sullivan perform an important service in recording the ugly story of these institutions.” -- Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bob Jennings on May 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book presents a portrait of 20th century Ireland that will debunk any nostalgic or sentimental view of the so called 'Emerald Isle'. No shamrocks and leprecauns in this book, but a history of cruelty, abuse and power. It tells the story of how Irish children were incarcerated in huge numbers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in reformatory and industrial schools which were managed by the Catholic Church. Based on detailed historical research and interspersed with gut-wrenching first hand accounts of survivors of these institutions, it shows how an alliance between a power hungry Catholic Church and an indifferent Irish State resulted in the incarceration of the children of the poor. Rather than helping poor families, Church and State removed these children to bleak institutions where large numbers were sexually and physically abused and tortured by their Christian carers. I don't think that I will ever think about the Catholic Church and Ireland in the same way ever again. Anger, saddness, frustration, disbelief, but above all anger - why did this happen? I experienced all these emotions when reading this book. If you want to really understand Irish society, this book is essential and harrowing reading.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bill Cooper on May 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a heart-wrenching book, a rollercoaster ride through the misery of what happened to thousands of Irish children during the 20th century. It is also so surprising and so unexpected that Ireland could have treated so many of its children with such terrible cruelty. If you were a child living in poverty, you had a good chance of being picked up by the courts, locked up in one of the country's many 'industrial schools', where children suffered terrible abuse at the hands of the Catholic priests, brothers, and nuns who rans these child prisons. This book is full of detailed historical research as to how and why this system was so large and so vicious. Weaving throughout it in the most compelling way are the individual memories of the victims or survivors of these child gulags. Some of them would break your heart, others just leave you lost in admiration for the courage and resilience of people who were subjected to such cruel abuse. By placing all of this in the context of Irish society and its development from colony to independence, this book raises profound issues about how societies deal with the evil within them, how they continue to deny their own complicity and lack of courage in defending their most vulnerable citizens. It also raises deeply disturbing questions about the nature of the Catholic Church in probably the most Catholic country on earth -- namely Ireland. How was it that so many of its chosen brothers and nuns could so openly abuse children, with no one seemingly having the courage to challenge them within the religious orders. All in all, a disturbing but vital book for people anywhere in the world to be able to understand how social institutions can fail the most fundamental of tests, can continue with universal complicity to victimise and abuse those with no one to defend them.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bill Cooper on May 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a shocking and rivetting book. It deals with the enormous scale of child abuse in Irish institutions during much of the 20th century. This included severe sexual and physical abuse, together with emotional bullying and serious neglect. It was carried out mainly by members of Catholic religious orders. This book shows that the abuse was not secret -- Irish society knew about it, but denied that knowledge to itself and didn't act to protect the thousands of children literally locked up in this incredible system. But most importantly, this book is fascinating on the international connections of all this. It shows that some of the Irish-based Catholic orders exported this terrible system to abuse children all over the world. The Irish Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy set up institutions for children in Australia and in Canada, and 'Suffer the Little Children' provides us with a unique insight into the terrible cruelties visiting on these children as well. This is the most comprehensive telling of a child abuse system that I have ever read. It is essential for anyone who cares about how societies fail to protect those who most need that protection, and the awful consequences of that failure. While it primarily concerns Ireland, this book has a universal and widespread importance.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bob Jennings on May 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book presents a portrait of 20th century Ireland that will debunk any nostalgic or sentimental view of the so called 'Emerald Isle'. No shamrocks and leprecauns in this book, but a history of cruelty, abuse and power. It tells the story of how Irish children were incarcerated in huge numbers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in reformatory and industrial schools which were managed by the Catholic Church. Based on detailed historical research and interspersed with gut-wrenching first hand accounts of survivors of these institutions, it shows how an alliance between a power hungry Catholic Church and an indifferent Irish State resulted in the incarceration of the children of the poor. Rather than helping poor families, Church and State removed these children to bleak institutions where large numbers were sexually and physically abused and tortured by their Christian carers. I don't think that I will ever think about the Catholic Church and Ireland in the same way ever again. Anger, saddness, frustration, disbelief, but above all anger - why did this happen? I experienced all these emotions when reading this book. If you want to really understand Irish society, this book is essential and harrowing reading.
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