The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

Hi all,

Firstly thank you for accepting me into the community. 

I am a researcher in Design History and Material Culture in Ireland. At the moment I am working on a project looking at the leather straps that were used by Christian Brothers. We know that these were manufactured by leatherworkers in Dublin city centre, like O'Donoghues, as well as by the boys in industrial schools like Artane and Letterfrack. 

I have been in contact with the Christian Brothers archivist who confirmed (unsurprisingly) that they have no documentation relating to the straps whatsoever. I've also been in contact with the fantastic people in the Redress section of the Department of Education, they were very willing to help but were disappointed to find that they had no additional information about these straps outside of what is included in the Ryan report.

I would be interested in speaking to anyone who could tell me more about the manufacture of these straps. I understand that it is an extremely sensitive subject but I feel that it is an area with high cultural and historical importance that has been consistently overlooked by church & state.

Any response, input, advice or criticism is welcome.


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I was in artain, there was a few bad brothers in there, remember the slob in the nitting place,where we mended socks, with his whip, and gravy marks on his clothes,, and brother furlong with the missing finger, he was another, hope he is in much regret for his actions.

I've sent information about the straps the Christian brother used to use I don't know if you're receiving my texts the straps were made in the shoemakers shop while I was at St Patrick's School Upton County Cork for 10 years I had to repair the straps I did send that information but I have no feedback Christy Neary

Hi Christopher. I seem to lock myself out of this website for a while so couldn't see replies until now. Thanks for your response! Seems to have mainly been made in the shoe shops but sometimes the harness makers - in the earlier days in Artane as I think they stopped making harnesses in early 20thC

Does anybody remember Brother Johnson brother O'Brian and brother Sullivan at St Patrick's Upton industrial School County Cork Johnson was the worst he seemed to enjoy knocking the s*** out in youngsters where did he go he should have been put in prison

I attended the christian brothers secondary school in Co. Cork from 1976 -1979. Most folk on here seen to older than me with more frequent use of the Leather strap in the past 50's and 60's. It was in the late 70's when I received the Leather strap, kind of dying out then ? but not in my school.

It was a 2 or 3 piece nicely made black one machine stitched together which I first received in 1976 for homework in the classroom age 12/13 yrs old. It was 12 - 14" in Length, 2" wide or more to cover a Good area of the palm of one's hand and 3/8" thick. It was quite supple from use.. It was a heavy irish school Leather strap. I don't know whether there was an old penny inside it at the receiving end or Not. 

It was a case of holding out my hand and keep it up to receive one slap of his leather strap for not knowing the answer to a Geography question the very first time. It stung like hell and my hand was on fire for quite awhile. This Lay teacher took no mercy in me or anybody else in my class. He was best described later in the time by many as being a "violent Man"

Violent men were the mark of the best and bane of the institution.

I don't understand what you mean ? 

The priesthood produced violent men who violated those under their care.



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