In 1941an innocent little baby boy called Joseph Pike was born to an Irish couple. For whatever reason, they could not, or would not keep him and bring him up. So, Joseph ended up in Saint Philomena’s Home in Dublin for unwanted babies. He grew up with a strong Dublin accent.

When he was only seven he was sent from Dublin to Tralee, Kerry to a so called industrial school operated by the Irish Christian Brothers. From the moment Joseph arrived in Tralee he was hated by one of the Brothers = a man called Brother Conor Lane. Brother Lane took exception to Joseph’s Dublin accent. From the day he arrived in Tralee Brother Lane beat him day in and day out.

At the time, St Joseph’s, as it was called was a hotbed of abuse. The boys were abused physically, mentally and sexually every day. Three of the Christian Brothers were particular abusers – Brother Conor Lane, Brother Roberts, who are now dead, and another brother who we must call Brother X who is still alive and against whom various actions are under way.

Boys were beaten every day to within an inch of their death. They were mocked and belittled by the Brothers. They were the object of severe mental persecution. And, every day boys were sexually abused – in their beds and in secret and dark corners inside and outside the building. Brother Roberts specialised in abusing boys at his teacher’s desk in the classroom while other boys looked on in fear. The suffering of the boys in St. Joseph’s in Tralee and akin to the suffering of the inmates in Hitler’s concentration camps. But all this happened in the name of God, perpetrated by so called servants of God and in Catholic Ireland where the government, the Garda and the public simply looked on!

In 1958 Joseph Pike was 16. Brother Lane was still beating him every day as he had done for 9 years. This particular day Joseph was unwell. He had a large boil on his shoulder. He could not eat the greasy food that Brother Lane put before him. Brother Lane beat him in his chair causing the boil on his shoulder to burst internally. Poor Joseph fell to the floor where Brother Lane continued to beat him until he became unconscious. Joseph was taken to the hospital where he later died!

After his death two death certificates appeared – one saying that he had died from “senile dementia”! Imagine a 16 year old boy dying from senile dementia? A second certificate said he had died from septicaemia – blood poisoning. Blood poisoning would be consistent with Brother Lane’s beating causing Joseph’s infected boil to burst internally. After he death the Christian Brother claimed he had died of leukaemia.

Brother Lane admitted he had beaten and kicked Joseph but denied killing him.

In 1996 the Garda launched an inquiry into Joseph’s death. The accumulated dozens of statements from former pupils of Saint Joseph’s. Those men are convinced that there was sufficient evidence in those statements to bring forward public prosecutions. This has not happened.

Friends of Joseph remember him having a very hurried funeral and being buried in an unmarked grave. Brother Lane hypocritically prayed aloud for Joseph’s eternal happiness!

After Joseph’s death, whenever they were asked, the Christian Brothers released Joseph’s surname in a miss-spelt form – calling him Pyke instead of Pike. Some say this was deliberate and it certainly frustrated those trying to search for any relations he may have had


John Prior, a classmate of Joseph’s, who himself was sexually abused in St. Joseph’s, has been championing Joseph’s case for many years now. Through John’s good work, a headstone was erected here in this cemetery. Joseph’s case is still open with the Garda and the happenings are gradually coming into the light,

I am here in Kerry today celebrating this Mass because John Prior could not get any priest in Kerry to celebrate it! When he asked the Bishop of Kerry to provide a Mass he was told “No priest is available”. When he asked the Tralee clergy for a mass they refused and told him that a Mass is available at the cemetery once a year for all those interred there. In the last few days the Bishop of Kerry has claimed that John never asked him for a Mass,

Joseph Pike is not the only child that was abused and killed by the Brothers and Nuns in Ireland. Other children died in St Joseph’s Tralee and were buried in unmarked graves. We don’t even know if death certificates were sought or issued. Some months ago the nuns in Hyde Park Convent in north Dublin sold their former convent and Magdalen Laundry for millions of pounds. To facilitate this financial bonanza for the nuns the bodies of the 150 Magdalens were removed from the convent graveyard and cremated in Glasnevin Crematorium. In this way of course any possible forensic evidence is destroyed. It also emerged that there were no death certificates for many of the dead women. More victims dying in suspicious circumstances, buried in unmarked graves and no death certificates issued. What was going on? And how is it that even now that this information is publicly available the government and the Garda are letting the religious orders away with it?

Every year when we celebrate the feast of the 2000 Holy Innocents killed by Herod on December 28th, we should remember the Holy Innocents that perished in Irish Catholic Institutions at the hands of the so called servants of God. And all these goings on were known to the Irish clergy and bishops and religious superiors did absolutely nothing except to cover it up!

And today they are still covering up. Instead of reaching for their Bible and reading the words “LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME” they are hiding behind Canon law, Civil Law and Ruro 5000 a day lawyers. They are using all their resources to cover up the truth, resist victims and survivors and shelter the abusers. They have conveniently forgotten the words of Christ – “THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE”.

The purpose of this Mass is to:

  1. Remember Joseph Pike and his sufferings and pray for his eternal happiness.
  2. Remember all the other victims that were abused and even killed within institutions owned and run by the Irish Catholic Church.
  3. Highlight the unjust and cynical way the Irish Catholic Church is treating victims and survivors as they hide behind a battery of lawyers and call upon the Irish Bishops and clergy to stop being Pharisees and legalists and approach the whole area of abuse with the truthfulness and compassion of Chrisyn- whose disciples they claim to be.
  4. Call upon the Irish Government to order a full judicial enquiry into all the deaths that took place in these Church institutions and the practice of burying people in unmarked graves without birth certificates.
  5. Call upon the Garda here in Tralee to intensify and renew their enquiries into the murder – for it was murder – of Jspeph Pike.


Throughout this tiny island,

In graves unmarked and cold;

Lie broken bones of boys and girls,

Their stories never told.

Men in black with collars white,

And Brides of Christ as well,

Sent these angels up to Heaven,

But made their short lives Hell.

No teddy bear, no lullaby.

No loving mother’s kiss;

But each night as they closed their eyes

They entered the abyss.

With eyes closed tight no sleep would come,

They listened for the sound;

The hob nailed boot out in the hall,

The handle turning round;

Oh don’t take me take someone else,

They prayed with all their might;

The leather strap the bamboo stick,

The screaming in the night.

And when they left they were not free,

Their minds were never right;

Still God can hear them as they pray,

Please let me sleep tonight.

(Leo Magee. Old Coombe. Dublin.

When I arrived in Tralee to celebrate the Mass at Joseph Pike’s headstone. We discovered the clergy had locked the graveyard gates to stop us getting in.

We got ladders and climbed the wall and had our sad Mass.

Joseph Pike’s fate shows the very evil that is at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church.

I hope God has devised a suitable punishment for all these Brothers, nuns and priests.

For in my wildest imagination I cannot think of one severe and monstrous enough.

Gardai to Quiz St Joseph’s Inmates

By Simon Brouder
September 3, 2009

A MAJOR garda investigation into the physical and sexual abuse of children at Tralee’s notorious St Joseph’s Industrial School is now underway, The Kerryman can reveal.

Senior gardai from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who are investigating revelations contained in the Ryan Commission Report, are due to interview a number of former inmates of St Joseph’s in the coming weeks The Ryan Commission Report detailed horrific physical and sexual abuse of boys, perpetrated by 12 Christian Brothers, in the Tralee school in the 30 years prior to its closure in 1970.

A special garda unit, set up by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, following publication of the report is now investigating abuse committed in Kerry. Though the 12 brothers who carried out the majority of the abuse at St Joseph’s were not named in the Ryan Commission report it’s known that all but one are still alive. They are understood to be the primary focus of the new investigation.

Several former inmates of St Joseph’s, including the longest serving inmate John Prior whose early testimony about abuse in church run schools helped expose the scandal, have been contacted by gardai and will be interviewed in the coming weeks.

The former inmates assisting the investigation are currently residing in Kerry and Cork.

A major plank of the St Joseph’s investigation is expected to be the death of 16-year-old school inmate Joseph Pike. Pike died in the mid 1960’s just a few days after allegedly being brutally beaten by a brother for eating too slowly.

The special garda unit, commanded by Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne Ireland’s highest ranked operational commander, has been tasked with investigating claims contained in the Ryan report to assess if criminal proceedings can be brought against the perpetrators of the abuse.  

Christian Brother taught after breaking child’s jaw

Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 00:00  THE IRISH TIMES

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A Christian Brother who broke a child’s jaw was allowed to carry on teaching for nearly a decade, it emerged today.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is examining allegations about St Joseph’s Industrial School in Tralee, which was run by the Christian Brothers up until 1970.

Brian McGovern SC, representing the tribunal, said there had been documented complaints about a Brother who had been moved to the school despite a series of horrific complaints against him.

The man known as Brother X broke the jaw of a child he was teaching at the Christian Brothers Industrial School in Glin, Co Limerick, in 1961, after earlier pulling hair from a child’s head and beating boys with a leather strap at another Christian Brothers school in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

He was then moved on to St Joseph’s where he continued to teach.

Mr McGovern asked Br Seamus Nolan of the Christian Brothers if the failure to remove him from teaching duties immediately showed a remarkably uncaring attitude by the Order. “It certainly does. The efforts made weren’t sufficient. It isn’t good enough,” he said.

He told the commission that to his knowledge the gardaí were not informed about the Brother’s activities and that although the Department of Education was aware of him, it eased off after he was eventually removed.

Other Brothers had warned as far back as 1960 that Brother X was unable to control his temper and was capable of doing the most foolish things. He was eventually removed from classroom duties in 1969 and transferred to a Christian Brothers institution in Dublin.

There were eight deaths of boys at St Joseph’s including that of Joseph Pike in 1958. The young boy died in hospital due to pneumonia but had earlier received a severe beating from a Christian Brother at the school.

St Joseph’s received a limited amount of funding from the State and was forced to make up the shortfall through other activities carried out by its staff and pupils, such as farming, carpentry and bakery.

Br Nolan said that in the 100 years of St Joseph’s existence the effort of generosity by the staff there lasted throughout.

He said there had been regular inspections which showed, by and large, there was great satisfaction all round and added that some of the surviving Brothers were still friends with the former pupils. “So it wasn’t all a grim and bleak story though the building may have given that impression from the outside,” he said.

However the commission is investigating several complaints of sexual abuse made against Brothers who worked in the school.

One complainant, John Glynn (60), said he had entered the school in 1949 at the age of two and was sexually abused by a Brother after his first Communion.

“What disgusted me today was that there wasn’t any word of apology. I just find it horrendous they’re still hiding, that the cover-up is still there and that we still have to keep speaking out,” he said.

Mr Glynn plans to give evidence to the commission about the one surviving Brother who abused him.


Boy died after being beaten by industrial school Brother

January 11 2006 12:11 AM

Fergus Black A YOUNG boy died in hospital days after he was beaten by a Christian Brother in an industrial school, it was revealed yesterday.

And another Christian Brother who broke a child’s jaw was allowed to continue a “catalogue of mayhem” in three industrial schools before he was eventually removed from teaching.

The details emerged at the Commission on Child Abuse which is examining allegations about St Joseph’s industrial school in Tralee, which was run by the Christian Brothers until its closure in 1970.

But Brother Seamus Nolan, a member of the Christian Brothers provincial leadership team, said the history of the school was not all grim and bleak and it was regarded as a worthwhile venture.


The commission was told that the boy from St Joseph’s who died in 1958 – named in extensive press reports in 1995 as Joseph Pyke – had become a “cause celebre”.

Brother Nolan told a commission hearing yesterday that it appeared the boy died in hospital. Stories later emerged about a beating he received in the school by a Brother who was in charge of the kitchen. Efforts had been made to find out if the incident in the school had affected his death, but the death certificate later referred to septicaemia and pneumonia.

The commission also heard how an “out of control” brother, referred to as brother X, who broke one boy’s jaw, was allowed to continue to teach in three schools, including St Joseph’s, before being withdrawn from teaching in 196


Brother Nolan said that the man originally worked at an industrial school in Clonmel in 1956 where it was alleged he had pulled a boy’s hair. He was then moved to Tralee in 1961 and then to Glin, Co Limerick the same year before returning to Tralee in 1963.

The incident where the boy’s jaw was broken occurred in Glin and he had also been accused of pulling another child’s hair while he was “out of control” in the Clonmel school and beating boys with a stick or leather strap.

“We have no defence either for his actions or [for] not stopping it,” said Brother Nolan.

When the brother was eventually removed, it was far too late, he said.

Counsel to the commission, Brian McGovern suggested that the methods in dealing with the brother showed a “remarkable uncaring attitude” towards the children in the care of the Christian Brothers. Gardai

Brother Nolan admitted it certainly did. Their efforts in dealing with the problem were not good enough.

To his knowledge, no reports about the abuse were sent to the gardai and while reports were sent to the Department of Education, the department “eased off” and did not really press the matter once the Brother was not involved in the school.

Brother Nolan also told of allegations about two other Brothers, named as L and M, who were over-severe in their use of corporal punishment.

While there were also allegations by former residents of the school of sexual abuse, he said there were references to some “peer abuse” among the boys themselves, but there were no references about allegations against the brothers.

Commenting about the Tralee school, Brother Nolan said an “effort of generosity” prevailed during the school’s 100 years of existence. There had been regular inspections which showed by and large there was satisfaction and some of the surviving Brothers were still friends with the former pupils.

On occasions things were not right but the general impression was the work of the Brothers and the boys in the school was praiseworthy and worthwhile.