THE Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, and the Bishop of Kerry, Ray Browne will be among those attending a Mass of Reconciliation which has been organised for this Saturday when over 60 past pupils of the now demolished St Joseph’s Industrial School in Glin come together for their first-ever and only reunion.
And Br Kevin Mullen, head of the Christian Brothers’ European Province is expected to make a short statement before the Mass.
Tom Hayes, who spent eight years in Glin Industrial School following a childhood in a Kerry orphanage, will reply to Br Mullen’s statement and another past-pupil, John Hogan, will light a candle to remember all those boys who passed through Glin but are now dead.
The former Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray is also expected to attend Saturday’s ceremony as is Fr Tom Crawford, the current parish priest of Glin.
“We are very grateful to Fr Michael Noonan, the parish priest of Raheen, who has made the church available to us,” Tom Hayes told the Limerick Leader.
Mr Hayes is one of the organisers of this weekend’s reunion which was originally planned for Glin. But the organisers felt obliged to switch location after Glin Development Association objected to particular aspects of the memorial stone the past-pupils wanted to erect in the town park as part of the reunion. And other locations, suggested by Glin Development Association, were not acceptable to the past-pupils.
“There are clearly people who have a problem in even acknowledging there was an industrial school in Glin,” Mr Hayes told the Limerick Leader.
But the past-pupils are very determined there will be a memorial stone in Glin eventually. .
As part of the the reunion, Tom Wall, who was sent by the courts to Glin Industrial School when he was just three and a half years old, will launch the book he has written about his life.
The book, The Boy from Glin Industrial School, will recount the story of the school from its beginnings in the 19th century up to when it was demolished. It will also tell Tom’s own story, his experience of the harsh regime there and his abuse as well as his involvement with the campaign for restitution.
“It is an ideal time to launch the book,” Mr Wall told the Limerick Leader this week. “It is nice to launch it among the people who were there. It couldn’t have come at a better time. We are going to be all together for the first time.”
The book, the photographs, the entire reunion, he believes will bring back difficult memories.”It will be an emotional thing for many,” he said. Remembering those who had died, those who had died by suicide, those who had fallen on hard times or become addicted to alcohol or drugs would be particularly difficult, Tom explained.
But, he added, it would also be an opportunity to meet up with friends. Cathaoirleach John Sheahan will launch the book.