Abuse inquiry hears boy ran away from care home three times

Witness said nun in Derry home ‘hated the ground I walked on’

A boy was physically punished so often by a nun in a Derry care home he ran away three times.

A boy was physically punished so often by a nun in a Derry care home he ran away three times.


A boy was physically punished so often by a nun in a Derry care home he ran away three times.

This incident triggered intense attention by social services, the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry heard.

The witness, who cannot be named, said the nun at the centre of his allegations “throttled” him on one occasion and repeatedly punished and humiliated him in front of others and he had to get away.

“I couldn’t get on with her because she just hated the ground I walked on, she beat me at every opportunity,” he alleged.

“She put me down, she denigrated me in front of everybody. I ran away from the place three times. On one occasion she actually throttled me and left marks on my neck. I ran away to my mother and my mother took me to the doctor and then across the Border. I think there was a notice put in the paper about me missing.”

He spoke of what he called the “walk of shame” with wet bed sheets after wetting the bed. However he also said that another nun was a “remarkable woman” who was like “a saint” compared to the first nun who was like “the devil”.

“There was a nun who was a substitute mother to me,” he told the inquiry. “I’ve good feelings about her, she was a remarkable woman.”

However he said that the other nun despised him. “Another nun – she over reacted, she really really hated me,” he alleged.

“She made my life a misery for some reason.”

He was asked about the contents of an internal case review concerning him when he was a resident at Termonbacca boys’ home in the 1970s.

This report stated that the witness at that time “was disturbed” and “loathes any form of correction”, “was in conflict with staff” and was “aggressive”.

The witness said his running away was explained by the fact that he “was damaged” and “angry with the world” after what had happened.

Asked about the need for correction, the witness said “Does correction mean throttling me, taking a flex to me?”

He subsequently had to be placed in another children’s home which, he said, was “professionally run”.

However the witness also said that another nun was inspirational and kind. She was responsible for treating boys as individuals, making sure they had their own clothes, and encouraging them to keep in touch with their families. “She gave me a hug one time,” he said.

Concluding his testimony he said: “ I’ve really good fond memories of my time in Termonbacca. In later years I would say to people you know it was better than actually being in a family because you had a lot of good friends around. There was a lot of positives. [I have] bitter sweet memories – really bad memories and good memories as well.”