Oblates came from France to set up at Inchicore in 1856
Congregation managed reformatories in Glencree and Daingean
Archive image of St Conleth’s in Daingean, Co Offaly: it was one of the most severely criticised reformatories investigated by the Ryan commission for the sexual, physical and emotional abuses of children.
In 1854, then Archbishop of Dublin Paul Cullen invited the Oblates to Ireland and in 1856 the congregation bought a farm in Inchicore as their base. In 1858, they were asked to set up St Kevin’s reformatory in Glencree, Co Wicklow, where they remained until 1940.
In 1870, they opened a second reformatory, St Conleth’s, in Daingean, Co Offaly, which operated until 1973. When it closed they worked at Scoil Ard Mhuire in Oberstown, Dublin, until 1984 when they withdrew from there.
Today they would probably be best known for their parishes in Dublin’s Inchicore. In 1972, they took over the ministry of St Michael’s there, one of three Oblate parishes which now adjoin each other.
Currently, there are over 140 priests and brothers in the congregation’s Anglo-Irish province, working in faith communities and parishes across Britain and Ireland.
Others are missionaries in Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, the United States and Canada. Altogether there are over 4,000 Oblate priests and brothers in 60 countries worldwide.
Daingean was one of the most severely criticised reformatories investigated by the Ryan commission for the sexual, physical and emotional abuses of children that took place there as well as their neglect.
The report also said of the building itself that “the refusal by management to accept any responsibility for even day-to-day maintenance led to its complete disintegration over the years”.
In a recent statement from the Oblates on their website, responsibility for all of this is laid, mainly, elsewhere.
Its unnamed author is unequivocal: “Top of my list of culprits are those who held the purse strings [the Ryan report lets these off too lightly] and starved the institutions of the capital and income to do an adequate job.
“Then there are the policy-setters both of civil and church society who took so long to see that society was changing. Then there were the judiciary and the law-enforcers who presided over an outdated system.
“Finally, there were the foot-soldiers [members of the congregation]. It is on the foot-soldiers that the ‘make them pay until it hurts’ party want to put the burden.”