Academic Articles

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Surviving the "House of a Hundred Windows": Irish Industrial Schools in Recent Fiction and Memoirs

Michael Molino

2001

The story of industrial schools in Ireland is, then, a history of intersecting tendencies. On the one hand, initially well-intended educational and religious beliefs and practices gave way to a self-protecting system where abuse was tolerated and abusers protected. On the other hand, the stories of child abuse, often told by adults later in life, reflect a different trajectory—from a topic discussed, if at all, only in euphemistic and muted terms to an incendiary issue where guilt is often immediately assumed. This paradoxical history, with all its ambivalent attitudes, has been pointedly revealed in recent fiction and memoirs, where the stories of children sent to industrial schools are given voice and the horrors of institutional life exposed.