Marie-Thérèse has a haunting post about summer holidays in Rathdrum, County Wicklow, which was the one escape from the misery of Goldenbridge that most of the children had.
As a child at Goldenbridge industrial “school” during the sixties summertime season, I absolutely adored heading off on the ‘Special’ bus to Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow. Bernadette Fahy in her book “Freedom of Angels” referred to St. Joseph’s Holiday Home, that was for Goldenbridge children who had no families to take them out on summer holidays, as a haven. She felt that all the stress built up from being enclosed in Goldenbridge just lifted when she went there. She felt her sanity had been restored. The same was applicable with me. The immense freedom was also absolutely blissful to all the other exhausted children, who were cooped up for the rest of the year in a very cold, damp, outdated, not fit for purpose ex women’s prison refuge that was situated on the outskirts of Dublin city.
Goldenbridge was a hellhole, and Rathdrum was an escape from the hellhole.
I even remember enjoying going to mass in the oratory that dominated a large part of the left hand side of the ground floor of the palatial building. One could view to one’s heart’s content the abundance of old trees and greenery from the aforementioned windows. A bright red swanky carpet donned the entrance floor to the temporary makeshift altar in the centre, that only the serving priest was allowed to use. Children were never forced to attend mass in the tiny oratory. They went of their own volition, which was not something that occurred in Goldenbridge, where they were beaten if they had any qualms about going to the convent chapel, or they resorted to hiding in a cupboard full of old mattresses. What a difference it made to young people to be given a choice for once in their young lives.
It breaks the heart.