Childhood Matters: Report Of The National Commission Of Inquiry Into The Prevention Of Child Abuse; Volume 1   The Report. - National Commission of Inquiry Into the Prevention of Child Abuse, National Commission of Inquiry Into the Geez, where do I find these things. I ran across a reference to this in "Religion in the News", a publication of Trinity College.

This is the infamous Ryan report detailing systematic child abuse in Irish primary schools which in Ireland are predominantly (92%) run by the Catholic Church. This is a huge report consisting of 5 volumes and more than 2600 pages. It's available online at Be forewarned: it's not pretty. There is raw testimony from thousands (over 7,000 who had been abused marched on the Irish Parliament on June 10th.)

The Ryan Report dealt only with Church-run schools. I doubt if I'll read the whole thing; it's just too overwhelming and depressing. How could one ever review such a volume other than as a categorization of evil incarnate.

There is some very interesting historical material. For example, chapter 2 of volume 1 is a history of industrial schools and reformatories in Ireland. The Children Act of 1908 was intended to alleviate the suffering of children in orphanages by providing shelter, food, and clothing for destitute and homeless children and to reform industrial schools that had been created in the 1860's. Funding became a major issue as both Catholic and Protestant factions fought for control of the schools to insure that the children were raised as "good" Catholics or Protestants. (Irish Industrial School Act of 1868) Catholics being the predominant group, they succeeded in wresting control of the schools.

Volume 3 is notable for it's summary of conditions at the schools (mostly separated by sex) which even into the 1970's are portrayed as positively Dickensian.

If you must read one chapter only, I would recommend the Conclusions: Chapter 6, volume 4.

What I have read has been concise and lucidly written and extremely well-documented.

A recent report called the Murphy report was released in December and details priest child abuse in the Dublin Diocese; currently there is a movement for a similar investigation to be done in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Additional information at

Re the Murphy report: (there is a warning attached that it contains graphic details.) The Christian Brothers have so far paid more than $50 million in compensation. The full report is available at