Exemplar order sending four-year-old Paddy Doyle to "Detention in a Certified Industrial School." Image of document online, courtesy Irish National Archives.
After the children were committed to the convent and industrial schools, Desmond sailed to England. He had secured a job in Huddersfield, a former parish town located in Yorkshire just north of Holmfirth.
Working in Huddersfield, Doyle met Jessie Brown (called "Bernadette Beattie" in the movie). First she was his landlady (while he lived in England), then she was his "housekeeper" (when he returned to Ireland eight months later). Desmond thought he had everything he needed to get his children back, including money and "female assistance."
But the law required more.
As soon as he returned to Dublin, in the early fall of 1953, Des wrote the Minister of Education to have Evelyn returned to him. He thought once that was granted, the boys would also come home.
Three weeks later, however, he received a shocking reply. Government officials thought it "would not be in the child's best interests" to leave the convent.
This section authorizes a judge to send a child to an industrial school who is destitute but not an orphan if her parents are unable to support her. The judge can dispense with one of the parents' consent when he's ordering the committal, as happened in your case. But when an application arises for the same child's release from the school, the consent of both parents is required. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 96.)
Evelyn's mother could not consent to her daughter's "release from the school." She was out of the country. And Desmond faced another unspoken problem: He was Catholic; Jessie Brown, his "housekeeper," was Protestant.