Evelyn: Changing The Law In Ireland - LAWFUL DETENTION

LAWFUL DETENTION (Illustration) Civil Rights Film Geography Social Studies Trials Tragedies and Triumphs Law and Politics

Children "detained" in Irish Industrial Schools worked during their tenure at such places.  These boys, who were living at Artane Industrial School (near Dublin) sometime between 1949 and 1952, are marching to work.  Image online, courtesy Irish National Archives.  PD


Michael Beattie requested the Minister of Education to release Evelyn. In November of 1954, Doyle's lawyer was also rebuffed:

It is regretted that your application to have further consideration given to the question of the child's discharge cannot, therefore, be granted. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 99.)

Beattie needed the help of an experienced Irish barrister who was willing to take the Doyle case pro bono. Beattie's friend Nick Barron, an Irish lawyer who had practiced law in America and was known for accepting difficult issues, was willing to help. Nick recommended Thomas J. (TJ) Conolly, a highly respected courtroom advocate, to lead the case.

Mr. Conolly was huge and slightly unkept. He was known in legal circles as a "loose cannon." He might've made the bench as a justice, if he hadn't scuppered his own chances by not playing the political game. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 101.)

When the government wouldn't let the children come home for Christmas, Desmond realized challenging the law would be difficult. Evelyn, meanwhile, continued to receive packages by mail.

One of her favorites, from her maternal grandmother, was a monthly constant during her time in the convent: Barry's tea (the little girl loved it) and green ribbons (for her hair). Her grandma used to visit Evelyn at the High Park convent - until Desmond told her to stay away.

Once Evelyn's mother came to see her daughter. They went shopping on O'Connell Street and ate Knickerbocker Glories. But the visit was short-lived, and Charlotte Doyle moved away forever.

Evelyn did not see her brothers for a year. In February of 1955, Desmond was finally allowed to spend the day with all of his children:

My brothers' convent [in Kilkenny] was in the countryside and it was lovely and peaceful there...When my brothers appeared on the porch, I hardly knew them...The three oldest boys had developed country accents and Kevin and Dermot had gone blond...It had been just over a year since the babies had seen me, and they didn't recognize me now. (Tea and Green Ribbons, pages 112-113.)

The boys, Evelyn observed, "seemed happy." Even she had settled into a routine:

We didn't get hugs and kisses at the convent, but we felt loved and as though we were part of a family. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 115.)

But whether the children were loved, or comfortable, had little to do with the sad state of affairs in the Doyle family. All six children, who would not be released from state and church control until they were sixteen, were detained against the will of their father.

There was only one thing Desmond could do: Sue the government so his lawyers could ask the Irish Supreme Court to declare that portions of the Children Act of 1941 were unconstitutional.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Jul 07, 2015

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