The story of the Dunnes - Magill November 1983
In 1961 at the age of 24, Christy Dunne, the eldest of the family, wrote a book. He had been charged with robbery and was on the run. He evaded the law for six months by living in a Jesuit retreat house in Dublin, and during that time, he wrote his book. By Mary Raftery. Additional reporting by Colm Toibin
It concerned his childhood and that of his brothers and sisters. It told of their life on the streets of the Liberties, where their parents had a clothes stall in the Francis Street markets, and later of growing up in Dolphin's Barn, where the family moved into one of the Rutland Avenue Corporaation houses shortly after they were built in the mid-1940s.
But it concentrates particularly on the time the elder boys spent in industrial schools throughout the country, and on his own escape to England at the age of twelve and a half. The industrial schools catered for boys up to the age of 16, and were run by religious orders, mainly by Christian Brothers without State assistance. They were custodial centres in which orphans, school truants and boys with criminal convictions were all locked up together. They were known for the constant use of violence.
Eight of the Dunne brothers spent time in industrial schools. Christy was sent to Carriglea on Rochestown Avenue in Dun Laoghaire when he was eleven. Larry was in Daingean. Robert, Henry and Vianney all spent years in the Artane school. Gerard also spent time in an industrial school and Johnny and Hubert were sent to Uptown in .County Cork which was run by the Rosminians. Shamie and Charlie managed to avoid reformatory by leaving for England before they were sentenced.
They were looked after by various aunts and uncles. As they each progressed into their teens, the Dunne brothers became increasingly involved in petty crime and some were sent to reformatories for such offences as robbing gas meters and shoplifting. Their father, Christopher (known as Bronco) used always turn up at their court cases, but did little throughout the years to discourage them. Both he and their mother, Ellen, drank heavily and the children were often neglected for long periods at a time. She was always very upset when they were being sent away.
The full edition of The Dunnes, in November 1983 is below. Subscribe to archives from 1968 - to date here.