Goldenbridge and lack of nature and colour


I was mostly deprived of gardens, and of nature’s aesthetic beauty when I was a child at Goldenbridge Industrial “School”. I used to envy the nuns’ having a private garden that children locked up, could only see in the distance from the very tall institutional  dormitory windows.

There was a rockery near the Wicket (Wicked) gate leading to a small avenue where perennials blossomed, and I do recollect helping Sr. Fabian with the watering of them on several occasions as a teenager.


Helping the nuns would have been considered an honour for somebody such as myself who was on the lowest rung of the Goldenbridge ladder.

I never saw roses growing anywhere during my childhood incarceration at Goldenbridge. Children who did not have any relations to go to during summer months went to St. Joseph’s Holiday home, Rathdrum Co. Wicklow. They just adored the immense openness and freedom there. There were trees, greenery and cows grazing in the sloping hills that they tumbled and played in every day.

To this day, I adore Co. Wicklow. It is synonymous with nature and beauty and freedom; the things that children yearned, to preserve their sanity growing up in a child prison, that was once a refuge for women.

Photo taken by me on 25/7/13 Donnybrook, Dublin


Sr. Fabian was fond of flowers. She hailed from Co. Donegal farming stock, I believe. It would have been mentally stimulating and healthy for the stressed out children at Goldenbridge, if the convent nuns had allowed them access to their privileged private garden. Children never-endingly saw the nuns saying prayers and rosaries from the bleak institutional dormitory windows vantage point. It was not fair that the nuns were the only ones stretching their legs in a free large open space, whilst caged child inmates were making rosary beads in a confined closed off from the world child prison setting.

The nuns grew their own vegetables, and there was an orchard in the convent garden. They must have had hens, as they had two eggs every morning to eat whilst child inmates never saw an egg throughout their whole sentences.

There were two avenues facing the convent that had to each side very pretty paddock fields. I remember Neddy, the donkey grazing the grass in those fields. The two paddock fields had an abundance of fresh grass, and were very neatly laid out. It’s such a shame that the children hidden away at the back of the large complex were not allowed to play in the fields, instead, they were cooped up each day in St. Bridget’s classroom, that was made into a mini- makeshift rosary bead factory, or else, during break-times they were placed in a maze-like enclosed small prison yard within the institution.


The only time I remember having access to any part of grounds directly outside Goldenbridge Industrial “School” was during morning and evening times when child inmates had to go to the convent chapel for mass and benediction. Other times also were at annual weekend retreats when children, who had to basically fast over the course of those weekends were allowed (on almost empty stomachs) to walk the main and side avenues for the purpose of saying fifteen decades of the rosaries.


I honestly believe that children would have thrived much better had they seen the beauty of nature around them, instead of only hearing about the beauty of same from the perspective of religion, when they went each morning and evening to mass and devotions in the convent chapel to thank God for the wonderful blessings of nature.

Photo taken by me at the Dodder footbridge cottages, Donnybrook on 26/7/13 after a thunder and lightning storm.


The flowers of nature should have devoured the eyes of children during their incarceration period in Goldenbridge. Instead, they had to imagine what flowers were like when they sang hymns of the ilk:


Bring flowers of the rarest, bring blossoms the fairest,…

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

Bring flowers of the rarest
bring blossoms the fairest,
from garden and woodland and hillside and dale;
our full hearts are swelling,
our glad voices telling
the praise of the loveliest flower of the vale!

Their lady they name thee,
Their mistress proclaim thee,
Ah, grant that thy children on earth be as true
as long as the bowers
are radiant with flowers,
as long as the azure shall keep its bright hue.

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Photo taken by me in Donnybrook on 27/7/13,