The child victims of modern slavery

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In My Own Words; Still Running tells the compelling true story of Author and Costa Blanca resident Mickey Finn’s childhood in a brutal Irish Industrial School in the 1960s, Mike Walsh reports.

MOST of us feel the suffering expressed in the Irish ballad, The Fields of Athenry.

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It tells the story of a young man driven to despair by poverty. To feed his family he steals a little corn from his landowner employer, Lord Trevalyan.

Put on trial in the 1850s the youngster is transported to the colonies; his wife and child abandoned to their fate. Such cruelties couldn’t happen now?

Think twice. In June 1964, 12-year-old boy was summonsed to appear at Dublin’s Children’s Court; an oak-panelled court located in the sinister Dublin Castle.


The charge related to an amateurish break-in carried out under the influence of older scamps.

In terms of seriousness their misbehaviour was no more than a childhood prank. In the harsh surroundings of the court the child was sentenced to serve three years hard labour in what was known as an Industrial School.

Connemara’s Letterfrack Industrial School is one of Ireland’s darkest and most notorious secrets. Its isolation was a major factor in the institutionalised abuse of the children by the Christian Brothers with whom unfortunate waifs were placed.


Many of these ill-fated children had not been convicted of any offence; their only crime was that they had been orphaned; many were victims of a dysfunctional family life.

For a child sectioned there it was a place of the darkest foreboding. Many never escaped except through the brutish door of death.

That awful place’s remoteness found its equal only in a Siberian gulag and escape was a remote possibility.

During his sentence, Mickey, and hundreds of other children, who passed through this den of depravity, were methodically physically, sexually and mentally tortured and abused.

The Irish State’s judicial system was instrumental in providing this depraved band of brothers with a constant stream of child victims.

With Taliban zeal the brothers, practiced the dark arts of sadism and sexual debauchery. They routinely administered savage beatings and tortures, often on a whim.

Child sufferers were randomly selected and the injuries inflicted were witnessed by the institution’s terrorised children.

Many children died or disappeared. In the institution’s gardens today may be found the markers of over 140 children known to have been murdered.

Many more are unaccounted for; they simply disappeared.

No one had any interest in monitoring their imprisonment or tracing them; written off as having simply ‘disappeared.’ Mickey Finn’s true story; In My Own Words; Still Running is marked out to be such a drama. It is hard to believe such horrors could take place in the 17th Century, let alone during the 1960s.

The book is one of the most compelling emotional rollercoaster ride books one is likely to read.

Not that it should be read as a horror story; it is a child’s victory over a state apparatus as wicked as that of the Soviets. It is a child’s triumph over depraved sadists; a child who did survive but is still running from the ghosts that reach after him.

The author and victim of this dreadful institution lives in Costa Blanca south. In My Own Words: Still Running is being considered by an American movie producer; this book could change history.

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