Nazareth House / Nazareth Lodge, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
In 1876, the Sisters of Nazareth established a Nazareth House, originally known as the Convent of the Good Shepherd, at 352 Ormeau Road, Belfast. The property was given to the Order by the Bishop Dorrian, the Bishop of Ballynafeigh. In common with other Nazareth Houses, the home provided accommodation for the aged poor, and for orphan and destitute children.
In 1899, the continuing growth in demand for children's places led to the opening of a separate home for boys. The new home, whose construction cost £10,000 was situated a short distance away at 516 Ravenhill Road and known as Nazareth Lodge. Nazareth House continued to house the elderly men and women, and orphan and destitute children. In 1920, there were 400 inmates in Nazareth House and 300 boys at Nazareth Lodge.
On November 11th, 1902, Nazareth Lodge was certified as an Industrial School for the accommodation of 50 Roman Catholic Junior Boys between the ages of 6 and 10. On April 26th, 1912, its official capacity was increased to 70 places. As well as children committed by magistrates, the home also had a number of voluntary admissions.
An inspection in 1912 recorded that there were 66 committed inmates, 135 voluntary inmates, 8 out on licence, and 1 absconder. The staff comprised the manager, Mrs M. Duignan, assisted by 10 Sisters of the Order of Nazareth, 2 lay teachers, and 5 domestic servants. In the classroom, singing, drawing and recitation were rated as 'very good' and mental arithmetic as 'good'. Being a junior school, little industrial training was given. The boys learned patching and darning, and how to make rugs They also did a good deal of housework. Twelve boys were transferred to senior schools during that year. Physical drill was taught daily by a drill instructor. There were large playgrounds for recreation and games. There was a band of 21 performers. Each year a concert was given, which was largely patronised by the public.
In 1948, a section for the care of babies was opened at the institution and continued in operation until 1953 when a separate babies' home known as St Joseph's was opened nearby.
Following the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act of 1950, Nazareth Lodge became a Training School for Junior Boys (analogous to the Approved Schools operating in the erst of the UK). Its accommodated 70 boys aged from 6 to 10. When inmates reached the age of 11, they were transferred to the Rubane House home at Kircubbin, run by the De La Salle Brothers. On 27 August 1951, the School's Training School certificate was withdrawn by Ministry of Home Affairs on the grounds that its continuance was no longer considered necessary.
In 1967, Nazareth Lodge became a mixed home and the children lived in family-style groups, with around a dozen children in each.
In 2014, Nazareth Lodge was one of thirteen institutions examined by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Early on in the proceedings, lawyers issued apologies on behalf of the Sisters of Nazareth and the De La Salle Brothers for any abuse residents suffered while living in homes run by the two organisations.
Nazareth House is still in operation today. The Nazareth Lodge site is now occupied by the modern buildings of the Nazareth House Care Village, providing residential care for the elderly.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
- Arnold, Mavis, and Laskey, Heather Children of the Poor Clares (2004, Appletree Press)
- Barnes, Jane Irish Industrial Schools 1868-1908 (1989, Irish Academic Press)
- Dunne, Joe The Stolen Child: A Memoir (2003, Marion Books)
- Rafferty, Mary and O'Sullivan, Eoin Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools (1999, New Island Books)
- Touher, Patrick Fear of the Collar: Artane Industrial School — My Extraordinary Childhood (1991, O'Brien Press)
- Tyrrell, Peter and Whelan, Diarmuid Founded on Fear: Letterfrack Industrial School (2006, Irish Academic Press)
- Wall, Tom The Boy from Glin Industrial School (2015, Tom Wall)
- Sisters of Nazareth
- Glencree Reconciliation Centre (former Reformatory site)
- The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.