Ancestry UK

St Vincent's Reformatory School for Girls, Dublin, Ireland

On May 3 1859, St Vincent's Reformatory School for Roman Catholic Girls was opened in premises at Golden Bridge (or Goldenbridge), Inchicore, Dublin. (It should be noted that this institution is quite different from the Goldenbridge Industrial School opened in 1880.) The Reformatory was managed by Sister Mary Magdalen Kirwan, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, who had been the superintendent of the nearby Refuge for well-conducted convict women.

An inspection report in 1862 recorded that there were 29 inmates in residence. The industrial training included laundry work and shirt-making, with class instruction being given in the use of a sewing machine that had been installed. It was noted that the girls detained in the establishment were decidedly older than those confined at any of the other reformatory schools. The younger girls sentenced in Dublin are sent to High Park Reformatory while those of more advanced years came to Golden Bridge. The latter included 'the most shameless and abandoned of Dublin young criminals' who, in many cases, although stated to be under sixteen years of age, were apparently twenty or twenty-one. Their behaviour at Golden Bridge was reported as taxing the energy of its superintendent.

The following year, things were little better, with seven of the inmates having to be transferred to other institutions where, it was suggested, the discipline was stricter. A sum of £90 had also been expended in assisting the emigration of girls being liberated from the Reformatory.

The School was closed at the request of the Manager in June, 1863, as she had determined to devote the buildings occupied by the girls to the women sent on licence to the adjacent Refuge for Convict Women from the Mountjoy Prison. Accordingly, six of the girls were transferred to High Park Reformatory, five to Monaghan Reformatory, two to Limerick Reformatory. A further eight were pardoned at the request of the Manager, and enabled by her to emigrate to America, where she had secured employment for them.


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