Download PDF The Quartet - Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys

The Quartet – Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys

by John Michael Murphy.

Product Details:

  • File Size: 3017 KB.
  • Print Length: 337 pages.
  • Language: English.

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Description of The Quartet – Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys:

The Quartet – Care Lives of Irish Catholic Homeboys


The lives of four boys in care are described in detail in this book. The cover photograph shows the Quartet of Homeboys when they took first prize at the 1934 Sligo Feis. Missing from the photograph is their bandmaster, Josie Cummings, a diminutive, disabled, ex-care resident who still lived at the Nazareth House Home, Sligo, run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

When and Where

Three of the boys were born before Ireland had achieved independence in 1922. One of them, Michael Laurence Porter, is still alive and entering his 96th year. This book originated in a promise I had rashly made to Michael’s daughter on her death bed that I would record her father’s life.


I already knew what Michael’s daughter had not known: that her father had spent his whole childhood in residential care at Nazareth House in Sligo. He had kept his care life hidden from his wife and three children all his life. He had never had contact with any of his family in Galway during his period in care and he came to believe that he was an orphan.




How had it come about that Michael’s daughter had hit upon someone to write her father’s life who was an historian and also a social worker with vast experience of managing investigations into child care and abuse within residential and church settings.


From a death bed promise to produce a brief account of one man’s life the research and focus has deepened and broadened to cover the care lives of four boys growing up together in Irish Catholic institutional care in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Five years of detailed research has produced a vast trove of interview and documentary records. This includes some 20,000 words of correspondence between two of the boys, Paddy Baker and Willie McGowan in their latter years of life. The life of the final member of the Quartet, Willie Walsh, was fleshed out by records, including personal reminiscences, from existing Sisters of Nazareth who knew him.

The training, motivation and care work of the Sisters of Nazareth is presented and analysed in the book. Care is set in the context of standards applicable at that time and a particular effort is made to understand what it must have been like to provide large scale care with limited and insecure material resources, and lack of state or social work support.

The lives of the boys in the immediate years after they left care is outlined, including where relevant, limited contact with their families. The book ends with the outbreak of War on 3rd September, 1939.

What Next

What happened to the Quartet during the rest of their lives is outlined in the second volume


now in preparation.


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