Books From A to Z – Founded on Fear

Founded On Fear by Peter Tyrrell

A tormented childhood in Letterfrack industrial school with the Christian Brothers left an enduring mark on Peter Tyrrell. Ignored by the authorities and distressed by his memories, he later burned himself to death on Hampstead Heath in London. His story of horrific abuse is told with childlike simplicity, penned in a series of letters to Senator Owen Sheehy Skeffington. Bringing to life, with touching sincerity, a shocking reality where beatings of children as young as five were commonplace, this startling account may have gone unpublished if not for its chance discovery amongst Skeffington’s papers. At last, Peter Tyrrell has been given a voice.

Tyrrell never recovered from the abuse that he suffered, yet was determined that his story should be heard. His memoir makes for harrowing yet extraordinarily compelling reading. It is impossible not to be touched. (via Goodreads)


My views: This is one of those books I just had to read since it had so many elements I am interested in – Ireland, Catholic education and the rights of children (or in this case, the lack of them). I was prepared not to be shocked, but one can never be unmoved by the suffering of a child and the cruelty of adults – especially those who are supposed to be ‘men of God’. That a young boy attempted to express this all – and was finally heard, albeit too late, is deeply touching.

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We’re taking part in the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

16 Comments

  1. Wow, this sounds inspiring. I love to learn things about Catholic Education ( and here, the lack of it ) and when it comes from a small boy who’s suffered, it shall be all the more touching.
    And I find it surprising that this story about the involvement of ‘men of God’ comes to my notice at the same time when I learn that one man of God who pioneered Education in Kerala is soon to be canonised !

  2. Child abuse is scary mostly because a/ most of the children are too afraid to talk and b/ most adults don’t believe them c/ those that believe them are too afraid to take action and upset the false balance.

    I must read this book!

    Love, Vidya

  3. I studied in a school run by ‘men of God’. Almost all these ‘men of God’ were extremely benevolent persons. A mild rebuke from any of them would make a student ashamed. Only very few of these ‘men of God’ occasionally exhibited cruelty, mostly verbal, sometimes physical. I could never understand how these ‘men of God’ could be cruel to ‘God’s children’.

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  5. I would probably leave this book mid-way. How can any one be so cruel to children? And those who call themselves “men of God”! Too much child-abuse goes on in different societies in different ways- ways that remain hidden….really painful to even imagine all that!

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