O'KEEFFE, Toni




Author Tags: Biography, Education

Over 105,000 children were committed to industrial schools by the Irish courts between 1868 and 1969. Toni O’Keeffe's Those Who Trespass Against Us (Trafford 2007), set in Ireland between 1939 and 1948, is a vivid and disturbing account of her father's suffering amid the horrific conditions of Greenmont School, where Presentation Brothers starved, beat and preyed upon the children in their care. The book was released March 15 2007. Her father died on April 21, 2007.

Her promotional material states:

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Approximately three weeks after the book was released O’Keeffe says she began to receive phone calls and emails from other Irish industrial school survivors, all of whom expressed their gratitude to her for having written this book. Mike Hogan, now 76 years old and living in Birmingham UK, wrote O’Keeffe to say he had grown up in Greenmont and remembered Walter. “I had tried to tell people what had happened to us,” said Hogan in a follow-up conversation with the O’Keeffe’s, “nobody believed me. I even wrote a book about it but the publisher was afraid they would get sued because the tales were so harsh. When I read Those Who Trespass Against Us, I said thank God, finally someone is telling our story,” concluded Hogan.

O’Keeffe says she has been contacted by other survivors who now live in the UK and Canada. “Each of them has a story to tell me, so I listen.” said O’Keeffe. “What these young children went through was horrific. Most of them now in their sixties and seventies, have lived their entire lives not speaking to anyone about their experience because they thought no one cared or that they would not be believed. These are fascinating people who have overcome a great deal of pain. I owe it to them and my Dad to listen.”

On May 11 1999, the government of Ireland apologized on behalf of the state to the victims of abuse in Irelands industrial schools. In September of 2000 after two years of pleading his case and with the assistance of his daughter, Walter O’Keeffe received a settlement claim from the Sate for the suffering and abuse he was forced to endure from 1940 – 1946 while detained in St. Josephs School for boys Greenmont.

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Toni O’Keeffe works as the Director of Communications and Public Relations at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo. She has been a professional business writer and communications practitioner or over twenty years.

[BCBW 2007] "Education" "Biography"