KEARNEY THE RACIST

Kearney, my old chemistry teacher at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, is, annoyingly, someone who is still very much on my mind.  Even though it was a lifetime ago, the guy still haunts me. Frankly, I could do without it as I have a great and rewarding quality of life and have far better and more important things to think about than the crimes of this evil individual.

There’s a reason why Kearney is still there in the forefront of my mind. Other notorious abusive teachers at St Joseph’s– such as Brothers James, Solomon and Kevin – have been fully outed now. They’ve been rightfully named and shamed with subsequent closure.  

But Mike Kearney is rather different.

Not least because he’s a complex character and it’s  a necessary part of my healing to understand who he really was. I truly wish I didn’t have to, because it’s like looking into the darkness of another man’s soul.  It’s taking time to gather my recollections and to fully comprehend and define the nature of his abuse. It’s sometimes quite painful, because it’s like I have to travel back in time to relive the original experiences and to make sense of them, but I’m getting there.

Sorry to be a little mysterious, but I will relate it more fully  in the future.

Meanwhile, it’s relevant in the current climate to show again an earlier comment about Kearney relating to his racism.

It was originally posted in November 2016. So it’s worth noting that St Joseph’s would have been aware of his racism for over three years and have chosen to ignore it.

If they claim they weren’t aware, well, they are now.

This post refers to a period in the mid 1980s at St Joseph’s, when Kearney was, presumably, coming close to retirement.  There would have been more black students  in that era than in mine.  I only recall one African boarder in my class.  So I doubt I’d have seen Kearney’s racism in action.

 Marcus commented on ROLL OF DISHONOUR   One more point – one of the teachers I just couldn’t work with was Mr Kearney – he was an aggressive South African who again picked on us non-white students more than anyone – apartheid was alive and kicking in his (and Mr Andrews) classes. He was clearly a survivor from when it was ok to be a racist bully in the classroom. An example would be when I was in the third year (year 9). I was being cautious with chemicals and test tubes. He picked up the tube and put it against my skin, which burnt my skin – he defended himself by saying that if I can put it on the table then I can put it on my skin. It was ONLY because of him I didn’t take Chemistry as an option (I did take Physics and Biology), it’s a pity as it stopped me from taking science options at university (although Computer Science was my first choice anyway). 
  
  

Given that Kearney was at St Joseph’s in the late 1950s, according to his close colleague,the paedophile Mike Mercado/Brother Solomon, it’s reasonable to assume Kearney was in South Africa in the 1940s and/or 1950s.

This was when the apartheid state of South Africa was at the height of its power.

I recall his harsh, menacing voice very well.  I don’t remember his accent being particularly British, South African or Irish (the derivation of his name). He could, of course, have connections with all three countries.

But certainly Kearney had the arrogance of a believer in apartheid in the way he dealt with me.  Although it was also tempered with a certain caution and wariness, too. And with good reason, I’m pleased to say. I was no easy victim, you see, although he did come perilously and scarily close to victimising me. For him, breaking my spirit was really important, and, at the time, I didn’t understand why.  Teaching ‘obedience’ and ‘humility’ is imbued in Catholic culture, of course, but this was something else. Something much more.

So why did he waste his energy dealing with some annoying, Bolshie kid  who isn’t going to do what he wants and– between the time I  was 14 – 16 years old – had challenged him on personal matters outside the classroom and seriously pissed him off?  So what?  At the time, his reaction and his vengeance always seemed disproportionate to me. In retrospect, I realise I hugely underestimated him and the impact my rebellion had on him.  Such is the confidence of youth.

Knowing he spent some years in racist South Africa, knowing he was a sadist (detailed in past testimonies on this site), who enjoyed inflicting pain and knowing he was later – in the 1980s – nicknamed ‘The Bear’ and its likely meaning,  helps me finally start to make sense of him.  

Consequently, I’ve been able to build an authentic and accurate picture of this man which is still a work in progress, because I want to get it absolutely right.  

It will be my personal memorial to Mike Kearney.

My sincere thanks to Marcus above for helping me understand him.

Coming from an impoverished and vulnerable home background, and dealing with Kearney who had a measure of personal control over me,  outside of the school, I have some small sense today of what it must feel like to be non-white.

To be on the receiving end of a racist’s abuse, their seething, barely suppressed anger, hate, vengeance, malice and their need to victimise and control.

I can tell you, it feels bloody terrible. It makes me feel like I’m nothing. Like I’m an object. Like I was entirely at his mercy.  And he knew that and he loved it. I think he even enjoyed my spirited and angry responses, so he could retaliate and bring down his psychological equivalent of a sjambok on my back. He certainly had a few psychological weapons in his armoury.

At the time, I zoned out, I disassociated many of the feelings as a survival mechanism to get through my early teenage years. So now I’ve got to feel them to get closure. It’s not much fun, but I try to pace myself and it has to be done.  And I firmly believe it’s better than prozac, alcohol or otherwise numbing the feelings. Hopefully, I won’t have to feel the whole shebang.

To reprise, Kearney is a man who is provably a violent criminal. Punching a 13 year old boy in the face (see an Old Boy’s recent past testimony) was not an isolated incident.

A man who doesn’t appear to have been a very good chemistry teacher – according to another calm, balanced and insightful recent past testimony.

A man who came from a racist country at the height of its racism, and behaved in a racist and covertly violent manner – as shown in the testimony above.   

And today, the current St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, has a Memorial Chemistry  prize to proudly honour this man’s memory.

Well, maybe not quite so proudly today.

They previously announced the Kearney prize regularly  in their Summer newsletters, but I see the 2019 newsletter no longer makes the award information public.

Whether that’s in response to this blog I can’t say. Certainly the De La Salle Order hurriedly took down their glowing obituary to Brother James as a ‘gentle and timid man’ when various Old Boys, myself included, highlighted his psychotic rages and violent sexual assaults and rapes on schoolboys on this site.

And the Knights of St Columba, Ipswich Province, have removed their list of past Knights (which I have a copy of) from their website. Possibly because I was writing about them as their list of deceased members included paedophile Canon Burrows and  Father Jolly, school chaplain at St Joseph’s,  who was almost certainly a Knight. And a member of a Catholic paedophile ring.  

(Sources: See my past testimonies on Burrows and Jolly. And another Old Boy’s testimony on Jolly and how he tape-recorded school boys  ‘impure sins’  confessed to him in the confessional.  And see my Dark Networks post for an authoritative academic study proving the existence of transgenerational Catholic paedophile rings and how they function. )

So St Joseph’s might choose to ‘update’ their prize list and remove Kearney’s name from the memorial prize on the grounds that he was a racist– even if they don’t care about his criminal violence and other matters still to come. 

If numerous councils, schools, universities and other public bodies can disassociate themselves from racist characters in their pasts, and tear down their statues and remove their names, I really think St Joseph’s should follow suit.  Particularly as the school must be more multi-racial today than in earlier decades.

There are other precedents.  I’m told on good authority that the Joe Homan charity is likely to be renamed so its evil founder – an ex De La Salle Brother who also taught at St Joseph’s College –  is no longer honoured.  (See past testimonies detailing his horrific and violent sexual abuse towards children)  That renaming process is currently a work in progress, but I hope it has a positive outcome.  If so, that’s excellent news and I hope it helps survivors and gives them some closure on Homan’s numerous crimes.

As you can see from the above, Catholic sexual abuse was endemic at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich in the 1960s and it seems to have carried on in a similar vein in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. It was not all clerical  abuse. There are several instances where lay teachers were also abusers.  Hence the validity of a transgenerational organised ring as confirmed by one survivor here as well as myself and backed up by the academic study of ‘Dark Networks’ in  similar Catholic schools and churches in Oz

Today’s St Joseph’s College is very different although they still proudly describe themselves as in ‘The La Sallian Tradition’ . This is an obvious insult to survivors who, as children, were brutalised and raped by De La Salle Brothers. And they still want to honour a racist teacher.

Why they should choose to hold onto these aspects of the past and maintain their  provocative links, I find disturbing because it lacks any obvious motive. It’s easy enough to get rid of the association, to give some plausible ‘modernising’ excuse, so there’s no loss of face, and they can still espouse worthy Catholic values without being connected with a religious order which included numerous violent sexual predators.  Any web search on the De La Salle order will show this beyond any doubt. That way they are rid of people like me reminding them with our testimonies appearing on search engines where parents can read the damning evidence.

The fact that the school haven’t fully cut the connection with their past makes me wonder if there is a hidden motive or some covert pressure on them to maintain their inappropriate links to the College’s past.

I think it’s time they entered the 21st century and did the right thing, don’t you?

6 thoughts on “KEARNEY THE RACIST

  1. Kearney’s interesting approach to teaching chemistry played a big role in my pursuing Chemical Engineering at university. Although he did have a rough style, knowing how to respond did to some degree gain his respect: a genuine interest in the subject and staying aloof to any comments made outside the subject matter.

  2. Thanks, Marcus. That all helps me to make sense of Kearney and why he was the way he was. In my earlier era there was A Stream (upper level – 11 plus passes and scholarship like yourself), B Stream (11 plus failed – like myself) and C Stream (ditto). A, B and C does seem rather divisive – C Stream especially – and it sounds like that may have been modified by your era. It was valuable to know that your scholarship was used to ‘threaten you with compliance’. Because my school fees (and my older brother’s) were paid for by a Knight of St Columba who was ‘close’ to my family – and/or by the Knights as a whole – I came under similar pressure to comply – but the price of my ‘compliance’ was too high and I started resisting strongly which led to funding being withdrawn and my leaving St J’s. At some point in the latter stages of this process Kearney came into the equation with the confidence of a ‘troubleshooter’ who was used to enforcing his will. A prolonged clash and battle of wills followed over a year or two and extended, surprisingly, even after I left St Js. That’s why it’s taking me so long to make sense of it all. He didn’t like to lose and I could not afford for him to win. We are talking serious and dangerous abuse here. In retrospect, there’s a positive side in so far as all fiction writers do need traumatic material to draw on for stories. So I must have featured the Knights and Kearney in at least 8 long running comic serials, thinly disguised as science fiction, and 2 text novels to date. As one fan wrote in to me, ‘It was like watching a documentary on the Catholic church.’ (And Brothers James and Solomon were my basis for developing the comic book and film character Judge Dredd. Although Sylvester Stallone and Karl Urban do not look remotely like them!) I hope Kearney’s oppression of you also had a positive side in so far as you’re pleased with the science choices you made to avoid this truly awful individual. Thanks again for your valuable insights on our school which – if only it hadn’t had so many serious abusers – would have been a fantastic place of learning.

  3. One slight correction – he was Irish but moved to South Africa as a child. I remember him saying how easy it was to learn Afrikaans/Dutch as he could speak German and English and derived the language.

    Also I’d add as one of few non-white pupils at the time (mixed ethnicity) there was certainly very different challenges getting through St Joe’s, especially before the big changes happened in the late 80s. I was also from a poorer family (on an academic scholarship) and that was always used to threaten me into compliance. There was always four forms/year, it was obvious two were considered upper level and two lower; as a scholarship student I defaulted to the upper levels so probably got more protection than some in the lower classes. It was clear there were other things happening and my lack of ability to keep my head down resulted in a strong desire to leave after my GCSEs even through the sixth form was open for me under the same funding.

    I will praise Brother David/David Hennessy for the huge changes he made, however eliminating racism wasn’t highest on the list. One notable change were the replacement of the teachers in the woodwork/TD block. At the time I thought it was about the modernising of the courses, but thinking back there was probably more to it.

    • I think I would agree with the last paragraph. Mr Taylor, the Scottish TD teacher, likeable and funny on the outside but probably very dark and depraved on the inside (he was obsessed with the “boobies” on “Mike Hammer” and kept on going on about them, embarrassing us all) needs some investigation. He was the main reason I dropped TD after the O level mock, not the subject itself since I went on to study engineering at university.

      • Yeah, Mr Taylor was someone who wanted to be total center of attention (no creativity allowed); still he was loud and oppressive without crossing the line, unlike some others. I forget the name of the woodwork teacher but he was also someone who was a nasty piece of work. I didn’t take it as a GCSE subject (same as Chemistry) to control who was teaching me. Still, I’m working as a telecoms engineer myself now.

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