Danny Ellis (2012) The Boy at the Gate.
Posted by celticman on Sat, 25 Jan 2014
The Boy at the Gate is Danny Ellis aged eight. He’s waiting for his Ma at one of the three gates leading into and out of Artane Industrial School. It’s run by the Christian Brothers and has five dormitories with 175 bed, a cinema and a 325-foot long hall, a concert hall, various rooms, kitchens, administrative block. When Ellis talks about the Christian Brothers ‘caring’ for children he marks out the word care by quotation marks. ‘Christian’ and ‘Brothers’ should follow that pattern.He describes many of them as psychopathic (and paedophiliac) that delight in the torture of small children. The children exist in this factory of locked up fear, but they have camaraderie and a common enemy in the Brothers and authority in general. It’s no great surprise that Artane boys became Atrane men that were more likely than most to fall off the end of the world. But this is to jump ahead. Danny had a life before Artane. His two twin brothers had disappeared when they were tots and his two younger sisters were also being ‘cared’ for by the nuns, but his Ma had turned up trailing cow turd from the fields into the administration office and stinking of Guinness, but she’d promised she’d come to get him at Christmas. Brother Columbus, who is portrayed as a good and saintly man, tried to convince him that his Ma wasn’t going to turn up and take him back to that old life, but Danny is a boy and like any other boy he needs his dreams. He hears the stars sing to each other in the sky and falls in love with music. He finds his mojo, his vocation and home in the spell that the voices and instruments of man might cast. In the Artane Boys’ Band and he finds a place to be himself. The boys are dressed in ill-fitting studded boots, shorts, jacket and jumpers made by other boys in the school, but the innocence of that time, the end of the 1950s, is not in the music or the clothes. Think about this. A lump of lad, fourteen, fifteen, going on sixteen that are battered every day and batter each other are discussing sex. Danny's been there for almost eight years and they’re as baffled as four-year-old picking up a vibrator. One of them suggests that sex is like a lock and key and that for a woman to have twins you need to turn the lock twice. These were innocent times filled with sad, bad, mad and depraved adults. In the final trick of life Danny when he’s leaving Artane finds out that the two twin lads he’d been tutoring in the band are his half-brothers from that time of hope long ago. He seeks them out to tell them.
'Their eyes hold no question, no surprise, not even vague curiosity; it’s as if Artane had stripped them of every shred of emotion, leaving nothing but distrust and cold distance that none of us cares to cross.'
This is the legacy of places like Artane. We have these prisons here and as our society become more selfish and introverted they grow bigger.