Introduction to Carmel and Christine

In 1999 Christine Buckley and Carmel McDonnell-Byrne, two survivors of Irish residential industrial schools, founded the Aislinn Education and Support Centre to help to support their fellow survivors to move on in their lives.  

Following Christine’s death in 2014, it was decided to honour her hard work for survivors by changing the Aislinn name to that of "Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support" Charity limited by guarantee (CLG). 

From their own experience the two women recognised that telling their stories and their educational experiences had been the key to they themselves coping with the trauma from which they had continued to suffer. So they wanted other survivors who contacted them to also benefit from their experience.    

The two women secured the support of the Government to provide a centre based on a self-help concept where survivors could benefit from a safe and secure place where they could feel they were among people who had similar experiences and who would not judge them differently. 

They devoted much of their voluntary time to the centre, supporting those who had been through similar experiences to their own and they campaigned tirelessly on behalf of survivors of abuse. Both Christine and Carmel had both spent a number of years, although not contemporaneously, in St.Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge, Inchicore, Dublin. Other members of their families also spent time in industrial schools.

Carmel McDonnell Byrne - Volunteer Chairperson of Charity

Since Christine’s death in 2014, Carmel McDonnell-Byrne has continued to work as a volunteer unpaid chairperson of the charity. Carmel was honoured for her dedication at the Better Together Awards where she received the National Charity Hero Award in 2015 and also at the Volunteering Ireland Awards she won an award for her generous community, campaigning and awareness-raising work. 

Despite family and other commitments, she has more than 21 years volunteered much of her time to help survivors of abuse.

Carmel has lobbied on the rights of survivors and she has individually worked with survivors to help them apply for redress. In this regard she has acted as a representative for all survivors highlighting the obstacles involved in accessing support services. Because of ill health she can no longer devote herself full time to survivors but nevertheless she continues to do trojan work as chairperson of the centre.

Two of Carmel’s sisters were in Goldenbridge and three of her brothers were in other industrial schools. 

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