I was the youngest of five children who grew up in a loving but strict Catholic household in Ireland. Like most Catholics, my parents were firm believers in the value of corporal punishment. My mother was usually responsible for our discipline, which usually meant a well-smacked bottom from the maternal hand.
Sometimes an old leather slipper was also used, which our mother told us had often been applied to her own bottom. For serious misdemeanours, our father took us into our parents’ bedroom, where a leather belt was kept in the top drawer. ‘Getting the belt’ was a painful experience, although thankfully rare.
However, my three sisters, one brother and I were high-spirited children and it was seldom that a week went by without one of us being smacked hard.
Spankings were always administered in private, unless two or more of us were being punished for the same crime. In that case, we stood facing the wall while the others were put through their paces. If we just getting a hand spanking, my mother would say ‘come here and take your pants down’. It was unwise to argue, as it would only earn an even sorer bottom.
I well remember the sickening feeling of undoing my belt, pulling my trousers and underwear down to my knees, then settling myself over my mother’s lap. If you were going to get the slipper, you would be sent to fetch it yourself.
My mother had had plenty of experience of smacking young bottoms and she wasted no time in turning them bright pink. The first smack would always make me try and cover my bottom with my hands but she knew to expect this and was ready to grab both wrists in one hand while smacking the buttocks with the other.
During a spanking, the smacks and cries would be audible throughout the whole house and you could even tell whether it was a hand, slipper or leather belt that was being applied from the different noises they made.
I remember in particular the time when I was 11 and myself and my 13-year-old brother were caught stealing from a local newsagents. My father was away at the time – but my mother was equal to the task.
After an hour’s wait in our bedroom, my mother called for my brother. I heard the door to my parent’s bedroom open and close, the top drawer open and close, then a short silence before the crack of leather on bare buttocks echoed through the house. A few more followed before my brother started pleading for my mother to stop, but they went on for some time before they finally stopped.
By this time I was sick with fear but when my name was called, I obediently went to the door, passing my sobbing brother on the way. Closing the door behind me, I didn’t need to be told to undo my trousers and pull them down, together with my underpants. Then I lay down across my mother’s lap, and waited for the first smack.
The whipping which followed was the hardest I ever got, though I was across my father’s lap at least six more times before my last belting at the age of 14.