Monthly Archives: June 2014

Cherish the children?: Ireland’s shame

Sean Ross Abbey

Sean Ross Abbey (Irish Times photo)

Nuala O'Faolain

Nuala O’Faolain’s column (Irish Times, March 1996)

Obviously everyone is appalled by the story of 800 babies “buried” in a cistern connected to the Bon Socours home for unmarried mothers in Galway revealed in the recent news reports – in the Irish Times and and elsewhere.

I’ll spare you any guff as regards the aspiration so commendably expressed in the 1916 Proclamation – to “cherish the children of the nation equally” – but I’d like my family and friends to know, or perhaps simply recall, that Nuala O’Faolain once related in The Irish Times how our randmother Sybil personally intervened to help a mother and child caught up in the system and supplied a family gown for the christening and some funds regularly after. Do bear in mind that we have all used that very christening gown at our own “coming-out” moments at one denominational font or another down the the latest generation. 

Here’s an extract from the relevant column, dated March 1996. I should put it on record here that I have to thank my mother’s album  to thank for this – a scrapbook which I scanned a few years back, along with her family albums. And no one was more surprised than she when this account of her own mother’s undisclosed kindness was made known by Nuala – herself a great battler against institutional shame in Ireland.
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