Not everyone in Ireland bent the knee to the prevailing culture of punishing the children of the poor and their Mums. There were some who reached out to protect children. An Irish Traveller family sheltered and fed me after I absconded from one Institution. I received more food from them in the short few hours I was with them than I’d received from the nuns for a whole week – and the Travellers food was fresh and plenty of it.

Then there was the family in Dublin who took me in for a magical Christmas (late 50s/Early 60s) – even though they’d just become parents themselves, they’d actually opened their home to a child from the Institutions!

That was some Christmas – it even snowed! I’ve tried to recreate that Christmas for our own children every Christmas. Nothing fancy. Good Food, warmth, a few presents, sing-songs, games and importantly: A Sense of Belonging. Could never recreate the snow though!

And a family in Wexford who took me in for a Glorious Summer in 1960. There were trips on trains to the seaside, sandcastles, buns, lemonade, a visit to the cinema, good food – especially tomatoes! And A Sense of Belonging. And after I was returned to the Institution the family and friends I made in Wexford collected comics and sent them to me in the Institution.

All Memories to Cherish and I Do Cherish them.

If any full history of Ireland’s treatment of children in Institution is ever written these good people should have a place of honour in it. They brought Warmth and Love and a Sense of Belonging.

Originally posted on 140 characters is usually enough:

“You’re a Guard there? Oh, I know that town well. My mother is buried in a pauper’s grave there.”

My friend was in Clare, around the turn of the millennium, to bury his brother. The woman, in her fifties, told him her story at the graveside.

On a grey day in the late 1950s, a young woman crossing the bridge in a Cork town, dropped dead, as the phrase went, leaving behind her a husband and four small children in dire poverty in a neighbouring village. The family was broken up by the State and the children were taken into “care”, scattered to different institutional “homes”.

Not yet ten, one of the daughters was sent to the nuns in Limerick. From there she was farmed out as a cleaner, washing floors and laundry for priests. Eventually she was sent to work along the Shannon estuary, cleaning the chalets once used by pilots of the flying boats; chalets the nuns had taken over. Years of mistreatment took their toll and one day, at the age of…

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The Irish religious orders humiliations on little children and their Mums in the Institutions, is a long and sordid history. It has gone on since the birth of the nation. Their presumed moral authority has been a solid foundation for these kinds of abuses. And these Religious Orders thought they had the right to commit these abuses against the children. Because they were poor and their parent(s) had little education, some people in the government of this coutry – and that includes the Catholic Church – have justified the most heinous acts against children.

Look at how nonchalantly the TDs in parliament took the incident of the boy who had his arm broken when he was savagely beaten by the Christian Brothers in Artane. And at least one boy had already been beaten to death in that Institution before!

Being tied by vows to a religious order like the christian brothers or the sisters of mercy does something to people. It can intoxicate them, poison their spirits, their resolve; it can mutate their values, their life-long innocence even, it can make probably rather passive and fun-loving people into beasts.  Abusing poor children to build a christian brother/sisters of mercy empire, does this even worse. Is anyone surprised?  

We need a true reckoning, a true accounting. These acts committed against children and families will always be part of Ireland’s historical legacy. Any history of this “Island of Saints and Scholars” that excludes the appalling abuses committed by the religious orders against children will be a history of lies.


Nothing like a bit of ‘property development’ to hide the scars of the past. Actually its more to do with refusing to confront that shameful past in the way the Church & State criminalised some women and children – notably most from the poorer sections of society.

Originally posted on 1000 places You don't want to be as a teenager:

Sean Ross Abbey was one of the places where teenage girls would be sent if they became pregnant outside marriage. It was considered a social scandal for a girl if that did happen and such girls were often locked up in a convent like Sean Ross Abbey until the child were delivered. Later the child often was sent to the United States for adoption and the mother would be released if she was lucky to live the rest of her life with the secret shame.

Some babies and young mothers didn’t make it. They ended up at the Angels Plot which people connected to church are working to destroy and replace with houses to hide the past.

It could not have been fun to have been sent there as a pregnant teenage girl.


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800 Dead Babies

Mass septic tank grave ‘containing the skeletons of 800 babies’

Originally posted on Poethead:


Grant me the right of way
over the cornstair to your sleep,
right of way
over the path of sleep,
the right to cut turf
on the shelf of the heart,
come morning.

by Paul Celan

Irish is by Paul Celan from Fathomsuns and Benighted, trans Ian Fairley. Carcanet Books, 2001.

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Monday morning at 5 o'clock

… as the day begins


Well-written review, Best review of the Stone at Glastonbury 2013 that I’ve read.

Originally posted on reflectionsonawastedlife:

It was claimed that The Rolling Stones had never before been asked to perform at Glastonbury. Whether this was down to oversight, error or whatever, the wait was certainly worthwhile. Whether they would have been better in the 70’s 80’s90’s is another matter. Every decade has held it’s own internal crisis within the band. Even the current 50th anniversary tour has been hit by controversy, not the ticket price of their forthcoming London dates (are they really worth £300?), but the refusal of founder member Bill Wyman to join them in the celebratory world tour. It would have been nice had Wyman stayed that extra day after his Rhythm Kings performance on the acoustic stage to join his ageing colleagues on the boards of the Pyramid stage. With the guest appearance of Mick Taylor, the only other person missing was Brian Jones, the anniversary of who’s death was only days…

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