The Ireland That We Dreamed Of



Yesterday’s Irish Mail On Sunday

He lived in the shadow of the Long Fellow.

But was he Mr Big?

Sibling of Daedalus writes:

Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday published a letter from the late Eamon de Valera, Professor of Gynaecology, University College Dublin showing him to have been involved in the illegal adoption of babies in the 1960s, such adoption having taken place by way of the issue of a birth certificate in the name of the adoptive parents.

The practice of adoption by falsified birth certificates was discussed by Mike Milotte’ in his book ‘Banished Babies‘, (New Island) in which he records the garda investigation and subsequent prosecution,in 1965, of Mary Keating, proprietress of St Rita’s Nursing Home Donnybrook, Dublin 4 for falsely registering the birth of a baby in her care.

According to Milotte, the original focus of the investigation was not just Mrs Keating, but her kingpin:

“[The Gardai] had their sights on a man whom they believed to be behind a major baby selling racket that had gone on undetected for a number of years, and that had involved the illegal dispatch of many babies to America. The man, who had a public profile, was never charged with any offence, although it was always suspected that it was he, and not Mrs Keating, who was the principal beneficiary of the scam.

Several senior police officers were involved in the investigation, but when the file was eventually sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions he decided to prosecute only Mrs Keating for her role in forging the official birth register. When her trial took place before Justice Farrell in the Dublin District Court in January 1965… the prosecution offered no evidence of financial dealings, and there wasn’t a hint in court of the bigger picture or of the man who was behind the racket…. Mrs Keating pleaded guilty and the proceedings ended quickly… Despite the acknowledged gravity of the offence, she was put on probation… A Mrs Keating kept her licence and remained profitably in business until she retired more than a decade later… and ‘Mr Big’ lived a long, respectable and prosperous life.”

Mrs Keating was clearly well-connected. Declan Costello, future Attorney-General, appeared for her her trial, and Karl Mullen, gynaecologist, rugby star and grandfather of Cian and Pippa O’Connor, gave evidence of her good character.

Although many children of unmarried mothers were adopted in the 1960s, with and without the help of gynaecologists, St Rita’s adoptions were unique, or almost unique, in offering the adoptive parents a birth certificate in their own names.

Was the child the subject of the Irish Mail on Sunday article born at St Rita’s? And, if so, what was Professor de Valera’s association with this institution?

Milotte also reports an anecdotal statement by Charles Haughey that ‘half the children born at St Rita’s were fathered by members of the Dail’, stating :

“It might explain why the identities of so many of Mrs Keating’s ‘girls’ were obliterated through the issuing of false birth certificates, why she was so keen to dispatch their children to America, and why she was so willing to plead guilty to a very grave offence, protecting the man who was masterminding the whole business in the process.”


Read Sibling of Daedalus’ and newly-updated Irish history blog here.

(Mail on Sunday)

Sponsored Link

27 thoughts on “The Ireland That We Dreamed Of

  1. W_Thomas

    Sorry for being really stupid here but….

    Is Broadsheet saying that DeValera Jr is the ‘Mr Big’…

    ….or is the Mail on Sunday saying it?

    Could anyone clarify that….?

  2. SDaedalus

    Just setting the context against which Mr de Valera’s letter should be viewed.

    Illegal adoption in Ireland was a nefarious business.

    I see at least two potential candidates for Mr Big, I am sure there were more.

  3. Quisling

    Am I right in thinking that this issue was skirted round in one of Banville / Benjamin Black’s novels (adapted by RTE into Quirke)? Christine Falls, if memory serves. It was alleged that the powers behind such trafficking were high ones indeed.

    1. Joxer

      yep thats correct. i read it sometime ago and thought it was very close to the bone i.e. Medical chap up to his elbows in the whole sordid affair….

      1. The People's Hero

        Quirke’s brother was behind it – with support from their father…. (Michael Gambon)… anyway, I wonder what the long fellow knew?

        1. Anti-Frilly Keane

          He can’t have bin’far off it

          Seeing as he was a Yank with strong Catholic connections himself

  4. Mr. T.

    The DPP is the establishments method of making sure only ordinary unconnected people are prosecuted for serious crimes such as fraud, abuse and other non lethal offenses. Murder is hard to fob off but they would try.

    Ireland is a small little principality of connected people. If you keep voting for FFFG, that will never change.

    1. The People's Hero

      Nah…. They’re just the getaway driver…. The bag-men…. They’re not the brains of the operation……

  5. Dubloony

    Dev jnr was a doctor, a gynecologist.
    This would have been in pre-contraceptive Ireland, not unusual to have 10+ kids and no means to support them.
    Lot of kids ended up farmed out to relatives or in institutions because of poverty.
    Lot of hypocrisy still coming out from that era.

  6. postmanpat

    It’s like the plot from series 3 of Sons of Anarchy. I thought that was far fetched at the time. I guess it wasn’t.

  7. Just sayin'

    Considering how the de Valera family enriched themselves through the Irish Press Group by by-passing ordinary shareholder, this must’ve been small change for that family. Dev would’ve been President through this period 1959-73) and his family pretty untouchable.

  8. Louis Lefronde

    …and there are some people who still believe the reason Dev Snr wasn’t shot in 1916 was because he was an American citizen?

    1. Continuity Jay-Z

      Dev’s family were heavily connected to The Rollin’ 60 Crips and that is why he wasn’t shot.

  9. Truth in the News

    This needs a full Investigation and a frank and full disclosure
    of everything to do with this practice irrespective of who was
    involved…..indeed there needs to be a complete trawl in the
    records of the GRO ( General Registration Office) and the
    records County Local Boards of Public Health as they were then.
    In effect who at the highest level sanctioned this practice and
    did they profit from it:

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link