‘How On Earth Did I Come To Be Here?”


Dunboyne Castle Hotel is a hotel and spa in Co Meath but a section of the older part of the hotel used to be Ard Mhuire Mother and Baby Home.

The home was run by the Good Shepherds from 1955 until it closed in 1991 – when it was sold.

On Saturday, RTÉ journalist Brian O’Connell accompanied several mothers, who had lived in the mother and baby home for a time, and who revisited the building at the weekend.

The visit had been organised by Irish First Mothers.

One of the mothers whom Mr O’Connell spoke to was Emer, who would have been one of the last mothers to enter the home, in 1989, when she was in her early 20s and had a baby boy.

She has since met her son.

She now lives in Scotland and returned to Ireland to give evidence to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes the day before she met with Mr O’Connell.

In an item broadcast on the Today with Sean O’Rourke Show earlier this morning, Emer told Mr O’Connell:

“I was one of the older mothers, I was 23/24 when I came here. I go over it and over it and over it and over it in my head and I think: you know, I’m capable of making my own decisions and how on earth did I come to be here?”

“Coming here is like having that feeling of having this dark cloud over you that’s going to take away your baby when it’s born.”

Speaking about meeting her son for the first time since she was in the home, she said:

“He looks like lots of my family. He came into the room and I wanted to put my arms around him but I thought ‘that’s not fair on him, maybe he doesn’t want to, maybe he wants to hit me’. I just  thought why, why have we been kept separate all our lives. I didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t do anything wrong.”

About giving evidence to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, she said:

“[It was] difficult but useful, to be able to actually tell your story. I would like people to understand how difficult it was for women and what they had to go through. I would like to get an apology for what was done to us.”

Previously: ‘They Exclude And Stall While We Die’

31 thoughts on “‘How On Earth Did I Come To Be Here?”

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    Still locking up “fallen” women in Nineteen Eighty Nine? I wonder how much Emer’s son was sold for?

    1. The Real Jane

      It’s shocking that this was happening so recently. I remember 1989! It isn’t the land that time forgot.

      1. manolo

        So it could have been you, unless you have a willy, then you’d be OK. Ireland is nicer to people with willies.

  2. kellma

    Yes, I was shocked at 1989 too! I was 13 then! Mind when I think about it, it’s not so surprising. My parents separated when I was 15 and some of our neighbours actually stopped speaking to my mother….

  3. Nikkeboentje

    Not shocking at all. I remember in 1993 a friend of mine, who was 23 at the time, became pregnant. Her parents had her on a flight to England for an abortion the day after they found out. I remember thinking at the time that it would have caused huge scandal in the town if anyone knew she was pregnant as she was not married.

  4. Anomanomanom

    Firstly iv family members with experience il say of these places so it ridiculously for women of 24 in 1989 to be making it sound like giving up her baby was a forced thing. Anyone who did this around that time should be compared to the poor young women forced into it in the 50-70s. Secondly lovely hotel, I was actually there saturday.

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      Fupp off with your judgement. You don’t know a thing about that woman’s circumstances.

      1. Anomanomanom

        Its nothing to do with circumstances and im Not judging. Im trying to point out giving up Your baby as a grown woman in 1989 is not really the same, actually its just not the same as the young woman forced to do it in the 50s.

        1. Barry the Hatchet

          1) Did she say it was exactly the same as it was in the 50s? No.

          2) You said she is “making it sound like giving up her baby was a forced thing”. She’s not trying to “make it sound” like anything. She’s telling you she was forced to give up her baby.

          1. Nigel

            Apparently you’re wrong about that. There’s a story about it happening right here on Broadsheet. Just at the top of the page. Try not to let it completely shatter your assumptions.

  5. Barry the Hatchet

    Powerful stuff broadsheet, thanks for posting. I hope (with some confidence) that the Commission will produce a meaningful report and not the whitewash job McAleese came up with for the Magdalenes.

  6. Tony

    Ireland is a medieval, self loathing, woman hating, church adoring, racist, unequal kip. I really don’t know why so many immigrants come here, and whats worse our own emigrants are coming home now!! And as for those international surveys that repeatedly show Ireland being a great place to live, me hoop. Great to see countries like Brazil showing us what a true civic society looks like.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “Ireland is a medieval, self loathing, woman hating, church adoring, racist, unequal kip”

      Stand in front of you
      Take the force of the blow

  7. petey

    story: it was only after my father, the last sibling, died, that i found out from a cousin that they were seven, not six: there was one more, the oldest. she had never once been mentioned in my hearing, and i was 42 when my father went. now that the censuses are on line, i see her there. apparently she got pregnant without benefit of marriage. when i was over in june i went to the national library and was given some leads on how to investigate, but the justice for magdalenes website (for one) says they will not discuss individual cases for any reason. i can understand that.

    anyway, the whole thing is appalling, and how often were the guys who knocked up the women called to account? that’s a simple observation maybe but it came home to me when i heard about my aunt. i don’t want to imagine how my family reacted to her.

    1. Turgenev

      Petey, you could always advertise, giving your name and your photo, and saying “I’m looking for my Auntie X, who would be X age now” without any further details… Newspapers, Facebook, Twitter…

      1. petey

        thanks Turgenev. she’d be 117 < : D but the child would be about 96: not impossible still to be with us, as there is longevity in my family. but i don't know where my aunt went – were magdalenes kept close to home? moved far away? moved wherever there was a spot? – or if the child would even have her/our last name. (feels odd, calling "aunt" a person i never met. but she was.)

  8. Truth in the News

    There is a mass of information that remains hidden which has to made available
    to those seeking the facts and the truth, Simon Harris needs to tackle this one
    and set up a special unit and to help those affected to establish facts.

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