Tag Archives: Sister Sarto



From last night’s BBC2 documentary ‘Ireland’s Lost Babies’, Sacred Heart nun, Sister Sarto Harney, [Mother Superior of Bessborough Mother and Child Home] made a reappearance.

Cathy Deasy, who was adopted, had been trying to trace her mother for years and wrote many times to Sister Sarto. Sister Sarto suggested that her mother was dead.

But Cathy discovered her mother was alive and had spent 35 years in an institution after giving birth to her in a mother and baby home.

She confronted Sister Sarto in 2002 and captured the moment on video.


From 1996, in an RTÉ Prime Time documentary Sister Sarto said:

“I think it is the right of every individual to know their background and we help in any way we can to put people in contact with their parent of origin.”


Earlier this year on TV3, Sister Sarto said in relation to Bessborough Mother and Baby Home that no babies were adopted or vaccinated without the mothers’ permission:

“I think it’s sad that it’s come to this. We gave our lives to looking after the girls and we’re certainly not appreciated for doing it.”

Ireland’s Lost Babies is on RTÉ One tonight at 10:15pm.

Previously: Staying In Tonight?

After Philomena

The Art Of Storytelling

Anything Good On BBC News At Ten?

Cross Her Sacred Heart


RTÉ has uploaded the Prime Time report on the export of Irish children in Mother and Baby homes to adoptive parents in America which was first broadcast in 1996.

Sister Sarto of the Sacred Heart Sisters, Bessborough is interviewed in Mike Milotte‘s report.

She had this to say:

“If a girl got pregnant out of wedlock, this was another mouth to feed. It was also the thinking of society that unmarried girls shouldn’t get pregnant and they were rejected by their parents, by society, by the father who was responsible and we were here offering a service.”

“We did the best we could. Where would they go? Would it be better to be reared in an institution in Ireland or to be placed in loving families in the States? Now like all human institutions there were failures but from what we gather from children coming back looking for their origins they seemed to have done very well. The couple made the declaration to say that this child, in some of the States it calls ‘this alien’ would not be a burden on the American State and the couple swear that they will educate the child. There is a strong emphasis on the Catholic ethos and that the child will be sent to a Catholic school, to a Catholic university if it has the ability and there are a number of statements of income.”

In response to the accusation of babies being sold:

“Well it was a serious allegation to be made and we did check it out. We went through all the files. There is no evidence of money being passed. In the letters coming back there are mentions of small donations, “I’m enclosing a small donation for your society or for your organisation”. To my knowledge there was no fees involved and we have checked with anybody who is now, who is still alive and was involved with it.”

“I think it is the right of every individual to know their background and we help in any way we can to put people in contact with their parent of origin.”

Previously: Cross Her Sacred Heart

Watch in full here.