Radio review: Heartrending stories of the lost children of Marianvale

Nuala McCann

File on Four The Lost Children of Marianvale Radio 4

Words and Music Radio 3

Is it time for an all-Ireland inquiry into what happened in mother and baby homes, north and south of the border?

Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International believes there should be one.

He was interviewed for File on Four. This episode was close to home and close to the bone.

It featured interviews with adopted children whose mothers gave birth at the Good Shepherd mother and baby home, Marianvale, Newry, which operated from the 1950s to the early 1980s.

Karen Trimnell was born there. She was then moved to the south of Ireland, then on to America.

She has three birth certificates – the one from the Republic of Ireland contains false details and is completely illegal – nobody knows who gave that information.

Karen found loving parents in America – they had been too old to adopt there. But their age and health had an impact on her life. They became ill when she was very young and by the time she was 16, they had both died.

There were heartrending tales including that of one woman who was traumatised by the loss of her child and who could never ever forget. She swore that she had never willingly given him up, that he had been stolen.

Lawyers for the Good Shepherd sisters maintain this was not the case.

Looking back it is hard to recognise that other Ireland – so far have we come since then.

Shame, stigma, concealed pregnancies – it was not so very long ago.

Now, File on Four reports, some of the children born at Marianvale are in a race against time to find their birth mothers before they pass away.

The Good Shepherd sisters utterly reject any suggestion that illegal adoptions were conducted and point out that some women did take their babies home.

Words and music is a lazy Sunday afternoon kind of pleasure that is true heart's ease.

This week it was the mystery of the number seven, from days of the week, to seven colours in the rainbow... right on down to the seven deadly sins via veils, brides, brothers and dwarves.

For a bank holiday weekend, it was true soul food.

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