Woman who lived in Cork county home says a State apology is meaningless to her 

Woman who lived in Cork county home says a State apology is meaningless to her 

Mary Collins was two-years-old when she was taken, with her mother Angela, from a halting side in Tuam in Galway in 1962, and brought to the County Home in Midleton in Cork.

A SURVIVOR of a Cork county home and industrial school says she has suffered from post-traumatic stress and believes a State apology to her and other survivors is meaningless.

Mary Collins was two-years-old when she was taken, with her mother Angela, from a halting side in Tuam in Galway in 1962, and brought to the County Home in Midleton in Cork.

They were later transferred to St Vincent’s Magdalene laundry in Cork city because Angela was an unmarried mother of three children.

Mary was then sent to Rushbrooke Industrial School in Cobh where she remained until she was 18-years-old. She now lives in London and does not feel like Ireland is her home.

She says: “There are a lot of people suffering as a result of those homes. It has affected me badly. I just want to go into my shell and be safe. I just want to hear the truth. So many people ignored us for so many years and they didn’t believe us.”

She adds: “I am very angry but I don’t want to be angry. I have suffered from severe PTSD. I feel like Britain is my country because Ireland gave me nothing.”

Mary is one of a number of people interviewed by the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters). She provided information about her mother’s experience as well as her own. Angela died at the age of 57, in 1988, and is buried in a communal grave in St Finbarr’s cemetery.

The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, is poised to make an apology in the Dáil today following the publication of the report compiled by the Commission of Investigation.

Mary says apologies are meaningless, as she lived a difficult life in the industrial school and lost out on a meaningful relationship with her mother.

She said: “I feel apologies are not meaningful. They mean nothing to me.”

Her mother’s anniversary takes place on January 27 and Mary says she will not be able to travel to Cork to visit the grave because of the pandemic restrictions.

She adds: “It is really hard to go to the mass grave, especially when there is no justice for Angela.”

She says: “From the age of seven, I was taken to see her regularly but I was not allowed to tell the other children in the school where I was going. We never had any time together on our own and I hated my mother at that time. I was only a child and I didn’t even know what a mother was.”

She continued: “I had no relationship with her. We were both institutionalised.”

The Final Report of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters) was published yesterday.

The report showed there were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the mother and baby homes and county homes that it investigated and estimates a further 25,000 unmarried mothers and a larger number of children in the county homes which were not investigated.

It also showed in the region of 9,000 children died in the institutions under investigation — about 15% of all the children who were in the institutions.

The commission was set up after local historian Catherine Corless discovered that 796 infants had been buried in an unmarked mass grave in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, in Tuam, Co Galway.

  • The HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) is available to provide a counselling service for any former residents of Mother and Baby Homes seeking counselling support, from Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 5pm. The number for the service in Cork and Kerry is 1800 234 116
  • Outside of office hours, Connect Counselling provides telephone support. This service is available between 6pm and 10pm each day (7 days a week) on 1800 477 477.
  • For those living in the UK there are a number of organisations that offer support to survivors:
  • ICAP (Immigrant Counselling & Psychotherapy) 0207 272 7906 www.icap.org.uk 
  • The London Irish Centre, 0207 916 2222 www.londonirishcentre.org 
  • Irish Community Services 0208 854 4466 www.irishcommunityservices.org 
  • Leeds Irish Health and Homes 0113 262 5614 www.lihh.org 
  • For those based in the United States the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers can be contacted for support. 

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