The county home in Tullamore where many pregnant unmarried women were sent
"When there is no light, shine forth. When there is apathy, show caring for another. When there is a famine, be bread to the hungry soul. When there is a drought, be a well spring of hope. Where there is abuse and abandonment, be a voice for justice and the voiceless." (A Prayer for Help)
My heart is broken as I am sure everyone's in Ireland at this present moment and it goes out to the women, young girls and the children and babies who featured in the Mothers and Babies home report which was championed by the amazing heroic Catherine Corless and many survivors and which was launched recently.
They, and so many others like them, unearthed decades of institutionalised abuse by the Church and State, and a largely silent, hypocritical society. No free society, in the full knowledge of what had been done in its name, could but be distressed and, to use a powerful, old word, shamed.
Listening, watching and reading the various news reports and watching the various news programmes and reading part of the report itself outlining what happened to our young babies and children, our young girls and our women in our beautiful country during that horrible evil time makes me wonder, "what life is really all about?" The report estimates that some 56,000 mothers and 57,000 children passed through these mother and baby homes. It adds that a further 25,000 women and thousands more children are also likely to have lived in county homes which were not examined by the commission.
Both the Church and the State now need to sincerely apologise. There is also an onus on them to do whatever is necessary look after the survivors. The church and the state appear to have had a very distorted view of sexuality, particularly in relation to women, one that seemed obsessive and oppressive, which culminated in an exercising of unhealthy power over people’s lives, especially in the most intimate areas of life.
This last week or so the hearts of millions of Irish people in Ireland and around many parts of our world ached with sorrow for lost babies and children who should now be adults and should be with us here today.
Do we learn from our history
While we are looking back at what has happened in the past we must also look at this present time and what we are doing about the present situation where children living in our midst are growing up in hotel rooms, are living in direct provision, in halting sites, in various types of homelessness and poverty, in various types of foster care and in various types of detention care centres.
Regardless of their or their families’ status, these children did not choose to not have control over their circumstances. All children deserve to be raised in an atmosphere where care providers offer emotional protection and support. In addition to a loving family life, children need stimulation, proper nutrition, education, encouragement, instruction, rules and limitations. Moreover, care providers must be able to lead by example through their behaviour, exhibition of values and religious and cultural practices. So please don't let it be the case that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. Please look after our greatest treasure which is our children as this is a crucial time during this dreadful coronavirus for them and for us and for all our children in Ireland and in our world.
If we believe in the goodness of one another and in the true sense of community and care and genuine love for another then we will do whatever we can to help, care, support and love everyone as much as we humanly can for there are a lot of people and especially children in need in our county, our country and our world! I pray now for children in our communities who live without either of their parents: children whose parents have died, children removed from their parents as a result of abuse or neglect, children that have been abandoned or have experienced being unloved and uncared for and children who have run away from home. Let us always guide, guard and protect these our children.
Thought for the week
As your thought for the week please try and always put into action in your daily living the following prayer poem by Sally Meyers which I pray often called ‘To Our Children’ which probably will mean so much to every parent after seeing what happened to little vulnerable babies and children, vulnerable young girls and vulnerable women at the hands of evil people in our country over those decades......
"To Our Children" - ”Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying. Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is. Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park and play. Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together....
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles. Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by. Just for this afternoon, I won’t worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned. Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cakes, and I won’t stand over you trying to fix them. Just for this afternoon, I will take us to Supermac's and buy us both a Supermac's meal so we both can have toys....
Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you. Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry. Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars. Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows. Just for this evening, when I run my fingers through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.....
I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers dealing with their children who have suffered the evil of abuse, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children’s graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can’t handle it anymore.....
And when I kiss you good night, I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day. Amen"
May the gentle little souls of the many babies and children that lost their lives in so-called Mothers and Babies homes during this awful evil and shameful time in our country's history rest in eternal peace. We will never forget you. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anamacha.
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