Tuesday 17 October 2017

Jim Glennon: State owes debt to the remarkable and brave Philomena

Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton at the graveside at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea.
Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton at the graveside at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea.

Jim Glennon

Anthony Lee was born in somewhat inauspicious circumstances in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, in 1952 to Philomena Lee. Even if he first saw the light of day in Sean Ross Abbey, a 'mother and baby' home run by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, there was nothing entirely extra-ordinary about his birth in the Ireland of that particular time.

What followed for mother and baby over the next 60 years, however, was nothing short of extraordinary and provides a remarkable commentary on the evolution of Irish society in the latter half of the 20th Century and the early part of the 21st.

At the age of three and a half and on receipt by the Sisters of a substantial 'donation', Anthony was forcibly given up for adoption by the Sisters to an American couple, against the wishes of Philomena and without specific advance notice to her.

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