Truth about my lost cousins made me ashamed of Ireland
Discovering the tragic background of my uncle's 'lovely nieces' was a grim reminder of our past
Arriving in London in 1975, I barely knew of the existence of my Uncle Kevin. He was deemed the black sheep of the McEntee family for two reasons: (a) he had allegedly drank into bankruptcy my grandfather's spirit grocery in Cavan town and (b) he had fled to England and married an older Cavan-born woman who had borne two daughters out of wedlock.
The second offence was deemed the greatest. When I discovered the truth about the background and upbringing of these two mystery cousins who didn't officially exist, I was truly ashamed of my native country.
The Ireland these two illegitimate girls were born into in the late 1940s and early 1950s was ugly, nasty, mean, vindictive and spiteful. And it wasn't the scenery that was toxic. It was the people of de Valera's Republic: Catholic but not Christian. With the backdrop of priest and nun abuse, Philomena and the Tuam babies, the story of my cousins - they would prefer not to be named - is a mere side show, a lesser human tragedy. But certainly a grim example of the dark side of lovely Eire.