A DUNDALK-BORN granny got the best New Year's gift ever when she was reunited with the grandchildren she hadn't seen in over 15 years.
Rose Mattuchio (née Duffy) from Fr Murray Park, who lives in Boston, had given up hope on ever seeing her grandchildren again after they had been taken into care by social workers when she came home for a family wedding in 1995.
But thanks to Facebook and, she believes, prayers from Dundalk friends, the family got together on New Year's Day.
Rose, her husband Francis and their daughter Lorraine had an emotional reunion with Allan, Tyler and Hayley.
'It was unbelievable, the emotions,' Rose told The Argus this week. 'After the restaurant I invited them back to the house. They said it was like they never left, everything was like it was, their toys, tricycles, pictures and the flannel sheets they loved and and all their clothes.' IT WAS the best New Year's gift ever for Dundalk born grandmother Rose Mattuchio who was reunited with the grandchildren she hadn't seen in over fifteen years.
'It was a wonderful gift and we had our own Gathering for 2013,' says Boston resident Rose, who believes that prayers offered by Dundalk friends helped to bring about the emotional family reunion.
Rose, who is originally from Fr Murray Park, last saw her grandsons, when they were just five and six years old and had given up all hope of ever seeing them again.
She had been caring for her daughter Lorraine's young sons Allan and Tyler as her daughter had difficulty coping following the birth of their younger sister who was born premature at five months, weighing just one and a half pounds.
'She had issues which drew the attention of the Department of Social Services who were aware that she also had two sons,' says Rose.
It was when Rose came to Ireland in 1995 for a family wedding, leaving her grandsons with husband Francis and daughter, that social workers moved in and took the two boys.
Her grand daughter, who was being cared for by her other grandparents, was also put into a foster home.
Years of heartache followed for Rose as she attempted to get the children back.
'I was in and out of the courts but I was told that I could do nothing because grandparents have no rights,' she recalls.
'Years passed and I spent them wondering what had happened to the boys and praying for them.'
Rose, a regular visitor to Dundalk, first revealed her story when she posed it on the Dundalk Northend and Friend's page on Facebook in the run-up to the recent Referendum on Children's Right as she wanted to highlight what had happened to her family.
Her story was greeted with a wave of sympathy by her many Dundalk friends.
'One lady, Kay O'Connor said she would make a novena to St Anthony and light a candle for me,' says Rose. ' On the sixth week that she was making it, we were reunited with our grandchildren!'
Unbeknownst to Rose, daughter Lorraine had managed to track down her children on Facebook and the reunion took place in a Boston dockside restaurant on New Year's day.
'It was unbelievable, the emotions,' says Rose. 'After the restaurant, I invited them back to our house.
' They said it was like they never left, everything was just like it was, their toys, tricycles, pictures, and the flannel sheets they love and all their clothes.'
Rose says that her grandchildren didn't know about their Irish ancestry and were happy to find out about it.
'Allan, who is 24, told me he loves The Dubliners and his favourite song is ' The Rocky Road to Dublin'.
'He is serving in the U.S. army, stationed in Lousianna and did one tour of duty to Korea.
' Tyler is 22 and lives in the next town Everett and Haley is 20, a day care teacher. She has been accepted to join the U.S. Navy acadamy, starting in April.'
'It's been a wonderful ending. We are all so so happy and we have alot of making up to do. It will be a slow proccess for everyone. It is a dream, a gift for the New Year.'