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'Giving birth and then your child is taken, there's nothing as deep as that loss' - Majella Moynihan

Majella Moynihan joined the Garda to protect the vulnerable - having been abused in an industrial school - but ended up being hounded after getting pregnant. She tells Liadan Hynes about the trauma of having her baby taken from her, her torment at the actions of the force, and rebuilding her life

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Former garda Majella Moynihan near her Co Leitrim home. Photo Brian Farrell

Former garda Majella Moynihan near her Co Leitrim home. Photo Brian Farrell

Brian Farrell

Majella working as a garda in Store Street station

Majella working as a garda in Store Street station

Irish author Sinead Gleeson

Irish author Sinead Gleeson

Campaigner Vicky Phelan.

Campaigner Vicky Phelan.

Anne Enright

Anne Enright

Ruth Fitzmaurice

Ruth Fitzmaurice

Daniella Moyles. Photo: David Conachy

Daniella Moyles. Photo: David Conachy

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Former garda Majella Moynihan near her Co Leitrim home. Photo Brian Farrell

'I loved vulnerable people, because I was that person. I always felt if I got into the Garda Síochána, I wanted to be that person who could touch them, and bring them to their truth. I suppose I wanted someone to do that for me as well. For me, the Garda Síochána was an organisation that had the ability to reach out to the vulnerable."

Majella Moynihan, whose memoir A Guarded Life, written with Aoife Kelleher, was published last week, had always wanted to be in the guards. She wanted, she writes, to protect the forgotten little children. Now, sitting in the peaceful kitchen of the house she is renting, deep in the midlands countryside, she reflects that she was one of those forgotten little children. She was trying to save herself.

The youngest of five daughters, Majella was only 18 months old when her mother died. Their father, unable to cope, placed all five children into St Joseph's Industrial School for Girls in Mallow in 1963. He went on to remarry, but his daughters were not taken back into his home until they finished their Leaving Certs.