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Births not registered and forged adoption signatures at mother and baby homes

Survivor tells of being adopted illegally in 1967


The former Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Roscrea. Photo: PA

The former Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Roscrea. Photo: PA

The former Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Roscrea. Photo: PA

Survivors adopted from mother and baby homes have said many of them left without their births being registered and some with the signatures on their adoption papers being forged.

Others only became aware of the fact as adults that they had been the subject of secret vaccine trials while babies in the facilities in Cork and Tipperary.

The revelation came as Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, remained the major focus of revelations about the appalling treatment of young women and their babies.

With Tuam in Galway and Bessborough in Cork, Sean Ross Abbey ranked among the most notorious of Ireland’s mother and baby homes.

Sean Ross Abbey was also at the centre of the story of Philomena Lee whose campaign to trace her son – sent to the US for adoption in the 1950s – was the basis of a BAFTA-winning film.

The Roscrea facility operated between 1931 and 1969 and was run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts and Jesus and Mary.

Records indicated that over those 38 years a total of 6,414 women attended the home from Tipperary and seven surrounding counties, and 6,079 babies were delivered there. One in six babies died.

The Sean Ross Abbey Commemorative Group (SRACG) said they welcomed the Mother and Baby Homes report and the apology by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Emer Quirke said the apology and recognition of what was done to young mothers and babies was decades overdue.

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Ms Quirke said she was illegally adopted from the Tipperary home in 1967 – with her mother’s signature forged on adoption papers.

“I was taken over and baptised in Sean Ross Abbey Church when I was there for about two days.

"When I met my mother five years ago she never knew I was baptised,” she told radio station TippFM.

“When I looked for my mother I found that I had no birth cert – my birth was never registered.

“When I went to the Commission of Investigation I asked my mother to write for her information to the Adoption Authority because she’s entitled to anything she signed.

“I went with her to the Adoption Authority and they showed her the consent form and they said there is exactly where you signed – (but) she said sorry that is not my signature.”

Ms Quirke said the apologies were a starting point to address the hurt caused and to ensure lessons are learned and such things are never allowed to happen again.

She said it was vitally important the country acknowledged what she termed “the striking shame and the stigma” endured by mothers and children who emerged from such facilities.

Ms Quirke said she firmly believed some carried the burden of that shame throughout their entire lives.

She said the young mothers involved had absolutely no voice in what happened or the means to object to the treatment they were subjected to.

Sean Ross Abbey’s sister facility in Cork, Bessborough, is now the focus of demands for hundreds of ‘lost’ infant graves to be located.

Of the more than 900 babies who died at Bessborough or in hospitals having been transferred from the mother and baby home over seven decades, fewer than 70 have known individual burial sites.

Campaigners want a full investigation of what remains of the once 200-acre estate to locate the graves.

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