Documentary into church cruelty wins radio award
A powerful documentary about an unmarried mother who died in childbirth after being turned away from two Kerry hospitals in 1946 because she was single, has won a prestigious award.
The RTE radio production also detailed the tragic life of her daughter, born 72 years ago, who ended up locked away in Magdalene laundries for almost all her adult life on the instructions of a priest.
The award comes in the same week as Kerry County Council and the Mayor of Kerry issued a formal apology to both Peggy McCarthy and her daughter Breda as a result of the shocking facts disclosed in the programme In Shame, Love, In Shame.
The harrowing tale of how the Catholic Church destroyed the McCarthys' lives has won the International Radio Award at the 65th Premios Ondas Awards, the Spanish equivalent of the BAFTAS.
Conor Keane, who produced the winning documentary along with Liam O'Brien, said it was a story of heartbreak for three generations of the family.
"It shows that no story is too old or too local to be told to a global audience," he said.
The Premios Ondas jury cited that "they set great store by the strength of a story which tells of major injustices suffered by the same Irish family over three generations at the hands of the church in a small community in the south west of Ireland".
The documentary tells how a gravely ill Peggy was refused medical help twice by nuns in charge at council-run hospitals in Listowel and Tralee during her agonising last hours on the night of February 10, 1946 simply because of her marital status.
The nuns sent her to Killarney because council regulations stipulated that mothers whose babies were conceived out of wedlock were not allowed into the wards of the two smaller hospitals to mix with married mothers.
The local parish priest, Canon Patrick Brennan, then refused her remains into the church, prompting furious local men to force the gates.
Breda, who was born with an intellectual disability possibly caused by her mother's protracted labour, was placed in a Magdalene Laundry by a priest at the age of 18.