Friday 19 January 2018

'I have nobody' – Irish mother raised in convent breaks down over the search for her family

Ms O'Rourke grew up at the Mercy Convent in Newtown-Forbes Photo: Longford Tourism
Ms O'Rourke grew up at the Mercy Convent in Newtown-Forbes Photo: Longford Tourism
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A mother-of-three who was raised in a convent in Longford has spoken out about her struggle to find her family.

Ann O’Rourke (66), who now resides on the Navan Road in Dublin, has been unable to obtain a birth certificate for years and has no record of her parents.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline today, Ms O’Rourke broke down in tears as she explained how she has been unable to find out anything about her mother and father.

“I can’t find my birth cert. When you go into the hospitals they are asking if this is condition and that condition is in the family and I just don’t know,” she said.

Ms O’Rourke, who has no idea where she was born, lived in the Mercy Convent in Newtown-Forbes until she was 17.

She then moved to a convent on Baggot Street for two years until she got a job minding six children for an Italian family.

“I was cleaning one day and I asked the nun could I see my mother, and she said to me, ‘All you can do is pray for her’ – they wouldn’t tell me if she was alive or dead,” Ms O’Rourke said while sobbing.

Without her birth cert, Ann said she never knew when her birthday was.

“I was celebrating three birthdays – June 6 1950, September 2 1950 and November 22 1950.”

Ann married but is now separated from her husband. She has been in and out of hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown.

Aside from her children, she said she feels “so alone”.

Due to the fact she doesn’t have a birth certificate, she said she can’t apply for a bus pass or a pension pass.

“I have no relations whatsoever. I have nobody. I just don’t know. I’m at my wits end.”

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