Wednesday 13 December 2017

Family appeals for help to reunite two brothers born in separate mother and baby homes in the 1930s

Jimmy O'Donnell
Jimmy O'Donnell
Theresa Wardley and her dad Frederick O'Donnell.

A family are trying to reunite two brothers born in separate mother and baby homes in Dublin in the 1930s.

Julia O'Donnell, from Eugene Street in the city, gave birth to two sons who have never met.

Mystery surrounds the fate of James 'Jimmy' O'Donnell who was born in the Church of Ireland Bethany Home in Rathgar in June 1935.

Julia gave birth to a second son, Frederick, in St Patrick's Mother and Baby Home two years later.

Now Frederick's daughter, Theresa Wardley, wants to find her uncle Jimmy.

Julia, who was born in October 1914, may have worked as a domestic servant and first became pregnant when she was 19.

Jimmy spent the first three years of his life here until he was moved to Avoca Manor orphanage in Co Wicklow where he stayed until he was 16.

When Frederick was 18 months old, Julia entered the Magdalene Laundry in Cork.


A few days later, her mother took the toddler to Eccles Street before he was fostered in turn by four different families.

He was found begging in the street at the age of eight and spent the next eight years in Artane Industrial School.

Frederick (77) grew up without a family and has no memory of his mother, who died aged 81 in 1996. He only discovered he had a brother very late in life.

Jimmy, who is believed to have emigrated to England in the 1950s, would now be 79.

Frederick also moved to England, where he married and had three daughters. He now lives in Bradford.

Theresa began looking for her dad's relations, and in 2013 learned Julia's grave was among those of other Magdalene women at St Catherine's Cemetery in Killcully, Co Cork.

"My dad put his hand on the headstone and said, 'Hello Mum'. It was so sad. He shed a few tears and it broke my heart," said Theresa.

The family found papers showing Julia had been reunited with Jimmy after 33 years. Now Theresa hopes her dad can meet his long-lost brother.


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