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Fathers disappear, untraceable and unseen, in tragedy spanning decades

Punishment fell on women while men got on with the rest of their lives, writes Nicola Anderson

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No men in sight: Infants and nuns in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork. Photo: News Dog Media

No men in sight: Infants and nuns in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork. Photo: News Dog Media

News Dog Media

No men in sight: Infants and nuns in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork. Photo: News Dog Media

In the harrowing personal stories of how desperate Irish women were forced to enter through the unwelcoming doors of mother and baby homes, their partners in pregnancy are cast as mere bit players.

The men at the heart of this wide-ranging tragedy that spanned decades feature merely as the shadowy instigators of misfortune, before being allowed to disappear into the backdrop, unseen and largely untraceable.

In a deeply conservative Ireland that pre-dated contraception and where parish priests sometimes turned up at dance halls to ensure couples were not dancing too closely, punishment fell on the woman for falling pregnant and for falling to safeguard her chastity.


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