Friday 19 January 2018

It's time for justice for Mary Dolan too

I WAS amazed to get this correspondence from a lady called Eileen Smith, nee Gregory, now aged 83, and living in England.

She writes 'When I was about 7 years old in 1936 my sister Nancy and myself were admitted to St Mary's Fever Hospital on the Dublin Road, Drogheda. There was an outbreak of Scarlet Fever and about 15 of us children were put into two little adjoining wards. Although there was a nurse we only ever saw her about once a week. So we were looked after by what was called a ward's maid. Our ward's maid was called Mary Dolan and she came from the unmarried mothers home which was nearby.

'She was through my young eyes about in her 20's and she looked after and cared for us children like a mother we all loved her and she in turn loved us.'

But then one day the little bit of paradise these children were enjoying erupted.

An ambulance driver, whom the children knew, came into the ward and just started to lash out at Mary.

'He kicked and punched her unmercifully with every kick and punch he screamed at her why did you do that? The whole room full of children including myself were screaming and crying with terror but not one person came to see what was wrong. Mary was sobbing and screaming and trying to fend off the blows. He then threw Mary onto a bed then stormed out of the ward. Mary just did not deserve this.

'I went over to Mary to comfort and asked her to stop crying. She cried all night long. The next day Mary was covered in bruises had two black eyes and could hardly move. Nothing was ever said about this incident.'

Eileen, as she says, is now 83 (she moved to England in 1955) but to this day thinks about Mary Dolan nearly every day.

'I wonder why this happened and I wonder why nobody ever came to help her or us children.'

The talk and debate about the Magdalene Laundry victims prompted her to get in touch.

'I wondered who would remember or apologise to the Mary Dolans of Ireland.

'The governments and churches may not remember her but I always will.

'Her love and care saved my sister Nancy and me and I want to make this tribute to her and for all that she suffered.'

Well, Eileen, take it that nearly 80 years later the story of Mary Dolan has at last been told and indeed if anyone out there knows what happened to her we'd love to let Eileen know.

Drogheda Independent

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