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Missed birthdays and weddings, feelings of guilt and shame: The reality for Mother and Baby Home survivors

One Kilkenny woman is still searching for her daughter 20 years after her experience in Bessborough

A Kilkenny woman says not a week goes by where she doesn’t think of what the Mother and Baby Homes scandal has stolen from her.

Maggie Corbett was 19 years old when she fell pregnant and was sent to Bessborough in Cork, where she had two daughters who were taken from her.

She has since found one of them, her girl named Martina, but she is still tracing her second child.

Maggie says she’s missed so much of her children’s lives because of Bessborough;

“I think of their birthdays, their communions, their confirmations” she told KCLR News. “I missed my grandchildren being born, and even when they got married. I’ve lost out on all that, as a mother.”

Another survivor named Helen, who was also sent to Bessborough, contacted KCLR Live today.

She believes the scandal was kept under wraps for so long due to a culture of shame.

The Kilkenny woman says unmarried mothers couldn’t tell their neighbours what had happened for fear of judgement;

“For years and years, most of my life, I was very ashamed to admit I’d had a baby and I was an unmarried mother. You were made feel dirty, ashamed of yourself, you were a disgrace. What would the neighbours think? You couldn’t let them know what was going on. It was just the way life was in Ireland at the time.”