This week the partial demolition of a historic 19th century stone folly on the grounds of the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Mahon, Cork, sparked outrage. The two-storey stone folly was built around 1880 and was described as “an important surviving landscape feature associated with the gardens of Bessborough House.” However, in recent days, demolition work has taken place on the building reducing it to its lower floor. Cork City Council said they are investigating this.

After hearing Ann O’Gorman who gave birth to two babies at Bessborough Mother and Baby home on the Neil Prendeville show Marion Kelly came forward to share her story.

Marion was 17 when she became pregnant. She was 20 weeks pregnant before she told a teacher who brought her to a nun who was a friend of the family. She lived in a public house in Cork and was kept hidden away at home for the rest of her pregnancy. No one was to be told she was pregnant. She only left the house once a month for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Marion’s doctor decided to induce her a month early as there was a relation travelling from England. She was taken to St Finbarr’s hospital.  After a ‘horrendous’ labour and birth Marion was taken by ambulance to Bessborough with her baby boy. On arrival a nun put out her arms, she thought to help her out. Instead she took her son from her. Marion did not see her son again, he was adopted and Marion’s family a few days later ‘bought her out’ of Bessborough.

Marion has no recollection of signing the initial papers authorising the adoption of her son, who she names Anthony. She went on to meet her son after tracking him down many years later. The experience had a detrimental effect on Marion and she became an alcoholic.


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