Derek McInerney - Abstracts

Derek's grandaunt Julia spent most of her life - from her mid-teens until her death in 1989 in the Good Shepherd Asylum. Here Derek shares his memories of his grandaunt Julia, her visits home and his visits to her in the Good Shepherds.

My great grandfather of the time would have entered her or signed her into the Good Shepherd Convent. Now she was mute - She was profoundly deaf and dumb and I think she was about 16 when it was decided that she would be better off placed there and there she remained until the day she died in 1989…I vaguely remember my mother telling me that she had been down on the docks area of Limerick and there was some issue with a soldier or something and the father decided at that stage that it was time to get her out of harms way really I suppose... I know she was well into her 70s when she died and she died in '89.

She used to stay in our house sometimes but you'd only see her maybe twice a year. We'd go and visit. You'd have to write in or get permission beforehand and my mother would bring us down and the nun would be on the hatch at the Clare St. side and they'd have her in a room in the side and you could go in and see her. And there was herself and about 3 other ladies, Cora, Eithne and Vera and they were obviously the group she hung around with. They were all incarcerated together. At the time we thought this was a great day out that this was a great place and the nuns would look at you scornfully. My brother and myself made our communion together and I remember we went there and she had jelly and ice cream organised for us. My mother was saying that when my grandmother would visit she would give her money and Julia would drop it and the nuns would take it off them if they got it. They really had a tough life in that regard. They couldn't have anything. My grandmother would give her what she could. They had a very isolated life from what I recall.

I know my grandmother and mother were aware of some of the incidents and stuff that were there. I remember one time she had a particular injury in her leg that was to do with hot water. I heard a rumour at home that one of the nuns had dropped it on her but I don't know how true that is. But I do know that there was always a sense of fear when one of the nuns came into the room.

I've always felt, even in our own family, its never been concluded. You know that was it. We've never talked about it. You'd hear stories but it has never been acknowledged at all which is kind of scary.

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