Mary O'Rourke - Abstracts
(Name has been changed)

Mary spent a number of months in the Good Shepherd Convent in the early 1990s while she was pregnant with her son Jack. Here she shares her story and her memories of her time here.

We were all around the same ages - seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and twenty. I was eighteen at the time and there were two girls around fourteen. … My parents knew I was here obviously but some of their parents didn't know they were here. Some of them let on they were living and working in England at the time and the only reason they came here was to put their babies up for adoption.

It was very upsetting. Not that it was sad memories but at the time my boyfriend passed away. He died suddenly of an asthma attack. He brought me in here the morning that I was being brought in here to stay with my bags. It was a Monday morning when he dropped me off and I didn't see him anymore that day until he rang me that night and of course I was really upset on the phone and he wanted to come in. I said 'you can't the gates are locked at eight o'clock - we can't go out.' But the day Paul gave me the tour I saw the mark on the wall where the telephone used to be. It brought back memories as that was the last time I spoke to John, that night on the phone, it was that very night he died.

Basically we just rented a place. We paid twenty pounds a week. It was like a rented accommodation to us. You know you just stayed in your quarters. You didn't go roaming around. You'd be afraid to anyway in case the nuns would come out. There was one cross nun. I remember the girls were just sitting out in the courtyard one day. It was a real sunny day. You know that courtyard out there. They went out there just sitting out in the sun and the nun came out and told them to get back in. They shouldn't have been out there.

Everybody had to be up at eight o'clock no matter what you were doing and your chores were laid out. The roster was made up for the whole week and it would be put up in the kitchen and your names beside each chore you had for the week. You might have to wash floors, wash the stairs, clean out the bedrooms, hoover, different things. Everybody had a different chore every day. And then basically when the chores were done, people just hung around in the sitting room, watch telly, hang out in the kitchen, drink tea, chat, just normal things.

It took my father years to start talking to me again. Years. He used to talk away to the baby and even when he got older but he wouldn't talk to me at all. It was very hard. Very very hard. So I lived at home with my parents until Jack was seven. I moved out when I got married. My father came around I'd say maybe when Jack started school. He came around but you know it will never be the same. It's always there you know what I mean, what I did, and the shame I brought on the family.

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