Showing posts from April, 2017

Hey, Enda - is it really such a long way to Tuam?

I met an extraordinary man last night, only he doesn’t really believe he’s so extraordinary.

In recent months, he has found a voice he never realised he had. Now in his 60s, he has learned how to tell his story and speak out against injustice.

He spent much of his childhood in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, a place which is now notorious all over the world.

It took him an awful long time to learn to love and take care of himself.

It’s not easy to care about yourself when you are told you are inferior to others.

When you walk to school in hobnail boots and you are forced to sit apart from the rest of the class.

When you are beaten for the most minor transgressions, not given enough food, and branded with labels like “home baby” and, worse, “illegitimate”, because your mother committed a terrible crime just by bringing you into the world.

It didn't even matter if your mother was raped, or terrified to reveal the identity of the father. That's just the way it was in those days.

The tireless determination of a modern Irish hero

Sometimes the darkest story has to be brought to light, no matter how sad or distressing that story might be or how uncomfortable it makes people feel afterwards.

When I visited Cambodia almost 15 years ago, I took in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum near the centre of Phnom Penh. This nondescript secondary school, in the middle of the city, was transformed into a grotesque concentration camp in the 1970s and as I walked around it my eyes filled with tears.

My Galway friend and I toured the museum at the same time as a distressed Cambodian couple from a provincial town, who were visiting the capital for the first time.

Overwhelmed by all the photos of the former inmates, virtually all of whom had terror in their eyes, we hugged each other movingly at the exit gates.

We spoke no Khmer, they spoke little English, but our common humanity meant there was no need for words.

Most of the inmates were children and there were hundreds of distressing photos of them, staring at their interrogator…