Catriona Crowe joined us with her monthly document from the National Archives. This month she discussed court records relating to the committal of a woman convicted of infanticide to a Magdalen institution in 1950.
Statement by Mary R - 7 December 1949
In about the third week of March 1949, my friends stopped and I knew in June 1949 that I was going to have a baby.
My aunt Bridget sent me to the doctor and he told me I was going to have a baby.
I remember Wednesday morning, the 30th of December 1949. I was in the house here alone except for my Aunt Bridget who was in bed upstairs.
I took up my aunt’s breakfast to her at about 9am and I took my own breakfast downstairs. After having my breakfast at about 9.30am, I started to get pains in my stomach. The pain was not too bad at first but got worse and I cried with the pain.
I went up to the top floor and lay in the bed. There were no bedclothes on the bed except the mattress. I lay on the mattress for about an hour and a half. I was getting very bad pains all the time. I got up from the bed as I thought I wanted to do my water. I sat on the pot and the baby was born. I took it up as it had cried twice. I put my hand to its neck and squeezed a little on its neck to stop the crying.
I was afraid the people in the street would hear the crying. I held my hand with my fingers holdings its throat until it got quiet. I then put the baby back in the bed. I put its legs and back into the pot and the head hung over the pot with the face downwards. I knew it was dead.
The doctor came at about 3pm and he was the first person to see it.
Between 1.30 and 2pm, I came downstairs and got the dinner ready. I gave my aunt dinner and had some myself.
I got up at about 8.30am the next morning. My mother came in at about 2.30pm. I got tea for her and she went to leave the house at about 3pm. I asked her where she was going and she said “I am going the priest”. I told her to go to the doctor first.
She left and when she came back I told her that I had the baby upstairs and it was dead.
The priest came to the house to see my aunt at about 3pm and met him on the stairs. He saw I was weak and asked me what was the matter with me. I told him I was after having the baby and that it was upstairs in the pot. He came upstairs with me and I showed him the baby in the chamber pot at about 4pm.
The doctor and the sergeant took the baby away.
I have heard this statement read to me and it is correct. I do not wish to make any additions or alterations to it.
The documents discussed on the programme are 1. Trial Record Book, Central Criminal Court, 1946 -52, Co. Wexford, and 2. Central Criminal Court file no. 1, 1950, Co. Wexford. In keeping with current practice, the participants have been anonymised in these transcripts. The originals e available to view in the National Archives.