Via Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ Radio 1: Fostered as a baby, a mother seeks her true identity - listen to Feeding the Chickens by Brian Daly above...


Phyllis was born in 1936 and spent her first year in an orphanage. Later, she was fostered out to an elderly widow in Crumlin; a Mrs Doran. It was quite common back in those days for widows to foster children, principally for the weekly Government payment. Mrs Doran was in her seventies when she took my mother as a small baby.

Around the age of 12, Phyllis left school to care for Mrs Doran, who was now in her mid-eighties. These days that would be unthinkable, but back then, orphans were second class citizens and expected to be grateful for anything they got.

In post-war Ireland, young working-class women had very few options; emigrate, find poorly paid factory work, or marry a working man...

Sunday Miscellany, RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday mornings at 9.10 am - listen back here.