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What happened in Ireland’s mother and baby institutions? With Deirdre Finnerty

Three women’s stories reveal the horrors of Bessborough, one of Ireland’s largest mother and baby institutions.

Bessborough House, a grand mansion on the outskirts of the city of Cork, was one of Ireland’s largest mother and baby institutions, open from 1922 to 1998. Thousands of women and girls confined there had their babies taken from them and placed for adoption, often without maternal consent.

In her new bestselling book, Bessborough: Three Women, Three Decades, Three Stories of Courage, the BBC journalist Deirdre Finnerty recounts the stories of three women who spent time there across three different decades, and the devastating impact the institution had on their lives.

She speaks to Alix Kroeger about what went on inside this secretive institution, the legacy of trauma and shame, and the findings of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, published last year.

Further reading:

Megan Nolan on the appeal of Catholicism – but not the Catholic Church.

Michael Coren writes about the hypocrisy of the Pope to lecture anyone about violence against women.

Helen Charman on the politics of everyday life: motherhood.

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