Support 100 years of independent journalism.

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.

How to listen to the World Review podcast

1. In your browser

You can use the player above to listen in your browser right now. The World Review podcast publishes on Monday and Thursdays. All episodes are published to on the day of release.

Content from our partners
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping
Why digital inclusion is a vital piece of levelling up
Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

2. In a podcast app

World Review is available on all major podcast apps including Apple PodcastsSpotifyAcastGoogle Podcasts, and more. Search “World Review” in your favourite podcast app, and subscribe or follow to make sure you receive episodes as soon as they publish. While you’re there, please leave a review for the podcast – it helps others find the show, which in turn makes it possible for us to keep making it.

3. On your smart speaker

If you have an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod smart speaker, ask it to “play the latest episode of World Review”. The same command also works with virtual assistants on mobile devices.