Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me.

The stars are burning cheerily, cheerily, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me
The sea mew is moaning drearily, drearily, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me
Cold is the storm wind that ruffles his breast but warm are the downy plumes lining his nest
Cold blows the storm then, soft falls the snow there, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me
The waves are dancing merrily, merrily, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me
The sea birds are wailing wearily, wearily, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me
Hushed be thy moaning loan bird of the sea, thy home on the rocks is a shelter to thee
Thy house the angry wave, mine but the lonely grave, Horo Mhairi dhu, turn ye tae me.
I learned this beautiful song when I was a teenager in the sixties in Sr. Fabian’s class. She originally came from Donegal, so would have had an affinity with Scotland. She was also a fluent Gaelic speaker. I love The Corries rendition of this one hundred year old Scottish folk song. Ronnie has such a lyrical voice.  I adore his Scottish accent.

Goldenbridge Twitter Conversation 28/29/09/13

  1. One experience Goldenbridge inmates never had to endure when they were sent 2 Magdalen Laundries was loss of identity. They’d none to begin.

  2. Two things Goldenbridge inmates didn’t have to worry about when sent to ML – was loss of hair & food. They never experienced much of either.

  3. @anbealach It’s such a pity the Sisters of Mercy couldn’t concentrate on their ethos, and teach the most vulnerable of all in Goldenbridge.

  4. I don’t think a lot of survivors ever grew out of that ‘strangeness’ that people saw in us as children. People run away from some survivors.

  5. @anbealach Nope. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t draw people 2 them. Too damaged. People didn’t want to embrace me as a child or even now

  6. When all the world is young, lad – by Charles Kingsley http://wp.me/p3vHfi-eN 

  7. @anbealach Just, as they did the bishops and priests. They were served the best of everything in the GB parlour. Children were nonentities.

  8. @anbealach I never got a hug from a single human being from the day I went to Goldenbridge at less than 5 till the day I left at 16. Not one

  9. @anbealach Children hollered out ‘O Mammy, O Daddy’ when they were being flogged by the head nun. Those words had no other connotation.

  10. @anbealach Dev. had a lot of dealings in Carysfort College. The Goldenbridge inmate capitation grants were sent to Mother House at Blackrock

  11. @anbealach Doubt it. I remember Christine Buckley who went to outside school saying they were always asking her to pull their ‘sausages’.

  12. @anbealach With all the hiding behind closed doors to protect us from snares of the devil. There we were being enticed by the devil himself.

  13. @anbealach We were clueless. We knew nothing. It never affected us when they exposed themselves, as we did not know that what was happening.

  14. @anbealach I remember crying because I felt so sad for one of them, whom I thought had displayed a swollen thumb. I pitied him so much.

  15. @anbealach Nope. Not to the nuns, to the industrial ‘school’ children. We had to pass by them in the cloister twice per day to go to chapel.

  16. @anbealach Judging from the very denigrating way children from there were treated in Goldenbridge, it all makes perfect sense. Untouchables!

  17. @anbealach …The men would ask the small children from the industrial ‘school’ if they would like to pull their ‘sausages’. We pitied them.

  18. @anbealach The nuns in the convent handed out food every day to the homeless. Some of the men sat under the cloister and exposed themselves.

  19. I always wondered about the families who lived opposite Goldenbridge. From photos and forums I discovered they were happy, although poor.

  20. I saw an old photo of a bishop / priest in all his regalia parading through the slums of Keogh Sq. He overlorded the poorest of the poor.

  21. @anbealach Children in Keogh Sq. had something that ‘orphanage’ children never had, and that was the freedom to roam in wide open spaces.

  22. @anbealach I was looking at old photos of poverty stricken families from Keogh Sq. They may have been very poor, but they had their parents.

  23. @anbealach If children came from Keogh Square, they were desperately taunted by the staff at Goldenbridge. They were called “commoners”.

  24. @anbealach I still have visions of snotty-nosed inmates rocking their heads against the hard wall, whilst at same time sucking their thumbs.

  25. @anbealach Children in main school were warned not to glance at the ‘orphans’ if the latter chanced to pass by. Despite some being cousins.

  26. @anbealach I remember all the poetry & Irish songs that were taught us by the young postulants to this day. We were otherwise starved of ed.

  27. @anbealach ‘Orphanage’ was simply a euphemism. It was an industrial ‘school’. Children who had no visitors were referred to as ‘orphans’.

  28. @anbealach The young postulants that came to teach us were absolutely brilliant. The children just could not get enough of their teaching.

  29. However, in saying that children were used as educational fodder for the postulants. They were simply terrific. We learned so much from them

  30. I remember periodically young Sisters of Mercy postulants coming to Goldenbridge to practice teaching methods on us. We were used as fodder.

  31. @anbealach Did you practice teaching in the ‘outside’ school (within Goldenbridge grounds) or at internal closed-off industrial ‘school’?

  32. When I told the nun that my mother had six brothers. She said – which one was the father? She meant Reverend Father. She knew family history

  33. When I left that hellhole called Goldenbridge I only ever once returned after discovering my identity. I turned my back on that prison camp.

  34. Whatever possessed the pregnant girl to go back to Goldenbrdge to look for support. Sure, wasn’t her very ‘condition’ the epitome of hatred.

  35. A Goldenbridge girl who got pregnant after she left at 16 went back to visit. She was hauled before a classroom, and used as a ‘bad’ example

  36. It was drummed into Goldenbridge child inmates that if they ever went across the water to that heathen country, they would lose their faith.

  37. I never forgave myself for landing up in a Protestant church, instead of an RC one, until it was confessed the following week at confession.

  38. I remember as a teenager going up to Belfast for the weekend. I panicked something terrible after discovering I’d entered Protestant church.

  39. …I know property originally belonged to RC Catholics, & was taken from them over hundreds of years. I’m not looking at it from that angle.

  40. The same was applicable with St. Joseph’s Holiday Home, Rathdrum – where children were not allowed to enter Protestant church next door….

  41. …It was okay for religious to buy up Protestant property, while at the same time putting the fear of God into their hearts if they mixed.

  42. Donnybrook Magdalen Laundry property was originally owned by a Church of Ireland family by the name of Waters. RC religious so hypocritical.

  43. It’s rather ironic the fear that the RC church put us in when it came to Protestants. Yet, had no qualms when it came to purchasing property

  44. @OpheliaBenson Thanks for that interesting info. I did a search. See: RT “Census 1911: Donnybrook Magdalen laundry http://wp.me/p1QvX3-4uB .”

  45. If they weren’t Laundresses, they were seamstresses, and servants. Never religious nuns. Too lowly for such a holy title. God loves sinners?

  46. Nuns often changed a woman’s name and cut her hair off on first day of incarceration in laundries #magdaleneproject

     Retweeted by Marie-T. O’Loughlin


When all the world is young, lad – by Charles Kingsley

I learned this poem by Charles Kingsley when I was in Goldenbridge. Young postulants came periodically to the institution to practice out their teaching skills.  Children just could not get enough of knowledge from them, as they were otherwise left to the mercy of untrained ‘jam’ teachers. One of whom was exceedingly cruel. I distinctly remember that the teacher who taught us this poem had a distinct Kerry accent. Not only did I learn the poem, but I had the accent off to a tee. It became my party-piece years later when anyone asked for a recitation. I simply loved the poem.

Sometimes an inspector came to examine the young postulants, and we could see that they were very frightened, so we deliberately decided to be on our best behaviour. We played them up to the last otherwise, because we were not used to being treated nicely by people, and we kept testing them out. I loved every moment of their teaching. It’s such a pity that nobody invested in our schooling, as we needed so much back-up when we left Goldenbridge at 16 to face the cold world on our own.

Goldenbridge: Confirmation day


The colour of the two-piece suit worn on my Confirmation day at Goldenbridge, was the exact colour as the last rose of summer that was blooming in the garden yesterday evening. Alas, I don’t have any exciting memories of the day at all.

$T2eC16dHJFoE9nh6piqmBRYbklz6J!~~60_12I remember another Confirmation girl and myself were given a ten shilling note apiece on the occasion by Sister Fabian. I could not help but notice that the notes were the same colour as my Confirmation suit. Because of being institutionalised, we were clueless as to the significance of paper money. We were beside ourselves too when the money was given to us in the parlour. We didn’t know where to put our faces out of shyness. The parlour, you see, was a very special place, where children, visitors and staff alike were only ever allowed to enter whenever there was something very important occurring.

Indeed, our bent shy heads, as we stood there being nicely talked by the nun, were forcibly focussed on the paper money she had just given us for our special day. We were in awe and clutching tightly on to the notes. I was so fascinated by the lady figure on the note, as she looked a far prettier sight than ever the nuns did in their miserable black habits.

photoWe were imbued with the holy spirit after it had entered our bodies at the Confirmation service given by the bishop at St. Michael’s church, Inchicore. Children never went to mass outside Goldenbridge convent. This was a once off occasion.

Confirmation can be conferred only on those who have already been baptised and have not yet been confirmed. As St. Thomas says:

Confirmation is to baptism what growth is to generation. Now it is clear that a man cannot advance to a perfect age unless he has first been born; in like manner, unless he has first been baptised he cannot receive the Sacrament of Confirmation (Summa Theologiæ III.72.6).

I can still visualise Sr. Fabian standing behind me at the altar rails whilst awaiting arrival of bishop to confirm me.  She obviously would have been my sponsor, as I remember getting confirmation name ‘Margaret’, which I had learned was her namesake in lay life before she entered the convent. I happened to have discovered that years later when I was helping a staff member to make Sr. Fabian’s bed in the cell she occupied nearby the now infamous landing. I saw her full name on a plaque on the cell wall. I shan’t release it here. I was talking to a survivor who grew up with me, who would have also made her confirmation in the sixties, and she told me that she had chosen her own name. I was amazed when I heard that, as it would have never occurred to me to have chosen a name, as we were hardly called by our names in Goldenbridge, we were referred to by our numbers. A thought has just occurred to me that perhaps we may each have got a ten shilling note from the nun because of her being our sponsors?!

Miss H. with the glasses, as she was referred to by all, was of tall thin stature. She wore a plaid suit. She was very dour in character. She hailed from the country. Her sister worked in the kitchen. She was given the task of taking the bi-racial girl and myself into town. The other girl and myself did not really have anything in common with each other, let alone, the lay teacher, as she was called, despite not being trained as one at all. In fact I personally remember being very nervous of her, as she was in charge of the medicine press, and children who had to go to her for medicinal purposes were always scared stiff out of their minds, and would put up with their ailments, rather than have to face Miss H. Miss. H. although not physically cruel was very indifferent to children when they had to stand before her each morning in the wash-room. Children had to line up in front of her whilst she fine-combed their hair with a thick aluminium steel comb. She dipped the comb into a stainless steel jar that contained pink paraffin oil, and ploughed deeply into their heads. Some children were left with bleeding scalps as a result. She was sadistic in her steadfast duty to hunt out the hoppers and knits. There were plentiful to be had, that’s for sure, and the blighters too got no warm treatment from the lay teacher.

Bewleys-CafeI recall going into a tea-house, and having dainty cream cakes and tea, it may have been to the renowned Bewley’s on Grafton St.. There was nothing spectacular about the company. We were an odd mix. There was no sense of gaiety or laughter or any sort of elated freedom that I can recollect on the afternoon’s outing. Miss H. allowed the other girl to take off her box-style hat, as she was not pleased about wearing it. I rather liked mine, which was a full sun-syle one, which I could hide behind.

It’s rather ironic that the girl who went out for a short while (when she was approximately 6 years old) with a friend of the Boyne host family, who took me out of Goldenbridge from Communion age, till I was 9, was also the same girl who was with me on the Confirmation day outing.


There is a tree overhead the washing-line at my abode in Donnybrook, Dublin, and it’s filled with beautiful berries. I don’t recall seeing so many of them last year. They’re in abundance all around. Their colour seem very appropriate to the subject to hand. I keep gazing on them, they look like flowers from a distance. So betwixt foxes and blooming berries and a plethora of cats and magpies, I’m in my element were nature is concerned.


I heard from Christine Buckley, after inquiring about her, that she now lives in Germany, and went into adult education, which is very positive. I had asked Christine to apologise to her because of having fled from her when we had both landed up in the Chamberlains office in London working in a temporary office job. I ran away because I didn’t want any haunting reminders of my past institutional Goldenbridge life. I was this other person in my minds eye, who had gone to a boarding school in Ireland. It was wrong of me, but the same thing was done to me as well on umpteen occasions in the recent past. I’ve written about this type of fear of each other that is very common with survivors of Industrial ‘Schools’. Suffice it to say, I’ve mostly overcome it, as I now write about it.


Miss H. was not unfriendly to us on our Confirmation day. She was also not a person who was able to communicate with children per se. She was a very serious person, but then again, Irene, a member of the Boyne host family, told me as an adult that I was a strange child, so perhaps I was in the right company after all. Anyway, I really don’t know how we could have interacted with the teacher, as we did not have any skills to talk to adults, despite us being teenagers.