Sheila was 19 when she was imprisoned in 1976 for the crime of 'falling pregnant'. She was enslaved and subjected to appalling cruelty, and her baby was stolen. Had not her Daddy rescued her from the prison to which he had sent her, she might never have been freed. Ireland can never apologise enough to women like Sheila, writes Donal O’Keeffe.
Last Saturday afternoon, Sheila O’Byrne made the long – and for a woman without a car, difficult – journey from her house on Blarney Street all the way across Cork City to the Angel plot, away to the back of vast grounds of the former Mother and Baby Home at Bessboro in Blackrock. It’s a pilgrimage Sheila makes as often as possible, and she leaves cards and toys to the memory of the countless children buried in that forlorn, horrible place. On her way home, Sheila stopped to buy new toys and colourful plastic flowers for her next visit. She feels it important that those children know they’re remembered and loved, and that somebody came back for them.