There But For The Grace Of…

I can’t say those words without thinking of Daniel Jackson in a parallel universe, but I digress. This article concerning Ireland caught my eye. I enjoy all things Irish, as I’ve noted in the past, but this article had little pleasantness to it. It’s about the struggles of those who, as children, were routinely abused by trusted individuals at Catholic institutions across Ireland.

Boys and girls in Ireland were beaten, sexually abused and emotionally terrorized for decades in workhouse-style schools run by the Roman Catholic Church where a “culture of silence” protected victimizers rather than the children in their care… Those are some of the findings of the controversial report unveiled in Dublin after a nine-year investigation by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

The Catholic Church sponsored scores of reformatories, orphanages and industrial schools where more than 30,000 boys and girls deemed to be delinquent or incorrigible were sent from the 1930s until the close of the 20th Century. In some instances, the children’s only “fault” was to be born out of wedlock. [emphasis mine]

If I had been born into another space and time, if I had been living with my Celtic kin across the ocean at the time my possibly Catholic birth mother became pregnant with me, this could easily have been my fate. Gives one pause over one’s breakfast paper, let me tell you. It makes me think about all those kids out there to whom this is still happening today, whether in workhouse-style conditions like these or at the hands of their adopter “rescuers.” In classic style, we bastards become the scapegoats for the perceived sins of others.

I can only hope these men and women find justice for the wrongs done to them.


  1. I was born in Scotland in the early sixties, and this biggest issue within the Irish and West of Scotland communities is religious bigotry. My birth Mother is haft Scots and half Irish.

    They follow the protestant Christian faith, but also celebrate the splitting of Ireland.

    My Mother as a child, was taken over to Ireland to take part in the Orange Lodge marches and this indoctrinated bigotry by parents to their children cascades this hatred generation after generation.

    I was placed for adoption because my skin colour is Asian looking. and being “coloured” within this white Anglo-Saxon community just was not acceptable.

    My Mother had a son prior to me, and went on to have 6 more children, all who have been taken over the years to continue to march in this show of hatred over the catholic Irish. Sadly my Brother is a member of a group called the Blacks, which takes this view point even further.

    I love Ireland and visit both North and South regularly on business and for our family holidays, so I would say that 99+% of the Irish population are wonderful people who go out of their way to welcome new people into their homes and communities, but sadly it is the exception that have left me with a tarnished view of religion, and the way people choose to promote what they stand for.

    This may sound bitter, which sadly is the way I feel, but I would also like to add that I have had a wonderful adotion full of love and happiness, and can reflect on my start in this world without it hurting me.

  2. Hi chris, thanks for your response. I have never been to Ireland or Scotland (I live in the US) so I really appreciate your insight as someone who is directly familiar with the region. I have seen religious indoctrination here as well, something I am sensitive to as a member of a non-Judeo-Christian faith living in a predominantly Christian area. Fortunately Chicago is fairly cosmopolitan, but even so I experience discrimination based upon my religion. It saddens me when I see adults brainwashing children into extremist religions of any kind. We had someone come to our door the other day with his child who had clearly been coached into reading a spiel about some Bible conference. You could tell the kid was really getting that religion hammered into him. I wish people would allow others to follow diverse faiths instead of insisting upon their own as the One True Way. After all, if you pursue a life of kindness, all paths lead the same direction.

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