Hello all you sisters’ out there! It’s nice to know that we are sisters’ and are an integral part of the human race. We have been invisible for far too long. Now the time has come when we must be part of the sisterhood of woman and remain invisible no longer. More here.
When I think of sisters’ I think of the whole childhood deprivation that derived from not knowing; not being told; being separated, being wrenched away, being lied to about one’s sister/s that was part of life in Gaoldenbridge. [Oops, I typed in the first stem Gaol – I wonder was that a kind of subconscious Freudian typo? I’ll leave it there, as it has tremendous significance] It is a legacy that many survivors had to get on and deal with as adults.
One that springs to mind is the case of Valerie, who is sadly now deceased. She was in her forties when that happened – it’s not an uncommon feature with survivors at all. Anyway, one day a beautiful woman arrived at Valerie’s door and told her that they were sisters. It came as an awful shock to her. She had lived such a lonely, isolated life and had barely picked up the broken pieces of her wretched life up to that time, and found it unfathomable that she could be related to this beautiful younger woman who appeared to be so sound and secure. It transpired that the latter had been adopted by a very loving family, and she in turn married and happily settled down. She was saved the fate of Gaoldenbridge [sic]. Valerie was so enraged that she was cast aside into an institution and blamed her new-found sister for being adopted, which was an absurd thing to do, but she just did not have the capacity to understand why she was also not adopted.
The mother was fourteen years old when her first child was born, and had two children by sixteen. The mother went on to have two very large families. In Ireland of the fifties and sixties, girls from working-class backgrounds went out to work at fourteen years of age, and invariably were thinking of marriage a few short years later. There was no mollycoddling going on there with parents, as they were far too poor. A lot of survivors would have been married at seventeen and eighteen years old. They would be considered old by standards of third world countries, where they have child-brides.
Valerie’s sister was generous to a tee. She made such a fuss and brought her to the family home and showed her what family life was like. Valerie lapped up that side of things, as she was so starved of normal family interaction and closeness. She really wished she could have had it sooner in life. This perpetuated the anger even more at times. It was also very hard on her sister who had to not only carry the burden of her sister’s Gaoldenbridge [sic] my emphasis] institutional crappy life and that of her brothers, but the reality of her own adoption.
I remember saying so often to Valerie, how lucky she was to have found such a beautiful and loving sister. Alas, Valerie was akin to the affectionless thief. Valerie also had several brothers who were incarcerated in Artane. But they were basically just total strangers to each other as children. In fact, I remember Valerie getting a visit from a brother from Artane or another one of those hellholes, and looking at the brother like he was something out of space. She was utterly removed from the concept of being biologically related to another human being. Again – that kind of thing was not uncommon in child-prisoners of Gaoldenbridge.