Times Past: Story of the week from March 8th, 1996 - Newtownforbes orphanage: Sisters of Mercy defended

David Clarke


David Clarke



Times past

Times past

Residents of Newtownforbes and others familiar with the Newtownforbes orphanage where hundreds of children were kept between 1869 and 1969 have defended the Mercy nuns during a week when the order and specifically sisters based in Newtownforbes, were sharply criticised.

A woman who spent 16 years in the Newtownforbes orphanage last week revealed what life was like at the institution and said that she is still suffering from the trauma. The orphange in Newtownforbes became the focus of national attention last week, when the Evening Herald reported the woman's story.

The woman, who is now 60 and didn't allow her name to be published alleged that while she was at the orphanage between 1936 and 1951, “children were beaten black and blue and were made to sleep on nettles and thistles if they wet their beds......and were so hungry they would eat raw vegetables they found in the garden”, according to the report (Herald, February 29).

Although they accept and regret that abuse occurred here, the order of the Sisters of Mercy have expressed hurt at being blamed for dealing with Irish society's problem which was, as one sister put it, “literally dumped in our lap”.

“We are very upset”, Sister Elizabeth Manning, a member of the Provincial staff in charge of Newtownforbes convent, told the Leader.

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