Mark OCallaghan 0

Mother Francis Memorial in Harold’s Cross Park Dublin, Ireland

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Would you help me please to convince the local authority to remember a woman who mothered 80 children

Sister Mary Francis

The first, most important person in your life is your mother, your mammy. But in the past, in Ireland, children born out of wedlock or into a violent, dysfunctional home or whose mammy died or, in my case, if you were abandoned, children, like me, were put in orphanages.

Sadly we have since learned of the horrific abuse, psychological, physical and/or sexual that was perpetrated by a small number of evil people on so many of those vulnerable children.

However my experience is the vast majority of the carers in these institutions were good people and some were truly exceptional.

When I appeared recently on RTE's Dragons'' Den I was taken aback when after the show I was contacted by orphans now living all over Ireland and beyond who, like me, all had loving memories of one Nun, the late, Sister Francis of the Poor Clare's in Harold's Cross Dublin.

Orphans long for a mammy and so I used to call her 'Mother'. I knew she wasn't my mother but I so badly craved one. I hadn't realised then that Sister Francis was a great and loving mother to so many other children too. I am now aware of about eighty children that she was a 'mother' to.

I know in my case, I don't exaggerate, she saved my life. After years in state orphanages at 16, as was the law, I was turned out onto the streets, penniless, uneducated and now homeless. Sister Francis found me again, fed me, schooled me, and I went on to get an honours BSc degree in Electronic Imaging at London's Westminster University.

How can you ever thank such a lady? I know we can and I know all the children whose lives she touched want to acknowledge her and want to have somewhere to go to show appreciation and reflect on the wonderful part she played in all our lives.

We are all grown up now and we all accept we never had a mammy or a home in the normal sense but the undersigned ask Dublin Corporation would it be possible to have a plaque erected in memory of Sister Francis in Harold's Cross Park and a park bench also dedicated to her memory where we orphan's can feel we have a sense of place? We can, when the need arises, just go and sit there and contemplate or, just quietly say thank you to "Mother", or tell her our stories of life's ups and downs.

So you don't have to be an orphan to join us in signing this petition. If you are someone who can imagine what it would be like to have never had a mammy and then find someone who filled that void, then I hope you will sign in the appropriate place below.

I thought I should add this short poem I wrote for Mother many years ago. I never made it to her funeral but my sister, as I asked her to, placed it into her coffin and it just feels right to share it with you all.

(An Ode to Mother)

Mother, the word alone has found an honest meaning.
Like the sun it shines no matter what the season.
Some months have blossomed far more than others.
Yet the ones that grew dim have always had you Mother.
Some times my God is truly, truly far.
So far that for me there shined not a single star.
Yet how can it be that a woman like you has lived?
So long, yet too short and did all you did.
Mother how sad I am to hear you slowly slipped away.
From a world that truly needs you to stay.
This world is so very different than you think.
And for much of it I was a wreck waiting to sink.
To often I mused the pupil was thought too little.
Yet here I am with bones that are strong not brittle.
Mother, you are for me that great bright North Star.
Heavens high clusters and clusters afar.
Mother you will always be for me that great North Star.
A reminder to humanity; in another world not too far.


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