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Tyrone woman remembers brother buried in unmarked grave

 
HIS name was Paul Vincent O’Hanlon. He was born on August 27, 1971 and died on April 17, 1972. Buried in a unmarked grave, his short life is no longer forgotten.
 
On Monday past, Fionnuala McGoldrick from Galbally marked the 45th anniversary of her brother Paul’s death.
 
Paul was buried in a plot in Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast along with more than 30 other babies who were born in homes for unmarried mothers.
 
Both Fionnuala and Paul came into the world at Marianville Mother and Baby Home in South Belfast. But Fionnuala never had the chance to meet her brother who was born several years before her.
 
Indeed, it was only around three years ago that she discovered that Paul had died and later found the plot where he had been buried.
 
“I always knew that I had a brother, but I did not know anything else about him,” said Fionnuala.
 
“Paul was born a few years before I was, but then I was taken out of the home and adopted as a baby. But Paul wasn’t.
“When he died in the home, they just buried him in an unmarked grave with about 30 other babies from the home.
 
“He was simply forgotten about, along with all the other babies, left in a place, where no one even realised there was a grave.
“It still makes me shudder to think about what they did, how cruel and callous it was.”
 
The harrowing details of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam which have emerged over the last two years, have also brought back painful memories.
 
“There are still more stories emerging about what happened in these homes run by the Church, and it is just hard to understand as a mother myself, how they could do that to little vulnerable babies.
 
“But I feel that I am one of the lucky ones. I have been able to find out about what happened to Paul, find out where he is buried and I have somewhere to visit, somewhere where I can always remember him as my brother.
 
“It’s terrible for all those other people across the country who don’t know what happened to their children, or know if these children even existed or know where they were buried. They were all little people, each and everyone of them deserve to be remembered.”
 
The mother-of-four revealed that there is now a memorial bench in Fivemiletown which bears the name of her once-forgotten brother.
 
“Not only have I somewhere to visit Paul, but his name is now on a bench in Fivemiletown, thanks to Dianna Dowell from the Molly and Mia Foundation, a charity set up to remember little babies who have died.
 
“I think there are still so many unanswered questions as to what went on in these homes. It’s different for me, I have been lucky enough to find out what happened to Paul.
 
“Sometimes you hear all this condemnation and shock about how other cultures around the world live, but we really need to take a look closer to home and see what happened right here in Ireland, under the care of the Church. The very same Church which has been so against contraception and abortion and yet they let this happen to little babies.
 
“It’s so important that we never forget what happened and I know how fortunate I am, that I can now remember Paul and that the world now knows that he existed.”

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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