Agnes always assumed that her mother would be supportive if she got pregnant, but just as she was working up the courage to break the news, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now there is so much stress at home that she knows there will never be a good time to drop the bombshell and so she refuses even to think about it.
Eileen sometimes wishes that people would stop talking about the mother and babies scandal because she is in a black hole and the constant handwringing and recrimination on the radio is making her feel overwhelmed.
Her recently laid-off husband has stopped opening the bills, her teenage son has stopped asking if he can go to college, and she can’t face the prospect of another baby at 42.
Every so often, Ireland is transfixed by revelations and reminders of the mothers and babies so cruelly treated by a society with no place for women who got pregnant outside marriage.
But amid all the tut-tutting, hundreds of Irish women continue to hide pregnancies. “Concealed pregnancy has not gone away: it just has another face,” according to Sylvia Murphy Tighe, a former midwife and public health nurse who has been told stories similar to those of Agnes and Eileen.
On The Irish Times.