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Rosaleen Ross

Rosaleen Ross



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Rosaleen Ross was born in Bedfordshire on 12th May 1909. Her father, an engineer, was chairman of the local Independent Labour Party.

After leaving school she became an assistant teacher at a small private school. In 1926 she moved to London where she met and became friends with Ralph Bates and Winifred Bates. She went to Labour Party meetings but later recalled: "I found the meetings extremely boring - there were all these - what looked like old men, you know, probably thirty or something, with these stiff collars, sitting around, you know, moustaches... I don't recall any women in the meetings. I did not stay long."

Rosaleen Ross eventually joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and took part in the demonstrations against Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.

Rosaleen was in the Pyrenees with Winifred Bates when the Spanish Civil War began. They went to work for the Popular Front government in Barcelona. She later found work with the British Medical Unit as an administrator. Her first post was at Grañén near Huesca on the Aragon front. Other doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers at the hospital included Kenneth Sinclair Loutit, Alex Tudor-Hart, Reginald Saxton, Archie Cochrane, Penny Phelps, Peter Spencer, Annie Murray, Julian Bell, Richard Rees, Nan Green, Lillian Urmston, Thora Silverthorne and Agnes Hodgson.

Rosaleen found conditions in Spain very difficult: "Existence is a misery. Rain is coming in. Rats run across the floor. Our rations are tinned meat, chick peas and five almonds each. We are afraid to undress night or day because of the bombing. We have no milk, eggs or potatoes for the typhoid patients (yet owing to good nursing only 8 per cent died). I cannot say enough about the splendid way Ada Hodson, Patience Darton and Lillian Urmston are working. How Ada makes us laugh when she tries to drink the peculiar liquid which is neither tea, coffee nor cocoa, but a mixture of all. Lillian's morale is never destroyed."

While in Spain, Rosaleen fell in love with Reginald Saxton. He later admitted: "As time went by I felt that she and I merged into one person. But marriage was a much smaller thing than the war and it was something we never talked about."

After the Republican forces were defeated in the Spanish Civil War, Rosaleen went to live in Brighton with Reginald Saxton. They planned to marry but because of objections from his family she decided to move to Canada where she married a former member of the International Brigades. Their son was born in 1940.

After the Second World War she was active in the Communist Party of Canada, Friends of Free Spain and several peace groups.

In 1996 Rosaleen met Reginald Saxton at an International Brigades reunion. After the death of his wife in 1998 he went to live with her in Canada. They returned to live in England in 2002. Saxton died in Worthing on 27th March 2004.

Existence is a misery. We are afraid to undress night or day because of the bombing.

We have no milk, eggs or potatoes for the typhoid patients (yet owing to good nursing only 8 per cent died). Lillian's morale is never destroyed; I admire her.... By now Dr Saxton has started a canteen in which we sell mouldy bread and jam, cognac and Malaga wine.

While in Spain, Reggie (Saxton) fell in love with a working-class medical administrator, Rosaleen Smythe. In a 2003 interview with the Guardian, he commented: "As time went by I felt that she and I merged into one person. But marriage was a much smaller thing than the war and it was something we never talked about."

He assumed that on returning to England they would marry, but he seems to have hesitated in the face of his family's snobbish disapproval of Rosaleen. Uncertain of any future with him, she settled in Vancouver with another brigader whom she married.

After a period of deep depression provoked by both the defeat of the Republic and the loss of Rosaleen, Reggie became assistant medical office of health (civil defence) for Brighton (1939-41). Thereafter, he rose to the rank of major in the Royal Army Medical Corps blood transfusion service in Burma and was mentioned in dispatches for bravery.

Postwar, Saxton practised as a GP in Patcham near Brighton and married Betty Cogger, a former actor who had two children from a previous marriage. Together, they had two children, Rosaleen and Christopher. He was, by all accounts, a wonderful father to all the children. With Betty, he went to work as a south Wales GP in partnership with Dr Alexander Tudor-Hart.

He remained politically active as an anti-war campaigner both in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and "Medics Against The Bomb". On retirement, he returned to Brighton.

Rosaleen eventually divorced, and she had enduring feelings for Reggie. They were reunited at the 1996 Madrid reunion of the International Brigades and, when he was widowed in 1998, they went to live together in Canada. In 2001, he took part in a moving reunion at the cave hospital. In 2002 they returned to England. Although frail and in his 90s, with diminished sight and hearing, but as mentally alert as ever, he campaigned against the war in Iraq.


Rosaleen Darcy

General Information:
Full name: Rosaleen Alice Darcy
Nickname(s): Rose, because Rosaleen couldn't pronounce her own name for the first few years of her life also, Rosaleen means "Little Rose"
Pronunciation: Ross-uh-lin
Gender: Female
Birthdate: August 6th, 2018
Age: 15
Year: Only required for students. The main year is currently sixth year, but we welcome secondary characters to the other years for fluff, but be advised that classes and interactions for these characters may be limited. Not required for professors/adult characters.
Blood: Half-blood
Wand: 15 inches, Rowan, Unicorn Hair
Preferred House/Position: Slytherin

Appearance:
Height: 5'6
Eye colour: Blue
Eye description: Almond-shaped and intense
Hair colour: Black
Hair length and style: Long and wavy
Skin tone: White
Body type: Slender

Physical description: Rose stands out with her extremely pale skin, courtesy of her Irish heritage, and intense blue eyes. She loves wearing gem tones and even when not in robes, she tends to wear dresses rather than pants. She is very feminine and yet strong. She stands tall and erect with confidence.


Personality:
Rose is intelligent and manipulative. As a child, before she began attending Hogwarts, she was always very adept at learning people's weaknesses (such as her parents) and using that information to gain what she wanted - be it a new dress or a trip to the countryside.

She can be arrogant but is also very confident. She prefers to lead rather than follow, unless she respects someone enough to have faith in their leadership abilities. But she has a very hard time trusting anyone. She has seen enough of the world to know that most people are out for themselves - there's always an angle.

Rose has the ability to be very charming, despite her many flaws - not because everyone likes her (they don't) but because she has excellent observation skills she can read people very well. That is why she can manipulate others. And part of that manipulation is that she knows when to turn on the charm to get what she wants. This works especially well with men, as she is attractive, and adults - they are easier to read because their personalities are fully formed, whereas adolescents are still developing.

Finally, though she is not bipolar, she does have a duality to her nature. She can be very calm and controlled, because she likes being in control of herself and the people around her but there are certain things that will set her off and in those flashes of fury she will attack without thought, whether verbally, physically or magically.

History:
Rose grew up in a small town in Ireland. Her father, Liam, is an Irish Muggle doctor who lived and practiced in Dublin. On a conference in London, he met her mother, Annabelle, who was a witch. They began dating and started falling in love. The moment Annabelle knew that Liam was the one for her, she revealed her magic to him. Much to her surprise, and relief, he was amazed and delighted.

Rose was soon conceived. Three months in, her parents got married in Dublin. They lived there until Rose was a year old, when Liam received an offer to be the doctor in a small town. Both her parents wanted their daughter to grow up in a safer environment than a big city like Dublin, especially if it turned out she took after her mum. It would be much harder to hide her magic in a big city - so they reasoned.

By age three, it was clear that Rose had inherited her mum's magical gifts. She had done something naughty and her mum had taken away her favorite toy, a stuffed owl named Aria Rose was livid, for a toddler, and held out her hand in a demanding gesture. The owl flew from its place on the high shelf and into her pudgy fingers.

After that her mum began to teach her about magic so she would learn to control it. Although Rose couldn't practice magic herself, being underage, she was a sponge when it came to information.

But at the age of seven, her world began to crumble. Her father was killed in a car accident and her mum blamed herself they were supposed to go on a date that night but Annabelle claimed to be too tired from watching Rose. Angry, because they rarely saw each other, Liam had stormed out and driven off, only to die a few miles down the road. Annabelle blamed herself because if she had gone with him, her magic could have prevented the accident.

Annabelle sank into a deep depression and Rose was left to her own devices. Liam had at least had very good life insurance and they were well-off, so Rose never went without food. While Annabelle couldn't be there for her emotionally, she at least took care of her daughter's physical needs.

Rose was devastated by her father's death and her mother's abandonment. But she didn't know how to deal with the emotions so she suppressed them. She decided that emotions were useless. Instead she learned to manipulate the emotions in others to get what she wanted. She began with her mum, so she would buy Rose new toys and dresses.

Eventually she lost interest in her dismal mother and turned her attention to the townspeople. She had been isolated for most of her life so when she finally began hanging around the other children, they bullied her - or tried to. She learned quickly to find their weaknesses and use them to her advantage. Thus she stopped the bullying and even convinced some of the children to do naughty things in her stead - her emotional outlet.

When she received her letter to Hogwarts she was relieved to get away from the small town, which she had long grown bored of, and her mother who was finally coming out of her depression. But her mum paying more attention to her was not what she wanted, because she started trying to control her daughter - a daughter who'd grown used to being in complete control of her own life and resented anyone taking that from her.

She arrived at Hogwarts and was quickly sorted into Slytherin. She never really made friends she had never wanted friends. But she kept herself quiet and tried not to stand out too much. She knew she didn't know enough magic to step out into the spotlight just yet. But her time would come. Meanwhile she learned everything she could, not just about magic but about the people around her so she would know who to draw to herself when the time was right.

Family: Liam (father) and Annabelle (mother)
Pet(s): Sherlock (a black Persian cat)
Possessions: A broomstick
[+] Spoiler Out of Character Information

Is English your native language? Yes

How old are you? 26

Are you a male or a female? Female

Your e-mail where you can be contacted. [email protected]

How did you come about this site? Google and I typed "Harry Potter role-playing games"

Do you have any previous roleplaying experience? If so, on or in what? What universe did you roleplay in? Could you provide a sample roleplay of yours?
Yes I do. I used to do Harry Potter RP and even owned my own forum. It was canon-based. I played for a few years. Unfortunately the site is shut down and I can't provide a sample from it. I had a different laptop back then and lost all the information when it crashed.

What is this site's URL? Have you bookmarked it? http://w11.zetaboards.com/HogwartsReborn/index/ and yes

Have you introduced yourself in the CBox? Who did you talk to? What is one thing you learned about that person? Your application will absolutely not be reviewed until you do this, so come talk to us.
Yes Jenn and Jess Jess has been here for about 4 years and Jenn since she was 16

Finally, the ultimate question. Your answer? (You will know what the question is if you have read the rules.) Perfect, god-like, too unusual, unrealistic. Basically a Mary Sue character.


Larger Than Life: Rosaleen Norton – The Witch of King’s Cross!

Australia can’t claim many famous witches but Rosaleen ”Roie” Norton, a talented bohemian painter, adhering to a form of pantheistic / Neopagan witchcraft which was devoted to the pagan god Pan, was known for most of her life as the ”Witch of Kings Cross”.

Rosaleen Miriam “Roie” Norton was born on the 2 October 1917, in Dunedin, New Zealand to Beena & Albert Norton, an English middle class, Anglican family who had moved to the country a number of years before. She was the third of three sisters and her siblings, Cecily and Phyllis, were each over a decade older than her.

When she herself was eight, in June 1925, her family emigrated to Sydney, Australia, where they settled in Wolseley Street, Lindfield. As a child, she never liked being conventional, and disliked most other children, as well as authority figures, including her mother, with whom her relationship was very strained. Her father, who was a sailor, was regularly away from home, although provided enough of an income so that the Nortons were able to live comfortably. Nonetheless, she would later describe her life at this time as being “a generally wearisome period of senseless shibboleths, prying adults, detestable or depressing children whom I was supposed to like, and parental reproaches. Due to this, she kept herself to herself, sleeping not in the house, but in a tent which she pitched in the garden for three years, and kept a pet spider at the entrance which she named Horatius, as well as other pets including cats, lizards, tortoises, toads, dogs and a goat.

She later claimed she was born with certain markings that set her apart as a witch, such as pointed ears, blue markings on her left knee and a strand of flesh that hung on her body.

Norton was enrolled at a Church of England girls’ school, where she was eventually expelled for being disruptive and drawing images of demons, vampires and other such beings which the teachers claimed had a corrupting influence on other pupils. She subsequently began attending East Sydney Technical College, studying art under the sculptor Rayner Hoff, a man who encouraged her artistic talent and whom she greatly admired.

Following her art college studies, Norton set herself up to become a professional writer, with the newspaper Smith’s Weekly publishing a number of her horror stories in 1934, when she was sixteen, after which they gave her the job as a cadet journalist and then as an illustrator. However, her graphic illustrations were deemed too controversial, and she lost her job at the paper. Leaving Smith’s Weekly, Norton moved out of her family home following the death of her mother, and sought employment as an artists’ model, working for such painters as Norman Lindsay. To supplement this income, she also took up other forms of work, including as a hospital’s kitchen maid, a waitress and a toy designer. Meanwhile, she had taken up a room in the Ship and Mermaid Inn, which overlooked Circular Quay, Sydney, where she began reading various books on the subject of the Western Esoteric Tradition, including those on demonology, the Qabalah and comparative religion.

In 1935, Rosaleen met a man named Beresford Lionel Conroy and they married on 14 December 1940, before going on a hitch-hiking trip across Australia, from Sydney to Melbourne, and on through to Brisbane and Cairns. Returning to Sydney, Conroy enlisted as a commando and went off to serve in New Guinea during the Second World War, and upon his return, Norton, who had been forced to live in a stable during this period, demanded a divorce, which was finally settled in 1951. During their marriage, the couple lived at 46 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross in 1943. Now single once more, Norton took up residence in a boarding house known as the Merangaroo in the Rocks area, which she enjoyed for its “eccentric, communal living.”. She began looking for illustration work once more, being employed by a monthly free-thinking magazine known as Pertinent, which had been founded in 1940 and which was edited by the poet Leon Batt. Batt admired Norton’s work, which was being increasingly influenced by pagan themes, describing her as “an artist worthy of comparison with some of the best Continental, American and English contemporaries.”

By the age of 32, she had held an exhibition of her art at the University of Melbourne’s Rowden White Library, where four paintings were removed by the prudish Melbourne police, who argued they were obscene.

Norton was subsequently charged under the Police Offences Act of 1928. At the court case, held in Melbourne’s Carlton Court, she was defended by A.L. Abrahams, who argued that the images in the recently published The History of Sexual Magic, a book that the Australian censors permitted, were of a far more obscene nature than Norton’s paintings. She won the case, and was awarded £4/4/- in compensation from the police department.

Artist Rosaleen Norton, known as the Witch of Kings Cross, at her home in 1950.

While working at Pertinent, she met a younger man named Gavin Greenlees (1930–1983). Greenlees had grown up in a middle-class family where he had developed an early interest in surrealism, and had become a relatively successful poet, having his work published in such newspapers as ABC Weekly and Australia Monthly. By mid-1949, the two had become good friends.

She returned to Sydney in 1951 and settled in Kings Cross, becoming an integral part of the suburb’s bohemian scene. Norton and Greenlees (who had become lovers), moved into the house at 179 Brougham Street. This was in the area known as Kings Cross, which at the time was renowned for being a red light district and for housing many of those living bohemian lifestyles, particularly artists, writers and poets. and mixing with the likes of Dulcie Deamer the ”Queen of Bohemia”, drawing large occult murals. Visitors were greeted with a sign declaring: ”Welcome to the house of ghosts, goblins, werewolves, vampires, witches, wizards and poltergeists.”

The police saw her as a menace and arrested her for vagrancy. When she appeared in court, she was saved from prosecution by Walter Glover, a publisher who employed her and subsequently published The Art of Rosaleen Norton, which ensured her enduring infamy. Glover was charged with the production of an obscene publication and two images had to be blacked out before the book could be sold. Norton was called into court to explain the nature of her works. The judge ruled that two of the images in the book, The Adversary and Fohat, did qualify as being obscene under Australian law, and that they had to be removed from all existing copies of the book. The authorities in the United States were even stricter, and actively destroyed any copies of the book that were imported into their country.[21] The controversy had helped gain publicity for Norton’s work, although the whole affair had bankrupted Glover, and the book’s binder Alan Cross, realising that he would never get paid, was instead given his pick of Norton’s work, for which he chose Fohat

Norton’s “Seance”

Norton’s reputation as a witch was compounded in 1955, when she was falsely accused of holding a satanic Black Mass. In 1955, a mentally ill vagrant named Anna Karina Hoffman swore at a police officer, and was subsequently charged, but at her trial claimed that her life had fallen apart after taking part in a SatanicBlack Mass run by Rosaleen Norton, a claim which was picked up in by the sensationalist tabloids. Norton, who did not consider herself to be a Satanist but a pagan, denied these claims, and indeed Hoffman later admitted that she had made them up. However, by this time, the press had picked up on the idea of Norton as a devil worshipper, and spun stories around the idea, for instance claiming that she committed animal sacrifice, a practice which in reality Norton abhorred. With this public outcry against her work, the police once more began to act against her and those who supported her. In 1955, they successfully took the proprietor of a local restaurant, the Kashmir, to court, for displaying some of her works publicly.That year the police raided Norton and Greenless’ home, and accused them of performing “an unnatural sexual act”, evidence for which they had obtained in a photograph displaying Greenless in ritual garb flagellating Norton’s buttocks. It was subsequently revealed that the photos had been taken at Norton’s birthday party, and stolen by two members of their coven, Francis Honer and Raymond Ager, who planned to sell it to The Sun newspaper for £200.

The following year, she was caught up in an obscenity scandal surrounding British conductor Sir Eugene Goossens, who was then in Australia and who had an interest in the occult, read a copy of The Art of Rosaleen Norton and decided to write to the artist herself. She invited him to meet her, and the two, alongside Gavin Greenless, became friends and lovers. In March 1956, Goossens was arrested attempting to bring 800 erotic photographs, some film and ritual masks into Australia from London, and was charged under Section 233 of the Customs Act. In court, he pleaded guilty to bringing “blasphemous, indecent or obscene works” into the country and was fined £100. He resigned his positions at both the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and New South Wales Conservatorium of Music and returned to Britain, his international career ending in disgrace. Norton’s relationship with Goossens ended, and soon the life that she had held with Greenless also collapsed, as he was admitted to Callan Park Hospital with schizophrenia. She would continue to visit and support him, and in 1964 he was let off on temporary release, but suffered a schizophrenic attack and attempted to kill Norton with a knife before being re-admitted. He would only be discharged permanently in 1983, approximately four years after her death.

Norton openly declared herself to be a Witch. She tried to explain her beliefs to interviewers, emphasising her faith in pantheism. Along with selling her paintings, she was also making charms and casting hexes for people, using witchcraft to supplement her income.

For a short period, Norton moved in to live with her sister Cecily, one of the few family members whom she got on well with, at her flat in Kirribilli, although in 1967 moved back to Kings Cross, taking up residence in a derelict house in Bourke Street, Darlinghurst. She later moved into a block of flats in Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay, accompanied by her pets. Here she began to live a more reclusive and private existence, avoiding the media attention of previous decades.

Although her two main sexual relationships in her life were with men (Gavin Greenlees and Sir Eugene Goossens respectively), Norton was bisexual, and allegedly enjoyed all forms of sexual activity with both men and women, including bondage and sado-masochism. She was also known to enjoy sexual intercourse with gay men, believing that in such situations she could play the active role. She also actively engaged in sex magic amongst her coven, having learned much about it from the writings of Aleister Crowley and from Goossens, who himself had been very much interested in Crowley’s work.Norton died in 1979 from colon cancer at the Sacred Heart Hospice for the Dying, in Darlinghurst, Sydney, still worshiping Pan[21] a pagan until her death. Shortly before she died she is reported as saying: “I came into the world bravely I’ll go out bravely. A plaque dedicated to her has since been installed in Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross.

Rosaleen’s commemorative plaque in Bourke Street

In December 1982, a play opened at the Tom Mann Theatre in Sydney entitled Rosaleen – Wicked Witch of the Cross, by Barry Lowe. It starred Jane Parker as Norton, Peter Laurence as Glover, Christopher Lyons as Greenlees and Alan Archer as Pan, and was attended by both Wally Glover and Gavin Greenlees themselves. However, according to Nevill Drury, who was invited to the show by Glover, “the play itself had most of the weaknesses of an amateur production – it was unconvincingly acted and was not acclaimed a critical success.

In 1988, the anthropologist Nevill Drury, who had published a number of books on the subject of witchcraft and magic, released a biography of Norton entitled Pan’s Daughter: The Strange World of Rosaleen Norton. This volume was subsequently re-released under the title The Witch of Kings Cross. He later “substantially expanded and reworked” this into a new book titled Homage to Pan: The Life, Art and Sex-Magic of Rosaleen Norton, which was published in 2009. Drury had himself met her only on one occasion, at her apartment in 1977, at a time when she had become somewhat of a recluse.[34]

In 2000, an exhibition of Norton’s paintings was held in Kings Cross, Sydney, organised by various enthusiasts including Keith Richmond, and Barry Hale of the Australian Ordo Templi Orientis. A full-colour catalogue, The Occult Visions of Rosaleen Norton was published to accompany this exhibition.In 2009, Teitan Press published Thorn in the Flesh: A Grim-memoir by Norton, with an introduction by Australian Norton scholar Keith Richmond. The volume comprises poetry (often humorous), reminiscences, and various occult jottings by Rosaleen Norton, with reproductions of two stunning photographs of Norton, as well as some half-a-dozen examples of her art (mainly in color).

In 2012 Norton’s work was including in the major exhibition, “Windows to the Sacred” curated by Robert Buratti, which toured a number of Australian museums until 2016. The exhibition drew together drawings and paintings alongside work by Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, surrealist James Gleeson and many others.


Description

Track 1: Thomas Ross came to Ballyhooly in 1920, where he purchased 400 acres from the Listowels. The animosity towards the Ross family during the Troubles in 1922. Interesting connections between Ballyhooly and Doneraile. Track 2: The Allworth family is discussed. Track 3: Tracing the Ross family to Dunmanway. The reasons why Frank Ross’s ancestors came to Ballyhooly, and anecdotal stories relating to the burning of Convamore House. Track 4: Frank’s uncle Tom, who suffered greatly at the hands of the IRA during the Troubles. Track 5: The local Church of Ireland community. Sport, the background to hunting and the game of rugby, are discussed (Frank’s son, Mike Ross, today plays with the Irish team). Track 6: The title documents of Convamore which throw light on events in the local area. Track 7: The last Earl of Listowel who never returned to Ballyhooly, and interesting visitors who came to Ballyhooly over the years. Track 8: Old photographs associated with Convamore House.


Hugh Ross

Sharpe is tasked to protect the most important spy in Lord Wellington's network, but domestic issues, a traumatized young girl, and possible French spies all threaten his success.

Category: Action, Adventure, History

Stars: Sean Bean,Daragh O'Malley,John Tams,Jason Salkey,Emily Mortimer,Patrick Fierry,James Purefoy,Stephen Moore,Hugh Ross,Michael Cochrane,John Kavanagh,Vernon Dobtcheff,Diana Perez,Pat Laffan,Walter McMonagle

Sharpe is sent on a mission to exchange rifles for deserters with a strange band of Spanish guerillas. He also has to chaperone two women looking for their missing husband.

Category: Action, Adventure, History

Stars: Sean Bean,Daragh O'Malley,Hugh Fraser,John Tams,Michael Mears,Jason Salkey,Lyndon Davies,Hugh Ross,Rosaleen Linehan,Jayne Ashbourne,Peter Eyre,Abel Folk,Philip McGough,Ian Shaw,Julian Sims


Contents

In the 1750s, Hely-Hutchinson sold the house to the FitzGeralds, Ireland's largest landowners, who owned land throughout Leinster. Frescati became one of their three principal residences alongside Leinster House in Dublin and Carton House in County Kildare. They spent much time in Frescati, especially in the summer. When the Duchess of Leinster, Emily FitzGerald saw Frescati, she is said to have "fallen in love with it". [ citation needed ]

Unlike Kildare House and Carton House, the Fitzgeralds did not commission Frescati House, but bought it and improved it in the 1760s, they extended and enhanced it. They are said to have spent £85,000 on the house (equivalent to many millions of euro in 2016 terms). It tripled in size and received flanking wings and bay windows to take advantage of its sea views. It was at this time that the house was given its name, Frescati, a deliberate corruption of the Italian resort of Frascati.

Unlike some other great houses, its exterior was austere and not adorned with pediments or pilasters. For some, this gave it a noble simplicity. [ according to whom? ] For others, it seemed unremarkable and undermined the case for preservation. Its exterior contrasted with a richly ornate and well-proportioned interior. The interior had carved marble chimneypieces, many elaborate ceilings and plasterwork of a high quality. [ citation needed ] There was a book room, a classical stone staircase with medallioned walls and a circular room with a groined ceiling. In the long parlour there was a painted ceiling by Riley, a student of Joshua Reynolds. Frescati even had its own theatre with Corinthian columns. Jacob Smith, who also worked at Carton and Russborough, landscaped and devised the large formal gardens filled with rare plants and shrubs. [ citation needed ] The house stood well back from the road on several acres of woods and parkland, and the Priory Stream passed through its grounds. There was also a small seawater pool in the garden. The gateway stood close to where the entrance to the Blackrock Shopping Centre stands today and its lands stretched back to where Sydney Avenue is now located.

It was the favourite place of residence of Lord Edward FitzGerald, [ citation needed ] a prominent commander of the United Irishmen. He was Emily's son and had spent much of his childhood here. Emily was careful of her children's health, so they spent most of their time in Blackrock and were educated there. Emily was a strong devotee of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile, which preached the importance of practical lessons from the real world rather than rigid book learning. Emily decided that Blackrock would be the best place to practice the Rousseau ideals of education on her children. The Duchess, who was no stranger to extravagance, invited Rousseau himself to Frescati to be her children's tutor. He declined, so Emily hired a Scottish tutor instead. The tutor, named William Ogilvie, was told to bring Emile to life in Blackrock. She later shocked and scandalised her family by marrying Ogilvie six weeks after her husband's death. [ citation needed ] Lord Edward married his wife Pamela in Tournai in December 1792. After spending some time in Hamburg, the couple came to Frescati in 1793. The couple rarely had a permanent home during their time together, due to Lord Edward FitzGerald's involvement with the United Irishmen. Pamela, believed by some to be the illegitimate daughter of Duke of Orleans, [3] was described as "elegant and engaging in the highest degree" and of "judicious taste in her remarks and curiosities". [ according to whom? ] Frescati House served as the venue for some United Irishmen meetings. Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man visited Lord Edward in Frescati House. Lord Cloncurry, who lived nearby in Maretimo, was also a frequent visitor to the house. A passage from a letter FitzGerald wrote to his mother in 1793 reads:

Wife and I are come to settle here. We came last night, got up to a delightful spring day, and we are now enjoying the little book room, with the windows open, hearing the birds sing, and the place looking beautiful. The plants in the passage are just watered: and with the passage door open the room smells like a greenhouse. Pamela has dressed four beautiful flower-pots, and is now working at her frame, while I write to my dearest mother and upon the two little stands are six pots of fine auriculas, and I am sitting in a bay window with all those pleasant feelings which the fine weather, the pretty place, the singing birds, the pretty wife and Frescati give me.

When he returned to the house in 1797, he wrote:

I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see this place again. In a moment one goes over the years every shrub, every turn, every peep of the house has a little history in it. The weather is delightful and the place looks beautiful. The trees are all so grown and there a thousand pretty sheltered spots, which near the sea in this season is very pleasant. The birds sing, the flowers blow, and make me for moments forget the world and all the villainy and tyranny going on in it.

It was as a result of a meeting at Frescati on 24 February 1798, that Fitzgerald’s revolutionary plans were betrayed by Thomas Reynolds. By March 1798, the United Irishmen had been infiltrated by spies. At this time, members of the Leinster committee were arrested. Lord Edward Fitzgerald escaped and went on the run. However an informer, attracted by the £1000 reward, was responsible for Fitzgerald’s arrest in Dublin's Thomas Street on the 19 May. He shot one of his attackers, in his attempt to escape, but he received a gunshot wound in the process. He died later from his untreated injuries in Newgate Prison on 4 June.

Later, the house was owned briefly by Sir Henry Cavendish, Receiver-General for Ireland. For a time, it housed Reverend Craig's boys' school which began in 1804. This school prepared students for Trinity College, Dublin, and emphasised anti-Papist (anti-Catholic) values, much the opposite of what Lord Edward believed. Several notable fireplace pieces were removed at this time. According to Gerald Campbell's book Edward and Pamela Fitzgerald Lady Campbell (their daughter) traced two of them to houses in Merrion Square. The five stables (which were situated before the bend of what is now Frescati Park) were converted into houses. The Craig family sold the house in the 1850s.

In the 20th century, residential developments were built on the estate of Frescati, such as Frescati Park. Frescati Park partly incorporated Stable Lane, and the stable-houses were demolished to make way for it. It was built on woodland around Frescati, and comprised houses with bow windows, mirroring those of Frescati. When Lisalea House was demolished, its lands were incorporated into the Frescati Estate.

Frescati's demise began in the late sixties, when it was acquired from the McKinleys. The grounds of the Frescati remained substantial. In the late 1960s, Dún Laoghaire Corporation acquired lands at Frescati to build a bypass. Even after land had been acquired for the Blackrock dual carriageway, the house retained at least 7 acres (2.8 ha). At the same time, Frescati and its lands were rezoned for commercial development. This meant a high financial potential for the lands. By 1970, Frescati was owned by "Frescati Estates Limited", a company controlled by the directors and owners of Roches Stores. They sought planning permission to have it demolished. Permission was granted, subject to permission being granted for whatever was to be built on the site. A department store, an office block, a hotel and a car park were planned for the site. [4]

When the proposals became public in 1971, there were objections by conservationists. A meeting called to discuss the future Frescati in Blackrock Town Hall was well attended. Several groups emerged in opposition to its demolition. Some locals formed an organisation called the Frescati Preservation Society. Desmond FitzGerald acted as the chairman, and Marie Avis Walker was secretary. Roches Stores were prepared only to retain a single stuccoed ceiling, which was to be kept in a memorial hall attached to the store. Local politicians joined the "Save Frescati" campaign as the house's welfare became a major issue with conservationists. Since permission to demolish the house had already been granted on the condition that permission was granted for whatever was planned for the site, the campaign focused its efforts on preventing this planning permission from being granted. [5]

Roches threatened to sue Dún Laoghaire Corporation for £1.3 million, a large amount at the time, despite legal opinion that such a claim could never be substantiated. However, they said that they would withdraw this claim if they were allowed to knock down the wings. Dún Laoghaire Corporation submitted a proposal for opinion that they could demolish the wings and integrate the Pillar room into the part that was to be retained. This was rejected by the conservationists. Several groups in favour of conservation including An Taisce, Bord Fáilte, the National Monuments Advisory Council, the Old Dublin Society, the Arts Council, and the Irish Georgian Society, signed a formal objection rejecting any proposition on the part of Dún Laoghaire Corporation to permit the demolition of any part of Frescati. Several companies offered to buy the house and promised to develop the lands while preserving Frescati. One of these companies wanted to erect a residential development in the remaining land which integrated a restored Frescati. All of these offers were refused. [5]

Conservationists feared that Roches Stores would attempt to demolish the house illegally. When locals noticed a truck load of masonry from the house, they alerted Dublin Corporation who sent a housing inspector. Having gained access to the house, they found the architect of the shopping centre with some workmen and that some floors had been removed. The architect claimed that they were "just lifting floorboards and joists". There was no apparent reason why they would need to carry out such a job on the house. In any case, they were not permitted to carry out any works of this kind on the house. The housing inspector pointed this out. [6]

Marie Avis Walker exploited a legal loophole, which had first been exposed by somebody who had applied for permission to build "a small cabin of clay and wattles made, nine bean rows, and a hive for honey bee" on the Isle of Innisfree earlier in the 1970s. This application was rejected in a decision by Sligo County Council, which claimed that it would hinder public amenities. When Marie Avis Walker made use of the loophole, she was more successful. She was granted planning permission for a shopping centre in which Frescati was retained in its entirety. The developers were concerned that she was able to do this, even though she was not the owner of the land. The law was changed as a direct result of this, and it is not possible now to seek planning permission for land which you do not own. This event was important for another reason: though Marie Avis Walker proved that the shopping centre and Frescati House could co-exist, Roches rejected the possibility, and in doing so demonstrated their opposition to preserving Frescati. [7]

As the dispute continued, the house was deteriorating rapidly. Valuable interior fittings such as chimney-pieces were removed. Lead was stolen from the roof, which led to damage of the plasterwork. Roches Stores were reluctant to spend money protecting a building they wanted demolished. The Corporation was partly to blame, as they did not properly replace the wall that they had demolished to facilitate the new road. This left the grounds of Frescati open and no action was taken against the people who were damaging the building. No repairs were carried out on the house and it became derelict. The worsening condition of the house was one of the factors which made its ultimate destruction unavoidable. [8]

In the early eighties, An Bord Pleanála finally granted permission for its wings to be demolished. In 1981, it was stripped of its wings. These constituted seventy percent of the house. The essential conditions that called for the restoration of the rest of the house were subsequently ignored. When the wings were demolished, nothing was done to prop up the remainder of the house. Despite this, the building was still structurally safe. The Corporation had argued that the proposed development was unsuitable for the area. Once Roches had completed their Department Store, the conservationists had no legal leg to stand on, since permission to demolish the house was effective once permission to develop the site had been granted. Roches declared that Frescati was beyond restoration. [9]

At this stage, it was clear that the attempt to preserve Frescati was being lost. In 1982, the Corporation tried to get an injunction in the High Court to compel Roches Stores to restore the remainder of the house as per the planning conditions. The judge, Mr. Justice O'Hanlon criticised both sides for the situation that had been allowed to develop. The Corporation had failed both to ensure that the vacant building was kept in proper repair and to enforce the law on Roches Stores. They hadn't taken effective action over the developers' refusal to abide by undertakings they had given to retain the one house and to spend £20,000 on essential repairs. Mr. Justice O'Hanlon concluded that the situation had gone beyond the point of no return, and that it was not feasible at this stage to restore Frescati. A quote from the final judgement reads:

It appears to me that the developers have been completely indifferent to, or perhaps have even welcomed, this deterioration in the condition of the building, and have done virtually nothing to halt it. I feel the developers have shown a complete disregard for the moral obligations which arose from their course of dealing with the corporation or the planning applications but I feel the corporation have also been extremely remiss to exercising whatever statutory powers were open to them to cope with the situation.

On 4 November 1983, in the early hours of the morning the shell of Frescati was razed to the ground, ending a campaign which had lasted almost thirteen years. Two JCBs completed the job quietly, and not a single protester turned up to hamper the demolition, though some came to observe the demolition. Some of the bamboo, which was planted in 1784 by Lord Edward from shoots he brought back from St. Lucia in the Caribbean, was still there. Souvenir hunters came to scour the rubble, which was left in situ until ten o'clock in the morning. Then the remains were collected into lorries and dumped in Ringsend. Frescati's end was summarised in a letter by Aidan Kelly, which appeared in the Irish Independent:

Softly, well before the winter dawn, the yellow monster lurched towards the grey façade. A lone rook stirred in the tall beeches nearby, troubled by the relentless purring of powerful motors. Down beyond the stream, what remains of his ornamental garden, a few regal bamboo blades, trembled in the night breeze. A mighty arm nudged the building. There was no crash, not even a rumble. Masonry fell with a rustle and hiss of dust down ivy-clad walls, to thud in moss. Within the hour, Frescati was no more.

A long time later, in the dull light of the November morning, early shoppers passed along, wrapped in the world of their own concerns. They noticed nothing. Maybe our small and selfish minds, our furtive Irish ways, our ready response to the turning of a coin, could never grasp the natural nobility and great sincerity of the man [Lord Edward Fitzgerald]! His progressive recognition of the total injustice of the behaviour of the aristocracy towards Ireland, is something the Irish have never had the greatness of mind to value. In the Irish mind this gallant man has always been a lesser patriot. Now they would roll a boulder in, and slap a plaque upon it! How quickly we can add an insult to an injury, and know not that we do it.

Since Frescati's demolition, Roches Stores has ceased to exist. The store tripled in size and became known as the Frascati Shopping Centre. A new shopping centre was built opposite the site of Frescati, and it opened just two years later. By way of compensation for the loss of Frescati, Frescati Estates Limited agreed to endow a scholarship at University College Dublin in perpetuity to the sum of £50,000, to be known as the Lord Edward Fitzgerald Memorial Fund. Roches Stores placed a granite boulder bearing a bronze plaque beside the entrance. The plaque commemorates Lord Edward FitzGerald, though the inscription contains factual inaccuracies, and it mentions that he "lived in Frascati [sic] House". The boulder stands to the right of the pedestrian entrance to the Shopping Centre today, but hedges are often grown in front of it, making it barely visible to passers by.

The Priory (or Frescati in this vicinity) Stream is now culverted under the car park but visible again as it passes a neighbouring apartment development and then passes under the main road to emerge again in Blackrock Park. In time of threat from unexpected raids by the Crown Militia from Dublin Castle, the course of the stream could well have formed an escape route. [ citation needed ] The original tunnel which Emily had built to carry seawater to Frescati remains to this day its whereabouts secret, and it has been blocked off. [ citation needed ]

One may notice stray cut-granite blocks which look out of place in the car park. These once belonged to the house. The remnants of Frescati are scattered now and hard to trace. The cast-iron railings were stolen, but a few fragments of plasterwork remain in safe-keeping by the conservationists. [ citation needed ] Ironically for the conservationists, more of the house would have survived if Roches had been allowed go ahead with the demolition in 1971. The stuccoed ceiling which they originally offered to retain is now destroyed.

Due to conservationist pressure, a nearby house, St Helen's, was declared a national monument. The house has since been refurbished as the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel. The lessons learned from Frescati have been used elsewhere. Hundreds of houses in the area were listed for preservation immediately after Frescati was demolished as a direct reaction. The Frescati case was considered in the final stages of the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1998 and buildings with cultural importance are now afforded greater protection through the act as a result. The large degree of neglect that Frescati suffered was a key tactic of the developers. Legislation was later introduced in which owners of historic buildings can be punished by a prison term or a fine of up to £1 million for negligence. This legislation was exercised when Archer's Garage in the southern city centre, a listed building, was demolished illegally - the developers agreed to rebuild, and did so.

Blackrock is an upmarket residential area. The pressure for development land in Blackrock has resulted in the demolition of a number of old houses Maretimo, Dawson Court, The Grove, Mount Merrion House, The Elms, Laural Hill, Fitzwilliam Lodge, Talbot Lodge, Frescati Lodge, Woodville, Carysfort Lodge, Avoca House, Lisalea, Ardlui, Linden Castle and Yankee Terrace (a street of around ten tiny 19th-century cottages). None of these constitutes a loss on the scale of Frescati.

Blackrock has changed much since the demise of Frescati. The Blackrock bypass has altered the character of the area. [ citation needed ] There is a vibrant atmosphere in the village, which is dominated by cafés, pubs, and boutiques. [ original research? ]

Frescati was the last building of significance connected with the 1798 Rising. [ citation needed ]


In 1913 Two Frenchwomen Took The Earliest Color Photos Of Ireland

In 1913, two Frenchwomen, named Madeleine Mignon and Marguerite Mespoulet, took a 2-month-long trip to Ireland.

The two women were a part of a world-wide project called Archives of the Planet (Archives de la Planète). It was initiated by Alberth Kahn, French banker and philanthropist, and it aimed to create “a kind of photographic inventory of the surface of the earth, as it was occupied and organized by men at the beginning of the 20th century.” So, the project was kind of like a primitive Google Maps.

The photographs captured by Madeleine Mignon and Marguerite Mespoulet are the earliest color photos of Ireland. Through the lenses of their Autochrome Lumière cameras, these adventurer intellectuals documented priceless moments of remote villages, Irish rural settlements, lives of locals adhering to traditional Gaelic values, ancient Celtic monuments, prominent Christian sites, green landscapes, cemeteries, street settings from Galway city and much more.

Without further ado, let’s commence our photographic trip back in time to the 1900’s Ireland.

Disclaimer: The photos belong to the archives of “Autochrome de Marguerite Mespoulet (inv.A 3 706). © Musée Albert-Khan – Département des Hauts-de-Seine”


Worst bushfires in Australia's history

Firefighters fill their tanker as a fire burns close to Labertouche. Credit: AFP

A fire-fighting helicopter approaches an out of control fire in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: AFP

Country Fire Authority staff monitor a giant fire raging in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: AFP

A Country Fire Authority sector commander looks up at a giant fire raging in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: AFP

A giant fire rages in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: AFP

A farming couple monitor a giant fire raging in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: AFP

Members of the MFB douse the remnants of a fire on Black Rock foreshore. Credit: John Donegan

Members of the MFB douse the remnants of a fire on Black Rock foreshore. Credit: John Donegan

Members of the MFB douse the remnants of a fire on Black Rock foreshore. Credit: John Donegan

Bushfire rages out of control from the Bunyip State Park. Credit: Jason South

Bushfire rages out of control from the Bunyip State Park towards the townships of Labortouche and Tonimbuk. Credit: Jason South

Bushfire rages out of control from the Bunyip State Park Credit: Jason South

A fire-fighting helicopter dumps a load of water on a house under threat close to Labertouche 125 kilometres west of Melbourne. Credit: William West

Warrigal residents watch paddocks burn. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

A fire in the Bunyip State Forest nears electricity transmission lines. Credit: Craig Abraham

Electric transmission lines are shrouded with smoke from a fire in the Bunyip State Park. Credit: Craig Abraham

Firefighters work on a forest fire in the Bunyip State Forest. Credit: Jason South

A water-bombing aircraft drops water on a forest fire in the Bunyip State Forest. Credit: Jason South

A fire in the Bunyip State Forest. Credit: Jason South

The Bunyip State Forest fires as viewed from Upper Beaconsfield. Credit: Chris Slenders

Smoke blocks out the stifling sun at Warragul, near the Bunyip Ridge fire. Credit: Debbie Lyons

Dangerous combination: thick smoke covers the sweltering sun at Warragul. Credit: Debbie Lyons

Thick smoke from the Bunyip State Forest fire. Credit: Debbie Lyons

Smoke from the Bunyip State Forest fire seen from Warragul. Credit: Debbie Lyons

A cloud of smoke from the Bunyip Ridge fire. Credit: Debbie Lyons

Smoke from the Bunyip State Forest fire. Credit: Debbie Lyons

The Bunyip State Forest fire seen from Warragul. Credit: Debbie Lyons

Smoke from the Bunyip State Forest fire covers the Warragul township. Credit: Debbie Lyons

The Bunyip State Forest fires, seen from the Warragul township. Credit: Debbie Lyons

The view of fires near Churchill, south of Morwell. Credit: Heidi P

Smoke is seen from fires burning near Churchill. Credit: Heidi P

Smoke billows through Yarra Glenn. Credit: Stuart Grey

A blood sunset over Yarra Glen Credit: Stuart Grey

People evacuate to the centre of Yarra Glen. Credit: Staurt Gray

Smoke engulfs the town of Yarra Glen Credit: Stuart Gray

The Grand Hotel in Yarra Glen surrounded by smake from bushfires Credit: Staurat Gray

A burnt out house on Chum Creek Road Chum Creek. Credit: Rob Carew

A burnt out house on Chum Creek Road Chum Creek. Credit: Rob Carew

Two burnt out cars on a property Chum Creek Road Chum Creek. Credit: Rob Carew

Blackened bushland Cunninghams Road, Chum Creek. Credit: Rob Carew

Tim and Rachael Calkin survery their burnt farm at Long Gully near Healesville. Credit: Angela Wylie

Mitch Bartlett at Ainsworth Avenue near Healseville lost his house in the fire. Credit: Angela Wylie

Mitch Bartlett at Ainsworth Avenue near Healseville lost his house in the fire which swept through the area. Credit: Angela Wylie

Morgan Engel with her dog Pippa near Healseville in the area where fire swept through. Credit: Angela Wylie

Fire devestation at Wandong. Credit: John Woudstra

Premier Brumby tours areas of Fire devestation at Wandong. Credit: John Woudstra

Fire devestation at Wandong. Credit: John Woudstra

John Brumby breaks down whilst speaking during a press conference at Kilmore. Credit: John Woudstra

The PM Kevin Rudd, Police Commissioner Christine Nixon and an emotional Premier John Brumby at the Eltham Emergency Operations centre after meeting with firemen. Credit: John Woudstra

Fire devestation at Wandong. Credit: John Woudstra

A Sparrowhawk Road resident surveys the damage to his home.

Union Street West Bendigo residents fighting the fire.

Union Street residents fighting the Bendigo fires.

Rhonda and Ray Swift inspect the damage to their Union Street West Bendigo home.

Narre Warren South where CFA firemen survey the damage of seven houses lost. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

Narre Warren South where CFA firemen survey the damage of seven houses lost. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

Narre Warren South where CFA firemen survey the damage of seven houses lost. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

Destroyed truck at Narbethong Victoria's after fire swept through the state on hottest day on record. Credit: Craig Abraham

Bendigo residents fighting fires. Credit: Bendigo Advertiser

Devastated Bendigo resident. Credit: Bendigo Advertiser

Bendigo residents fighting fires. Credit: Bendigo Advertiser

Homes destroyed in Kinglake. Credit: Reuters

The remains of houses destroyed by bushfires in Kinglake, about 46 kms north east of Melbourne. Credit: Reuters

Houses destroyed in Wandong, about 55 kms north of Melbourne. Credit: Reuters

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Wayne Hawkins

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AFP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Wayne Taylor

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Craig Abraham

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AP

A farmer on his property near Labertouche, about 125 kms west of Melbourne. Credit: AFP

The smoke from a bushfire is seen on the outskirts of Labertouche. Credit: Reuters

A bushfire burns through a forest on the outskirts of Labertouche. Credit: Reuters

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires.

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Jason South

A Country Fire Authority volunteers takes a break Credit: Reuters

Firemen extinguish a bushfire while a shed burns. Credit: Reuters

Bushfires cloud the sky. Credit: Jason South

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: AFP

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Jason South

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Ken Irwin

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Wayne hawkins

Aftermath of Victoria's bushfires. Credit: Ken Irwin

The remains of a properties destroyed by bushfires are seen in the town of Kinglake. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

The remains of a house where a couple died in the bushfires.

PM Kevin Rudd comforts a victim of the Victorian bush fires.

Firefighters work in the bush on the road to Kinglake where scores of houses were destroyed. Credit: WILLIAM WEST

Firefighters are engulfed in smoke as they battle a bushfire approaching the town of Peats Ridge. Credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD

A firefighter watches a helicopter water bomb a bushfire approaching the town of Peats Ridge. Credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD

A firefighter extinguishes a burning tree as a bushfire approaches the town of Peats Ridge, north of Sydney. Credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD

A man from Narbethong who lost his property and his dog is comforted at a roadblock.

A cow walks on burned grass in the town of St Andrews, 46km (29 miles) north of Melbourne. Credit: DANIEL MUNOZ

A firefighter inspects the remains of a swimming pool destroyed by bushfires in the town of Wandong, 55 km north of Melbourne. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

Firefighters work in the bush on the road to Kinglake. Credit: WILLIAM WEST

A firefighter inspects the remains of a house destroyed by bushfires. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

The remains of a children's swing set destroyed by bushfires. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

Rosaleen Dove gestures in the remains of her yard destroyed by bushfires. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

The remains of houses destroyed by bushfires are seen in the town of Heathcote Junction. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

The remains of houses destroyed by bushfires. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

A statue of a woman and child is seen amongst the remains of houses destroyed by bushfires. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

Vehicles and a barn burn in bushfires close to Labertouche, some 125 kilometres west of Melbourne. Credit: WILLIAM WEST

The remains of a house destroyed by bushfires is seen in the town Kinglake. Credit: DANIEL MUNOZ

A satellite image shows smoke emerging from fires in southeastern Australia. Credit: NASA

House lost in bushfires in Whittlesea. Credit: Ken Irwin KEN

Storms in the hot south west slopes near coolamon provided mainly dust storms and lightning which may start more bush fires. Credit: Nick Moir

Tourists atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk below the Australian (R) and New South Wales state flags which have been lowered to half staff as a mark of respect to people killed in bushfires. Credit: TIM WIMBORNE

A man walks away from the remains of a house and cabins destroyed by bushfires in the town of Wandong. Credit: DANIEL MUNOZ

Destroyed houses at Flowerdale two days after bushfires ripped through the town. Credit: Craig Abraham

Police oficers examine the remains of a burnt out vehicle. Credit: Scott Barbour

Police officers and CFA volunteers search through the remains of a burnt out property. Credit: Scott Barbour

Paul Beckman , 53 , sifting through the ruins of his life after fires destroyed his house and livelihood at Narbethong.

An excavator moves a burned out car from the road near the community of Kinglake. Credit: RICK RYCROFT

Serving dinner to people camped up at the Yea Recreation Reserve relief centre.

An Australian Army armoured personnel carrier drives towards the town of Kinglake. Credit: MICK TSIKAS

Sheep walk at a burnt out field after fire raged through the community of Kinglake. Credit: POOL, STF

The remains of St. Andrew's church is seen after it was destroyed by fire at the community of Kinglake. Credit: POOL, STF

Bushfire rages out of control from the Bunyip State Park towards the townships of Labortouche and Tonimbuk. Credit: Jason South

Jane Cameron hugs local police officer Andrew Lodi as Greg Annand stands by the area where Cameron and Annand's home was destroyed. Credit: POOL, STF

The Marysville primary school lies in ruins after the bushfires destroyed the town. Credit: WILLIAM WEST

Police officers go door-to-door in the fire-ravaged town of Kinglake. Credit: POOL

The Marysville primary school lies in ruins after bushfires destroyed the town. Credit: WILLIAM WEST

A farm house lies in ruins near the fire-ravaged town of Whittlesea. Credit: POOL

Country Fire Authority member Andrew Watson carries his five-year-old daughter Elana in the fire ravaged town of Kinglake. Credit: POOL

Father Stephen Holmes of St. Peter's Anglican Church in the fire-ravaged town of Kinglake searches through the remains of his church. Credit: POOL

The Army has set up tents for people who have lost their homes and for people seeking refuge.

David and Anne Carroll with their daughter Karla who fled the fires at Buxton near Alexandra and are now living in a shelter.

A house survives on a ridge above Steels Creek after bushfires swept through two days ago. Credit: Craog Abraham

Lisa and Ross Little at the remains of their home. Credit: Angela Wylie

Burnt out cars from the wild bushfires. Credit: Angela Wylie

Kinglake residents injured during the wild bushfires. Credit: Angela Wylie


Sex magic, occult art and acid: the story of the infamous witch of Kings Cross

They didn’t quite burn witches in Australia in the 1940s and 50s, but they didn’t make it easy for them either.

Take Rosaleen Norton, an artist and self-identified witch who the tabloids called “the witch of Kings Cross”. She was repeatedly arrested, had her artwork burned and was shunned and mocked by society.

Norton eked out a modest living selling her art, and putting spells and hexes on people. Her story has been captured in a new documentary, released online on Tuesday.

Norton, who lived in Kings Cross in the postwar years until her death in 1979, had been fascinated with the occult since she was a child.

Aged 23 and living away from her conservative family in a variety of lodgings and squats in the seedy Sydney suburb, she began to practise trance magic and, later, sex magic. The former involved invoking spells, rituals and taking substances with the aim of achieving a higher form of consciousness the latter was popularised by the British occultist Aleister Crowley and involved having sex with multiple partners that invoked rituals similar to Tantra.

The fascinating story of Norton’s life may have been lost had it not been for the commitment of Sonia Bible to bring it to the screen.

Made on a shoestring budget, and largely crowd- and self-funded, the documentary is a labour of love. The film-maker managed to track down several of Norton’s contemporaries before they died, and sourced diaries and artworks that were in private hands she melds the historical documents with dramatic recreations (Norton is played by Kate Elizabeth Laxton).

Film-maker Sonia Bible says the woman dubbed the ‘witch of Kings Cross’ lived life on her terms and in her 60s was still dropping acid and making art

“When I started making the film, I knew this story was on the edge of living memory,” Bible says. “This would be the last film on the late 50s, because the people have died. The oral history of people who were there – that has gone now.”

She came across Norton’s story in the tabloid papers, while researching 2011’s Recipe for Murder – another documentary set in postwar Sydney.

“It was a time of great social change,” Bible says. “A dark noir time before pointy cars and rock’n’roll, but in the lead-up to the counterculture.

‘If she had been launching herself in the 1960s, with the counterculture and feminism in full swing, she would have been like Brett Whiteley’: Bacchanal by Rosaleen Norton. Photograph: Burgess family

All her life, Norton combined her interest in the occult with art. Her paintings, some of which were seized by police and burned, could loosely be defined as esoteric: canvases often filled with hectic images of women embracing the Greek god Pan, snakes and horned demons.

Australia in the postwar years was almost 90% Christian, and Norton was made a target for her beliefs. Surveillance and raids from the vice squad, and seizure of her work, criminalised her, and turned her into a notorious and shocking tabloid figure. One of her sex magic partners, the celebrated Sydney Symphony Orchestra conductor Sir Eugene Goossens, was forced to flee Australia when his luggage at Sydney airport was found to contain pornography. The pair each suffered in their own way for transgressing the strict moral boundaries of the time.

“There was a rapid change in relationships between men and women, social conventions and politics,” Bible says. Right now we are also living in a time of great change, but when you are in it, you can’t analyse it.”

Norton with her painting The Adversary in 1949. Photograph: Fairfax Media

Part of the tragedy of Norton’s story is that she was born too soon – in 1917. If she were alive now, there would be a whole community of witches to connect with on TikTok – but even being born 10 years later would have made a difference, according to Bible.

“If she had been launching herself in the 1960s, with the counterculture and feminism in full swing, she would have been like Brett Whiteley … She was at the vanguard and she did have an impact and inspired people. Young people went up to the Cross looking for her.”

But even though Norton’s life was hard, Bible cautions about viewing her with pity.

“She lived the life she wanted. She didn’t value money. She was very happy. She had her art and her religion. She lived life on her own terms and towards the end she had a flat in Kings Cross, given to her by the church.

“People felt sorry for her, this old woman living in the Cross with her cats. But in her 60s she was dropping acid and still making art. She was very happy.”

The Witch of Kings Cross releases worldwide on 9 February on Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo and GooglePlay it will be in selected cinemas from 11 February


Ireland’s Banished Children

<em>Babies in St. Patrick's Guild in Dublin, 1960.</em>

Many of the thousands of Irish babies adopted in the U.S. in the 󈧬s, 󈧶s, and 󈨀s are reclaiming their roots. Emer Mullins reports.

In a quiet convent outside Dublin, an elderly nun is in possession of a veritable Pandora’s Box relating to one of the most controversial periods in Irish social history.

Sr. Patricia Quinn used to work at St. Patrick’s Guild in Dublin, a mother and baby home and adoption society run by the Sisters of Charity under the auspices of the Archbishop of Dublin.

It was from this place that hundreds of Irish babies born to single mothers were transported to America, usually when they were about two years old. The mothers had to wean their children before they were adopted. One woman recalled how the nuns restricted the hours she and other mothers could spend with their children as the adoption neared. “I was weaned from him like from three times a day to twice a day to once a day,” she said of her 20-month-old son. “Not just from breast feeding, from seeing him.”

Sr. Patricia Quinn has a photographic record of many of those babies, tucked away in a cardboard box. This historical montage contains photos of babies sent to New York, Chicago, and other American cities. Many of these babies went on to happy lives in America, and some not so happy, as evidenced in their reluctance to discuss their childhood.

The mothers, on the other hand, housed in homes such as the Magdalen Asylum run by the Sisters of Charity, commonly known as the Magdalen Laundry because of the work the women had to do, often went on to marry, the secret of their cherished baby kept to themselves. Some actually married the father of their baby, as in my own sister’s case, where my parents never revealed to their nine subsequent children that we had a sister adopted in America.

In some cases, the children were fostered in Ireland. One woman recalled how, at the age of three, she came downstairs one morning and was introduced to her 10-year-old sister for the first time.

The emotional consequences of many of those adoptions are only now being revealed.

One baby whose photograph Sr. Quinn possessed was Miles Patrick Lawless. Born in St. Patrick’s Guild in 1961 to an unwed mother, Miles was sent to Lafayette, Louisiana, to Doc and Lou Dauterive, where his name was changed to Daniel. He grew up as a French Cajun, with French-speaking parents, and had a very happy childhood.

Marie Heshka’s Irish passport.

But his bright red hair always reminded him of his ancestry — and when he grew older he wanted to find his birth mother. “I was a red-haired blue-eyed boy,” Danny said. “I was always curious about my roots, and when I decided to search, my adoptive parents didn’t celebrate. But they were always supportive, and always told me I was adopted. They had kept my Irish passport, and were always honest.”

Danny and his wife, Tammy, who live in Montana where Danny runs a local public television station, decided to try to find his Irish mother. The search led to Sr. Patricia Quinn, who was instrumental in reuniting mother and son. “I found the nun who arranged my adoption,” Danny explained, referring to Sr. Quinn. “She had a big ledger book of names. She has a box of pictures of kids from the States that families sent to her after the kids were adopted. She had a picture of me, and she found my birth mother.”

Within three months, Danny knew who and where his mother was. “Compared to what everyone else goes through, I was either very lucky or too stupid to know better,” he remarked. When Sr. Quinn contacted Danny and said his mother would meet him, he was scared but happy. “I spent my whole life wondering,” he remembered. “And here I’d found out my history. I grew up in the Cajun culture, although every St. Patrick’s Day I had a `Kiss Me I’m Irish’ T-shirt. I always said I was an Irish Cajun, which meant I could drink twice as much!”

Danny, Tammy, and their first of two sons, Miles Lawless Dauterive,set off for Dublin. “It’s like going to a funeral or a wedding and meeting people you haven’t seen for 20 years — you know you’re related but you don’t know them,” said Danny.

It was November 1991, 30 years after Danny was born in Dublin. He was overjoyed to find his mother, but they do not have a close relationship. “We spent a few hours there and since then we’ve sent Christmas cards and written letters. But I wouldn’t say we have a close relationship,” Danny explained. “I’d like to visit again and I asked her to visit Montana but she wouldn’t. I think she still feels it’s a stigma, to have given birth out of wedlock.”

Although Danny’s parents got married after his adoption, Danny believes his mother, whom he did not wish to name, still reflects the attitudes of those times of a staunchly Catholic society which treated pregnant single women as aberrations, hid them from view in Church-run homes, changed their names and sent their babies abroad to keep their “shameful” secrets buried.

Estimates suggest that thousands of babies underwent this fate, growing up in foreign countries with new identities and new lives. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs announced a year ago that its archives contained as many as 2,000 files, the hidden secrets of a generation of Irish women. The role of the Catholic Church, which ruled over the government in this matter, has been exposed. There was no such thing as separation of Church and State.

The patriarch of the Catholic Church in Ireland from 1940 until 1972 was Archbishop John McQuaid, who ruled supreme over matters of Ireland’s morals. As John Cooney, a biographer of McQuaid’s, wrote: “The record shows his primary concern was the upbringing and indoctrination of children either in a Catholic home or a Catholic-run orphanage.”

McQuaid was behind the directive governing the adoptions by Americans of Irish Catholic children between 1948 and 1962 which stripped a mother of all future rights to her child.

“There were very few choices,” said Fr. John Dardis, spokesman for the Church, when asked about the directive which saw mothers sign away their babies. “I think we weren’t as aware then…how can you judge the 1940s with the insights of the 1990s?”

Dan Dauterive, aka Miles Patrick Lawless.

McQuaid also saw to it that the adoptive parents had to promise to bring the child up in the Catholic faith and with a Catholic education. But perhaps the most outlandish part of this Faustian bargain, for the adoptive mother, was that she had to prove she was not using contraceptives, “an obsession of McQuaid,” according to Cooney.

A form entitled “List of Documents to be submitted to His Grace, The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland by Prospective Adoptees Abroad” required “medical certificates for both prospective adopters, stating their ages and certifying as to their general physical and mental health and that they are not in any way shirking natural parenthood.” The form also stipulated that “there should be no publicity at any stage in connection with the adoption.” And the directive specified that the adoptive mother give up work.

There was no adoption legislation in Ireland at this time in fact, McQuaid blocked prospective legislation put forward by the Irish government in 1944 and 1948. Records show that de Valera’s government tried to introduce adoption law at the end of World War II. The secretary of the Department of Justice at the time, S.A. Roche, sought McQuaid’s advice on “religious problems” involved in the adoption of “destitute children.”

In March 1945, McQuaid said while legal adoption was not against the tenets of the Catholic faith, he had not seen any proposal which would safeguard the faith of the children. “If my advice be sought I should urge that no step be taken in respect of Catholic children — and you know what a proportion that category entails — without referring the matter to the Catholic hierarchy.” The government surrendered its role in the face of the Church’s power.

When legislation was finally introduced in 1952, McQuaid vetted every word so that his army of Catholic children would not be led astray by adoptive parents. The Adoption Act included the clause that the adoptive parents must be “of the same religion as the child and his parents, or, if the child is illegitimate, his mother.” This was found to be unconstitutional in 1974 and overturned by the court.

Fr. Colm Campbell was ordained in Ireland by Archbishop McQuaid and for six years worked as a priest there while this policy was in operation. He said he feels guilty to this day when he thinks about the un-Christian way in which the Church treated these women. But he also wonders what the alternative would have been had the church not helped the pregnant girls. “Looking back now, we can see the human misery it caused,” he said. “But at the time we really thought it was for the best.”

So thousands of babies were shipped from the shores of Ireland from a number of institutions, often carried in the arms of air hostesses on Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus. Meanwhile, the mothers were left to grieve and wonder alone.

Kathleen Brennan, nee Quinn, originally from County Longford, was one such mother. At the tender age of 16 she discovered she was pregnant. She did not know where to turn, and ended up in the mother and baby home in Castlepollard, County Westmeath in April of 1951. There she remained for a year, during which time she gave birth to her daughter, Rosaleen, in September 1951.

“We were given a name so we couldn’t identify each other if we met on the outside,” Kathleen remembered. Her given name was Doris. “We got up every day at 5.30 a.m. and went to 6 a.m. mass,” she said. Kathleen was assigned to work in the nursery with the newborn infants — almost all of whom were to be adopted. “I remember lines of cribs with all those gorgeous babies,” Kathleen said softly.

Of her own little girl’s birth, Kathleen said: “When Rosaleen was born she was tiny. I just remember robbing her little hands and legs constantly.”

Kathleen Brennan with her daughter, Mary Ellen Hall.

The Nursing Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who ran the convent, allowed the women to spend brief periods with their babies during the day, but at night they were kept in the nursery, overseen by other women.

“They had us nurse the babies as newborns, but took them away at night. I was working in the nursery and people would come up to see the babies — there were always visitors looking,” said Kathleen. “Some babies were adopted before they were a month old. The ones who were two and three and four were on a different floor. It was hard if a family didn’t take a child because then they were sent as orphans to a county home.” These children would often work the land for local farmers without pay.

Many mothers were given only hours’ notice when their baby was to be taken. Kathleen Brennan was told two days in advance of Rosaleen’s adoption. When her turn came, Kathleen seems to have blocked a lot of the memories out. “When I let her go,” she said, “I was given two days’ notice. She was all dressed in pink, and there were two little boys in blue. I remember thinking `she’s so tiny.'”

Kathleen did not know where her daughter was being taken. She said it was her decision to have her baby adopted because she couldn’t “take the flak” from her parents, but she had no idea that Rosaleen would be taken to America. She, like countless other girls, was forced to sign the horrendous “relinquishment form,” swearing on oath that “I hereby relinquish full claim forever to my child…and I hereby surrender the said child…and I understand never to make any claim to the said child.” The child was relinquished to the care of the Reverend Mother in question, so the parent had no way of knowing the baby’s final destination.

Rosaleen’s journey took her from Castlepollard to a family in Wichita, Kansas, where she became, to all intents and purposes, Mary Ellen Hammer. Rosaleen Quinn, as far as the Church, the community and her mother were concerned, was gone forever.

Mary Ellen, however, had other ideas. Her adoptive mother, Marie, was tragically killed in a car crash in Kansas when Mary Ellen was four, and her father, Melvin, remarried, a woman who later had children of her own. From an early age, Mary Ellen was aware she was not their natural child. “I remember being very young and I asked my father why my parents gave me away,” she confided. “He lied and said they were very poor. I said, `But, Daddy, I wouldn’t have eaten very much.’ And he just cried and cried.”

Mary Ellen said her childhood was great, and she appreciates that she may not have fared so well had she remained in rural Ireland. But as she grew up her heritage became very important to her, especially when she had children of her own. She wanted to find her mother. She, like many others, did not consider searching for her natural father. Many adoptees told me they believed their mothers had been abandoned once they became pregnant, or simply had a brief relationship with the man, so they never considered searching for their natural fathers.

Mary Ellen and Kathleen share family photographs on the night they were reunited.

When Mary Ellen’s search began, it was thwarted by the very institution responsible for her predicament — the Catholic Church.

When Mary Ellen visited St. Patrick’s Institute in 1987 the nuns said they could not help her. “I contacted Sr. Gabriel of the Sisters of Charity [who had arranged the adoption] and she said they couldn’t help. They said their contract was not with me,” Mary Ellen related. The nuns argued that their client was the mother, not the child, and they could not breach that confidentiality. “She had all the records right there but she would not give me any information and she would not attempt to make contact with my mother on my behalf,” Mary Ellen continued. Sr. Gabriel told Mary Ellen that her mother would have to request a search, knowing that the mothers were forced to swear that they would not do so.

Mary Ellen did not receive any help from the religious in Ireland, although she had organized a thank-you party for the Catholic priest who arranged some 20 Irish adoptions in that area, including her own — Father Michael Blacklidge, whose sister was a nun in Ireland.

Undeterred, she continued to search, and contacted the same nun, Sr. Gabriel, nine years later, facing another rebuff. She enlisted the help of the Belfast-born immigrant chaplain, now in New York, Fr. Colm Campbell. Mary Ellen’s marriage to Graham Hall had taken her from Kansas to New York as a successful banker. Fr. Campbell, in turn, contacted a friend in Belfast, who tracked down the Quinn family in short order. To Mary Ellen’s astonishment, she discovered her mother had lived in New York since 1958. “It was like fate,” she said. While she presumed her mother had remained in Ireland, Kathleen presumed Mary Ellen was in Ireland. They met for the first time in 35 years in New York on October 17, 1996. They spent Christmas together with their respective families, and a growing bond between mother and daughter is emerging.

“I think her coming into my life has given me the benefit of her wisdom. She is my confidante, and she gives me patience and total acceptance,” Mary Ellen said. Kathleen is overjoyed with her daughter. A second daughter died in a subway accident at the age of four before Kathleen had a third. She also has two sons. “I remember I had a dream where Rosaleen was a housewife in Dublin and I went to visit her. She wasn’t very friendly,” she said wryly. “When she tracked me down, I heard from a nun in Belfast. She called and asked me if I remembered 1951. I said yes, and then she told me. My daughter was in New York.”

When the two were reunited, Kathleen, almost instinctively, started petting Mary Ellen’s hands, stroking them endlessly. “She just loved to touch me,” Mary Ellen said. “I had never been looked at so lovingly. Now it’s funny because I see I have all these inherited Irish traits. I’ll go to the wall for a cause, and I never knew where I got that from. Now I know.” Mother and daughter meet at least once a week, and are fast becoming friends. “Just last week,” said Mary Ellen with a laugh, “she asked me if I had all my own teeth!” She assured her mother that she did.

Irish American adoptees are finding that avenues of search have opened since their situation was highlighted in both the Irish and U.S. media in 1996 and 1997 as a result of some horrific tales about life in the Magdalen Homes, the Church-run industrial homes for unmarried pregnant women and mothers, and as a result of people deliberately being given false information when they tried to search.

Many people profess themselves willing to help, but, unfortunately, reports have emerged from adoptees of unscrupulous individuals who see other people’s heartache as a way to benefit themselves.

Marie Heshka, aka Maria Goretti O’Neill.

One Irish American adoptee who reported such problems was Marie Heshka, whose search for her birth mother began 14 months ago. Made undertook an enormous amount of research when she began to try to trace her mother, and her efforts led her to reach out to Ireland to help. There she contacted Anne Kane, a woman featured on ABC’s 20/20 because of her involvement in helping adoptees search. However, Marie claims that instead of helping her, Kane deliberately misled her. “She told me she found my mother, she had my birth certificate and my mother’s name was Margaret,” said Marie. None of this was true. Kane, she claims, gave her false details, but asked her to make a donation to NORCAP, a totally legitimate adoption counseling group based in England.

Kane has since asked adoptees for a $250 “registration” fee and then required more money for further “services,” Irish America learned.

Marie Heshka was so angry over Kane’s behavior, she fired off an angry letter to NORCAP, urging the group to investigate its affiliation with Kane. “I spoke with [Kane] on numerous occasions over a five-month period and wrote several letters in 1996. During this time Ms. Kane supplied little helpful information and told me some blatant lies,” wrote Heshka. “I do not make this charge lightly. I am writing this letter of complaint because Ms. Kane continues to find more victims.” Irish America could not reach Ms. Kane. “She will refer you to an adoptee she has helped, but she won’t tell you about the nine others she has burned,” Heshka said. Caveat emptor.

Meanwhile she continued her search on her own. Born Maria Goretti O’Neill in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, she grew up in Flint, Michigan. Her adoptive mother, from Belfast, had married an American in the U.S. Army whom she met in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Marie’s parents separated two years after she joined them, and she grew up in a single-parent household with an adopted brother, Barry, also from Ireland.

“At school we were the only immigrants, and we were sent to speech therapy because of our accents,” Marie remembered. “I probably had a nice Irish brogue. I always felt different, and when my adoptive mother died in 1988 I found letters and correspondence from Ireland, and decided to search.”

After doing some preliminary research, Made ran into closed doors, and let the matter drop. But at the end of 1995, she and her husband were sailing in the Caribbean when she heard a radio broadcast from England — a BBC show about the Magdalen Home in Galway, one of a number of notorious industrial homes run by nuns in the 40s, 50s and 60s. The first St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum was established in 1798 and placed under the care of the Sisters of Charity in 1833. “It provides in every respect for 120 penitents, who contribute to their support by laundry work,” said Thom’s Directory of Ireland in 1960. The horror story that was life for the women in these Magdalen laundries, as they were known, emerged in the past year. Tales of physical and sexual abuse at those and other state and Church-run orphanages abounded in the press, leading one order of nuns to advertise its public apology in a daily newspaper.

Left: A list of expenses involved in Marie’s adoption Right: A letter from a nun at Castlepollard to Marie’s adoptive parents describing the little girl.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Made said. “I thought, `Could that have been my mother?’ When we came back to the U.S. my husband said, ‘Just do it,’ and so I began again in January 1996. I lived at the Central Research Library and the Latter Day Saints — I went at it full-time.”

Marie eventually contacted Sr. Mary Sarto in Ireland, who freely told Made her mother’s name, and offered to drive to her home in County Leitrim to uncover more information. “She told me my birth weight and time of birth,” Made said happily. In January of this year, Marie made contact with her mother, who now lives in England. She wrote to her, and her mother responded with another letter, the first line of which read: “I was overjoyed to hear from you.”

Marie’s mother, whose identity she wishes to protect, told her daughter she had tried to search for her 17 years ago, when Made was 21. “She was told she couldn’t, that I would have to initiate the search,” Made explained. “She said she was 21 when she became pregnant, that it was the first time she had sex, that her father beat her, threw her out of the house and disowned her. She was at Castlepollard for two years, and her mother visited her there once behind her father’s back. She said the pregnant girls were never allowed to leave the grounds, and all their mail was read. She was given a name and a number to identify her. She said even now she could not write to the nuns, because some of them were very unkind.”

Castlepollard, at that time, was certified to hold 130 mothers. “My mother knew her baby was going to the U.S.,” Marie added. “We [adoptees] used to say we were born in the belly of a Pan Am jet.”

Marie, too, is overjoyed to have made contact with her birth mother. “I thought about having a T-shirt made with `Irish American Adoptee: Born 10-15-1958 — Are You My Mother?’ written on it,” Marie confided with a laugh. “The problem for people searching is they don’t know where to go or whom to trust,” she continued. Marie is one of a growing number of people who are reaching out to others in the same situation to offer help — at no cost.

Adoptees often fear rejection while searching for their birth mother or father. And the ones being sought sometimes do not want to be found. According to John Lawton of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, which has custody of the 2,000 confidential adoption files discovered in 1995, the department has received letters from birth mothers saying “under no circumstances should their names be given out.”

For Irish women, in particular, their circumstances during those years were made insufferable by their communities, a direct result of the influence of the Church. The shame and stigma they were made to feel lingered for years in many cases. Many went on to marry and rear families without ever disclosing their secret, and feared that their past would catch up in the shape of a knock on the door.

This is perhaps best illustrated by a story related to me by an Irish woman involved in helping people search. It was the heart-breaking tale of a pregnant teenage girl, abandoned by her puritanical parents and taken in the back seat of a car in the dead of night to a mother and baby home in County Cork. When her baby was born and adopted, this girl remained at the convent. She had nowhere else to go. She spent her entire life working for the nuns as an unpaid cleaner and housekeeper. When she died a couple of years ago, a nun contacted the woman’s sister to break the news and make arrangements for her funeral. Her family still did not want to know. After a period of lengthy persuasion on the part of the nun, the woman’s sister agreed she could be buried in the family plot. Secretly. The woman’s body was removed from the convent in a hearse in the dead of night — almost exactly as she had entered: in silence, in secrecy and alone.

Nancy Ellen Giambalvo at 18 months old.

Babies who died in infancy or were stillborn were buried anonymously in graves in convent grounds, never having had an identity. The Irish government again surrendered to pressure from the Church and shut its eyes to the situation. One such graveyard can be found at Sean Ross Abbey in County Tipperary, and one Irish adoptee was so moved by what she saw there she is planning a memorial service for those unknown children in 1998.

The effects of “the American baby trade,” as one observer sarcastically described what happened in those dark years, will reverberate in Ireland and the U.S. for years to come.

While many of the children may have been better off financially or even emotionally because of their adoption, many more suffer the agonies of being without a history and a heritage. However, when a baby’s adoption crosses ethnic lines, the effects are even worse.

One such child was Nancy Ellen Giambalvo, born in Brooklyn in 1961 to an Irish mother. Nancy was adopted by a Jewish family in Brooklyn, and when she was six she was convened to Judaism in a ceremony which she did not understand. She was sent to Hebrew classes after school, where she did not feel comfortable. When she married, 12 years ago, it was to a man of Catholic and Jewish descent. Her husband, Andrew, recalled how Nancy’s parents asked before their wedding if he had had a bris [a ritual circumcision ceremony for male infants] and a bar mitzvah. “They knew I was half Jewish but they asked for proof,” Andrew said in disbelief. “Yet they knew Nancy had been adopted, she was originally Catholic and had been converted [to Judaism], and they didn’t say anything about that.”

Nancy is very hurt at what she sees as her parents’ deception. “I was always mistaken for being Irish, and I would get snappy,” she said. “I remember being at temple when I was little, and people would say to my parents, `Look at the shiksa’ [Jewish term for Christian]. I didn’t know what that meant, and they always told me it meant `cute.'”

Nancy’s husband calls her the `lost Celt.’ She remembers staying indoors on St. Patrick’s Day, because her red hair led to the assumption that she was Irish.

“When I was going out as a teenager, Jewish guys never asked me out,” she said. “They knew I was different, and I always felt different. But Irish or American guys would ask, and they were amazed when I said I was Jewish. I have this Celtic look, I suppose,” she said wistfully.

Her confusion over her identity was compounded by the lack of information from her parents, and Nancy became ill because of her situation. “I got sick in December and my doctor said I was perfectly healthy,” she said. “Then they kept asking if something was bothering me, and my parents asked if something was wrong. I said yes — I don’t know anything about my biological mother.” Nancy’s parents passed on a bizarre story about how she came to the family, which Nancy does not believe. She does know she was born to an Irish woman in Prospect Heights Hospital in Brooklyn, delivered by a Dr. Hyman Fishman, and has a copy of her birth certificate, which was deliberately altered.

Andrew and Nancy Giambalvo.

“There are more papers on my car than there are on me,” Nancy said wryly. “All I have are an altered birth certificate, a letter from a rabbi saying I was successfully converted, and my marriage license.” Nancy’s parents, who said they paid her mother’s medical expenses while she stayed at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, refuse to give her any more information, so she is proceeding with her search without them. “They said my mother was in her 20s, she smoked Camel cigarettes, but they couldn’t remember her name. I remember my father saying to me, ‘You don’t look Jewish’ and it was eating him up. They always said to me, `If we didn’t adopt you, who would?’,” Nancy recalled. “I feel like I am some dirty little secret they have to cover up.”

Despite her anguish, Nancy can laugh at her predicament. “My cousins wanted my photograph so they could model their nose jobs after mine,” she said with a chuckle.

Nancy, like Marie Heshka, has visions of a public appeal for help.

“I think I’ll have a T-shirt made that says: `I’m O-Dopted: Do You Know Me?'” Nancy said. “Maybe someone will recognize me or listen to my story.”

The walls erected by the Church and government in Ireland are obviously crumbling — and a generation of Irish children are seeking answers. There are calls for the establishment of a national contact registry in Ireland, and this, apparently, is under consideration. But one American woman wants to take things a step further. Kathy Houlihan from Allentown, Pennsylvania, whose reunion with her natural mother in County Donegal was featured on ABC’s 20/20 show The Lost Children of Ireland, visited the unmarked graveyard in Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, County Tipperary containing the babies’ remains.

Kathy, a professional fund-raiser, was so moved by what she saw there that she has already begun to raise funds in the U.S. for the erection of a monument at the site. She has written to Irish President Mary Robinson to ask for her support.

“A memorial should be built,” she said. “There are probably hundreds of unnamed babies in graveyards in Ireland given the mortality rate in the 40s and 50s. It broke my heart — it was like we were the bad blood and no one wanted us. I want recognition for them, because it’s sacred ground.”

Kathy wants to organize a sponsored walk for families and adoptees in Ireland in the summer of 1998 to raise money for a suitable memorial. “I want to send a peaceful message, too,” she added. “It’s over, as far as how single mothers were viewed in those days. I’m not trying to confront the Church or the government this is about reuniting families. After all, we are Irish citizens and we want our country to embrace us.” ♦


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