An elderly Irish woman who grew up in an orphanage managed to finally track down her 103-year-old mum after 60 years of searching.
81-year-old Eileen Macken spent her childhood at Kirwan House orphanage in Dublin, but when she reached the age of 19 she decided to try and track down her biological mother.
After decades with no luck, last year the elderly woman called in to RTÉ’s Liveline show in a final push to find her mother, though by that point Eileen naturally presumed her birth mother had passed away.
A genealogist reportedly heard the pensioner’s pleas on the radio and contacted Eileen to offer his help. For over a year, the pair worked together to try and learn more about the 81-year-old’s roots.
"I think I am Ireland's oldest orphan" says 80-year-old Eileen Macken. Born in the Bethany Home and moved to Kirwan House at 2. Given someone else's birth cert at 16 and lived under that identity for 60 years. Found out, after DNA, the family she thought was hers was not. #Shame pic.twitter.com/ZInfqvaYMe
— Stay With Me Exhibition (@mynamesisbridge) June 30, 2018
Eileen is happily married to husband Ronald, with who she has two daughters and a son, but according to the Irish Post the orphaned woman has said she had always longed to have other blood relatives.
Incredibly, with the help of modern DNA testing, the genealogist was able to identify the Irish woman’s biological mother earlier this month. Even better than that, Eileen found out her mother is alive and well at the grand old age of 103.
Speaking to presenter Joe Duffy on RTÉ Radio 1, as reported in the Irish Post, the 81-year-old expressed her shock and delight at hearing the good news:
I can’t believe it, and when I got the word that she was alive, all I want to do is to meet her.
My mum is 103 and she will soon be 104. I spoke to her on the phone but she couldn’t hear me. She’s a bit like myself, Joe, I’ve only one good ear.
I’d love to go on a big mountain and scream it out to everybody, ‘I’m not an orphan anymore!’
The long-lost mother and daughter have since shared a phone call, but the pair had difficulty hearing each other over the line.
Unfortunately, she lives across the water but two of my cousins have decided to help me… they know that all I want is to see her.
I don’t want to upset anybody, I won’t give any names or anything.
As well as finding her birth mother, the Irish woman learned she also has two half-brothers.
Explaining how the discovery has changed her life, Eileen said:
I think I have two half brothers. I’d say they’re in their mid 70s. The brothers are like myself only younger, probably about 20 years younger.
The sadness that goes with being alone is there even to this day. Different things would set me off, I’d say, ‘if only I had a brother, if only I had a sister’, I think it’s just within you that you have no blood relatives.
But I have now. I’m the happiest person alive. I really am.
Eileen’s next step in reconnecting with her mother will be travelling to meet her face-to-face, but the Irish woman has recently undergone an operation and so is unable to travel just yet.
Still, she has said ‘time is of the essence’, and is excited to learn more about her family so her children can ‘know who their grandmother was, their grandpeople, and their great-great grandpeople’.
What a happy ending!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.