Deputy Martin Kenny
Speaking about the Adoption Bill in Dáil Eireann last week, Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny from Aughavas spoke about what were locally called “Home Boys” in Leitrim.
Deputy Kenny acknowledges the work to advance matters in The Adoption Bill and says it must ensure there is unfettered access to all records for all people involved, which is the key in all of this.
He said in Leitrim “We had people called "home boys". There was a man in Carrigallen when I was growing up who had long whiskers and a long coat; he was always the butt of a joke and he lived in a little house in Drumbreanlis.
“I knew another man, Mr. Johnny Golden, who came to a very sad end, unfortunately, and he was also a home boy. They came from these homes and lived with farmers when they were perhaps 12 or 13. They had grown up in an institution and had no clue of family life or rural living. They had no clue about anything. They were very poorly educated and many of them could hardly read or write.
“In many places these people were treated very well but, sadly, in many places they were not treated well at all. In many homes they were treated very poorly. It is another sad reflection on the society in which we lived. There was another man called Paddy McLoughlin who lived in the same parish as me.
“My parents are both in their 80s and they tell me that when they grew up in the 1930s, nearly every second house had a home boy. It was society's way of dealing with the issue. My mother went to England in the 1950s and said she often met these home boys after they had emigrated and she saw them in dance halls and Irish clubs around London. When they went to England, there was an equality that they did not have at home.
“I use this opportunity to state that such people and so many more were legitimate citizens of this State. This State is proud of them and how they rose above everything that was against them. They had the strength to live and survive in that terrible position. We must be proud of the contribution they made to our society and country.”