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It was a typical autumn day, early September 1987,quite windy but good sunshine to ripen the oats in the far field. Paul and Peggy had the kettle on the boil in their kitchen haven spent the morning cutting and ‘stooking’ the sheaves of oats.

Just then a car came up the drive. As she looked out the window Peggy wondered out loud “that car has English registration plates”. As Paul joined her at the window a middle-aged man with dark receding hair dressed in blue short-sleeved shirt and jeans stepped out of the driver’s seat. Paul watched as he walked up the path to the front door. A stranger, yet something familial about him. This man has a story to tell, Paul mused.

He introduced himself as “Mick”. As he joined Paul and Peggy for tea, Mick explained the purpose of his visit. Born in Tuam Mother and Baby Home in 1932,he was living in England since about 1950, and he was looking for information about his mother and wondered if she was still alive. Mick had traced his mother’s family to where the family farm still existed. Paul and Peggy lived there now. Mick’s mother was Paul’s aunt, so Paul and Mick are first cousins. 

Mick went on to give a brief account of his story He was fostered out to a farming family in East Galway when he was four years old. It was a life of hardship, virtually a slave worker, slept on a straw bed under the stairs. At mass, foster children were shunned and forced to sit separately from the rest of the congregation. Mick did have one saving grace in that a neighbouring family were very good to him and Mick has kept up the friendship since.

Mick did meet his mother later in 1987. They had several meetings over the next two years, before she died. He was with her when she died. The way Mick sees it is that she was with him when he was born and he was with her when she died.

Paul and Peggy were quite affected by Mick’s story on that autumn day and they determined to get to know him better. They spent a weekend at his home in Cumbria later that year. and introduced him to his aunt and many cousins in Wales and elsewhere. Every summer now, (except for last year, due to COVID-19) Mick stays for two weeks at the farm in Mayo. It meets a big need in him that when he stays at the farm, he sleeps in the same room every year. He knows now that he truly belongs, at last.

 The above is based on a true story. The names have been changed.

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