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Mother of child ‘farmed off’ to US denied compensation

annie costello-n
Annie Costello with her son Martin Husk

AN IRISH woman whose daughter was “treated like an animal and farmed off to America” must be compensated for the trauma she suffered, according to her son.

Londoner Martin Husk has said he was left “outraged” after learning his mother, Annie Costello, will receive no remuneration for the time she spent in a Church-run mother and baby home.

Like many other so-called “fallen women” who spent time at Tipperary’s Sean Ross Abbey, Ms Costello’s daughter was taken from her and adopted by a wealthy family in the US.

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“It was masquerading as a part of the Catholic Church, helping everybody, when in fact they were selling people’s children,” Mr Husk told The Irish Post. “The Irish Government and the Church need to accept culpability and provide compensation to these women.”

Mr Husk’s comments come before international attention will be shone on the plight of women like his mother in a Hollywood film released next week.

Philomena, starring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, will trace the story of Philomena Lee, whose child was taken and sold during her time at Sean Ross.

Like Ms Costello, who was moved to the Abbey from her native Offaly after falling pregnant out of wedlock at the age of 22, Ms Lee tracked down her child decades later.

Mr Husk discovered his mother will not be compensated after being told the 90-year-old cannot apply to the recently established fund for Magdalene Laundry Survivors.

“Why should my mother and women like her not be compensated when others are?” he asked. “It seems very wrong to me that women from Laundries are being compensated but not women whose children were farmed like animals.”

Judi Dench starring in forthcoming film Philomena
Judi Dench starring in forthcoming film Philomena

Mr Husk also claims his mother, who now lives in Southend, was not paid for the work she did on the farm at Sean Ross during her five years there and was only allowed to see her daughter for one hour every day.

He says she continued to suffer for years afterwards and can remember her crying about it during his childhood.

“My mother is coming towards the end of her life now and compensation would make her much more comfortable,” he added.

Mr Husk’s comments come just weeks after Bournemouth-based Theresa Tinggal, who was adopted from an institution similar to Sean Ross, travelled to Dublin to call on the Irish Government to conduct an independent investigation into the institutions behind Ireland’s illegal adoptions.

Ireland’s Departments of Education told The Irish Post it has no plans to create a redress scheme for women who spent time in mother and baby homes.

Sean Ross was previously excluded from the list of institutions falling under the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

A spokeswoman for the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SHJM), the religious order that ran Sean Ross Abbey while Ms Costello was resident there, said: “No children were sold by any mother to any party in Sean Ross Abbey while the congregation ran the mother and baby home.”

Martin Sixsmith, the journalist who helped Philomena Lee track down her child in the US, has said that donations to the Church of up to $3,000 (£1,850) were expected from adopting parents.

Asked if women had worked on the farm at Sean Ross for no pay, the SHJM spokeswoman said: “The congregation did have a farm on the land at Roscrea and while no board was charged by the congregation to the women, it was expected that those who could assist the workers and sisters on the farm would.”

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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4 comments on “Mother of child ‘farmed off’ to US denied compensation”

  1. bernie rees

    What the catholic church did to the Irish people in the past is deplorable and cannot be justified or accepted. What is even more offensive is their refusal to accept responsibility, make whatever amends are required/asked for, and say sorry. Their arrogance is disgusting. Not only did they destry the lives of so many at the time, the legacy of their cruelty still lives. Why have the powers that be not taken action against these people ? Why do they still retain the power to effectively put two fingers up at their victims ?

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  2. mary creighton

    i spent 11 months in castlepollard co westmeath .i was made scrub floors wax floors and shine those floors until the nun could see her full reflection when she waked those corradoors ad nursery on the ground floor .i was 16 yrs old and was sent there by a nercy nun .i ran away with a 33 yrs old woman who saved my life as i fel ito a swamp to y waist while runnig away across fields .that woman was 4ft 10 ins tall and when we were brought back next day by the garda nothig was said to me as i stood my groud with those nuns and said i would do it again ellen wasnt so lucky she was beaten drugged and was like a zombie for over a week also she was black and blue from the beating in a side room o the ground floor of castlepollard her son was sent away for adoption patrick that was in october 1967 until sept 1968..plus i had a procedure done to me while i was in labor as a 16 yrs old and had full nlown enclmpsia ..doctor was only called in when i went blind .bay was born 22 janury a monday evening around 6/30 i awoke in the same delivery room on tuesday 23 jan 68 i had been in labor since the friday and fed sleeping pills but no painkilling injections ..and i knew what painkilling injections were as i had suffered from a severe leg problem yrs before called ostyomylitis and i was on those type of injectionsfor pain then.. so in 1974 i fell pregnant again and the same social worker and a mercy nun said we have a lovely place for you not castlepollard ..so i went with them only to ne put in high park laudry i was 22 yrs old .they said the driver is too tired to cntinue the journey so you will be here for one night ..well next day i was ready and waiting to be picked up and after awakenig to praying early in the morning i was told by old women that i was to go with them to mass and then brekfast ok .then i tried to talk at the table but was told by one woman that no talkig allowed at the dining table .a nun was sitting in the dining room all through breakfast at the top of the room watching .then when breakfast was over all the women got up ad went out the opposite door of the dinig room ? i sat there waiting as i said i was supposed to be there for one night ..well i was approached by a nun and she said come along with me ..i followed her to the laundry where she asked my name and then said now mary you are o this machine . i had never worked that in my life i protested she said you will learn and i was put to work tagging numbers on dirty laundry out of private laundry bags ..disgusting and i pregnant .then a week later i was put on steaming doctors coats .and o a press and folding shirts and denim uniforms from mout joy prison.. all week from monday till saturday .no pay nothig ..disgusting food and ot enough ..no fruit ..nothing .i ws there just on 5 months then suddenly i was told pack when i could no longer stad all day they decided to let me go to the original destination i had left my hoe town for to go to all those months before ...i say that was illegal slave labour and false imprisomen in the high park laundries .in actual fact kidnapped to be their slave .

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  3. mary creighton

    Castlepollard took away babies bottles on the very day they turned 6 weeks old ..the babies were fed by plastic beakers the old fashiond kind with a handle .we had to squeeze the beaker till it fitted the babies mouth and fed the babies food that today we only start to give to 3/4 mth old children ..at 3 moths old the babies were given lumpy food what we today give 12/18 months old children .any abies that were sick and the mother too nervous those were given to other mothers with more expierience to feed ad thse babies were fed over and ober until that food stayed down

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  4. mary creighton

    Castlepollard had 3 large cornflake boxes which were the type that are for delivery to supermarkets instatutions ..buff coloured .while waxing the corradoor one day i opened the door under the main stairwell in castlepollard st peters . inside those 3 boxes were thousands of babies photographs some full size passport size others half that size some coloured ones amongst them and some with fancy edging i was looking at them and then i let them flutter like grains of sand through ny fingers ..i was so sad and still am today ,then a nun came along and caught ne and gave ne the biggest slap across my face for having been nosey . ..myself and florence another girl had 16 babies to look after as well as scrubbing waxing ad polishig floors ..the mothers had half hour to see to their children breakfast dinner and teatime ..no cntact with anyone after 6/7 pm babies screaming in pain teething red ottoms ..still no one allowed to go to the nurseries to sooth those babies ...the num would sometimes go if the baby was cryig for about 1/2 hour non stop ..hell on earth ..

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