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Family dynamics

25th Jan 2019

81-year-old Irish woman finds birth mother alive after searching for 61 years

Jade Hayden

An 81-year-old Dublin woman has located her birth mother alive after searching for 61 years.

Eileen Macken said that she began looking for her mother when she was just 19-year-old, having grown up in Kirwan House orphanage on the North Circular Road.

Macken said that she was “the happiest person alive” to discover that her mother is still alive – and that she may finally get to meet her.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTE’s Liveline this week, she said that she started searching for her birth parents to find out more about her own medical history.

“The doctors couldn’t understand why don’t you know this, why don’t you know that,” she said. “I got a bit upset once and I said, ‘Because I’m an orphan, I know nothing, absolutely nothing’.”

Macken said that she took a DNA test and worked alongside a genealogist who eventually helped her locate her mother in the UK.

“My mum is 103 and she will soon be 104,” she said. “I spoke to her on the phone but she couldn’t hear me. She’s a bit like myself, I’ve only one good ear.”

“She kept saying, ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you’ (…) I’d love to go and scream it from a mountain, ‘I’m not an orphan anymore!’.”

Through her searching, Macken also discovered that she has two half brothers who are now in their 70s.

“The sadness that goes with being alone, even to this day,” she said. “I think it’s just within you that you have no blood relatives.

“But I have now.”