Paddy Monaghan and his wife Jackie with his relatives in Belleek, County Fermanagh. The relatives are Maggie Lawne (far left), Fiona O'Connor-Surmel (centre) and Theresa O'Connor (far right).BBC

After over 40 years of searching, an Irish man finally found his family. 

Sent from a children’s home in Northern Ireland to live in Australia in the 1940s, Paddy Monaghan was repeatedly told that he had no living relative. Nearly 46 years later, in October 2015, he found his family alive and well in County Fermanagh.

"It feels great. I've always longed to be able to have somebody with my blood in them. I didn't think it was ever going to happen," he told the BBC.

"People kept telling me I didn't have a single living relation on this earth, and now I've got hundreds of them," he said.

"It just made my life complete finding that I had a family, and I could go and see where they lived, where they walked, where they worked."

Paddy Monaghan was just two weeks old in 1937, when his mother put him into the care of nuns. When he turned ten, the Sisters of Nazareth sent him to Australia. He was one of more than 100 children that were sent to the country as part of a government migration scheme after the second World War.

Monaghan was told that his mother and father were dead and that he had no relatives, but he refused to believe it. In 1965, when he was 28-years-old, he began the search for his family.

He visited Ireland, but the Sisters of Nazareth repeatedly told him he had been an orphan and they had no record of his mother.

Monaghan, a father of three sons and a daughter, wanted to be able to tell his children where he had come from. Although he was discouraged, his wife Jackie told him to keep looking.

"Everybody needs a family," she said. "Everybody needs to know who they are and where they came from."

Monaghan finally found his family in 2009. 

Read more: Orphans of Ireland’s Great Hunger married off to Australian convicts

A breakthrough came when he found a letter his mother gave the Sisters of Nazareth declaring that she was putting him into their care.

The letter included a note from a priest recommending him for adoption. 

After 46 years of searching, Monaghan was able to track down his relatives within two weeks.

However, it was too late for a reunion with his mother. She died in 1999, two years after he first visited Ireland trying to find her.

"I was just so shocked when I was told that," he said.

"I was here in 1997 and the nuns told me they had no record of my mother. They kept that letter for 72 years. If they had given it to me earlier it could have helped me find my mother when she was still alive."

"I wrote a letter to the nuns. I said the nuns, when they teach the children, tell you not to lie or you'll go to hell.

"I just said there will be a lot of you people down in hell, because they just lied all the way through.

"I could have met my mother if people had been honest. I could have maybe had 20 years with my mother, but I didn't have any years at all."

Monaghan, now nearing 80, said the years of searching were worth it.

"It's a great feeling to actually find somebody who belongs to you. And you belong to them.

"I'm a very happy man now. My grandchildren will know who their family were."

Read more: Northern Irish orphans sent to Australia were painted black

*Originally published in 2015.