Helen Maguire believes the Catholic nuns at St. Patrick’s Guild in Dublin swapped her baby
Helen Maguire, 71 years old, is blaming the Dublin-based St. Patrick's Guild mother and baby home after learning that her 52-year-old daughter Christine is not actually hers.
The Independent reports that Co Tipperary native Maguire gave birth to her daughter in London in 1966 when she was 18 years old. Maguire returned to Ireland soon after but left her newborn baby with the Catholic nuns at St. Patrick’s Guild, known as Temple Hill, in Co Dublin out of fear of her parents would force her to give the baby up for adoption.
Fr. Michael Cleary, a chaplain in the London Irish community at the time, suggested that Maguire place her child up for adoption, but she refused. Maguire told The Independent: "He thought I was giving the baby up for adoption. I thought I would go along with that for a bit because if they knew I wasn't giving her up for adoption, they wouldn't have taken her.”
An intake form from St. Patrick’s Guild, which was run by the Religious Sisters of Charity at the time, showed that Maguire was not placing her daughter for adoption.
After telling her mother about her birth, Helen returned about six weeks later to collect what she believed to be her daughter from St. Patrick's Guild. She recalls being briefly suspicious: "I went in and they brought me over to this basket and I said to them: 'That's not Christine.' But they said it was.”
"I said: 'Christine was born with black hair. When I brought her in here she had black hair'.”
"'All babies are born with black hair' is the answer they gave me. So like an idiot, I believed them. I never thought about it. Back then you believed what the priests and nuns said to you.”
Helen returned to London to raise who she believed to be her daughter. In 2018, as scandals about irregularities in birth records from Irish mother and baby homes began to emerge, Helen and Christine decided to take a DNA test, something they laughed initially laughed about.
The results, however, showed that they were not related.
Christine said: “I felt very lonely. I honestly never thought it would come back like that.”
Maguire said she was “devastated” and that she “just couldn’t believe it,” but added, “Christine will always be my daughter as far as I am concerned. She is still my baby and I love Christine to bits.”
Maguire believes that her baby was swapped out by the nuns at St. Patrick’s Guild, but remains unclear whether or not this was intentional. Nevertheless, the devastated mother has lodged a formal complaint with her local Mullingar Garda station and is mounting a legal battle against the infamous Irish institution.
The Religious Sisters of Charity, who ran St. Patrick's Guild at the time of the incident, told The Independent in a statement: "In May 2016 all adoption records held at St Patrick's Guild were passed over to Tusla [Ireland’s Child and Family Agency].”
They added: "There are no sisters alive today who would have been involved there and all inquiries should be made to Tusla or the Adoption Authority."
Maguire, who now lives in Co Westmeath, has been working with Tusla since she and Christine learned the truth last year. Maguire said that Tusla believes they have located her biological daughter and the agency is working on having the two meet in the near future. Christine is also understood to have learned her true birth date and location.
An investigation into a number of Ireland's notorious mother and baby homes and their practices is ongoing.