An Irish woman says she was accused of "spawning the seed of Satan" and lost three babies to nun “baby snatchers” and that the babies were force-fed for six weeks to fatten them up for adoption.
Mary Creighton was just 15 years old when she first fell pregnant in Ireland in 1967. With the country at the height of its shameful treatment of unmarried pregnant mothers, her mother “colluded” with a local nun to have her sent to the Sacred Heart Mother and Baby Home in Castlepollard, before abandoning her daughter for America, leaving the teenager in the hands of “baby snatcher” nuns.
This was just the beginning of a harrowing ordeal of shame and mistreatment for Creighton. She claims in her new book “The Baby Snatchers” to have lost three babies as a result of the Mother and Baby Homes and had shame heaped upon her as an unmarried mother. The three children were taken from her with the direct involvement of Catholic nuns.
The true extent of the mistreatment and abuse faced by women and children in these Catholic-run Mother and Baby Homes will be the subject of a report from an Irish government-appointed inquiry in February 2019.
Creighton reveals details of such abuse in the traumatic treatment of young women and girls in Castlepollard.
Read more: What you should know about mother and baby homes in Ireland
“I was stripped of my clothes and my identity. It was the beginning of my nightmare,” Creighton told the Daily Mail.
“I soon discovered the unmarried mothers of Castlepollard were expected to work 12 hours a day. We’d even have to put in an hour’s work before Mass at 8am.
“The priest would preside over his congregation of ‘fallen women’ and tell us we’d ‘spawned the seed of Satan’ and were ‘nothing.’
“We were treated like an underclass, hidden away from what he called ‘decent people,’ who we ‘weren’t fit to breathe the same air as.’
“In a shocking case of double standards, and in a country where family life is considered paramount, we were worked and beaten just for being pregnant,” Mary recalled.
“The nuns of the Sacred Heart would punish us. We were starved of food whilst our babies were force-fed from six weeks in a bid to 'fatten them up' for adoption."
Read more: "I was deported from my own homeland" US adoptee seeks her Irish mother
Creighton says she witnessed children being taken away from their mothers so that the babies could be sold for adoption to the US. It is believed that as many as 2,500 children could have been taken from their mothers and adopted by wealthy families from the Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home alone, while as many as 500 babies and children may be buried in an Angel Plot on the site.
When the records from the home were released last year, there were only 203 registered deaths, but many more are believed to have gone unrecorded.
Castlepollard is one of 14 Mother and Baby Homes being investigated by the Irish government as part of its extensive inquiry, which was recently granted an additional year to complete research for its report.
Fearing for her first daughter Catherine, Creighton states that she managed to escape from the home only for her baby to later be taken from her by social services.
Read more: Irish officials aware of mother and baby home mass graves years before politicians and public
“Babies were routinely ripped from their mothers’ arms and put up for adoption,” she writes in “The Baby Snatchers.”
“Babies ‘disappeared’ on a regular basis.
“The workmen showed those children more respect in death than the nuns had ever showed them in life,” she continues, recalling how they would hammer a horseshoe nail into the perimeter wall when a child died.
“Fearing for my child, I decided to escape. Although my mother had disowned me, a kindly neighbor not only took me in but ‘bought’ both Catherine and I our freedom.”
Initially traveling to Edinburgh in Scotland, social services there took her first baby Catherine as well as a second child she had given birth to.
“I realized that once you’d been labeled a ‘bad mother’ it was almost impossible to convince people otherwise,” she said.
“I fought to get my children back. One had already been fostered, so I fled to Ireland with Catherine, but she was taken from me again. With both girls gone, I hit the bottle and fell into a spiral of depression.
“I found myself pregnant again, but the nuns became involved and I was sent to a notorious ‘Magdalene laundry’ – where I was forced to work. I was told to sign over my baby, who they took from me following her birth.
“After signing, I changed my mind and became hysterical. The nun called a doctor, and I was locked inside a mental hospital with other unmarried mothers."
Once again Creighton managed to escape when she was released for a home visit one weekend. This time she traveled to Liverpool, England.
It was only here that she finally found peace and, although now divorced, she married and had two daughters. Having vowed to find her first three children once again, she connected with one of her daughters several years ago, but they have not continued with their relationship.
The Sacred Heart Home, Kinturk, Castlepollard was a mother and baby home run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and in use from 1935 to 1971. In 2014, following the Tuam revelations, it came to light that as many as 500 babies were buried in a similar mass grave at this location in Westmeath and that over 200 young children were adopted by American couples. Anecdotal evidence has claimed that as many as 2,500 of the 3,000 babies born in Sacred Heart in these 36 years were adopted, but this has not been confirmed.
H/T: Daily Mail