A childhood friend of Irish woman Grace Farrell has revealed tragic new details about her life.
Grace Farrell, 35, was found dead in an alcove of St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in the East Village on February 27. The homeless Irish woman was the first person this year in New York to die from hypothermia.
Emmanuel Touhey, an Irish journalist now living in the U.S., grew up with Farrell in the Daughters of Charity orphanage in Drogheda, Co. Louth. He described the Irish woman’s life as one “of missed opportunities and betrayal.”
“Grace was a beautiful and engaging child with a bright, sunny disposition. She was warm and affectionate and full of fun. She smiled often and loved to laugh, deeply,” Touhey recalls in his tribute in the 'Local East Village Blog' section of The New York Times.
Farrell was born out of wedlock to a young unmarried couple in the 1970s Ireland. Due to the stigma related to having a child out of marriage, Grace’s mother gave her up for adoption.
For the first six years of her life, Grace lived in a happy environment with her new family. However, because the adoption was not finalized Grace was forced to return to the foster care system.
Her next stint in a foster home only lasted a few months before she was once again returned to the foster system.
“Grace never understood why the first placement failed, but she surely felt the awful rejection that came with the experience.
“Grace was a very intuitive child and at times shockingly honest. She often reflected on how alone she felt in the world with no one of her own that she was connected to,” Touhey recalled.
Touhey remembers how Grace explained why her second foster home didn’t work out: “Do you know the way you can’t put hot food into a cold fridge? Well, I was the hot food and the foster family was the cold fridge.”
Farrell was eventually reunited with her paternal grandparents, but they did not become a permanent feature in her life.
Touhey says Farrell was “bounced around like a ball from one home to another,” and as a result she was let down by the authorities in Ireland, as well as the adults in her life.
In 1993, both childhood friends immigrated to New York, where Farrell met her ex-husband. A once aspiring artist, she fell victim to a life of addiction that would eventually take her life.
Touhey hadn’t heard from his childhood friend until his read of her untimely death.
Farrell is survived by her 12-year-old son, Oliver Muniz, who lives with his father Al in New York.