Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Further reflections on the report of the mother and baby homes commission.pdf (120.16 kB)

Further reflections on the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-02, 16:23 authored by Alf NicholsonAlf Nicholson

I was very moved by your reflections (IMJ Volume 114 January 2021) on the Commission Report which was published in early January 2021 and wish to add some reflections of my own in terms of its contents. This Report is not for the faint-hearted as it spans some 2,865 pages and covers a period of 76 years (1922 to 1998) where some 56,000 infants were born to unmarried mothers and were accommodated in Mother and Baby or County Homes. This is exactly the number of infants currently born annually in the Republic of Ireland. The Report, apart from its longevity is far from an easy read and reflects a dark period in Irish history. In my reading of the Report I tried to understand the prevailing culture, why no one questioned the practice and why there was so little national discourse concerning pregnancy outside marriage. Many lives were utterly blighted by pregnancy outside marriage, many infant lives were lost, and very little support was evident for these unfortunate young mothers. By and large, fathers of the children took no responsibility and, in many cases, utterly denied any involvement. The girl in question was often shunned by both her family and community and essentially sent to a far distant Mother and Baby Home or County Home (generally former workhouses) to deliver her infant and often spent a considerable period in ‘rehabilitation’ thereafter.



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Nicholson A. Further reflections on the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. Ir Med J. 2021;114(3):303

Publication Date

March 2021


  • RCSI Bahrain


Irish Medical Association


  • Published Version (Version of Record)