Woman, 81, tells of joy after finally meeting her mum, 103, after 60-year search

Eileen Macken (right) with her 103-year-old mother Elizabeth who she has met for the first time. Pic: Liveline on RTE Radio 1/PA Wire
Eileen Macken (right) with her 103-year-old mother Elizabeth who she has met for the first time. Pic: Liveline on RTE Radio 1/PA Wire

An 81-year-old Irishwoman who grew up in a Bethany Home orphanage has spoken of her joy after meeting her 103-year-old mother for the first time.

Eileen Macken said she had never been happier.

She grew up in the Bethany Home orphanage in Dublin in the 1930s and 40s and has spent most of her life looking for her birth mother.

A genealogist tracked her down in Scotland after hearing Ms Macken on the radio making a plea for help tracing her mother.

Ms Macken told RTE Radio 1’s Liveline programme: “Once I heard that, nothing would stop me trying to get to see her.”

Last month Ms Macken’s lifelong wish came true as she travelled to Scotland with her husband George, along with her daughter and son-in-law, to meet her birth mother, Elizabeth.

She recalled: “I went over to see her and she’s the most beautiful lady, lovely family, they gave me a great welcome.

“We came in and, honestly, I haven’t got over the acceptance that I got.

“They accepted me and I had a great chat with my mother.”

The Bethany mother and baby home in Dublin has been one of a number scrutinised by an Irish government-appointed Commission of Investigation.

Mother and baby homes were generally institutions where women who became pregnant outside marriage gave birth. In the main, these babies were adopted.

Bethany was run by Protestant clergy.

In Scotland, as well as finally getting to meet Elizabeth, who celebrates turning 104 tomorrow, Ms Macken, a mother-of-three, also discovered after meeting her mother that she has two half-brothers.

When she knocked on the door, she was met by a man who turned out to be her half-brother.

She told Liveline: “I told him I was from Ireland and that I had found my mum here and could we come in to see her, and he said, ‘Certainly’.”

Ms Macken had a “great chat” with her mother during her three-day trip.

She said: “She was reading the newspaper and when she saw me, I said we were from Ireland and she said, ‘I was born in Ireland’.

“She was thrilled and she never let go of my hand.

“I don’t think I’ll ever come down out of the cloud.”

Speaking to the Irish Times, Ms Macken recalled how difficult it was to say goodbye to the woman she had spent more than six decades looking for.

But glad she made the trip, she added: “I am going around singing, I’m that happy. You have no idea what is has done to me. I’m just so happy and I’m so grateful.”