Belfast Telegraph

Nazareth House abuse survivor's remarkable memoir now on best-sellers list

Orphan pens memoir of survival amid cruelty

By Joanne Sweeney

For 17 years she was referred only as 'Number 51'.

But the little girl who grew up unloved and neglected in an orphanage - now under scrutiny in a major Government investigation - has had the last word.

Marie Therese Rogers-Moloney's heartrending story of the physical and emotional abuse she experienced at the Catholic Church-run Nazareth House and the search for her parents has resulted in success as a best-selling writer.

The Belfast woman's memoir - For The Sins Of My Mother - is currently in the top 10 in the best selling list in Eason's.

The book, which she started to write over 20 years ago, has sold more than 800 copies in just three weeks after being launched by publisher Colourpoint Books at Belfast Castle last month.

The retired nurse and administrative officer will be one of a number of adults cared for by The Sisters of Nazareth congregation at Nazareth House to give evidence at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry next year.

The memoir tells of how she was allocated the number in place of her birth name - which today includes the surnames of both parents - and how she was labelled as "educationally subnormal" by the nuns who looked after her when she retreated into silence in order to escape any mistreatment. Yesterday she told the Belfast Telegraph: "Not all the nuns were bad, but there were three nuns who were just plain cruel and there was no need for it.

"You may not be able to see the scars which the experience had on me, but it has affected me my whole life."

Her mother Josie Rogers, a widowed hotel owner from Donegal, got pregnant after a relationship with a visiting water engineer, Denis Moloney from Limerick, in the 1950s.

Just days after having Marie Therese, she told the staff at the Lisieux Nursing home on Clifton Street that she needed to get out, and she never came back.

Marie Therese's mother was 37 when she had her - ironically the same age that she was when she discovered her mother was still alive.

However, a teacher at the special education school that Marie Therese attended took a liking to her and visited her one day.

"All I knew was that I was taken away and scrubbed clean to perfection," she explained.

"Then this beautiful green velvet dress was produced and I was dressed in it before I met Mrs McHugh."

She later found out that the dress was sent by her mother, who also sent the nuns money, but the money and this information had been kept from her.

The teacher eventually told Marie Therese in a letter who her mother, was and that she could be found in Letterkenny Hospital.

Marie Therese added: "When I got this letter, rage took over. God Almighty, I was so angry, all the emotions started flooding in. I thought that I wanted to strangle her, I wanted to wring her neck.

"But when I went to the hospital with two of my friends, what I saw there I wasn't prepared for."

Factfile

For The Sins Of My Mother is a memoir written by Marie Therese Rogers-Moloney, one of the children who attended Nazareth House orphanage in south Belfast from the 1950s, a residential institution that is now under scrutiny in the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Published by Colourpoint Books, it's priced at £9.99 and is available at Eason's, Waterstones and online from Amazon.

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