This story shows that miracles still do happen.
For Eileen Macken, it came in the form of a surprising resolution to a more than 60-year search for her biological mother.
The 81-year-old, who grew up in Kirwan House orphanage on the North Circular Road, Dublin, described herself as “the happiest person alive” at the end of a search that had started since she was nineteen years old.
Although her search had been fruitless for several decades, a breakthrough came last year in the form of “an excellent” genealogist who “worked tirelessly” on her case. And Eileen’s six decades of persistence paid off when the genealogist finally delivered, big time.
Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTE Radio One, she said she was shocked to discover that her mother is alive and well even at the age of 103.
She said, “I can’t believe it when I got the word that she was alive, all I want to do is to meet her.”
The search for her birth parents started out of a need to find out about her medical history for her children.
She explained: “Healthwise it was hard.
“The doctors couldn’t understand why don’t you know this, why don’t you know that. I got a bit upset once and I said, ‘Because I’m an orphan, I know nothing, absolutely nothing’.”
Even with a happy marriage to husband Ronald with two daughters and a son, Eileen said she couldn’t help but long for a family related by blood she could’ve turned to in times of trouble.
She said, “I couldn’t understand, being alone, that’s all I could call it. A lot of people have said to me, why do you bother. I say, ‘What do you mean, put yourself in my shoes and you’re on your own.’
“The sadness that goes with being alone, even to this day, different things would set me off, I’d say, ‘if only I had a brother if only I had a sister’, I think it’s just within you that you have no blood relatives.
“But I have now.”
Eileen doesn’t just have a mother, but she also has brothers just like she’s dreamed of.
She said: “I think we have two half-brothers. I’d say they’re in their mid-70s. The half-brothers are like myself only younger, probably about 20 years younger.”
The next step for Eileen is to meet her mother in person but it won’t be easy as she’s “across the water” and Eileen recently had an operation for her eye that prevents her from flying over just yet.
She said, “My mum is 103 and she will soon be 104. I spoke to her on the phone but she couldn’t hear me. She’s a bit like myself, I’ve only one good ear.
“She kept saying, ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you.
“Unfortunately she is across the water and I’ve had two cousins who have come on to help me out since they got the word that I had found who my mother was and where she was.
“They now know that all I want is to see her.”
She also doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers and didn’t want to “give any names or anything.”
However, she did admit: “Time, I feel, is of the essence. I don’t know if I can fly just yet after having the operation on my eye. But the cousins promised me they would help me.”
But knowing she has found her birth mother after so long as well as a family to call her own has already filled her with joy.
She exclaimed: “I rang you just to tell you, I’d love to go and scream it from a mountain, ‘I’m not an orphan any more!’.”
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