Tipperary website thefinest.ie reunites UK lorry driver father with daughter he was separated from for half a century
An Irishman who spent almost half a century driving lorries across the UK last week paid a visit to the mother-and-baby home his long-lost daughter was born in, writes Adam Shaw.
William ‘Billy’ Watson had no knowledge of what had happened to his child, Teresa Collins, until she made the decision to try and find him. After contacting an adoption agency in Dublin and with the aid of a “very good social worker”, she managed to track down a man who fitted the description in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.
Now, having first met up in October last year, the pair decided to visit Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, where Teresa had spent her first few months.
“In order to do this you must literally face all of your deepest fears and just go for it, I got to meet the man that had given life to me, if I could have met him sooner I would have if only I had been given a chance,” she told thefinest.ie.
The two of them speak to each other every day, either on the phone or in person, and they are piecing together everything they missed during 53 years of separation. Teresa had not been back to the Abbey since leaving as an infant in the 1960s.
Following revelations surrounding such institutions, particularly in Tuam, Co. Galway, she felt as if she needed to go and pay her respects.
When visiting the children’s graveyard, she said: “To me this space does not represent what human life is about, there are no headstones, no names, these children lie in an empty field filled with loneliness, shut away from the world, damned and forgotten.”
Michael Donovan, who works for the local council, made a statement during the visit where he claimed he uncovered human remains while working on the site of the Abbey. “I can recall bringing a tractor into here, dropping the plough just a few inches and pulling up bones. They were obviously baby bones,” he said.
While there was no suggestion that there was any wrongdoing by those who ran the home, given the recent findings elsewhere in Ireland, Michael wanted to explain what he had come across. Teresa considers herself fortunate in that her grandparents paid to retrieve her and her mother from the home shortly after she was born. She lived a “normal life” with her family, has seen her children grow up and has reconnected with her biological father.
Now she wishes to create a support network for people who lived at Sean Ross in the hope that some will be able to find any long-lost relatives.
• For more information, contact Teresa on 00353 8710 95245.