Evelyn: Changing The Law In Ireland - A SPLIT-UP FAMILY

A SPLIT-UP FAMILY (Illustration) Civil Rights Film Social Studies Trials Tragedies and Triumphs World History Law and Politics

When Evelyn Doyle's mother abandoned her children, Desmond (the children's father) sought help for their care.  Although the six youngsters would be sent to Ireland's "Industrial Schools," Evelyn—then nine—worried that she would end-up in a "Magdalene Laundry."  One such Irish place, from the early 20th century, is pictured above.  Online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.  PD


Desmond Doyle knew he had few options. He couldn't pay for a babysitter. The only relative who could possibly help was his aunt, but it was her son who had left town with Des' wife. The weary father told Mr. Wogan:

So it will have to be the schools. But just until I can get myself together. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 55.)

Evelyn, sensing her plight, asked her father:

Are you sending me to the Magdalens, Daddy?

The government wasn't sending the little girl to the infamous Magdalene laundries, but the children would be split up. It was a heartbreaking scene:

One of the men managed to tear the boys away from Daddy's side.  Daddy put me down and took my hand and we followed the court officer and my brothers outside. An enormous black car was waiting at the bottom of the courthouse steps.  Mr. Wogan led my brothers to the car. Daddy let go of my hand and ran over to them.  He knelt down on the path and hugged all my brothers together.  He was crying again and the boys were too. (Tea and Green Ribbons, page 61.)

Evelyn was sent to the "convent at High Park" in Dublin. The boys (Maurice, Noel, John, Kevin and Dermot) were sent to the Boys Industrial School in Kilkenny, a medieval town which was once the capital of Ireland. (The City of Kilkenny is the site of a famous castle, built in the 13th century, behind the River Nore at the southeastern end of town.)

Despite its reputation as a tourist destination, Kilkenny was no place for the Doyle boys.  Life in the picturesque town was difficult for everyone who lived inside the walls of the industrial school.

Desmond Doyle had turned to the government for help, but he didn't know the law. He had no clue that even if he got himself "together," he would not decide when (or if) the children came home.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 24, 2015

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"A SPLIT-UP FAMILY" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2002. Feb 29, 2020.
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