Memorial for woman who mothered 80 children

The first, most important person in your life is your mother, your mammy. But in the past, in Ireland, children born out of wedlock or into a violent, dysfunctional home or whose mammy died or, in my case, if you were abandoned, children, like me, were put in orphanages.

Sadly we have since learned of the horrific abuse, psychological, physical and/or sexual that was perpetrated by a small number of evil people on so many of those vulnerable children.

However my experience is the vast majority of the carers in these institutions were good people and some were truly exceptional.

When I appeared recently on RTE's Dragons'' Den I was taken aback when after the show I was contacted by orphans now living all over Ireland and beyond who, like me, all had loving memories of one Nun, the late, Sister Francis of the Poor Clare's in Harold's Cross Dublin.

Orphans long for a mammy and so I used to call her 'Mother'. I knew she wasn't my mother but I so badly craved one. I hadn't realised then that Sister Francis was a great and loving mother to so many other children too. I am now aware of about eighty children that she was a 'mother' to.

I know in my case, I don't exaggerate, she saved my life. After years in state orphanages at 16, as was the law, I was turned out onto the streets, penniless, uneducated and now homeless. Sister Francis found me again, fed me, schooled me, and I went on to get an honours BSc degree in Electronic Imaging at London's Westminster University.

How can you ever thank such a lady? I know we can and I know all the children whose lives she touched want to acknowledge her and want to have somewhere to go to show appreciation and reflect on the wonderful part she played in all our lives.

We are all grown up now and we all accept we never had a mammy or a home in the normal sense but the undersigned ask Dublin Corporation would it be possible to have a plaque erected in memory of Sister Francis in Harold's Cross Park and a park bench also dedicated to her memory where we orphan's can feel we have a sense of place? We can, when the need arises, just go and sit there and contemplate or, just quietly say thank you to "Mother", or tell her our stories of life's ups and downs.

So you don't have to be an orphan to join us in signing this petition. If you are someone who can imagine what it would be like to have never had a mammy and then find someone who filled that void, then I hope you will sign in the appropriate place below.
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