An artist who was born in Bessborough mother and baby home has designed a labyrinth sculpture which she said represents the “red tape maze” she was forced to endure while uncovering her identity.
Susan Farrell 49, from Co. Louth was born in the institution on October 15, 1974, and was adopted two weeks later.
The mother of two spent years trying to trace her family before learning as an adult that she had a brother.
She also found her biological mother, who did not want contact.
Ms Farrelly took part in a documentary made by film students from Dundalk Institute of Technology called ‘Walking the Labyrinth’.
Speaking in the film, she said: “I always liked puzzles because my life is a puzzle.
“The labyrinth presents itself to me as an opportunity for being lost from without a mother to becoming a mother, it operates for me on many different levels and I move in and out of it, it isn’t just one definitive journey because it is often revising the same place you’ll see and observe new things.
“Obviously the labyrinth doesn’t exist but it does for me in terms of symbols. I create and construct my identity even though my art everything else has been illustrated by others.”
Susan is one of around 60,000 adult adoptees in Ireland who until last year did not have the automatic right to her birth certificate.
Since the new Birth and Tracing Bill was introduced in 2022, Susan has been one of many caught up in a backlog of applications to access her biological information. While she knows she was born as baby Joan and adopted as Susan Patricia Farrelly, there is a lot of information she has yet to access.
She told filmmakers: “The first blood relation I ever met would have been Lily my daughter.”
The film’s Director Jessica Lennon Doherty told theit is important to “educate the next generation about what happened in Ireland with children”.
She continued: “The labyrinth and art re-engages us with our Irish culture.
“We were once a liberal free country, it is a reclamation of Irish culture.
“The Catholic church suppressed women’s rights and ideas and art in general”.
A spokesperson for Tusla said: “Information and tracing services under the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 opened on 3 October 2022.
“As of 13 March 2023, a total of 7,333 applications have been received by AAI and Tusla for information under the Act.
“A total of 2,611 information requests have been completed.
“The Department cannot comment on individual cases, but would encourage any person with questions regarding their birth information to visit birthinfo.ie to see which services may be available to them”.