- 14 Jan 21
Irishman hally released his debut album, The Fascination with Poppy, in 1998 - recorded on a minuscule budget yet garnering generous reviews. The album afforded hally the chance to tour Ireland, the UK, the States, leading to three more independently released albums. Later becoming a producer for fellow artists, hally began releasing his 52-song 'Peeling Onions' project in 2016.
Born in 1973 into one of Ireland’s Mother & Baby homes, hally was fortunate enough in time to grow up with a nurturing and loving family. In his statement below to Hot Press, the artist describes his personal experiences of the traumatising homes and growing up with his adopted family.
On the 10th of December 1991, the day after my 18th birthday, I made my way into town from my shared flat on Upper Leeson Street. I walked hastily, excited and full of fantasies about what I might discover that day. I wrapped on the big red glossed door of the Cúnamh Adoption Agency (formerly CPRSI – Catholic Protection & Rescue Society of Ireland) on 30 South Anne Street just off Grafton.
Eventually, the big heavy door was half opened by what I assume was a young female secretary.
I told her that I had phoned many times over the preceding years and that I was now 18 and legally of age to get the information pertaining to my adoption. I asked to speak to a Ms. Anne Ronayne who had presided over my adoption. The young lady asked me to ‘wait a minute’. I was thoroughly unaware of my youthful naivety, I had no clue what I was about to encounter and the profound effect it was going to have on me.
The big door squeaked open again and a woman impatiently ushered me into a small foyer behind the door. I told her my name and I asked if she remembered me, I have a recollection of her saying that she remembered my ‘adopted Father was an inspector in the Police’. She asked what it was that I wanted, I told her I was here for my file or any letters my Mother might have left, keepsakes, etc. In the most condescending passive-aggressive voice I had ever or since heard (apart from my last interactions with a social worker in Cúnamh in 2017), she replied: “I’m afraid your Birth Mother probably won’t want to hear from you and in fact it’s most likely that she is dead at this stage. However, if you still want to proceed with the tracing there is a 4 year waiting list."
These words were spoken to me – it may have been by the main woman responsible for the running of the Catholic Protection & Rescue Society of Ireland (Cúnamh Adoption Agency) at the time – on the doorstep of their premises. I walked down South Anne’s Street and exited the world into Kehoe’s Pub where my tried and tested method to block out the pain commenced.
I fought for 27 years with that agency to get my information and was rejected time and time again by a succession of sick cathaholic social workers claiming to be ‘just doing their job’.
Eventually a private investigator who worked with me (pro bono) was able to discover my ancestry. My original birth cert stated that my name is Paul Anthony Johnson and I was born in an outhouse shack up on the Navan Road, at once far enough away from the main building of the Mother and Baby home known as Pelletstown, and from the street, so the screams of the women in labour couldn’t be heard.
I am the son of a tailoress from The Maryland’s in Dublin 8 – who, when I finally met her in 2017, was so distraught that she couldn’t stop trembling, shaking, apologising and crying, as she tried to recount her experience in St. Patrick’s Mother & Baby home, back in 1973.
I’m not sure how I feel about the report that was leaked and finally released yesterday and nor am I sure about our government’s initial response.
My thoughts are with the women who had to endure these Hell-Holes, which they suffered at the hands of society’s rejection of them and their so called illegitimate kids. A lot of these women were raped, coerced by overpowering misogynist men or impregnated as a result of incest. Many were simply experimenting with their sexuality and as a result were terrorised by Church, State and Society.
I am one of the lucky ones, I got out alive and found a family that loved me and always made me feel ‘Legitimate’. 9,000 of my peers didn’t survive and many lie in unmarked, mass graves.
It is not acceptable any more for us, as a people, to continue to blame just the Church & State. We need to quickly grow up and accept our part in these atrocities. We continually voted these people in, we shook their hands at our doorsteps, we attended their Mass and put money in their baskets, we renovated their leaking roofs, we welcomed them into our homes and gave them the best biscuits in our good rooms.
We let them christen our children long after we had found out the true extent of the sexual abuse they had bestowed on the most vulnerable in our society. We thronged to their church to get married. We decided it was more important to protest water charges than denounce an institution and government who presided over the rape and abuse our most vulnerable people.
And again we voted them in: time and time again. If this is not a mandate... then what is?
Sign Izzy Kamakaze's petition here to demand that the Oireachtas allow adoptees to access their birth certificates. It currently stands at over 11,000 signatures.
"We want a simple, single paragraph amendment to the Civil Registration Act passed immediately to give adopted people the right to access their birth certificates. The Amendment can be appended to any legislation currently being passed by the Oireachtas."