The Guardian (March 28, 2015) published my account of tracing my birth mother through the classified ads of a local paper.  During that process, I kept a diary, mostly in the form of poetry, and below are two poems which specifically relate to the images which accompanied that article.  (For link see 'Other Writing' on this site). 


Lost Children of Ireland


I swear, what you cannot find

classified in the Galway Gazette,

you’ll never forget -


Place settings for thirteen.

Twelve ewes a breeding.

One gold ring.


It’ll tell you the day when the Lord

will judge the fornicating

and the dying,


and there’s Sorley the Stumpman,

he’ll leave you limbless

and rootless,


or Gypsy Rose – she’s retiring -

who knows what the future

holds for her?


And for anyone out there

who once lost a daughter,

take a flutter


on the missing persons page,

where there’s a reader

in search of her mother.




Photograph of a little girl, Bristol, 1960


The little girl is lit from behind by a circular window.

These portholes transformed the suburban houses

in this city of slaves into ocean liners, whose owners

trimmed their sails for Ireland, where trade in commodities

was brisk as the westerlies, where seeded and ripened

and numbered by nuns, lay the home market babies.


To the left of the little girl, a few Christmas roses,

in keeping with the rural theme and hand embroidered lace,

the daisies in the smocking and the spotless cotton

of the party dress, and oh! the cleanliness, the godliness,

the whiteness of her unsmiling face; her ill conceived

beginnings soft focused from the picture and forgotten.


The little girl holds her favourite toy and the photographer

Is pleased with the contrasts and similarities,

The way its white eyes stare like moons and hers

Pool black at him, the way both smiles are stitched.

How well conceived this study in black and white photography,

the picture of the two of us, my gollywog and me.