81-year-old ‘orphan’ finds birth mother aged 103 after 60 year search

Eileen Macken

An elderly Irish woman described herself as ‘the happiest person alive’ after eventually finding her birth mother after a six-decade search.

Eileen Macken, 81, said that she was so happy, she would ‘love to go and scream it from a mountain, ‘I’m not an orphan anymore!’.

Eileen grew up in Kirwan House orphanage on the North Circular Road, Dublin.

Eileen Macken

She started her search for her birth mother when she turned 19. It was a search that lasted 61 years, until she discovered her mother was still alive – and is now aged 103.

Eileen told Joe Duffy on RTE Radio One: “I can’t believe it, and when I got the word that she was alive, all I want to do is to meet her,” she said.

“Unfortunately, she lives across the water but two of my cousins have decided to help me… they know that all I want is to see her.”

She had wanted to find her birth parents to help her know more about her family’s medical history, which was important for her children as well as herself.

In 2018, she called RTÉ’s ‘Liveline’ to appeal for help and as luck would have it a genealogist happened to be listening.

The genealogist got in touch and after Eileen took a DNA test they worked hard to track down her birth mother.

Eileen continued: “Healthwise it was hard. The doctors couldn’t understand why don’t you know this, why don’t you know that. I got a bit upset once and I said, ‘Because I’m an orphan, I know nothing, absolutely nothing’.”

The two still haven’t met but they have spoken on the phone. Eileen would love to meet her mother who lives ‘across the water’ but it will have to wait until she has recovered from an eye operation.

She said: “My mum is 103 and she will soon be 104. I spoke to her on the phone but she couldn’t hear me. She’s a bit like myself, I’ve only one good ear.

“She kept saying, ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you’.”

Not only has Eileen found her birth mother, she has also discovered she has two half brothers who are both in their 70s.

She said: “The sadness that goes with being alone, even to this day, different things would set me off, I’d say, ‘if only I had a brother, if only I had a sister’, I think it’s just within you that you have no blood relatives. But I have now.”

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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling