TV preview: Ireland’s lost babies

Martin Sixsmith. Picture: BBC
Martin Sixsmith. Picture: BBC
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IN 2002, Peter Mullan’s film The Magdalene Sisters examined the story of three young women mistreated at the eponymous Irish asylum.

Though a modest hit, some thought the controversial subject matter too depressing, so it failed to reach many.

A few years later, journalist Martin Sixsmith, maker of new documentary This World: Ireland’s Lost Babies, met with Philomena Lee.

She had worked at Sean Ross Abbey in County Tipperary, and was heartbroken when her son Anthony was adopted against her wishes in the 1950s.

Sixsmith turned the darkest chapter of her life into 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. Steve Coogan was so captivated by it, he and Jeff Pope wrote a semi-fictional film version.

At first sight it looked like Philomena would be another hard-hitting take on The Magdalene Sisters theme, but it won over a much bigger 
audience.

It also left a lot of unanswered questions, so hopefully this new film will shed more light on the shady issue.

Here, Martin investigates the Irish Catholic Church’s role in a trade that had a devastating effect on countless families.

“In Ireland, thousands of so-called illegitimate children were taken from their mothers and sent off for adoption,” he explains. “When those children searched for their mothers, they felt frustrated by the Catholic Church.

“This is my journey to discover the true scale of a scandal that has affected so many lives.”