The best books about Irish Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.


I wrote...

The House Children

By Heidi Daniele,

Book cover of The House Children

What is my book about?

Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.

In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. When Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birth mother she struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Light in the Window

Heidi Daniele Why did I love this book?

The Light in the Window was recommended to me by a woman born in a Mother Baby Home, and it is the book that ignited my curiosity about these institutions. The author, June Goulding a midwife, gives a firsthand account of what happened in the Mother Baby Home where she spent a year working as a midwife. Goulding shares her experience and the cruelty she witnessed. The Light in the Window is one of those books that is difficult to put down. When you’re done reading it, you can’t help but shake your head and wonder how this was allowed to happen. 

By June Goulding,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Light in the Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I promised that I would one day write a book and tell the world about the home for unmarried mothers. I have at last kept my promise.'

In Ireland, 1951, the young June Goulding took up a position as midwife in a home for unmarried mothers run by the Sacred Heart nuns. What she witnessed there was to haunt her for the next fifty years. It was a place of secrets, lies and cruelty. A place where women picked grass by hand and tarred roads whilst heavily pregnant. Where they were denied any contact with the outside world; denied basic…


Book cover of Fear of the Collar: The True Story of the Boy They Couldn't Break

Heidi Daniele Why did I love this book?

Fear of the Collar is Patrick Touher’s personal account of his experience in the Artane Industrial School. Artane was the largest Industrial School in Ireland and operated from 1870 – 1969.

At times Artane housed nearly 1,000 boys and was known to be self-sufficient – with the “inmates” making their own clothes, shoes, and the boys produced and grew their own food.

Touher takes the reader through the daily military-like regiment and discipline imposed upon young boys being cared for by the Christian Brothers. His story will evoke an array of feelings. It is important to read the epilogue as you will be in awe of the man Patrick Touher has become despite the harshness of his childhood.

By Patrick Touher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear of the Collar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sent to an Industrial School in Dublin at the age of seven, Patrick Touher was forced into a tough regime of education and training, prayer and punishment, strict discipline and fearful nights. No allowances were made for emotion, sentiment or boyhood worries, and anyone who disturbed the routine was severely punished. Artane demanded absolute obedience, absolute submission; Patrick's was an education in cruelty and fear.

Patrick Touher spent eight long years in Artane Industrial School. Run by the Christian Brothers, the school has become synonymous with the widespread abuse of children in Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s which is…


Book cover of For the Love of My Mother

Heidi Daniele Why did I love this book?

John Rodgers tells the story of his mother’s experience in three Irish institutions, including an industrial school, a Mother Baby Home, and a Magdalene Laundry. Bridie Rodgers’ story reveals the psychological and emotional burdens of an inmate and how they are also felt by their future generations. It is a devastating reality to learn of the many innocent children and women who had been isolated from society and powerless over their own lives. 

By J.P. Rodgers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the Love of My Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the Love of My Mother is the tragic and uplifting story of one Irish mother and her son. Born into a life of poverty and detained at the tender age of two for begging in the streets, Bridget Rodgers proceeded to spend the next 30 years of her life locked away in one institution or another. The orphanage came first but after being raped and falling pregnant, she was sent to a home for unmarried mothers where she gave birth, had her son taken away from her and then was sent to one of the infamous Magdalen Laundries. And…


Book cover of Belonging: A Memoir

Heidi Daniele Why did I love this book?

In her book Belonging: A Memoir of Place, along with her personal journey, Corless shares her research and activism work towards justice for the lost babies of the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Her book is an excellent resource to learn about the institutions where unmarried mothers paid their penance and gave birth to their “illegitimate” children. Her book includes heart-wrenching accounts from former residents. 

I’ve had several exchanges with Catherine since 2010 when she responded to a query I had posted regarding the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Catherine Corless has brought worldwide attention to a scandal she uncovered: 796 missing burial records of children born in the Tuam Mother Baby Home.

By Catherine Corless,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Belonging as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE WOMAN, THE SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN, AND A QUEST FOR JUSTICE THAT ROCKED A NATION.

Catherine Corless could not have known where her interest in local history would lead her, as she began researching the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway in 2010. Uncovering no less than 796 missing burial records of children born there, the stark truth of their place of rest became clear: a disused sewage tank on the old home site, where two boys had once stumbled upon bones.

But who were these lost children, and what had happened to them in the care…


Book cover of Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland

Heidi Daniele Why did I love this book?

Moira J. Maguire has written a book that could be used by academics yet still fascinates a curious reader. Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland gives a full view of the system implemented to care for needy children. The study examines the roles of religion and state involved in providing services. Maguire references documents and quotes from reports to give the reader an authentic view of how destitute, abused, and illegitimate children were cared for. 

By Moira J. Maguire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fascinating study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, illegitimate, and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to cherish and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines closely the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, and breaks new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens.

Maguire gives voice to those children who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population, but have been ignored in the historical record. More importantly, she uses their experiences as lenses through which to re-evaluate Catholic influence in post-independence…


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Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

Book cover of Return to Hope Creek

Alyssa J. Montgomery Author Of A Spanish Seduction

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian USA Today bestselling romance author who writes contemporary romance and uses the pen name Alyssa James to write medieval romance. I think the makeover trope resonates with me because although I’m no beauty queen now, I was definitely an ugly duckling in my teens. For reasons best known to him, my father insisted on close-cropped hair, and financial circumstances dictated out-of-style hand-me-down clothing. After university, I found my own style, but it wasn’t until I was accepted as an international flight attendant that I believed that I couldn’t be all that ugly if Qantas employed me!

Alyssa's book list on makeover romances

What is my book about?

Return to Hope Creek is a second-chance rural romance set in Australia.

Stella Simpson's career and engagement are over. She returns to the rural community of Hope Creek to heal, unaware her high school and college sweetheart, Mitchell Scott, has also moved back to town to do some healing of his own.

Mitchell, a former NFL quarterback, doesn't need the complication of encountering Stella again so long after the messy end to their relationship, but as each tries to build a new life, they are drawn together and find their chemistry is just as strong as ever.

Will their love be stronger the second time around?

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

What is this book about?

When two old flames come back to their home town, sparks are bound to ignite. A rural romance from USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery.


A horrific car accident ended former world number-one Stella Simpson’s tennis career, and a betrayal ended her relationship with her fiancé/coach. When a family friend offers to sell her half of a property in the rural community where she grew up, it seems like the perfect place to escape, heal and begin the next phase of her life. Until she discovers that the man who broke her heart ten years ago has bought the…


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