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Childhood Interrupted: Growing up under the cruel regime of the Sisters of Mercy [Paperback]

Kathleen O'Malley
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Aug 2005
In 1950, Kathleen O'Malley and her two sisters were legally abducted from their mother and placed in an industrial school ran by the Sisters of Mercy order of nuns, who also ran the notorious Magdalene Homes. The rape of eight-year-old Kathleen by a neighbour had triggered their removal - the Irish authorities ruling that her mother must have been negligent. They were only allowed a strictly supervised visit once a year, until they were permitted to leave the harsh and cruel regime of the institution at the age of sixteen. But Kate survived her traumatic childhood and escaped her past by leaving for England and then Australia when the British government offered a scheme to encourage settlement there. Fleeing her past again, Kate worked as a governess in Paris and then returned to England where she trained as a beautician at Elizabeth Arden. She married and had a son. A turning point in Kate's life came when she applied to become a magistrate and realised that she had to confront her hidden personal history and make it public. This is her inspiring story.


Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Virago Press Ltd (29 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844081176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844081172
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A truly shocking account. . . Disturbing and yet inspiring (Elle (Top 20 reads))

Moving (Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A deeply moving memoir about the loss of childhood and its impact on adult life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars childhood interrupted 12 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
I think lots more of us would talk about our experiences at the hands of nuns if we could acheive something as positive as a calling them to account, in a radio phone in show. Profoundly exploited as a child, Kathleen only really becomes aware of how appauling her experience was, when she becomes a British Magistrate. This has probably preserved her from years of pointless introspection, at the same time providing her with weapons to fight off an Irish judiciary who still don't seem to care or take it seriously. Victim she isn't. Virago to them, I hope she is. Those who should have protected and nurtured her, abducted her and ensalved her in an Industrial School. Worse still, her mother had to pay for this. Yet Kathleen O'Malley was equipped, even as a eight year old girl, with the tools of survival. I would speculate that she is a rational optimist, and highly motivated. She would also make Madonnas efforts at reinventing herself, look like a monkey with a lip-liner and a mirror. At critical times she cleverly appeased her abusers and sought their approval. In the David and Goliath struggle she faced, it proved to be her slingshot.. she kept her enemies close and realised that vital records still existed. These vindicated her claims. She like countless others deserve not just an apology but an ABJECT apology, and compensation out of the Sisters of Mercy's personal bank account. I'd like to see an International stock take done on the financial holdings of these 'religious orders', and then a big share out to those in their 'care'. How hard wearing would their moral fiber be in the face of a little destitution. Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Childhood Interrupted 24 Oct 2005
Format:Paperback
I have not read a book for many years but having seen the author on a TV program I felt I had to read her novel.I found the book to be so heartwarming and thought provoking. After reading this my vision of a nun will never be the same. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 24 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback
I read the book with great interest and like everyone found the cruelty and unbearable lack of love so hard to fathom from supposedly loving nuns. But other organisations and people seem to escape criticism with it all landing on the nuns - where were the authorities, the visitors, the NSPCC and social services all of whom were also involved. At the same time in history life in UK was so different, why was Irish social history so very harsh?

As for what the previous writer put about why do so many follow the Catholic Faith - well it doesn't make the Catholic Faith wrong it reflects on the followers not on the ideal surely?
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, interesting read 20 Jan 2006
Format:Paperback
I am very interested in the topic and this book didn't disappoint. It was different from other books I have read on this subject because Kathleen still has a bitter outlook only to be expected of a person who was never really given answers to the questions she so desperatly wanted to ask back then about why she and her family were treated so awfully.
The book makes interesting points as an attempt to explain why certain things were the way they were in Ireland. Which is something that the other books I have read have a tendency to stray away from.However, Kathleen doesn't attempt to make excuses for her 'carers' and the reasons why they abused.
The main part of the story is written obviously as Kathleen the child and that does come across successfully but the end of the book becomes more adult and reflexive over her time at the Industrial School. I hope Kathleen through her research, can get the answers she so deserves.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC - a beautifully writen book 12 April 2006
Format:Paperback
I read this book in 2 days- I could not wait to find out what happened next to Kathleen. What a wonderful woman to have the courage to write this book - how proud her mum would have been of her! I imagine many other adults who were brought up in harsh regimes and abused at a young age will relate to this book.

Considering Kathleen was constantly told she was a failure and suffered continual abuse it is truly inspirational that when she came out of the Catholic Home that she knew that it was important to find out why this experience has happened to her. Her courageous decision to research her background was the right one - I am glad she found the evidence to prove that her mother was not at all like the character she had been led to believe by the Sisters.

This is the BEST book I have read this year and would recommend it 100% to any Amazon reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well told disturbing story 8 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback
I took this book to read on holiday and found I had quickly finished it as I was unable to put it down. This is well written and the stark pictures that Kathleen paints of her childhood are unbelievably horrendous. This story makes you want to comfort each and every one of those poor children. How very sad to know that nuns could behave like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read 14 Mar 2008
By Lena
Format:Paperback
This is an engrossing book. It is written in a simple and unaffected style, but the story it tells is so powerful and moving that the reader is gripped from the beginning.

Its honesty is a big part of its attraction. She doesn't flinch from describing her own mixed emotions; for example, her desire to please the nuns in order to gain some approval or affection or to stay out of trouble. She even tells how, in later life, she brought her young son back to show him to the nuns who had treated her so cruelly; she wanted to say to them, "Look, I've made a life for myself, I'm a normal person, I'm not bad."

Although I grew up in Ireland at the same time as Kathleen O'Malley, and had a very different childhood, I remember the Ireland she describes extremely well. It was a repressive and dreary place, with every aspect of life dominated by the Catholic Church, and although I was unaware of what was happening in places like the Industrial Schools, I was not surprised when we found out later. The nuns who ran my smart, fee-paying school would not have dared to abuse us (although they hit us on the hands with wooden rulers - and that was OK with our parents) but their hypocrisy, snobbery and lack of human decency was only too evident.

Kathleen may have inherited her strong spirit from her wonderful mother. I finished the book full of admiration for the way in which she went on to live life fully and fruitfully.

It also made me want to remind people how dangerous religion can be and how we must try to maintain a society where there are checks and balances which prevent one institution from gaining such power.

The Ireland of that time had many kind and decent people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good read.
Published 1 month ago by stephanie darby
3.0 out of 5 stars I guess it's okay as far as books go. ...
I guess it's okay as far as books go...but the story is horrendous, how these bitches got away with what did is just typical of religion in general.
Published 2 months ago by Ian Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
very well written.the horrors and abuse they nuns did to those children was barbaric.also the abuse towards/ about the girls mum.brides of Satan more like
Published 2 months ago by nana meg
1.0 out of 5 stars No respect for books......
This book was received on time, but in an awful state, I will have to wear rubber gloves to read it, it's that bad! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Susan A Hewett
5.0 out of 5 stars Schocking Story.
I grew up in Dublin in the fifties and I vividly remember how my sister was treated by the so called caring nuns. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. J. G. Malone
4.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU CAN'T TRUST A NUN...
Religion can certainly cause many a problem and that comes strongly in this book. It is the story of KATHLEEN O'MALLEY,about her and her sisters were treated in this school,run by... Read more
Published 14 months ago by BAZ316
4.0 out of 5 stars "Born a Catholic and I'll die a Catholic"
Kathleen O'Malley in Childhood Interrupted had my utmost sympathy along with her family and all the other families exploited in "industrial schools", Magdalene laundries, poor... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Scrapper
5.0 out of 5 stars Interrupted Childhood
This book has been written with true feeling and heart - of course that is the case as it is Kathleen's own childhood experiences. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by Looch
5.0 out of 5 stars reccommended
I thoroughly reccommend this book, as it is truly factual.
For any one interested in the (so called )good old days, this is a real eye opener!! Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2009 by happy go lucky
5.0 out of 5 stars A TALE OF INHUMANITY
This is a gripping book, not least because of its matter-of-fact non-sensational tone. The reader is left wondering why the nuns thought it right to behave towards fellow-humans,... Read more
Published on 26 April 2008 by Andrew
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