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The Light in the Window by June Goulding
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The Light in the Window

by June Goulding

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Not a bad book but not my cup of tea. Only read half of it and lost interest as it was a bit repetitive. ( )
  Carolinejyoung | May 7, 2013 |
”This was my introduction to the woman who held power over three hundred and fifty unfortunate girls in a secret penitential jail.” . . . “This place was a plank that each girl had to walk alone.”

June Goulding may not be heralded for a great writer, but the story through which she lived needed telling, and she bravely told it. A nurse trained in midwifery, June accepted a job at an unwed mother’s home in Ireland which was run by nuns. Whether it was the time (1951-1952) or the leadership (the specific nun in charge), the end result was a heartbreaking story of pitiful young girls left in the hands of one who saw their current condition as their just reward for capital S Sin.

{Spoilers:} She saw to it that they got what they deserved during the birth – no screaming or noises allowed during childbirth, no sutures allowed, kept in an extremely uncomfortable position until just time to push. She made sure they got what they deserved in the rules she set for taking care of them – they must remain for three years afterward, taking care of their child and working at the ‘home’, after which their child was taken from them and adopted out, with no way of ever finding out where the child went. Unless their family could pay a certain amount, then they were released after ten days, with the baby taken away from them. She exacted her punishment for their Sin by in the work she required of them before their babies were born – trimming the grass by hand on their hands and knees, running heavy equipment to tar the drives, plus the regular cleaning and helping in the ‘home’. They were not to talk, especially to the nurse. But the nurse’s compassion won out; they talked every time that nun was out of earshot. The girls who had delivered told about their experiences to the ones waiting. The nun was around in the day time to ‘help’ the nurse. At night, the nurse got to deliver the babes without her interference. She still could not suture, not having the key to the supply chest, but she offered compassionate care and gentle hands. The girls took to their beds when their labor began, hoping to delay it long enough to have a night time delivery. On the nurse’s day off, if she returned to see a candle in the window, she knew there was an imminent birth awaiting her help. There was not much that June could do, but she did what she could to make their time there better. {End Spoilers.}

In her book, the author is not patting herself on the back. She is telling the girls’ stories. And she did a right good job of that, too. ( )
  countrylife | Jul 23, 2012 |
This is the story of about a year in the life of a midwife in Beesboro in Cork in Ireland in the 1950's. She's not a writer and sometimes it does wander off into reminisces, but it does read like she probably talks.

This is the story of a home for unmarried mothers, during her nine months there. The institutionalised cruelty that was practices by people who would then turn around and treat June so differently. It almost blew my mind how they seemed to think that this was right and normal.

I've read some review on Amazon where they ask how she could have stayed silent, not really knowing how powerful the Catholic Church was, how the complaints were easily and readily dismissed. There's a postscript in the edition I have that says that 20/20 ABC News New York did a documentary about it called the Lost Children of Ireland and the nuns still denied what she says! Proof is hard to come about.

Many of the children ended up in America with "good Catholic Families" and the truth about their past is obscured in a lack of leglislation. The women could pay to have the child taken away sooner rather than later but it was expensive so many of the women "paid" for their keep by three years of hard labour, becoming more and more institutionalised, where their families didn't want them to return because of the "shame" so many of them ended up spending the rest of their lives in various instutions.

It's harrowing and should be force fed to many who claim that Ireland was better in the past. ( )
1 vote wyvernfriend | Jul 17, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0091902053, Paperback)

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 medical treatment and abused for their 'sins'; where, after the birth, they were forced into hard labour in the convent for three years. But worst of all was that the young women were expected to raise their babies during these three years so that they could then be sold—given up for adoption in exchange for a donation to the nuns. Shocked by the nuns' inhumane treatment of the frightened young women, June risked her job to bring some light into their dark lives. June's memoir tells the story of twelve women's experiences in this home and of the hardships they endured, but also the kindness she offered them, and the hope she was able to bring.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:55 -0400)

'Please write about us...and let the world know' In 1951 June Goulding became a midwife in a home for unmarried mothers run by the Sacred Heart nuns. Shunned by society and their families, the frightened young women were made to pay for what the nuns called their 'terrible sin'. June tried to give them some dignity and became their only friend, attending every labour. The girls would leave a light in the gable window to let her know she was needed in the delivery ward. What she witnessed was to haunt her for fifty years, but she has now decided to tell their story.… (more)

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