Hachette Books Ireland lands Finnerty's Bessborough House story

Hachette Books Ireland lands Finnerty's Bessborough House story

Hachette Books Ireland has acquired a "moving and powerful" narrative of Bessborough House, one of Ireland’s largest mother and baby homes, written by BBC journalist Deirdre Finnerty. 

World rights were acquired from Abi Fellows of The Good Literary Agency, with publication scheduled for April 2022. 

Based on over 130 hours of interviews and spanning three different decades, Bessborough: Three Women’s Stories of Love and Loss from an Irish Mother and Baby Institution will tell the stories of a trio of women who each spent time in Bessborough House in Cork City, which was in operation from 1922 until 1998. It will examine the impact the institution had on women from different generations and backgrounds and ultimately, explore how each outcome was the same – the women lost their children and all three lived with a lifelong legacy of pain and loss which impacted their mental health.  

Finnerty said: "In 2018, I was commissioned to write a long read on the commission of inquiry into mother and baby institutions for the BBC. In council flats, rural cottages and on crackling phone lines, I heard stories of loss, longing, and incredible bravery. Even all these years later, some people did not wish to go on the record because of the shame they experienced. Others were still trying to trace their relatives and access their personal information. 

"In 2019, the finished BBC piece became one of the most read articles in the world. The honesty of the contributors had struck a chord with readers and prompted lots of people to get in touch. But the report merely scratched the surface of the issue – many people I interviewed had so much more to say about the impact a closed and secretive adoption system had on their lives. 

"As the weeks and months went on, I spoke with three mothers who expressed a willingness to share their experiences publicly and did not wish to hold anything back. Their vivid descriptions take us right inside the walls of Bessborough House in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. They speak with incredible candour about the effect of a life-long grief; they tell of its impact on their relationships and their mental health. Their courage and generosity are limitless and it has been a privilege to get to know them."

Ciara Doorley, editorial director, commented: "In Bessborough, we are given an insight into the pain and grief of the women who passed through the doors of Ireland’s mother and baby institutions experienced and continue to live with. This is a powerful book we are proud to be publishing."