Patsy Dan Rodgers, King of Tory

 

A chara, – The obituary (November 3rd) of Patsy Dan Rodgers, King of Tory Island, said that he was baptised in St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, and adds: “Rodgers was never able to establish the circumstances of his birth. As a middle-aged man, he visited Dublin in an attempt to track down his parents, but the church authorities were most unhelpful. Their attitude left him feeling broken.”

Vast numbers of children from near and far who were born in the National Maternity Hospital were baptised in the nearby St Andrew’s parish church within a day or two of birth. (This had reduced considerably by the 1970s when I served in the parish.) Local women used to earn some money bringing the children the church, while the mother remained in the hospital.

In circumstances like that of Patsy, the address in the church register for the mother was often simply that of the National Maternity Hospital, perhaps with just the name of the town the mother came from, but no other information.

A father’s name would not be registered; without his explicit acknowledgment of paternity there could be legal action.

I can understand Patsy “feeling broken”, but it could be that the reason the church authorities were “most unhelpful” was because there was no help they could give. Surely the hospital would be a more likely source of information.

The obituary did not say where Patsy was from birth to being fostered. It could have been with his mother, but perhaps more likely in a home for children. Nor does the obituary say whether the fostering was through some official body (legal adoption only came in 1952), or whether it was an informal arrangement.

Patsy’s sadness is one shared by many, including myself, who research their family tree and meet with seemingly insuperable dead-ends. It is wonderful that Patsy, with his seemingly unpromising start in life, lived to contribute so much to life on Tory, and to its visitors. – Is mise,

PÁDRAIG McCARTHY,

Sandyford,

Dublin 16.