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Mixed race children who grew up in the care sysyem in Ireland

Added on June 15, 2017

My name is Philomena Mullen, I am a mixed-race woman of Irish/African parentage who grew up in industrial schools in Galway and Dublin in the 1960s and 70s.

I have been fascinated all my life by the treatment of us as mixed race children who grew up in the care system in Ireland and how we coped and survived, or in many cases didn't survive, the racism that we experienced and the denial of us by the nuns and the system, in general, as genuine Irish citizens. 

I am writing to you today because I have finally found myself in a position both emotionally and financially to be able to undertake PhD research in Trinity College Dublin to look at this issue. 

I hope to focus on how we as mixed race women, in particular, managed to carve an identity out of the negative environment in which we found ourselves incarcerated.  In order to find some sense of ourselves as being either black or Irish, both or neither.  I am examining the role of the institution in the formation of our identity.  I want to look at the impact of the treatment we received because of the perceived ambiguity in our heritage.

I would love to talk to you about this and hope that you would be interested in putting your experience on record as I believe that the reports that have been undertaken to date have lumped all children in the system into a monolithic group as if all of the experiences were the same. Many mixed-race children feel that they were singled out for especially harsh treatment.

I hope that my research will show the specific form of racist abuse experienced by this group of children and how it has had a life long impact on the life and choicesw of those who experienced it at first hand in areas such as mental health, behaviour, religion, partners, children, etc. 

If you are interested in ensuring that the voices of mixed-race people are added to the literature that already exists in relation to institutional abuse then please contact me at

Thank you

Phil Mullen

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