Last Updated 21/1/2011


Derek Leinster

Former resident of the

Protestant Evangelical

Bethany Home

(Rathgar, Dublin)


Calls on the Heads of Irish Protestant Churches to support putting the Bethany Home into the Irish government’s redress scheme.


The Bethany Home was run by an interdenominational committee from various Protestant churches. Leinster was born in the Bethany Home to an unmarried Protestant mother. He was fostered out to a dysfunctional family in Wicklow, beaten and molested and left school illiterate at age 13. He was never adopted and found out his name was Leinster at age 18. He left for England still unable to read or write. He thought clocks were decorations. He has since made a success of his life and has written two books about his experiences, Hanna’s Shame (2005) and Destination Unknown (2008).


Derek Leinster said, “The Roman Catholic Church has had to face up to its responsibilities. It is now time Protestant churchmen did the same”.


Background on the Bethany Home

The home was founded in 1922. The Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin said was for ‘fallen’ women. In October1939, after inspection of the Bethany home it was found that 14 infants had died since a previous visit. There were 57 children in the home at that time. This inspection stated that in addition to it being a Protestant mother and babies home, it was also a “children’s home”. On this basis alone, it should come within the terms of the redress scheme.


On July 31, 1934 the Anglo Celt reported that a ‘nurse mother’ in Monaghan with an 18 month old child from the Bethany Home left it in a room with a pot of boiling gruel, into which the child crawled and then was scalded and died.


A 1939 report by an inspector in Monaghan on children ‘boarded out’ from the Bethany Home found examples of;

  • children insufficiently clad, untidy, with dirty clothes unwashed for weeks;
  • examples of too many children with a foster nurse (four in one case);
  • a sick and neglected child whose nappy had not been changed for some time. The inspector called the dispensary doctor and for the foster mother to be prosecuted.

The Rathdown Board of Assistance (Dun Laoghaire) called on the Minister for Local Government to inspect the home in 1939 after sick children were removed and put in hospital. One child removed on 23 Feb 1939 was found to be suffering from whooping cough and purulent conjunctivitis in both eyes and found to have faulty circulation. The child was moved from Loughlinstown hospital to St Kevin’s Hospital, Dublin on 3 March 1939 where it remained for some time. A premature child with an ulcer on its shoulder was removed to St Ultan’s hospital on 19 May 1939, where it died on May 25.


Derek Leinster

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