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The Irish Generation Looking for their African Roots

In the middle of the last century, thousands of students from African countries were studying at Irish universities. In the 1960s, the Irish government ran schemes supporting them in learning skills that would help them build up their own newly independent states. Most enrolled in Trinity College, University College Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons, studying subjects like medicine, law, and government administration. By 1962, at least 1,100 students – or one tenth of Ireland’s student population – were African, from countries like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, where there were strong links with Irish missionaries.  Some had children outside marriage, who were then placed in one of Ireland’s notorious mother and baby homes. Today these children, now adults, are searching for their families.  Many of the children from these relationships spent their early lives in mother-and-baby homes and were placed for adoption. Irish adoptions at the time were carried out under a closed system – where there is no contact or sharing of information between the adopted child and the natural parents. To this day, adopted people do not have a statutory right to their early life files.