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Daughter’s race to solve Donegal mystery 07.12.15

by Linda McGrory

A DUBLIN woman has made a poignant plea for information about her father's Donegal-born birth-mother before he slips deeper into advanced dementia.
Social worker Jo McLoughlin said her "kind and loving" dad Dominic (94) was fostered at just eight days old in the summer of 1921.
Apart from some early visits by his young mother during his infancy, she suddenly stopped coming and he never saw her again.
The only memento he ever had is a treasured sepia-toned photo of his mother taken when she was a teenager.
"The photo was left with his foster family. He had it in a special box and would show it to us every now and then. He said he knew nothing of her," said Ms McLoughlin (52).
Her search has so far revealed that her grandmother was called Kathleen (Cassie) McLoughlin and she was born some 117 years ago in Co Donegal.
The family understands that she was in service as a maid at the Dublin home of an academic and became pregnant by his son.
She gave birth to Dominic - possibly in the Rotunda Hospital - on July 30, 1921 when she was about 23 years old.
"They were prohibited from marrying and she gave my father into foster care. She was allegedly afraid to bring my father home to Donegal as she feared that this would cause upset in her family as her brother was in the Army there," said Ms McLoughlin.
Dominic was fostered as a baby through St Patrick's Guild in Dublin which, says Jo, retains only a sketchy file on her father.
Dominic was raised to adulthood in a caring foster family - the Dunnes of Sackville Avenue, Ballybough, Dublin.
 Dominic's only memento: A photo of Kathleen (Cassie) McLoughlin pictured as a teenager.
Ms McLoughlin said her father was well educated for his times. After leaving school at 16, he became a driver for various companies and had a keen interest in politics.
He was happily married to Annie (nee Metcalf) and the couple raised seven children in Finglas West where they were highly active in the community.
Dominic was sadly widowed at the age of 63 when Annie died in 1984. He developed dementia about ten years later.
Ms McLoughlin, his youngest daughter, has found it difficult to trace her paternal grandmother's birthplace in the geographically large county of Donegal.
She has found herself directed without success to locations as far north as Moville and as far south as Killybegs.
She now wonders whether a Census 1911 entry referring to a 13-year old girl from Drumaweer, Moville, could be her grandmother.
She is also aware that the family surname could be a misspelling because, in Donegal, the name is generally written as ‘McLaughlin’. The name is also a very common one in the county.
The Dubliner wants to solve the family mystery before her father, who is in a progressed state of vascular dementia, passes away.
Jo McLoughlin pictured with her beloved dad Dominic (94).
She knows he probably won’t understand if she does manage to locate Cassie’s birthplace or indeed her grave.
But she would still like to hold her father’s hand and tell him she finally found his mother.
"I know what she did was in his best interests and I love her without knowing her, for bringing him into the world and for being so selfless in her loss of him in her life.
"I feel my dad has some unfinished business to do before he leaves this life which just may be tied up with his entrance into the world and into the Ireland of 1921," she added. If you think you can help Jo in her search, you can email her: thejomcloughlin@hotmail.com .
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