A wonderful childhood with nuns of Termonbacca

Sir, I was disappointed to be exposed yet again to another article in your newspaper last week featuring some ex-residents of St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca - 'Abused 'homeboys' to meet Bishop'.

It vilified the good reputation of the many nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth, many no longer with us, who worked tirelessly at Termonbacca during the many years of its existence.

The main protagonist for these persistent complaints of alleged abuse is Brian Doherty. I've met him a few times and really don't know him very well, but he must have left Termonbacca well over 40 years ago. I am not in a position to comment on the veracity of the claims he continually raises, but I am very concerned about the distorted impression that these allegations convey about the Sisters of Nazareth.

I myself was a resident in Termonbacca from the late 1950s until the late 1970s. It would be foolish of me to claim that, in all the years I resided at Termonbacca, none of the many hundreds of mainly boys, who also resided there, were ever subjected to any form of abuse. I can, however, say that I was not personally witness to any such acts of alleged abuse, and certainly was not made aware of any such allegations during my tenure at Termonbacca.

What I can categorically say is that my memories of my time at Termonbacca are very positive memories of being part of a very large family of people who, despite our difficult backgrounds, were fortunate to have been reared by the sisters who devoted their lives to looking after children like us and who gave us a fantastic quality of life.

I would also like to stress that although a very small number of ex-Termonbacca residents have voiced concerns about their alleged mistreatment, they are very much the vocal minority. The silent majority of ex-Termonbacca residents, I am convinced, would, if approached, have nothing but praise for the sterling efforts of the Sisters of Nazareth, who provided us with a loving home during our childhood.

I would like to put on record my personal thanks to the Sisters of Nazareth for the excellent work they had done at Termonbacca, and that the order continues to do in their many convents around the world. I would also like to thank the people of Derry who supported the Sisters of Nazareth for many years, enabling them to provide a wonderful childhood for myself and many other ex-Termonbaca boys.


Bernard McEldowney

'Near Birmingham'