‘I had horrible childhood with Nazareth nuns’

Kate Walmsley ''Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Kate Walmsley ''Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A woman has waived her right to anonymity to reveal allegations of beatings and sexual abuse at a children’s home in Derry run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

Kate Walmsley (57) was a resident at Nazareth House Children’s Home on Bishop Street in the 1960s.

She said she wanted to become the first victim to waive her right to anonymity to help other victims who haven’t yet come forward.

She told the Historical Abuse Inquiry sitting in Banbridge, Co. Down: “I had a dreadful experience from when I was eight until I was 12. I was mentally tortured, physically and emotionally.”

She added: “I had a horrible childhood at Nazareth House in Derry run by the religious orders. I was abused by two priests and also was mentally and physically abused by nuns.

“I just don’t ever want that to happen to another little girl or boy and it’s the only reason that I came forward for the inquiry.

“That’s the only thing that has been keeping me going, that this world is going to change and that priests and bishops and cardinals are not going to rule the people and that the people are going to have a voice for once in their lives.”

Ms Walmsley broke down as she recalled how she was regularly sexually assaulted by priests and older female residents.

At one stage, she said: “This is killing us. Nazareth House destroyed my life.”

She also described how she was beaten and force-fed her own vomit by nuns and scalded with hot water.

The Sisters of Nazareth Order gave an unreserved apology at the start of the inquiry but Ms Walmsley said she no longer understood what the word “sorry” means.

Earlier in the week, the inquiry heard claims that the Bishop Street care home was like a living nightmare.

Three former residents spoke at length about the physical, mental and sexual abuse they endured.