herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Phone-box baby is reunited with her saviour

A mum who was abandoned as a baby in a telephone box 44 years ago has been reunited for the first time with the garda who saved her.

Helen Ward could not have been older than a day or two when a lorry driver found her at the bottom of a phone kiosk in Dundalk and rang gardai.

Sgt Michael Connolly (now 87) was the first person to lift baby Helen from the kiosk and take her to nearby Louth County Hospital.

Yesterday, the two spoke to each other for the first time after decades of hoping to meet.



Passion

"In the back of my mind, I remember making enquiries about my birth and hearing Sgt Connolly's name but when there was no information about my birth mother, I got disillusioned and left it there," said Helen.

"So when I heard the sergeant speak with such passion about finding me yesterday, I was really glad I finally had the courage to find out more about my origins," the mum-of-three told the Herald.

Helen, who revealed her plight on Liveline yesterday, was touched to hear the emotion in Sgt Connolly's voice when they finally spoke.

" I didn't think it would be so emotional, I'm really glad we got to speak and we will definitely be meeting soon."

Father-of-eight Sgt Connolly told presenter Joe Duffy that his investigation had not yielded any information about Helen's first days.

"I brought Helen up to the local county hospital ... We did make some enquiries alright, but the child was left there, nobody came afterwards, nobody said anything about the child," the pensioner said.

"They called you [Aileen Brenda] Marsh up in the hospital after the marshes, I believe [the phonebox was on Marsh Road]. "There was [an investigation but] there were no leads at all."

Helen was adopted by the Wards when she was 13 months old, and she grew up with their biological daughter Mary (45) in Dublin.

Helen said her parents, who are now in their 80s, were very supportive of her search. "My mum was happy, she told me, 'You have every right, it's something you've always wanted to do'," Helen said.

"I am very fortunate in that respect, my parents have given me the best of everything.

"I have had a good life and it's very important -- I would like to know that my birth mother is okay, and she might want to know that I am as well. I don't want to invade anyone's privacy, she's probably built her life and I respect that."



Surprise

Helen now lives in Ballyboughal, North County Dublin, with her three children Edel (19) Peter (17) and Eva (13) and is studying holistic therapy.

Helen was given another surprise on her birthday yesterday when she was reunited with a godmother she didn't know she had.

A nurse, only known as Mary, contacted Joe Duffy yesterday to speak to Helen.

"I was on night duty in the Louth County Hospital the night Fr Pasmore baptised Helen," Mary said.

"We called her Aileen Brenda and he came up with the surname. She was a lovely baby."

hnews@herald.ie

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