Child Migrants, memories

The orphan who unorphaned himself

by Patrick O’Flaherty (guest author) on 1 July, 2011

Patrick O’Flaherty arrived in  Australia in 1947 thinking he was a war orphan and not knowing that his mother was alive in England. Read Patrick’s contribution to ‘Where’s the fair go? The decline of equity in Australia’, for more on his life in Australia, his shaky reunion with his mother and reconnecting with his family in Wales and Ireland.

Patrick was eight when he arrived on the SS Asturias.

Download Patrick’s ‘The orphan who unorphaned himself’ (PDF 262kb) from Where’s the Fair Go? The Decline of Equity in Australia, edited by Ian Rae and published by Delegate Productions Books in 2003.

2 thoughts on “The orphan who unorphaned himself”

  1. I also was at Clontarf in March and April 1956. I felt the weight of Br. Doyle’s strap, but this was nothing compared to what I witnessed later in State Schools. My mother was a single mum and we arrived in Perth in Feb. 1956 from England. Whereas we had a happy, if poor life, in England, with plenty of food, I was always hungry at Clontarf.
    Australia House told us porkies about the magnificence that awaited us in Australia and we became 10 pound Poms. The authorities took me away from my mother in Perth (I was 15) and shoved me in Clontarf. Enough was enough when my cool DA and Boston haircut was shaved off and I just walked out and hitch-hiked to my Mother, who had got a job in the Railway Hotel in Armidale. This annoyed one of the nicer Brothers who had earmarked me as opening batsman for a forthcoming match against ? Aquinas. In 1957 I ran into him at Adelaide Oval and felt a bit guilty.
    Clontarf was tough, but it was the times, and Australian authorities thought all us Poms a bit backward and it must have been very difficult looking after all those boys from very varied backgrounds 24/7. I certainly did not experience anything remotely in the way of sexual abuse.
    My experience there did shake my Catholic faith, but after many years of reflection I understand the way of the world and have re-gained my faith.

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