St Joseph's Home, Londonderry, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
The St Joseph's Home for Boys was opened on November 2nd, 1922, at a large property known as Termonbacca, on Southway, on the south-western outskirts of Derry (the usually referred to as Londonderry). The home was operated by the Sisters of Mercy in tandem with the Nazareth House on Bishop Street, Londonderry, with boys being housed at St Joseph's and the girls at Bishop Street. The boys home came to be known simply as "Termonbacca" which, apart from being the name of the townland in which it was located, has the meaning in Irish of "a sanctuary for lame, crippled or poor person".
As well as the house, the Termonbacca estate included 195 acres of farmland which provided food for the homes and a useful agricultural training facility for the older boys. Before the boys moved in, the Termonbacca buildings were improved and extended at a cost of cost £18,000, with further additions being made over the years. In 1926, two iron huts donated to the home were fitted out with a dormitory, dining area, bathroom and toilets for 12 senior boys.
In the early 1970s, the home became mixed and organised as several "family" groups, with a new building being constructed to house two of the groups. The home's nursery was refurbished and the large old dormitories were divided into smaller bedrooms.
The home was closed in 1982 and was taken over for use as a retreat centre by the Carmelite Order of Friars.
In 2014, Termonbacca was one of thirteen institutions examined by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Early on in the proceedings, lawyers issued apologies on behalf of the Sisters of Nazareth for any abuse residents had suffered while living in homes that they ran.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
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