Cherish was Founded in 1972 by a Group of Single Mothers


group of single mothers, led by Maura O’Dea Richards, set about reaching others in the same situation. Then Senator, Mary Robinson, became our first President. Founding member Colette O’Neill suggested Cherish as a name for the group, taken from the 1916 Proclamation which declared that Ireland would ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’.

Unfortunately in 1972, this was not the case. Single pregnant women were often thrown out of their homes, lost their jobs and were rejected by their communities. It was extremely difficult for them to keep and raise their children themselves. Cherish was set up to provide such women and children with a voice, empowering women to help themselves and their families.

Cherish also campaigned for change. While many changes were brought about, two of the most significant were the introduction of the unmarried mother’s allowance and the abolition of the status of illegitimacy.

Maura O’Dea Richards

Together with a small group of women, Maura founded One Family (formerly Cherish) in 1972 because she was a single unmarried mother who decided she wanted to keep and raise her child herself.

With the help of compassionate friends such as the then Senator Mary Robinson, their little group blossomed and became a major force for change in our society.

Maura’s moving, funny and challenging memoir, Single Issue, is available on Amazon with proceeds contributing towards our work.

You can read Maura’s speech for One Family’s 40th anniversary here. 

“I didn’t start Cherish, Cherish started itself.”

Maura O’Dea Richards