Media | One Family Podcast: Farewell to Cherish House

Last month, after over forty years in Cherish House on Lower Pembroke Street, One Family moved to new premises in Smithfield, Dublin 7 to more fully meet the need of parents and children as demand for our supports and services continues to grow. While looking forward to the move and to welcoming clients to the new building, everyone who has lived, worked or visited Cherish House over the decades has been moved by the story of the building, by its history and by the memories it holds.

Just before moving, our founding member Maura O’Dea Higgins and some of One Family’s staff team spoke with producer Judy-Meg Ní Chinnéide about Cherish House. Maura recalls trying to find other women who were lone parents in 1970s Ireland, how the organisation came into being in Cherish House, and the early days of meetings by firelight when there was no electricity. Staff shared what the building and its people have meant to us and to the families who lived here when they had nowhere else to go, and how will we carry those memories with us into the future.

Listen to the podcast on the link below (7.5 minutes duration). We hope you enjoy it.


Music credit: Søren Nissen Jørgensen.

The music on this podcast is shared under a Creative Commons license by its composer Søren Nissen Jørgensen.

News | Our 45th Anniversary Media Interviews and Open Door Day

One Family celebrates 45 years in 2017. We were founded by a small group of strong, brave women in 1972. You can read more about our history here. This year, we will also be moving from Cherish House on Lower Pembroke Street, our home for over 40 years, to our new building in Smithfield, Dublin 7 next month. It is fully accessible and larger, so that we can further extend our services to support even more parents and children through difficult times.

Yesterday our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards and our CEO Karen Kiernan were interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1’s Ray D’Arcy Show. Maura shared her personal story, including how she had to hide her pregnancy and how she fought for the right to rear her child, in a passionate, funny and moving interview which you can listen to on this link.

It was an honour to receive the following message from President Michael D Higgins for Maura, which was sent to,and read out on, the Ray D’Arcy Show:

For many years single mothers in our society were an excluded group of people without a voice. I thank you for all you’ve done in promoting an inclusive citizenship by ensuring that lone parents and their children are treated with respect and are valued as a family within our society.

Your contribution to changing the landscape for lone parents in this county has been a significant one. I congratulate you for your dedication and commitment and I wish you every success in the future.

President Michael D Higgins

Today in the Irish Times, Sheila Wayman speaks with three women about their experiences of parenting alone across the generations, and across four decades, to ask what has or has not changed in Irish society in the time since our founding? Sharing their stories are our founding member Evelyn Forde, Sharon Keane and Lee Nagle. You can read the feature here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 June, we invite people who would like to wish farewell to Cherish House to join us between 10am-4pm for our Open Door Day when an exhibition of photographs and archive materials will be on display at 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2.

If you would like to support our Building Futures Fund and the refurbishment of our new building, you can find out more here.



Statement | One Family Statement on Tuam Mother and Baby Home

What Ireland has learned about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, and how callously and disrespectfully babies and infants were treated in life and in death, seems almost impossible to comprehend. It is difficult to think about it but we must; particularly today, on International Women’s Day. What happened at Tuam was reflective of our society, of our state and the Catholic Church. It was able to happen because of attitudes that led to pregnant, usually poor, unmarried women being held in such homes, to being treated as shameful, and to their babies being seen as an embodiment of sin.

We have been thinking about all of those children, women and families who suffered in the past, and those who today still carry pain as a result or their or their family members’ experiences. We hope that the unveiling of the secrecy around Tuam Mother and Baby Home can be the start of a real and true acknowledgment of their suffering.

One Family was founded as Cherish in that time when pregnant unmarried women were ‘sent away’. Our founders were a small group of unmarried mothers who were raising their babies themselves in very difficult circumstances. Through finding and supporting each other, they founded an organisation that would go on to support many thousands of other women; women desperate for help because of the societal and structural attitudes that meant being pregnant and unmarried had cost them their family relationships, jobs and homes. These women were supported to keep and raise their babies. The organisation successfully campaigned to abolish the status of illegitimacy, and for the introduction of the Unmarried Mother’s Allowance, as the One Parent Family Payment was then called.

Our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards said today: “The deep sadness I feel on reading these reports is one I have always carried as a woman who witnessed the suffering of so many others just because, as I had been, they were pregnant and unmarried. In 1972, we, the ostracised, banded together and showed ourselves. We demanded that women be recognised as deserving of value and respect, irrespective of marital or parenting status. We fought for justice for our children and for every child. One Family continues that work today. What will it take for our society to finally see all children and families as equal?”

Today, one in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. It is forty-five years since we were founded yet many of the parents we work with still experience stigma and shame simply because they parent alone. The reality is, and evidence shows, that what most affects a child’s future is not the form their family takes, but living in consistent poverty. Yet Ireland’s child poverty rates continue to rise, and one-parent family households continue to experience the most deprivation.

Both poverty and judgement are dehumanising. A one-parent family is not “the other”; if someone is poor, they are not “different”. It is time that Irish society truly learns from its past. Each of us must accept responsibility for how we think about and treat the people around us; our family members, our neighbours, the parent we see at the school gate every morning. We must all work to contribute to a future society where every family is equally cherished. Only then can we be proud of who we are.


People parenting alone and their family members affected by the recent harrowing reports may wish to call One Family’s askonefamily helpline for support on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212.

Maura O'Dea Richards_150x150

One Family Documentary Wins at New York Festivals

One Family is proud and delighted that the Today FM documentary Cherish All The Children, produced and presented by Hilary Fennell, has won an award in the Social Issues Category at the New York Festivals Radio Awards.

The one-hour radio documentary explores the founding of Cherish/One Family in 1972 and includes interviews with the organisation’s first President, Mary Robinson; our wonderful founders; current staff and clients about what we do today; and many more. It is a fascinating, moving and insightful look at the reality of life for women in the 70s who were pregnant and unmarried, and the achievements, evolution and progression of our organisation.

Our founders recall the lengths they had to go to in hiding their pregnancies – even creating outfits with over-sized pockets and cardigans – and the fear and stress they experienced but they share numerous funny and inspirational stories too; stories filled with courage, resourcefulness and camaraderie.

Congratulations to our brave and eloquent founders, to Hilary Fennell, to Today FM and to all who participated.

Cherish All The Children, which was partially recorded here in Cherish House, was first broadcast on Today FM on 29 December 2013. It is available to listen to here.

To find out more about our history, click here and to download the fascinating book Single Issue by our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards, click here.

Maura O'Dea Richards_Karen Kiernan_Graduation 2013

Pictured at One Family Graduation 2013

Foreground: Cherish/One Family founder Maura O’Dea Richards

Background: Current CEO, Karen Kiernan

Photo Credit: Paul Sherwood


One Family Logo

One Family Statement on Mother and Baby Homes

One Family Statement on Mother and Baby Homes

One Family, in following recent media coverage in relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, shares the widespread concerns voiced in relation to the treatment of mothers and children and to the remains of deceased infants which has led to the start of a wider conversation about how pregnant women came to be in such homes.

This organisation was founded as Cherish by a small group of unmarried mothers in 1972 who, against prevailing practice, decided that they wanted to keep their babies and raise them themselves. Our founders tell numerous stories of their difficult personal experiences in doing this, as well as those of the many women who turned up at their homes, at group meetings, or here to our offices at 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin desperate for help because they were pregnant and not married which in countless cases had cost them their family relationships, jobs and homes.

Through the 1970s and 1980s the organisation worked hard to change the accepted ‘norms’ by lobbying for the introduction of the first social welfare payment to acknowledge the existence of women bringing up children on their own and to abolish the status of illegitimacy. More information on the history of One Family is here. Our founding member Maura O’Dea Richards has also previously published a book, Single Issue, about this era.

Maura O’Dea Richards said today: “One Family welcomes the Government’s Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and we will be making a submission to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Charlie Flanagan TD, on appropriate terms of reference. We strongly believe that it will be of great benefit to individual members of families who spent time in mother and baby homes, as well as to wider society, if we are able to respectfully establish relevant facts about who lived and died in homes, who was adopted and where to, and we hear the experiences and voices of those who were born and lived in mother and baby homes.”

One Family’s Chairperson, John O’Connell, who was himself born in Bessborough Home and returned with his mother to her family at the age of six months, comments: “Unfortunately we are aware that secrecy and shame can still surround many women whose children were adopted from mother and baby homes. As a society we need to give a clear and strong message that this secrecy and shame was and is wrong. There are still opportunities for adopted family members to be reunited, for children and parents who lived in mother and baby homes to be heard and acknowledged, and for Irish society to finally learn these lessons and treat all children and families equally.”

Lone parents and their family members affected by the recent harrowing reports may wish to call One Family’s lo-call askonefamily helpline for support on 1890 66 22 12.

Invitation to Annual Review and Strategy Launch with our founder, Maura O’Dea Richards

One Family invites you to the launch of our Annual Review 2012 and Strategy 2013-2015 on Friday 28 June. The Keynote speaker is Maura O’Dea Richards, One Family founder.

When:           Friday 28th June 2013

Where:         The Pillar Room, Rotunda Hospital, Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Times:          12pm Registration | 12.15pm Start | 1pm Ends

To RSVP, please email or call 01 662 9212 to let us know if you are attending by Tuesday 25th June.

You are also very welcome to stay for the One Family Graduation ceremony from 1.30-3pm to hear from our learners and participants about their achievements in the past year.

Light refreshments will be served after the ceremony.

One Family founder Maura O’Dea’s memoir now on Amazon

To mark the 40th Anniversary of Cherish/ One Family we’re delighted that Poolbeg Press has re-issued ‘Single Issue’ – the memoir of Cherish’s key founder Maura O’Dea Richards, as an eBook. See here It only costs €5 and Maura is donating any profits to the charity. It is a great read – all about her memories of setting up Cherish and her own personal story.

Join us to celebrate our 40th!

One Family is 40! We used to be called Cherish and we’d love everyone who has been involved over the years – clients, staff, supporters – to join us  for a big celebratory event in Dublin’s Pillar Room on the evening of Thurs 18 Oct. We will be recalling the past, with some of the founder members of Cherish, and looking to the future as One Family.  Places are limited and will be strictly by invite only so if you’d like to come RSVP by Monday 1 Oct 01 662 9212 or