11th of December 1911

Many, including myself, would say what I am about to do is insane, begging for punishment. But I must do this, I must break into Mother Minerva's office; it is the only way of knowing if my dreams of going to America are just that – dreams, never to come true. Or will it hold the answer to my prayers, there is nothing waiting for me here, unless of course, my aim in life is to become a miserable scullery maid to an arrogant landlord.

I know, I have broken into the office many times before, but I have never attempted it alone. The mere thought of the consequences if I am caught sends me into shakes; I would never see the light of day again.


I wasn't caught, how, I have no idea how. When it was time for everyone to go outside, I slipped into her office and immediately started to rummage around. I finally found the cupboard labelled Girls Wing and inside was a file and accompanying box for each girl in the orphanage. I quickly started my search for my box, jumping at every creak and quake.

What seemed like hours later, I finally found it, and with shaking fingers, I looked inside. There wasn't much – not that I was expecting a lot, my birth certificate, a couple of letters, an old woollen shawl that more than likely was what my father had brought me to the orphanage in and at the very bottom of the box were a bundle of silver coins, £4 to be exact. I had never been so happy in my life but I couldn't help the twinge of sadness that if only there had been another two pounds in the box, Sorcha could be able to go to.

Instead of leaving straight away, I started searching for Sorcha's file, there was still a chance; but it was dashed quickly, I couldn't see any file, I even looked through the boys' wing's cupboard. It was strange; it was as if, officially, there was no Sorcha Ní Bheiligh in the orphanage. With the distant ringing of the bell, signalling the end of break I quickly left the office with the money clinking in my skirt pockets.

I don't know how I'll tell Sorcha now that I know I can't take her with me. She'll hate me for sure.

25th of December 1911 Christmas Day

Nollaig Shona Duit*! I love Christmas it's the best time of year. We went to Mass this morning and when we came back there was cabbage and ham waiting for us, a treat.

After the presents were given out, the post arrived bringing a letter from Mary-Alice.

Ellie and Sorcha,

Merry Christmas, I hope everything is going well. Cornamona looks magical; the locals have really put in effort to make the village as festive as possible. Everything is going well between Liam and I; I am sure he finds any excuse possible to visit the bakery as most of the time he doesn't buy anything.

I hate that the three of us can't be together on Christmas, but hopefully we will be together again.



I have been so nervous about telling Sorcha my plans; I keep going to tell her but I chicken out. My behaviour is making her suspicious. I'll tell her soon I have to.

1st of January 1912 News Year Day

I hate this place, it's like Hell but worse. The nuns seemed more cruel than usual, the rooms seemed smaller and the lights dimmer. April can't come quickly enough; Sarah needs to be told, I need to find a way to buy my ticket and make up a plan to get out of this building of absolute torture.

Just four months, and I'm done with this building and this godforsaken island. 1912 is the year of dreams and I plan to follow mine.

*Nollaig Shona Duit - Happy Christmas