Born in Bessborrough Mother and Baby Institution in Cork in 1949. Mary spent two and a half years with her mother in the institution and was then illegally fostered to an elderly couple who neglected and abused her.
At five years of age Mary was taken to court by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) officer and a judge sentenced her to the Good Shepherds Industrial school until she was sixteen. The nuns detained Mary for a further six months contrary to the judge’s ruling.
Mary has a Masters in Irish Studies and Human Rights Law from the National University of Ireland Galway and is currently working on her PhD in the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway.