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Cherish Donate Archive to National Library of Ireland

NLI welcomes important acquisition to National Collection

Monday, 24 April 2023
Woman speaking from a podium with bookshelves in the background

Dr Audrey Whitty speaking at Cherish archive event, 24.04.2023.

NLI Director, Dr Audrey Whitty, was honoured to host an event celebrating the acquisition of the Cherish archive into the National Collection.

The archive material ranges from the inception of Cherish in the 1970s to the early 2000s and provides an insight into the experiences and challenges of one-parent families at that time.

I970s Ireland was a very difficult place to be a single parent. There was no state support for unmarried mothers and those born outside marriage had no inheritance rights. A woman only had six months from the time of birth to seek maintenance from the baby’s father and many women finding themselves pregnant received no family support, and were forced to leave their homes and jobs. Housing, poverty and maintenance were all major concerns for single mothers during this time.

Cherish was founded by a small group of single mothers in 1972 to provide advice and information for single women during and after pregnancy. The organisation evolved from informal meetings in the Kimmage home of Maura O’Dea, following the publication of an open call in a number of national newspapers for other single mothers to get in touch. 

A woman giving a speech in front on a blue banner and bookshelves

Karen Kiernan, Príomhfheidhmeannach One Family (roimhe Cherish).

The Cherish founders initially offered practical support directly to women in need, but in order to build credibility and capacity within the growing organisation, they soon hired several qualified and experienced social workers. Mary Robinson became its first president and remained as chairperson until 1991 when she became the first female President of Ireland. Read more about the history of Cherish and One Family here.

Three women standing next to a poster on a easel and one holding a black and white photography

Karen Kiernan, One Family, Ivana Bacik, TD, agus  An Dr. Audrey Whitty, NLI.

Attending a celebratory reception in NLI Director's office and Boardroom, Mary Kerrigan, founder of the Clare/Limerick branch of Cherish said: “Despite being an unmarried mother in the 1970s and the stigma I felt from some people, they may now think I am a very important person because the Cherish records are in the archives of the National Library of Ireland."

Speaking at the event on behalf of NLI, both Dr Whitty and Ciara Kerrigan from Special Collections, emphasised the importance of acquiring this archive and the need to collect and record underrepresented voices in Irish society.

The name “Cherish” was adopted from the aspiration of 1916 Proclamation that society would “cherish all children of the nation equally”. In 2004 the charity changed its name to "One Family" to reflect a wider reflection of one parent families in Ireland. 

Full press release is available here.

Woman sitting at a table smiling with vase of flowers in foreground

Mary Kerrigan, bunaitheoir brainse an Chláir/Luimneach de Cherish

Change of Controller Notice for NLI

The NLI wishes to notify individuals of a change of controllership in relation to an acquisition of historical Counselling Case files and Correspondence from Cherish (now called One Family) dating from 1974 to 2004. These files have been transferred to the National Library of Ireland (new Controller) as a closed collection for archiving purposes in the public interest. If you have any queries in relation to these files or the transfer, please contact dataprotection@nli.ie.