Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 23°C Tuesday 9 August 2022

Woman abandoned as a child seeks out Irish parents 50 years later

DNA evidence has tied British woman Karen Waterton to Ireland.

Karen Waterton
Karen Waterton
Image: Elizabeth Rylands via Facebook

A BRITISH WOMAN who was abandoned 56 years ago has appealed to the people of Ireland to see if she can identify her birth mother.

Karen Waterton was abandoned on a street in Manchester as a baby and now new testing has led her to believe that her parents may well be Irish.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline programme earlier today with host Joe Duffy, she described how a recent DNA testing showed her to have 86% Irish blood.

How did she come to be abandoned? 

Waterton was left in a cardboard box on Manchester’s Grafton Street on 28 March 1958.

The area of the city she was left in is called ‘Little Ireland’, named as such as there was a large number of Irish people settled there at the time.

elizabeth rylands - 2 Waterton as a child Source: Elizabeth Rylands via Facebook

Speaking on the programme, she described an anomaly in her case that may be telling.

“[I was] clearly very well looked after, and left to be found actually. I think what is very unusual about my case is that the majority of foundlings are left on the first day… but I was actually looked after until about five days. And well looked after from what the couple of sentences on my social services file say,” she said.

She had been wrapped in oil skin in an attempt to keep her warm and placed on the steps of the Free Mason club, her social services report had said. 

After initially going into State care, where she was given the name Elizabeth Rylands, she was subsequently adopted and given the name Karen Waterton. She explained how it “quite upsetting” that she had been born at the end of March, and yet was not named until June of 1958.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

elizabeth rylands - 3 Waterton as a baby Source: Elizabeth Rylands via Facebook

The appeal

Having only found out she was abandoned as child at the age of 38, in recent years she has intensified her efforts to find her birth mother.

A distinctive feature that might help identify her is that she had quite a big birthmark on her shoulder when she was born. She also said she believed an abscess she had operated on while still an infant may have been evident at birth.

As part of her ongoing campaign, Waterton said she has “learnt a lot about the Irish community”, and looked at what life was like for Irish people in Manchester and Liverpool at the time. She has a Facebook page and is encouraging anyone with any information to come forward. 

Read: This woman thought she had found her birth mother’s family, but it wasn’t what it seemed

Also: Two absolute strangers met in a college class and realised they were sisters

Read next: