Laura Whalen is a mother of 5 children who lives with her partner and children in Courtmacsherry, West Cork, Ireland

Laura has been a doll maker for 10 years. For a number of years much of her work is about creating healing dolls for women and children.

Laura tells us how The Bábóg Project started:

“In the summer of 2018 I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine. She had been born in a Mother and Baby Home in Dublin. She remembers leaving that place as a tiny child to be adopted. Turmoil, pain.

I was very moved by her story and offered to make her a tiny doll of herself: to represent the little girl she had been. To give her a tangible way to hold and love that little one, to hold and love the memory of herself.

She found having this doll very soothing and healing. She asked me if I could make dolls for her siblings too. They had also been born in that same Mother and Baby Home.

Her little brother Stephen, sadly died there at a few weeks old and is buried in an unmarked grave in Dun Laoghaire.

Of course I made the dolls for her. As I sat and sewed Stephen’s tiny doll I cried and cried. I felt so honoured to be holding this little baby in my heart as my hands sewed. This baby I never met, a person I would never know, but who was nonetheless important and special and worthy of being loved. I thought every baby who had died like this, in one of these homes should be held in this way.

So I resolved to do that, to make a doll for each baby that died in Ireland’s Mother and Baby homes.

It was then I did some research and realised that the numbers were staggeringly high: estimated at around 6000! There is no way that I could do this task alone. And so began The Bábóg Project.

I recruited a few friends and we put our heads together to work out a way to make this happen.

We launched the Facebook page in November 2018 and shortly after that I created a pattern that we could send out to people. The Project has been growing from there. We found some other patters we could use, knitting, knotting and crochet. In the summer of 2019 I started offering free workshops both public and to private groups.

The project is still growing and we still have a long way to go. It is an incredible journey and I am so humbled by the amount of time, care, love and attention people have and do give. It will be an incredible day when we first see all 6000 dolls laid out together. It will be so powerful and such a strong statement.”

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