Northern Ireland

Woman crosses the Atlantic to find birth family

Carolyn Box
Image caption Carolyn Box who was given up for adoption in 1930

Nearly eighty years after her birth a woman travels thousands of miles from Canada to Kilkeel to find the family who never knew she existed.

BBC Newsline reporter Julie McCullough meets Carolyn Box from Toronto - who was given up for adoption in 1930.

Her mother was one of four sisters who left the south Down fishing town of Kilkeel in the 1920s to find work - and possibly a husband - in the new world.

The provinces of Canada were very keen to attract young women to go out and join the young men already there - essentially to make sure the population would keep growing.

Adverts would run in the local papers promising attractive salaries for domestic workers and offering to pay their passage.

Dr Patrick Fitzgerald, from the Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh, said the four Elliott sisters - Lucy, Annie, Ethel and Eileen - were among the thousands of people who answered the call from Canada every year.

He said they would have been lured by "the idea of going out and being a domestic servant in Toronto and having a little bit of freedom, having a steady income, social freedom, dare I say it sexual freedom.

Image caption Lucy Elliot with her three sisters

"All of these attractions would have taken young women to the big cities of North America."

The four sisters settled in Toronto - only coming back to Kilkeel for holidays.

What the Elliotts at home didn't know was that the family tree had branched out.

Nearly 10 years after she left the Mourne area, unmarried Lucy had given birth to a baby girl.

That baby girl was given up for adoption and became known as Carolyn Box - never to have contact with her birth mother again.

In fact, it was only this year that she finally found her birth family in Kilkeel.

The first part of this special story is on BBC Newsline at 6.30pm on Wednesday.