Generation 8th: Pat and Mary Lyons' daughter went to Liverpool for an abortion - this is their story 4 years ago

Generation 8th: Pat and Mary Lyons' daughter went to Liverpool for an abortion - this is their story

Pat and Mary Lyons speak about their daughter Arlette's journey to Liverpool.

Preparing to talk about their daughter’s abortion, Mary and Pat Lyons lay out breakfast.


There are croissants in the oven and coffee on the hob. Retired from life-long jobs, the Lyons are focussing on their garden, on their hobbies, on their families.

Photos of their children adorn the living room walls and a custom t-shirt with the names of her twenty grandchildren hangs upstairs in Mary’s wardrobe.

Together they sit down at the kitchen counter to talk about the day that still haunts them.


Generation 8th: Mary and Pat Lyons

‘She was very white and pale-looking and she was sleeping on the ferry and I thought, ‘God this is an awful thing altogether, what are we doing?'

Mary and Pat Lyons are voting YES in the hope others won’t have to make the same journey their daughter did.


Posted by on Monday, May 14, 2018


"It was like a movie," says Mary, her head shaking in disbelief as she remembers the night her daughter, Arlette, drove from Dublin to their home in Galway after her 12 week scan in a maternity hospital.


"She came in here crying," remembers Mary, "distraught she was." 

"She told me not to google the baby’s condition, but I did." Pausing, Mary's eyes look down as she lists the symptoms; tumours, lumps and cystic hygromas. Awful.

Arlette’s baby was diagnosed with Patau’s syndrome, which meant she would never survive outside of the womb.

It was most likely that Arlette would "spontaneously abort” the pregnancy as Mary puts it, and that could have happened any time, anywhere.


Pat Lyons’ eyes are wet as he explains that they are not wealthy people but they could have afforded private healthcare, to take care of their daughter, but there were no options for them in Ireland. No choice.

The only thing Arlette could legally do in Ireland was continue the pregnancy against her will and wait. 

The shock of this hit Pat Lyons hard.

Thinking about it now, he gets upset, his hands clenching as he remembers the feeling of injustice and unfairness at having to organise a trip to the UK for healthcare treatment he felt should have been provided to his daughter at home. 

"They greeted us as if they’d known us forever, sure they’re so used to the Irish over there," says Mary. She remembers being brought into the big white room where her daughter was going to be treated. Mary kept checking in with her daughter, wanting to know if she was okay but Arlette was confident she had made the right decision. 


Years later Arlette's baby, named Skye, would be talked about regularly, would have Christmas decorations with her name painted on them. Mary still thinks about who Skye might have looked like

The Lyons never hid what happened in Liverpool, they made no secret of their daughter or how she ended their granddaughter's life.  

Pat Lyons’ voice quavers slightly when he says, "it was the most humane thing to do and anyone that says otherwise is lacking something."

Pat and Mary Lyons wear Yes badges on their chests, they talk to their neighbours about the referendum, they speak to the man in the garden centre in Knock, they chat to their neighbours, the ladies in the hairdressers, sharing their story and the value of their learned experience.