A true-life account of a lost child, a search for his mother, and a scandal that rocked a nation. At only five months old, John Cameron was abandoned in a Dublin orphanage, and fostered out as a child labourer by age three. When he turned eight, the State incarcerated him in the brutal child prison, Artane Industrial School, where he became number 11963.
Now in his mid-eighties, for the first time John Cameron tells his story, a shocking but inspirational memoir of a child who, reduced to a number, survives savage assaults, sexual abuse and the tragic deaths of children around him. Along with other forgotten children, daily he battled for his life against the heartless adversity of the Church and the emerging Irish nation.
As a young man – devoted to his growing family and now a much-loved schoolteacher – John was haunted by his unknown past, and he embarked on a lifelong quest to unravel the truth about his beginnings. Buried in a labyrinth of lies, he finally uncovered his unique story: one of a forbidden love and passion that scandalised rural Ireland and made national headlines in 1930s.
A uniquely Irish tale, John’s story is about survival against all odds and the endurance of the human spirit. Like The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Boy 11963 will stay with readers long after they have turned the last page.