A HEREFORDSHIRE man who found out that his adoptive parents were falsely recorded as his biological ones has this week appeared on television programme, Long Lost Family.

Entitled False Indentities, the episode, presented by Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall, focuses on two men who were born in Ireland to unmarried mothers at a time when having children outside of marriage was seen as sinful. 

One was Bernard McGrath, who lives near Hereford with his second wife, Sally. The programme charts how he managed to trace his birth mother, and how he met up with his half-siblings at the Pilgrim Hotel in Much Birch.


The 70-year-old retired telecoms worker grew up in the suburbs of north Dublin as an only child to Dan and Margaret McGrath. 

His parents were quite remote and his mother a disciplinarian. However, he had no clue he was adopted until he heards a rumour when he was aged 40. 

He confronted his mother, who confirmed it was true. Mr McGrath learned that he’d been collected as a baby from the nursery at Temple Hill, a Catholic orphanage.

His mother told him she had an aunt who was a nun (a mother superior) who arranged the whole thing. 

However, there was another revelation to come when Mr McGrath ordered his birth certificate so he could find out the names of his birth parents. He read his adoptive parents’ names on the registration as though they were his birth parents.

Hereford Times: Margaret and Daniel McGrath, Bernard McGrath's adoptive parentsMargaret and Daniel McGrath, Bernard McGrath's adoptive parents (Image: Archive family picture)

To learn his true identity, Mr McGrath approached the Irish Adoption Authority, but was redirected to St Patrick’s Guild, the agency run by the Sisters of Charity – the order of nuns who’d arranged his adoption.

He knocked on the door and a nun came out. At first there was a refusal to give him any information. But after he revealed that his aunt had been a mother superior, they relented and told him his birth mother’s name - Theresa Scully. They wouldn't give him her address but offered to pass on a letter to her.

"I considered myself very lucky that I did get information and I did get contact," said Mr McGrath. 

Davina goes to visit Mr McGrath to find out what happened after he was finally given his birth mother's name. He explains that he wrote her a letter and discovered she was in 


Hereford Times: Bernard McGrath (right) with his birth mother Teresa ScullyBernard McGrath (right) with his birth mother Teresa Scully (Image: Archive family picture)

Mr McGrath received a reply, and he went to the USA to visit his mother.

"It was wonderful, so it was," he said.

"She was so pleased and so happy. Really was. It was my mother!"

Mr McGrath's birth mother died in 2017, 22 years after they met. Before she died, she told him the name of his birth father - Patrick Bowden.

He put his search for him on hold, until a major breakthrough arrived last year when he was granted full access to his adoption files. 

Mr McGrath was put in touch with a genetic genealogist, who explained that Mr Bowden died in 1972, but had married and had three daughters and three sons. 

The programme shows Davina meeting one of the children - Mr McGrath's half-sister, Mandy, who was surprised when she was told that she may have a half-brother. 

Mr McGrath meets up with his maternal half siblings at the Pilgrim Hotel, which is the third time they met. They talk about how familiar it feels for them, despite not having grown up together, and how proud their father would have been they they had met. 

"I’d love to have met my dad, but they’ve told me loads about him and I just love them all for the way they treat me," said Mr McGrath.

"It’s taken a long time to get here but it’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened in my life."