AN elderly Irish woman has finally tracked down her birth mother after a desperate search which spanned over six decades.
Eileen Macken, 81, grew up at Kirwan House orphanage on the North Circular Road, Dublin, and first began looking for her biological mother at the age of 19.
The pensioner rang into RTÉ's 'Liveline' a year ago in a final plea for help to find her mum, who she naturally assumed has passed away.
A genealogist who heard the radio broadcast contacted Eileen and worked alongside her for over a year to assist in her search.
And three weeks ago, he was at last able to identify Eileen's birth mother thanks to modern DNA testing.
'I can't believe it'
Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTÉ Radio 1 this week, Eileen revealed she was astonished to find out that her mum is alive and well at the age of 103.
"I can't believe it, and when I got the word that she was alive, all I want to do is to meet her," she said.
"Unfortunately, she lives across the water but two of my cousins have decided to help me... they know that all I want is to see her.
"I don't want to upset anybody, I won't give any names or anything."
Since first contact was made, the long-lost pair have shared a telephone call but there was difficulty hearing each other over the line.
Eileen has also since seen one old photograph of her mother, taken several years ago.
She continued: "When I got the word she was alive, Joe, all I wanted to do was meet her.
"My mum is 103 and she will soon be 104. I spoke to her on the phone but she couldn't hear me. She's a bit like myself, Joe, I've only one good ear.
"I'd love to go on a big mountain and scream it out to everybody, 'I'm not an orphan anymore!'"
'Time is of the essence'
Despite being happily married to husband Ronald with two daughters and a son, Eileen said she had always longed to have other blood relatives.
She was understandably delighted then to learn that she also now has brothers as her mother has two sons.
"I think I have two half brothers. I'd say they're in their mid 70s. The brothers are like myself only younger, probably about 20 years younger," added Eileen.
"The sadness that goes with being alone is there even to this day. Different things would set me off, I'd say, 'if only I had a brother, if only I had a sister', I think it's just within you that you have no blood relatives.
"But I have now."
Eileen's next goal is a face-to-face meeting with her mother, but it won't be easy as she has recently undergone an operation on her eye and isn't ready to travel just yet.
But with the help of her cousins, she hopes to meet her mum in the near future so her children can "know who their grandmother was, their grandpeople, and their great-great grandpeople".
She added that she knows "time is of the essence" at such a late stage in both of their lives, but beamed: "I'm the happiest person alive. I really am."