Mary Blake's first impression of Sean Ross Abbey was that it was clean - "cleaner than clean" in fact.
Like many other unwed and pregnant teenagers in 1940s Ireland, Mary found herself at the convent in Roscrea for the course of her pregnancy and birth of her son, Eddy.
Still shrewd and quick-witted at 86, it's hard to picture Mary as a clueless teenager who "didn't know one end of a baby from the other".
The way she tells it, her Edward Patrick, her "backbone", may not have survived without the help of the nuns at Sean Ross.
As she thinks back to her first hours at the abbey, she lets loose a low-throated chuckle. While she can easily recall entering the convent and being handed a new uniform, she can't quite remember what colour it was.
"For the life of me I can't remember the colour," she laughs.
Unlike many other women who have gone public with their stories of their time spent at Sean Ross, Mary only has positive things to say.
When Mary left the convent she took her baby with her, and says she had the support of the nuns to do so.
"Sean Ross was good to me and it taught me a lot," she says.
Mary was born in New York and at a young age contracted polio, which would leave her in constant pain for the rest of her life and lead to the voluntary amputation of her left leg later in life.
An only child, she moved to Ireland with her mother and father just before World War II, settling in Carlow in the country's east.
It was a tough life. The family drank out of jam jars because they had pawned their cups and saucers but their home was always filled with the chatter of adults that stopped by to share a pot of tea, a slice of bread and a song with Mary's mother.
When Mary fell pregnant in her late teens, her father and the local priest decided the best option was to send Mary to Sean Ross.
Her mother had died in the years before, and the damage the polio caused to her body, including having to wear leg calipers, would no doubt mean a difficult labour. So, in an ambulance "held together by twine" she made the journey to the abbey.
Life in Sean Ross was strict. The girls rose at 6am and went to bed at 10pm, worked and attended church during the day and were not allowed to call each other by their real names, or allowed to tell each other where they'd come from.
Mary became Helen for her time at the abbey but she doesn't believe the nuns had a sinister motive for the enforced secrecy. She thinks it was to protect the girls who didn't want people to find out where they'd been.
Constant hospitalisation because of polio meant she was no stranger to rules and regulations. She was content with the extra half-hour the mothers got on their meal break to visit their children and doesn't see any harm in the restrictions that were in place.
Sean Ross Abbey was at the centre of controversy over the years, as women who gave birth there and at other places like it come forward with their stories.
Most differ from Mary's; many women shared their heartbreak and anger at being shamed and forced into signing consent forms to allow for the adoption of their child.
The most prominent former convent resident was Philomena Lee, who was sent to Sean Ross when she fell pregnant at 18. Her son, Anthony (later known as Michael Hess), was adopted by an American family from the abbey when he was about three years old.
It took her 50 years to speak about her secret to anyone and to join up with former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith to attempt to track down her son.
Following his investigation into Anthony's whereabouts, Sixsmith suggested the convents, and the Irish Catholic Church, were essentially "selling" the babies and toddlers to wealthy Catholic Americans.
The Oscar-nominated film Philomena, based on the novel Sixsmith wrote about the search for Anthony, thrust the abbey into the spotlight once again.
Mary has not seen Philomena - she much prefers John Wayne films - but Eddy told her about the movie. She doesn't like what she perceives as an attempt to "blacken" the nuns.
While Mary considered giving Eddy up for adoption, when she became determined to keep him the nuns did not force her to give him up, and she wasn't aware other women had been made to.
"[The nuns] were good to me and my baby. If Eddy had been born anywhere else, he'd have died," she says.
Eddy's birth was a difficult one as he was in a breech position, and Mary credits his safe delivery to Sister Condran, a nun who took her under her wing during her stay.
"I adored her, I really did. To me, she was a saint," Mary says.
It was Sister Condran who assigned "Helen" to work in the laundry when she first arrived, which Mary counts as a blessing.
For Mary it was an ideal assignment because the constant warmth gave her some relief from the pain in her leg, and gave her skills that made her employable later in life.
"Sister Condran didn't know it but when she'd said the laundry she didn't realise she was giving me a profession. She put me there, not just to learn but to be warm. There were gas heaters in it and it was all concrete. Of course it held all the heat; it was lovely and warm when you sat down."
She doesn't believe she was the only mother the nuns treated well. She vividly remembers them organising a wedding between one of the girls and the man who had come to find her so they could raise their child together, as well as tickets for the couple to move to England and a job for the husband.
When Mary left the convent, she returned to her father's home.
Though he was initially reluctant for Mary to come back with her child, she threatened to take her son and live in the County Home, effectively putting an end to his objections. "Blackmail," she chuckles darkly. "It works."
She eventually married Eddy's father and gave birth to five more children. The family moved to England in the early 1950s, where she and her husband split.
When Eddy moved to Australia in 1969, Mary and a few of her children followed several years later. She has called the Illawarra home since and lives at a nursing home in Figtree.
While the abbey still exists, Sean Ross ceased being a mother and baby home in 1970. As Mary puts it, there is no need for it now; the shame once associated with having a baby out of wedlock for the most part lessened over the decades.
"It's nothing now to have a baby now and not be married; actually it's fashionable. I'd have been in fashion."