There are several characters in the show The Woman in the Wall that made quite an impact on the entire narrative of how the Church and their convents had gone out of their way to harass young girls. These teenage girls had their characters questioned to the point where a lot of them were put to hard labor and shamed for getting pregnant. The clergy made their lives extremely difficult without worrying about the repercussions of their actions in the long run. They carried out all of this, aiming to control society and bring it to their order.
Who is Aoife Cassidy?
There was only one character in The Woman in the Wall from the church’s side who tried to do the right thing. Every nasty group has a person who wants them to consider the consequences in the long run. Not everyone was able to see what this character noticed. Aoife Cassidy was a young nun in the making who had joined the parish in Kilkinure, only to discover the horrors that were being carried out in the name of her faith. As a young woman who was going to be a part of the clergy, she had no choice but to remain silent for years about these unspeakable crimes that were carried out. Aoife Cassidy was a part of the nexus that took away kids from their teenage mothers, with none of them being informed about their status. The mothers were left clueless for most of their lives.
Aoife was one of the few who sympathized with the young girls because they were at an age where they needed guidance and not strict parental control that could ruin their lives. Lorna, Clemence, Amy, and Niamh were some of the women who were victims of this ordeal and were put to work at the laundry, which Aoife had to witness. She was the one who took Lorna’s daughter away as instructed.
Was Aoife regretting her actions?
Thankfully, there is one half of an episode that is purely dedicated to understanding how Aoife is regretful of her actions as a young nun at the convent and tries to make amends. Aoife meets up with Priest Percy Sheehan to let him know that she knew what was going on in the church in the name of protecting and teaching the young girls to be more religious and pious. She was aware of the human trafficking and babies being sold in exchange for donations. This was illegal, but still, the church got involved and made money off it.
Aoife was famous for leaving the church halfway through. She reveals that on the day of the anointment, she suffered from a rare side effect of undiagnosed epilepsy caused by emotional distress. The emotional distress could have occurred because of the knowledge she carried about the pain the young girls were put through. She was a witness to them being overworked at the laundry and put through hard labor without decent living conditions as well. Aoife felt guilty throughout her life in the convent that she could not help the girls the way she wanted to. This epileptic spell she suffered rendered her unconscious for a while until she woke up. This incident made her not join the convent again, and she moved away.
Aoife’s meeting with Father Sheehan was an eye-opener because she finally understood how in denial the entire convent was about the crime they committed. The Father claims that the kids who were sold to these families are now living happy lives, and he shows her a box full of cards he receives from the girls and their families thanking him. The Father probably gets some validation from these acts of gratitude, which helped alleviate the guilt, but Aoife knew this was wrong. She knew the church had committed multiple crimes for many years, and they needed to be accountable for them. She believed the mothers had the right to know what happened to the kids instead of being kept in the dark. The Father was not in favor of this because if this happened, they would have to acknowledge what they did was wrong. The church cannot project itself as the wrongdoer, as it represents God.
What transpired between Aoife and Lorna?
Aoife chooses to be a sympathetic human and tries to get her hands on evidence Father Sheehan had to give all the young girls the justice they deserve. An altercation between the Father and herself led to him falling down the stairs, which led to his death. This solves the mystery of the death of the Father, which is showcased at the beginning of the series. Aoife took the opportunity to steal the evidence and head to Kilkinure town to inform the women of whatever she had learned. Aoife approached Clemence and showed her a photograph of her daughter, whom she’d thought was dead. Aoife was also the one who left the letter at Lorna’s workplace informing her about her daughter Agnes.
Aoife thought she was on the right path before she met Lorna. Aoife and Lorna never met as planned, and things go awry very quickly between the two. Aoife tried to bring a deranged Lorna home, only to get distressed by the amount of work the latter did as well to fight against the church. This anguish possibly triggered another spell of epilepsy, which made Lorna think the next day that she killed the woman.
Lorna sadly hides her crime by concealing the woman behind the walls. This is how Aoife became The Woman in the Wall. She tried to get herself out of the situation, but Aoife sadly had to pay with her life. This scenario was nobody’s mistake. Lorna’s trauma-induced sleepwalking and other mental health issues led to her being unable to understand the presence of another human being in her house. Just like the parish mistook Aoife’s unconscious state for her death, Lorna sadly made the same mistake inadvertently. Lorna remembered Aoife being a part of the convent when she was admitted, but sadly, she never learned that Aoife was the one who started the crusade against the church by uncovering the evidence and using it to help the women get closure.
Aoife’s bag of evidence in the form of death certificates led Lorna and Colman to discover abuses on a wider scale. The smoking gun was the human trafficking angle, which allowed all of them to confront and question the church that is supposed to protect them and their faith. One act by Aoife led to a chain of events, which eventually led to Colman and Lorna coming across a lot of hard-core truths. Colman discovered the truth about the convent where he was born and raised, while Lorna finally learned her daughter was indeed alive.