Mass grave of babies and children found at Ireland's ex-orphanage

Posted March 07, 2017

A shrine in Tuam, County Galway erected in memory of up to 800 children who were allegedly buried at the site of the former home for unmarried mothers run by nuns.

The story, which attracted worldwide publicity, was met with skepticism and even suggestions that it was a hoax.

The commission's statement also chillingly noted it was unclear whether there had been another original objective for the burial site, which was a single, large underground structure that had been divided up into 20 chambers, 17 of which held bodies. Officials said some of the remains were located in a collection of chambers that were once possibly part of the home's sewage system.

There is no uncertainty about the remains.

Radiocarbon dating of a small number of remains recovered for analysis indicates that they date from the time the home was in operation, with some likely to date to the 1950s, the commission said. "It has [been] determined that the remains are between 35 fetal weeks and 2 to 3 years of age".

The remains of babies, ranging from newborn to three-years-old, have been found in the sewers of a former Church-run home for unmarried mothers in Ireland, the government said.

The Bon Secours sisters, the religious order of nuns who ran the home, said they had no comment to make about the investigation. "I want to give a sample of my DNA to help the investigation", she said. The report did not say whether researchers had yet looked for remains in that structure.

Katherine Zappone, Ireland's minister for children and youth affairs, said that the children's families would be consulted over proper burials. She said: "It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years".

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But previously the claims amounted to mere rumors, Zappone said.

This morning, Mr Redmond told RTÉ that the CMABS group had carried out similar research to Ms Corless into unregistered deaths from Mother and Baby Homes across the country and said the findings at the Tuam Home are "only the tip of the iceberg".

A survivor of a Mother and Baby Home has said the Tuam home is just the "tip of the iceberg" and the worst is yet to come. It was a relatively common practice at Catholic-run orphanages, amid high child mortality rates in early 20th century Ireland.

PBP Councillor Deirdre Wadding was herself sent to Bessborough mother and baby home in Cork in 1981 - and said it was a truly very bad experience.

Her interest in a subject others preferred to forget began when she was doing research for an annual local historical journal. Moreover, Corless' 2014 discovery puzzled the authorities due to the fact that the records showed 800 deaths but there were only two burial records. "They said, 'What's the point?' And that I shouldn't view the past from today's lenses".

"They obviously didn't see the importance. It is well known that the systematic abuse extended far beyond the homes the Commission is investigating".

Its report, published on Monday, says the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 should be repealed "to legalise the termination of pregnancy at least in cases of rape, incest, risk to physical or mental health or life of pregnant women", and fatal foetal abnormality. "The Garda forensic team should have been sent to the site a long time ago".