796 Babies Believed To Be Buried In The Septic Tank Of A Catholic Home For ‘Wayward Mothers’

Photo via The Black Ball

NEW YORK TIMES: The government and the police are coming under increasing pressure to open an investigation into allegations that a Roman Catholic religious order secretly buried up to 796 babies and toddlers born to unmarried mothers in a septic tank over several decades. […] The burials are believed to have taken place on the site of a so-called mother-and-baby home in Tuam, County Galway, from 1925 to 1961. The institution, which was run by the Sisters of Bon Secours, was subsequently demolished, and a housing development now sits adjacent to the site. The Sisters have declined to comment. They were reported to be meeting with the local bishop. They have neither denied nor confirmed the practice. Suspicions first arose as long ago as 1975 when two 12-year-old boys, Francis Hopkins and Barry Sweeney, peered into a hole in a concrete slab while they were playing. According to their accounts, it was “filled to the brim with bones.” However, most local people had apparently believed that the remains dated from a workhouse that had been on the site before the mother-and-baby home, or perhaps even as far back as the famine of the 1840s. The allegations of a more recent origin are based on research by a local historian, Catherine Corless, who discovered from state records that up to 796 children had died at the home from a range of ailments including malnutrition, measles, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. When she cross-referenced the names with those in local graveyards, she found none had been buried in any of those cemeteries. Based on mapping of the former home and strong anecdotal evidence, she concluded that the only possible resting place for the corpses had to be the site specified by the two boys almost four decades ago. The site is situated at the edge of the grounds of the former home. The police, called the garda, said in a statement on Wednesday that there were no grounds for starting an investigation. MORE