Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 53°30′28″N 8°50′34″W / 53.50765°N 8.84291°W / 53.50765; -8.84291 The Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home (also known as St Mary's Mother and Baby Home or simply The Home)[1] was a maternity home for unmarried mothers and their children that operated between 1925 and 1961 in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. The Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a Catholic religious order of nuns, who also operated the Grove Hospital in the town. Unwed pregnant women were sent to the Home to give birth.

In 2012, the Health Service Executive raised concerns that up to 1,000 children had been sent from the Home for illegal adoptions in the United States without their mother's consent.[2]

In 2014, a local amateur historian, Catherine Corless, published an article documenting the deaths of 796 babies and toddlers at the Home during its decades of operation. The report noted that the most commonly recorded causes of death among the infants were congenital debilities, infectious diseases and malnutrition (including marasmus-related malnutrition).[3] The report claimed that the bodies were buried in a site at the Home and that there was a high death rate of its residents.[4][5] Her research led her to conclude that almost all had been buried in an unmarked and unregistered site at the Home. The report noted that the site was also the location of a septic tank when overlaid with maps of the period of use as a workhouse.[6][7][8][9] The allegations are being investigated by a statutory commission of investigation under Judge Yvonne Murphy - the "Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation."

Excavations carried out between November 2016 and February 2017 that had been ordered by the Commission of Investigation found a "significant" quantity of human remains, aged from 35 foetal weeks to two to three years, interred in "a vault with twenty chambers." The Commission's statement reported that "The Commission has not yet determined what the purpose of this structure was but it appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water. The Commission has also not yet determined if it was ever used for this purpose." Carbon dating confirmed that the remains date from the timeframe relevant to the operation of the Mother and Baby Home by the Bon Secours order. The Commission stated that it was shocked by the discovery and that it is continuing its investigation into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way.[10]


The old workhouse, on the Athenry Road, 1918.

Between 1925 and 1961 in Tuam, a town in County Galway, the Bon Secours Sisters ran "The Home", an institution where thousands of unmarried pregnant women gave birth.[11][12] Previously, it had been a workhouse and military barracks.

Workhouse and military barracks[edit]

The building that eventually became "The Home" was built in 1841 as a workhouse under the Irish Poor Laws.[13] Like many other workhouses, it had been designed by Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson to house about 800 people. This workhouse opened in 1846, close to the peak of the Great Famine. As well as dormitories, the main building contained an infirmary and an "idiot's ward". Sheds were constructed on the property to house additional inmates and fever victims. A fever hospital was later constructed next door.[13] After the Famine, the workhouse continued to house the poor and homeless for more than sixty years.

In 1916, during the uprising against British rule, British troops took over the workhouse, evicted the occupants and made the building their barracks. In 1923, during the Irish Civil War, six anti-treaty IRA volunteers were imprisoned and executed at the workhouse by Irish Free State forces, followed by two others some weeks later.[14] These were among the last executions of the Civil War.[15][16] The nuns who took over the building later erected a crucifix in memory of the executed IRA members.[14]

Mother and Baby Home[edit]

The order of Bon Secours Sisters, led by Mother Hortense McNamara, took over the Tuam Workhouse in 1925 and converted it into "The Home".[14][17] This resulted from the prior closure of all workhouses in the county by the Galway Board of Health, and the transfer of the hospital wing of Glenamaddy Workhouse to Tuam.[18]

Unwed single women who became pregnant were sent to give birth there, rather than at a hospital or at home. The nuns were trained nurses and midwives.[19] In 1927, the Board of Health directed that a maternity ward be added to the Home so that the mothers could be segregated from the public wards. This was built in 1929.[20] The mothers were required to stay inside the Home for one year, doing unpaid work for the nuns, as reimbursement for some of the services rendered.[19] They were separated from their children, who remained separately in the Home, raised by nuns, until they could be adopted - often without consent.[4][21]

Some women who had had two confinements were sent directly to nearby Magdalene laundries after giving birth, as punishment for their "recidivism".[22] According to Professor Maria Luddy, "Such a stance, though not intended to be penal, allowed for the development of an attitude that accepted detention as a means of protecting society from these reoffending women."[23]

For each mother and child in the home, the County Council paid the nuns £1 a week.[19] At the end of the year, the mothers left while their babies were typically kept at the Home.[24] The children stayed there until they could be adopted, fostered, or until they were old enough to be sent to industrial boarding schools.[25] Even at the time, there were some complaints of fostered children being exploited. An October 1953 article in The Tuam Herald said "an effort was not always made to find the home that most suited the child or the child that most suited the home. The allowance given to foster parents was not always spent on the child's welfare".[26][27] Local historian Catherine Corless also uncovered one case where a mother found work in England and paid the nuns to care for her son in the Home. The nuns did not tell her that her son had been fostered and "kept each installment that she sent them."[28] Some babies were sent to clergy in the United States to be illegally adopted by Catholic families there.[29]

A 1947 report by an official inspector who visited the Home says some of the children were suffering from malnutrition, and 12 out of 31 infants examined were described as being "emaciated and not thriving". It also says that the Home was overcrowded, with 271 children and 61 mothers living there.[30] Death rates were extraordinarily high: 34 per cent of children died in the home in 1943; 25 per cent died in 1944; 23 per cent died in 1945; 27 per cent died in 1946. The report states "The death rate amongst infants is high... The death rate had appeared to be on the decrease but has now begun to rise again. It is time to enquire into the possible cause before the death rate mounts higher." The report went on to say, "the care given to infants in the Home is good, the Sisters are careful and attentive; diets are excellent. It is not here that we must look for cause of the death rate".[30]

An inspection two years later in 1949, conducted by inspectors from the Galway County Council, reported “everything in the home in good order and congratulated the Bon Secour sisters on the excellent condition of their Institution.”[31]

The Home closed in 1961, and most of the occupants were sent to similar institutions, such as Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea.[32][33] The building lay mostly disused until its demolition in 1972,[1] and a new housing estate was built on the site.[34]

Unmarked mass grave[edit]

1975 find[edit]

In 1975, two 12-year-old boys were playing at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home. Underneath a concrete slab they found a hole or chamber "filled to the brim" with children's skeletons.[21][35][36][35][36] One of them later said he had seen about twenty skeletons.[21] The slab was believed by some to have covered the former Home's septic tank.[35][36][37] Locals speculated that these were the remains of victims of the Great Famine, unbaptised babies,[38][39] and/or stillborn babies from the Home.[32] The number of bodies was then unknown, but was assumed to be small. It was re-sealed shortly afterwards, following prayers at the site by a priest.[37][39] For the next 35 years the burial site was tended to by a local couple, who also built a small grotto there.[32]

2012–14 reports[edit]

In 2012, local historian Catherine Corless published an article revealing that 796 children, most of them infants, had died at the Home during its years of operation. She studied their state death certificates and found that they listed a range of ailments such as tuberculosis, convulsions, measles, whooping cough, and influenza.[21][40][41][42][21] She then cross-referenced the names with those in local graveyards and found that only two had been buried in any of them.[32] Her research led her to conclude that the only possible location for the bodies was the site where the skeletons were found in 1975. Maps showed that this was the site of the Home's septic tank.[32] Corless believes that some of the skeletons found are inside the septic tank.[21] This common burial ground was unmarked and not registered with the authorities; no records were kept of any burials there.[43] International media outlets and other commentators described the site as a "mass grave." Corless's conclusions were supported by some local residents who recalled seeing nuns and workmen apparently burying remains there late in the evenings.[44] In 2010, the bodies of 222 infants from another maternity home were found in a mass unmarked grave in Dublin.[45] In April 2014, Corless's research into Tuam was publicised during the dedication of a memorial at the Bethany Home.[46] Corless is campaigning for a similar grave marker to be placed at the Tuam site.[39]

Numerous news reports alleging the existence of a "mass grave" containing 800 babies in the septic tank were published - first by the Irish Mail on Sunday[47] and later by international media outlets in late May/early June 2014. The story sparked outrage in Ireland and internationally. Some reporting went beyond what was made known by the published sources. The Associated Press, in a commentary on its own early reporting, criticised the reporting of the case, saying it "offers a study in how exaggeration can multiply in the news media, embellishing occurrences that should have been gripping enough on their own."[48][49][50]

The Irish government came under pressure to launch an investigation.[51][52][53] The government called the allegations "deeply disturbing."[36][54] Shortly thereafter, the government and police began a preliminary investigation with the aim of launching an inquiry.

Criticism of the findings of the reports[edit]

National Catholic Register columnist Patrick Kenny questioned whether the bones found in 1975 were from the Bon Secours Home or from one of the previous institutions which had occupied the same building, as well as whether or not the structure Corless speculated was a mass grave was a disused septic tank or a "19th-century burial vault."[41] Corless herself corrected portions of the media coverage, telling the Irish Times, "I never used that word 'dumped'. I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank."[55]

Local Gardaí initially surmised that any bones on the site likely dated from the Great Famine in the 19th-century: "These are historical burials going back to famine times. There is no suggestion of any impropriety".[36] Bones of famine victims were found nearby in 2011, and archaeologists determined that they were 19th century "paupers" from the same Tuam Poor Law Union Workhouse which had originally occupied the building later used for the Bon Secours Children's Home.[56] The Gardaí were later ordered to investigate and issue a report on their findings by the Minister for Justice.[35][57][58]

Some news outlets reported that all 796 child remains were found in the septic tank,[36][37] but on 5 June 2014, an RTÉ Prime Time television report by Mark Coughlan, "Home Babies", reported that "We don't know for sure, as yet anyway, if the babies who died in the Tuam home were buried in a septic tank: no burial location is listed on the death records."[59] Two days later, on 7 June, The Irish Times quoted Corless as stating that the story had "been widely misrepresented" in the days since it broke nationally and internationally ("I never used that word 'dumped.' ... I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank.") She said the skeletons found in 1975 had most likely been in the septic tank,[21] but added that only 204 of the babies had died when the septic tank was in use, saying it "seemed impossible" that all of them could have been "put in a working sewage tank". One of those who found the skeletons told the newspaper he had seen about 20 skeletons.[21] The Garda Síochána said claims that all the children may be buried in a septic tank had not yet been "properly tested".[60]

Patrick Kenny stated in the US National Catholic Register that the deaths were clustered during outbreaks of disease, especially during the period of economic hardship during World War II: "Details of the death certificates of the babies have been released and were published in mid-June. They reveal regular outbreaks of infectious diseases that seem to have spread quickly amongst children living together in close quarters. For example, 24 children died in just six weeks in a serious measles outbreak in the spring of 1926, while measles also killed 13 in the early spring of 1932, and bronchitis and pneumonia killed 10 in 1954. Four children died in four days from gastroenteritis in 1942, while nine died from whooping cough during a two-week period in 1943. Significantly, one-third of all deaths at the home occurred during the years of World War II, a period of widespread economic hardship."[41] Others pointed that Ireland being a poor country was irrelevant, as for each mother and child in the home, the County Council paid the nuns £1 a week (average female earnings in 1949 were £2.97/week; a loaf of bread cost 3p; a stone of potatoes (14 pounds) cost 14p);[19][61] and 1947 data from the National Archives showed that, during the preceding twelve months, the death rate of children in Bon Secours was almost twice that of some other mother and baby homes.[62] A government inter-departmental report into the records stated that an "assessment of mortality rates will need public health specialist/historical analysis of statistics on children born and resident at the home in Tuam."[63][64]

Dr. Maurice Gueret, who conducted his own research into the institution's history, criticised the media coverage and said there was a need for more historical context, saying: "It was no secret that many children died young, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. They were dying all over Ireland from infectious diseases. This was the pre-antibiotic era. You were considered lucky if all your children lived to adulthood."[65]

Others, such as Professor Dr Liam Delaney, said the high child death rate at the Home cannot be explained by higher overall child death rates at the time, nor by the higher death rate among "illegitimate" children. He added: "This points to something serious within these institutions".[66] Kevin Higgins, a solicitor representing former residents, said that the number of deaths recorded at the Tuam home over a period of over more than 30 years was "off the scale" compared to the rate of children's deaths elsewhere at the same time.[67]

Journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes said other media sources had misreported his words in order to erroneously claim that nuns had deliberately starved children to death: "Today on BBC TV I said malnutrition was listed as cause of death at other mother-and-baby homes. Several outlets [are] now quoting me as [a] source for the unsupportable claim that ‘nuns starved 800 babies to death’ before dumping them in a septic tank. So just in case this needs clarification, I said nothing of the sort."[41] Boucher-Hayes also spoke of embarrassment felt by locals at the revelations:

"Talk to anybody else and there's a bit of hand wringing, there's a bit of chest beating and a lot of 'ah sure, those were the times, weren't they, what's the point in going and unearthing it now'. And I think that that is an embarrassment about our past that is probably replicated in so many places where there were industrial schools, where there where mother and baby homes and where there is now the suspicion in Cork, in Westmeath, in Tipperary that there are very, very large communal graves of unmarked bodies, unknown about, un-commemorated, discarded bodies."[68]

The criticism of the reporting itself attracted criticism, with Tanya Gold writing in The Guardian:

"The apologists have one line in common. They do not dispute the death rates in the homes or the fact that the graves of the children are unmarked; and they do not agitate for what survivors at the London vigil seek. This is, briefly: an opening of the adoption records, so surviving families can be united, and a properly funded investigation into every former mother and baby home in Ireland, dealing with accusations of medical trials performed on children, illegal adoptions and an acknowledgement of the savagery of the crime."[55]

An RTÉ documentary in the Would You Believe series, on the topic of the Tuam Babies, was broadcast on Sunday, 12 April 2015.[69]

Child trafficking allegation[edit]

On 3 June 2015, the Irish Examiner published a special report which claimed that the Health Services Executive (HSE) had voiced concerns in 2012 that up to a thousand children may have been trafficked from the home, and recommending that the then health minister be informed so that "a fully fledged, fully resourced forensic investigation and state inquiry" could be launched.[2][70]

The issue had arisen within the HSE when a principal social worker responsible for adoption discovered "a large archive of photographs, documentation and correspondence relating to children sent for adoption to the USA" and "documentation in relation to discharges and admissions to psychiatric institutions in the Western area."

The HSE noted that letters from the Home to parents asked for money for the upkeep of their children and notes that the duration of stay for children may have been prolonged by the order for financial reasons. It also uncovered letters to parents asking for money for the upkeep of some children that had already been discharged or had died. The social worker had compiled a list of "up to 1,000 names." HSE reports mentioned the possibility that up to 1,000 children had been trafficked for adoption. One of those reports mentioned that it was possible that death certificates were falsified so children could be "brokered for adoption", which could "prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State."[2][70] The report noted that deaths recorded at the Bessboro mother and baby home in Cork dropped “dramatically” in 1950 with the introduction of adoption legislation, stating "This...may point to babies being identified for adoption, principally to the USA, but have been recorded as infant deaths in Ireland and notified to the parents accordingly."[71] The Bon Secours Sisters in a statement said "As the Commission of Investigation has now been established the Sisters of Bon Secours do not believe it would be appropriate to comment further except to say that they will co-operate fully with that commission."[2]

The October 2012 HSE memo recommended that due to the gravity of the issue, the then Health Minister be informed with a view towards launching a full inquiry. That did not happen, with the Minister only becoming involved following the revelations in the press of a mass grave at the home in May 2014.[72]

The report states that if thousands of babies were illegally adopted to the United States, without the willing consent of the birth mother, then this practice was facilitated by doctors, social workers, religious orders, and many more people in positions of authority. The report states that there is a real danger that some of these people may still work within the system.[73]

Commission of Investigation[edit]

Following the revelations, there were calls locally and internationally for an investigation of the Tuam site and an inquiry into all such 'mother and baby homes'.[74] The Gardaí had initially released a statement saying “These are historical burials going back to famine times. There is no suggestion of any impropriety and there is no garda investigation. Also, there is no confirmation from any source that there are between 750 and 800 bodies present."[36] On 4 June 2014 the Irish government announced it was putting together representatives from various government departments to investigate the deaths at the home and propose how to address the issue.[75] The then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Charles Flanagan said any government inquiry would not be confined to the home in Tuam and that officials would advise the Government on the best form of inquiry before the end of June 2014.[76]

On 6 June, two senior Gardaí were appointed to lead a "fact-finding" mission. They were asked to gather all surviving records and to carry out preliminary tests on the suspected mass grave.[77] Gardaí said there was no criminal investigation as yet because there was no evidence of a crime, but senior sources said the review may change that.[78]

On 16 July 2014, the Irish Government appointed Judge Yvonne Murphy to chair the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes.[79] In October 2014, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, announced that the draft terms of reference for the inquiry had been circulated to government departments for comment.[80]

In September 2014, a legal representative of former residents of the home has called on the Attorney General to order coroner's inquests to be carried out into the deaths. This would necessitate excavations and exhumations of the site, which is authorised under the 1962 Coroner's Act.[81]

On 19 February 2015, the then Minister for Children, James Reilly, announced that the terms of reference had been set out for the "establishment of the independent commission, which has a three-year deadline and which will cost approximately €21 million, followed the signing by the Taoiseach of a Government order at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting".[82][83][84] The three-person Commission comprises Judge Yvonne Murphy as Chairperson, with international legal expert on child protection and adoption Dr William Duncan, and historian Professor Mary E. Daly, appointed as Commissioners.[85]

On 25 May 2015, a remembrance ceremony for those who died at the Home was organised by a coalition of survivors' groups and was held outside Government Buildings. The organisers also sought:

  • "A separate and immediate acknowledgment, apology and redress to an aging survivor community."
  • "Full Inclusion. All single mothers and their children who were forcibly separated are to be included in the Commission of Inquiry as well as any home or institution related to these activities including all illegal activities."
  • "Senator Averil Power’s Adoption Bill to be passed within six months to open all lifelong sealed adoption files."[86]

2017 find[edit]

On 3 March 2017, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation announced that human remains had been found during a test excavation carried out between November 2016 and February 2017 at the site. Tests conducted on some of the remains indicated they had been aged between 35 foetal weeks and 2–3 years. The announcement confirmed that the deceased died during the period of time that the property was used by the Mother and Baby Home, not from an earlier period, as most of the bodies dated from the 1920s to the 1950s. The remains were found in an "underground structure divided into 20 chambers."[87] While some speculated that this indicated that "children who died at the home were interred on the site in unmarked graves, a common practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th-century Ireland,"[87] the Commission said "it had not yet determined what the purpose of this structure was but it appeared to be a sewage tank. The commission had also not yet determined if it was ever used for this purpose."[88][89][90]

The Commission stated that it is continuing its investigation into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way, that it has also asked the relevant State authorities to take responsibility for the appropriate treatment of the remains, and that it has notified the coroner. Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone said that the coroner's results would determine the direction of the investigation and that the commission will determine if other sites need to be excavated, including another part of the Tuam site.[91]

The Adoption Rights Alliance and Justice for Magdalenes Research campaign groups demanded that Zappone publish a five-month-old report from the Commission on the issue of broadening the probe's terms of reference beyond the original 18 institutions included, and said the State must ensure that all human remains buried in unmarked graves at institutions in Ireland are identified.[92]


The then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, described the find as "truly appalling", saying "the babies of single mothers involved had been treated like some kind of sub-species." He commended the work of Catherine Corless in bringing the issue to light.[93] Speaking on the find in Dáil Éireann, in response to requests to widen the terms of reference of the Commission, he described the Mother and Baby Home as "a chamber of horrors."[94]

No nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children. We gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns’ care. We gave them up maybe to spare them the savagery of gossip, the wink and the elbow language of delight in which the holier than thous were particularly fluent. We gave them up because of our perverse, in fact, morbid relationship with what is called respectability. Indeed, for a while it seemed as if in Ireland our women had the amazing capacity to self-impregnate. For their trouble, we took their babies and gifted them, sold them, trafficked them, starved them, neglected them or denied them to the point of their disappearance from our hearts, our sight, our country and, in the case of Tuam and possibly other places, from life itself.

— Enda Kenny, [95][96][97]

In the same debate, AAA-PBP T.D. Bríd Smith called for the Bon Secours order of nuns to be disbanded. She said "its hospital empire, the biggest private hospital group in the State, was built on the bones of the dead Tuam babies." Smith said "everyone was not responsible for what happened in Tuam. It was paid for by the State, which knew exactly what was going on, and there were 'headage payments' of up to $3,000 for each child sent to the United States."[96]

The Taoiseach's speech was criticised by some. In the Dáil, Catherine Connolly directly addressed the speech, stating:

A shocking discovery, according to everyone, and particularly to yourself Taoiseach. But this is something that Galway has been aware of for a long time, highlighted by Catherine Corless back in 2014, in her painstaking and self-funded research. By the witnesses, the many, many women who went before the commission of inquiry into child abuse which culminated in the Ryan Report, as far back as 2009. They told their stories about their experience in Mother and Baby Homes. It was brought to the attention of Martin McAleese when he concluded his report on the Magdalene laundries. So none of this is shocking to the survivors. What is shocking to the survivors, and to me, is the carefully crafted words that you’ve come into the chamber with. And, in particular, that you say 'no nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children', 'we gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns' care' and so on. I don’t doubt your bona fides, a thaoisigh, but I certainly doubt your judgement in reading that out, a carefully crafted speech with a sentence like that in these circumstances. My question: please answer. Where is the interim report that has sat with the minister since September last year? Please confirm that the site will be sealed off as any crime scene is sealed off.

— Catherine Connolly, [98]

Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill called for "an appraisal of the facts":

There is something deeply disturbing, ghoulish even, in the media and political discussion of the Tuam mother and baby home. ... The discussion of Tuam has been unhinged for some time. In 2014, when researcher Catherine Corless first speculated, correctly, that children were buried at the home, a writer for the Derry Journal said: "This is our nation’s holocaust." Pat Flanagan at the Irish Mirror referred to it as "our own little holocaust." The use of the H-word is especially disturbing. The Holocaust was the conscious, murderous destruction of a people. Using it in relation to Tuam implies the nuns killed children, casually, on a mass scale. There’s no proof for any such thing. ... That the "structure" had 20 chambers suggests it had been turned into a kind of catacomb. That the children buried there were "swaddled up", as one eye-witness described it, suggests they were not simply "dumped". That the discovery of the structure in the 1970s was followed by a priestly blessing and then the setting up of a grotto by local people suggests the town of Tuam, and Old Ireland more broadly, was not a foul place but rather had many good people in it, concerned for the dead.

— Brendan O'Neill, [99]

Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin T.D., called for a state apology for the infants, a commemoration to be held for them, and for the expansion of the Commission of Inquiry to include other institutions and sites.[97]

The then Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, stated that "the discovery is an infinitely sad reminder of an Ireland that was a very harsh, harsh place for women and their babies" and that "it shows the tortured relationship the State and church had with pregnant women - it is a tragedy that we are now facing in its entirety."[93]

The Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, said that he is horrified by the confirmation that significant quantities of human remains were buried on the site of a former mother and baby home in the town. Describing the news as "a body blow", he said he had been "greatly shocked to learn of the scale of the practice during the time in which the Bon Secours ran the mother and baby home in Tuam."[100]

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference apologised for the hurt caused by its part in the system, which they said also involved adoptions. They also urged parishes to ensure that the burial sites of former residents are appropriately marked, and said that "the appalling story of life, death and adoptions related to the Mother and Baby Homes has shocked everyone in Ireland and beyond."[101][102]

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, speaking about the find at an International Women's Day reception, said there "are dark shadows that hang over our meeting, shadows that require us all to summon up yet again a light that might dispel the darkness to which so many women and their children were condemned, and the questions left unanswered as we moved on." President Higgins described Catherine Corless' work as "another necessary step in blowing open the locked doors of a hidden Ireland."[101]

Both TV3 and RTÉ broadcast documentaries on the scandal,[103] with the latter's Claire Byrne Live including a segment listing the names of all 796 children who had died at the home.[104]

Catherine Corless appeared on The Late Late Show on 10 March 2017, receiving a standing ovation at the end of the segment. Host Ryan Tubridy said "If that audience represents the people watching tonight, there is a hunger in this country for the truth."[105][106]

Investigation team[edit]

In June 2017, Minister Zappone announced the appointment of a team of international experts, comprising an Irish-based forensic archaeologist, a US-based forensic anthropologist and a UK-based forensic scientist, to investigate the burial site. Zappone also said that she was considering broadening the terms of reference for the Commission, in order to "help to answer some of the questions which have been raised again in public debate." The team is led by Dr. Niamh McCullagh, who previously worked with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains in Northern Ireland and the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command that aimed to locate the bodies of war dead.

Zappone stated that McCullagh will identify options for government, looking at the possibility of exhuming the remains and identifying if there are any further remains on the site that have yet to be discovered.[107]

Grove Hospital[edit]

Some Tuam residents have now called for an investigation into the town's Grove Hospital, which had also been run by the Bon Secours order. A number of people have claimed their children or siblings were buried on the site from the 1950s right up until the late 1970s, although the order denies that there was a graveyard on the site. Galway County Council has stipulated that an archaeologist must monitor excavation work on the site in order to preserve any remains which may be buried there.[108]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McNamara, Denise (13 February 2014). "Campaign to recognise 800 dead Tuam babies". Connacht Tribune. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ó Fátharta, Conall (3 June 2015). "SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Fears over ‘trafficking’ of children to the US". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Duncan, Pamela (17 July 2014). "File contains details of babies born in institutions". The Irish Times. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Explainer: What is happening with the possible mass grave of children found in Tuam?". 7 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Baby deaths: now Gardai probe the Tuam 'mass grave'". Sunday Independent. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Bohan, Christine (3 March 2017). "She was right: How Catherine Corless uncovered what happened in Tuam". Retrieved 21 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Mass grave of 796 babies found in septic tank at Catholic orphanage in Tuam, Galway". Belfast Telegraph. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Almost 800 infants buried in unmarked graves in Tuam, County Galway". BBC. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Barbash, Fred (13 March 2017). "The 'mother and baby home' at Tuam, Ireland, where friends just 'disappeared, one after the other'". Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  10. ^ "Notice- 3rd March 2017". Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Mass baby grave in Tuam, Galway: Bon Secours nuns told to assist investigation". Belfast Telegraph. 5 June 2014. 
  12. ^ McCoy, Terrence (5 June 2014). "Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ a b Higginbotham, Peter. "The Workhouse in Tuam, Co. Galway". Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c Eleven Galway Martyrs. Tuam Herald (2 ed.). 1985. p. 54. 
  15. ^ Murphy, Breen Timothy (October 2010). The Government's Executions Policy During the Irish Civil War, 1922-1923 (PDF) (Thesis). NUI Maynooth. p. 5. Retrieved March 27, 2017. 
  16. ^ Ó Gadhra, Nollaig (1999). Civil war in Connacht, 1922-23. Cork: Mercier. ISBN 1856352811. 
  17. ^ Corless, Catherine (2012). "The Home" (PDF). Journal of the Old Tuam Society. Children's Home Graveyard Committee. 
  18. ^ Corless, page 5
  19. ^ a b c d Corless, p.6
  20. ^ "Maternity Ward for Unmarried Mothers". Connacht Tribune. 9 March 1929. p. 8. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Boland, Rosita (7 June 2014). "Tuam mother and baby home: the trouble with the septic tank story". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  22. ^ Smith, James M. (May 2012). "State involvement in the Magdalene Laundries" (PDF). Submission to the Inter-departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Luddy, Maria (February 2011). "Unmarried Mothers in Ireland 1880-1973". Women’s History Review. 20 (1). 
  24. ^ Corless, p.7
  25. ^ Corless, pp.7, 14
  26. ^ Corless, p.9
  27. ^ ""Boarded out" children for cheap labour in north Galway?". Tuam Herald. 24 October 1953. p. 3. 
  28. ^ Corless, p.11
  29. ^ "Americans Adopt Tuam Children". Irish Independent. 27 November 1954. p. 5. Within the last 18 months, six children from the Tuam Children's Home have been adopted by families in the U.S. ... Most of the applications have come from clergymen in America on behalf of childless couples. The majority of the applicants are of Irish descent. 
  30. ^ a b Crawford, Caroline (8 June 2014). "Children at Tuam home were 'emaciated' and starved'". Irish Independent. 
  31. ^ "Inspection of Children's Home, Tuam, by County Councillors". Tuam Herald. 25 June 1949. p. 5. 
  32. ^ a b c d e Corless, pp.15-16
  33. ^ "Children's Home to be closed after 33 years". Tuam Herald. 4 February 1961. p. 1. 
  34. ^ "Mass grave of 796 babies found in septic tank at Catholic orphanage in Tuam, Galway". Belfast Telegraph. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  35. ^ a b c d "Mass baby grave in Tuam, Galway: Irish president Michael D Higgins appalled at terrible reports". Belfast Telegraph. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  36. ^ a b c d e f g Dalby, Douglas (4 June 2014). "Inquiry Urged on Site Called Mass Grave of Irish Babies". The New York Times (subscription required). 
  37. ^ a b c O'Toole, Emer (4 June 2014). "Tell us the truth about the children dumped in Galway's mass graves". The Guardian. 
  38. ^ Lee, Martina (5 June 2014). "Pressure mounts for Tuam baby death investigation". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 9 March 2017. The site had previously been considered a graveyard for unbaptised babies or Famine victims. However, in 1975 two boys had been playing when they discovered partially broken concrete slabs covering a disused septic tank which was found to contain bones. .
  39. ^ a b c "'It's time to do something" – The forgotten mass grave of 800 babies in Galway". 27 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  40. ^ Langan, Sheila (17 June 2014). "Death records for 796 children at Tuam home published in full". Irish Central. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  41. ^ a b c d Kenny, Patrick (16 June 2014). "Digging for the Truth About Buried Irish Babies". National Catholic Register. 
  42. ^ "Irish adoption inquiries rise after Tuam and Philomena stories". BBC. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  43. ^ McGreevy, Ronan. "Tuam case 'reminder of a darker past in Ireland'". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  44. ^ ""Tuam babies: Justice minister orders garda report"". BBC. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  45. ^ O'Sullivan, Claire (2 April 2014). "Monument to Bethany Home’s 222 dead children unveiled". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  46. ^ White, Victoria (12 June 2014). "Protestant Bethany Homes babies ignored despite Tuam revelations". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  47. ^ O'Reilly, Alison (25 May 2014). "A Mass Grave of 800 Babies" (PDF). The Irish Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  48. ^ "Media exaggerated horror tale at Irish orphanage". Associated Press. 23 June 2014. 
  49. ^

    "In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, the Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptised... In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any."

  50. ^ The Irish Catholic - "How world's media misreported Tuam story", retrieved 22 August 2015
  51. ^ "796 Irish orphans buried in mass grave near Catholic orphanage: historian". CBC News. Associated Press. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  52. ^ Smith-Spark, Laura (5 June 2014). "Anger grows over reported mass grave of children from Irish unwed mothers home". CNN. 
  53. ^ "Ireland: 'Tuam babies' mass grave allegations must spark urgent investigation". Amnesty International. 5 June 2014. 
  54. ^ "Amnesty urges Ireland to launch probe into mass children's grave". Yahoo News. 5 June 2014. 
  55. ^ a b Gold, Tanya (5 July 2014). "The horror of Tuam's missing babies is not diminished by misreported details". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  56. ^ Kiely, Jacinta; Delaney, Finn; Lynch, Linda (May 2014). "Toberjarlath, Tuam, Co. Galway". Eachtra Journal (17): V. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  57. ^ "Frances Fitzgerald confirms she has ordered a garda report into the Tuam babies revelations". 6 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  58. ^ "Private firm conducts radar tests at Tuam site". RTÉ. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  59. ^ Coughlan, Mark. RTÉ Prime Time, "Home Babies" report, broadcast on RTÉ One, 5 June 2014.
  60. ^ Lally, Conor (7 June 2014). "Fitzgerald seeks Garda report on claims over Tuam babies". The Irish Times. 
  61. ^ "That was then, This is now - Change in Ireland, 1949-1999" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. February 2000. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  62. ^ Finn, Christina (14 July 2014). "Death rate of babies at Tuam mother and baby home was double the rate of other homes". Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  63. ^ Russell, Cliodhna (16 July 2014). "Here’s the latest information about the Tuam mother-and-baby home". Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  64. ^ "Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mother and Baby Homes" (PDF). Department of Children and Youth Affairs. July 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  65. ^ Gueret, Dr Maurice (29 June 2014). "We need less outrage and more home truths about Tuam". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  66. ^ "Tuam deaths need further investigation, says academic expert". The Irish Times. 6 June 2014.
  67. ^ "Call for AG to order inquests for Tuam mother-and-baby home". RTÉ. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  68. ^ "Tuam babies: Justice minister orders police report". BBC. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  69. ^ "Would You Believe? The Tuam Babies". RTÉ. 12 April 2015. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  70. ^ a b Ó Fátharta, Conall (3 June 2015). "SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Government already knew of baby deaths". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  71. ^ Siggins, Lorna (13 March 2017). "‘Possible interference’ with birth certs at Tuam and Cork homes - Paper for HSE says deaths recorded at Cork home saw big fall with adoption legislation". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 March 2017. 
  72. ^ "Concerns over child trafficking at Tuam mother and baby home". Connacht Tribune. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  73. ^ Grace, Robert (4 June 2015). "HSE raised concerns that thousands of Tuam babies may have been trafficked to the US". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  74. ^ "Call for inquiry into mother-and-baby home deaths". Irish Examiner. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  75. ^ "40 years after becoming common knowledge, Irish government to investigate mass graves". Irish Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  76. ^ McGarry, Patsy (5 June 2014). "Mother and baby inquiry to go beyond Tuam – Flanagan". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  77. ^ Sheehan, Maeve; Horan, Niamh (8 June 2014). "Baby deaths: now Gardai probe the Tuam 'mass grave'". Sunday Independent. p. 1. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  78. ^ Lally, Conor (6 June 2014). "Gardaí examining whether crimes committed at Tuam site". The Irish Times. p. 2. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  79. ^ Kelly, Fiach (16 July 2014). "Judge Yvonne Murphy to head mother-and-baby inquiry". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  80. ^ Healy, Alison (4 October 2014). "Draft mother and baby homes inquiry terms circulated". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  81. ^ "Call for AG to order inquests for Tuam mother-and-baby home". RTÉ. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  82. ^ "Minister Reilly announces the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters". Department of Children and Youth Affairs. 19 February 2015. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  83. ^ Duncan, Pamela (19 February 2015). "Mother and baby homes commission to begin work". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  84. ^ "Irish mother and baby homes: Terms of three-year inquiry published". BBC. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  85. ^ "Commission of Investigation – Mother and Baby Homes: Minister Reilly announces the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters". 19 February 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  86. ^ McDonnell, Mary (May 25, 2015). "Silence for babies who died at Galway mother and baby home". UTV Ireland. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  87. ^ a b "Mass grave of babies and children found at Tuam care home in Ireland". The Guardian. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  88. ^ "Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation". Mother and Baby Home Commission. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  89. ^ Edwards, Elaine (3 March 2017). "Tuam babies: 'Significant' quantities of human remains found at former home". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  90. ^ O’Shea, Sinead (3 March 2017). "Infant and Fetus Remains Are Found at Ex-Home for Unwed Mothers in Ireland". New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  91. ^ Barry, Aoife (3 March 2017). "Tuam babies: Next steps in finding the truth behind their deaths". Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  92. ^ "Zappone urged to publish mother and baby homes report". RTÉ. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  93. ^ a b "Kenny says find of human remains at Tuam site 'truly appalling'". RTÉ. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  94. ^ Downing, John (7 March 2017). "Tuam Mother and Baby home was 'chamber of horrors' – Taoiseach tells the Dáil". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  95. ^ "Enda Kenny describes Tuam burial site as a 'Chamber of Horrors'". 7 March 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  96. ^ a b O'Halloran, Marie (7 March 2017). "Tuam mother and baby home a ‘chamber of horrors’, says Taoiseach". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  97. ^ a b McEnroe, Juno (8 March 2017). "'We did not just hide away the dead bodies of tiny human beings, we dug deep and deeper still to bury our compassion, our mercy'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  98. ^ "What's In It That’s So Frightening?". 8 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  99. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (9 March 2017). "Rush to moralise over Tuam has run ahead of the facts". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  100. ^ "Archbishop of Tuam 'horrified' by discovery at mother and baby home". RTÉ. 5 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  101. ^ a b "Tuam blows open locked doors of hidden Ireland - President Higgins". RTÉ. 8 March 2017. 
  102. ^ O'Regan, Eilish (9 March 2017). "Mother and Baby homes probe under pressure to test for further remains". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  103. ^ Clayton-Lea, Sarah (7 March 2017). "TV3 Is Airing This Shocking Documentary On Ireland's Mother And Baby Homes". Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  104. ^ "List of 796 children". Claire Byrne/RTÉ. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  105. ^ Quann, Jack (11 March 2017). "Standing ovation for Catherine Corless on Late Late Show". Newstalk. Retrieved 17 March 2017. 
  106. ^ "Catherine Corless described as Irish heroine after Late Late Show appearance". Irish Examiner. 11 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017. 
  107. ^ Murray, Sean (1 June 2017). "'Today is about Tuam': Catherine Corless commends Zappone for appointing experts to investigate burial site". The Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  108. ^ "Tests sought on site of Bon Secours-run hospital in Tuam". RTÉ. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 

External links[edit]