800 babies buried in septic tank at Irish home for unmarried mothers

By Agence France-Presse | 4 June 2014
Agence France-Presse

Mass grave: The children’s home at Tuam, Co. Galway. (Photo: Tuam Home Graveyard Committee)

Almost 800 babies and children were buried in a mass grave in Ireland near a home for unmarried mothers run by nuns, according to new research Wednesday which throws more light on the Irish Catholic Church’s troubled past.

Death records suggest 796 children, from newborns to eight-year-olds, were deposited in a grave near a Catholic-run home for unmarried mothers during the 35 years it operated from 1925 to 1961.

Historian Catherine Corless, who made the discovery, says her study of death records for the St Mary’s home in Tuam in County Galway suggests that a former septic tank near the home was a mass grave.

The septic tank, full to the brim with bones, was discovered in 1975 by locals when concrete slabs covering the tank broke up.

Until now, locals believed the bones mainly stemmed from the Great Irish famine of the 1840s when hundreds of thousands perished.

St Mary’s, run by the Bons Secours Sisters, was one of several such ‘mother and baby’ homes in early 20th century Ireland.

Thousands of unmarried pregnant women — labelled at the time as ‘fallen women’ — were sent to the homes to have their babies.

The women were ostracised by the conservative-Catholic society and were often forced to hand over their children for adoption.

Health issues and problems associated with the homes have long been documented. As far back as 1944, a government inspection report of the Tuam home described some of the children as “fragile, pot-bellied and emaciated.”

The recently discovered death records for St Mary’s show the 796 children died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, such as measles and TB.

Conservative Catholic teaching at the time denied children of unmarried parents baptism and therefore burial in consecrated lands.

The home was knocked down many years ago to make way for new houses, but the area around the unmarked mass grave has been maintained by locals.

A fundraising committee has now been formed and it is hoped that a memorial will be built with all the names and ages of the children displayed.

The Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said he would meet leaders of the Bons Secours Sisters to assist with the memorial.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that if a public inquiry into the ‘mother and baby’ homes in Ireland was not established then a social history project was necessary.

Martin also said he supports “excavating what may be unmarked graves” at these sites.

A junior government minister has called for an inquiry to be established and the issue is expected to be discussed at cabinet.

The development is a yet another damning disclosure of a Church-run institution in Ireland following almost countless revelations of abuse and neglect at Catholic-run schools or institutions in recent decades.

Bodies of 800 Babies Found in Septic Tank in Ireland

Prime Time – Tuam mother and baby home and Medical Council complaints

Ireland: Discovery of baby remains raises questions

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  1. This story does not shock me in the least, its not the first and it won't be the last. I would highly recommend watching The Magdalene Sisters, Ida, and Philomena they are all fantastic movies.

  2. Christianity taught them that just because their mothers were unwed, they weren't worth anything. Thanks Christianity! They don't want women to have abortions, but once the child is born…

    • merrywhiterose, wrong. Catholicism taught them this crap. Christianity isn’t remotely like Catholicism. Catholicism is the most evil religion in the world, even worse than Islam and they are responsible for BILLIONS of deaths over the centuries.

      • Christianity isn't even remotely like it? Baaahaaahaa! You are a fool. Christianity is equally evil if not worse as all religion is. Check your history.

        • Christianity isn’t remotely like Catholicism? Luke Cage: Please stop spreading your ignorance. All religions are evil and if they weren’t why do the leaders live in mansions and the supporters live in hell holes. They’re all SCUM!

      • Luke, maybe you’d better learn something about the history of religion…Catholicism is a Christian religion. It is a christian religious sect, just like protestant sects such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans or other sects such as Mormons, etc.

    • Christ did not teach this, and therefore authentic Christianity does not teach it either. Catholicism might teach these things, but it goes against the things Christ led Christians to believe.

    • Babies and children were useful to the church. They could be subjugated by the church to be raped and used for slave labor. Since they were not baptized, and the poorest of the poor, you really didn't need to feed them or provide basic medicine. And the supply was inexhaustible.. Good Times for the church!

  3. After being around nuns when I was younger and all my research on the church this story doesn’t surprise me. There are more stories worse then this. The way the church treats the most vulnerable is shocking.

  4. It's a hoax.

    It is true that infant mortality in these homes was high, partly because the homes were underfunded, partly because groups of kids invariably share infections–as they do in day care centers today–and at the time this home was open, medical treatment was not available for all of them. Yes, conditions were horrendous by today's standards, but there were no bodies dumped in any septic tank, and the children apparently died of natural causes, not abuse. This story has been twisted by anti-Catholic media. Here is what Catherine Corless herself says:

    • "The septic tank, full to the brim with bones, was discovered in 1975 by locals when concrete slabs covering the tank broke up." So the article is lying then?

    • So here we are, more than a year after the discovery in Tuam (and we could sit here and argue all day over whether it was a septic tank, water tank, or cistern – the fact is 796 children died and were inappropriately interred and marked); more than twenty years of coverage by the Examiner, Irish Times, Independent and world media; twenty years of eyewitness testimony, documentation and evidence behind Ireland’s more than troubling mother-baby homes, forced adoptions, child trafficking, infant mortality rates that far surpassed the national average and mass graves at every one, and still we have deniers/apologists like Catherine.

      Tell me, love, is it warm and comfortable in that deep, dark hole of denial you’ve dug for yourself?


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