From top: Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton at the graveside at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary at a private memorial for her son Anthony Lee (Michael Anthony Hess)
On Today with Sean O’Rourke.
Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton spoke to Mr O’Rourke in light of the ‘significant quantities of human remains’ being found at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Readers will recall how, in 1952, Philomena gave birth to her son Anthony [Michael Anthony Hess] at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary.
She was subsequently forced to give him up for adoption and he was sent to America. He died in 1995.
Philomena was portrayed by Judi Dench in the movie Philomena.
From this morning’s interview:
Sean O’Rourke: “Jane, good morning to you.”
Jane Libberton: “Good morning, Sean.”
O’Rourke: “And thank you for coming on the line. Now, we know, just looking, particularly, a lot of interesting reporting, invaluable reporting done on this by The Irish Examiner [Conall Ó Fátharta], but in 2011, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart who operated the Sean Ross Abbey, they gave figures to the Health Service Executive [HSE] showing there were 269 deaths at that home between 1934 and ’67 – a period of just over three decades. Now, the paper has reported that some of those buried in the plot on the site, they are not on that register. So, the number may be higher. So I’m just wondering do you support the view that maybe there should be excavations also at Sean Ross Abbey?”
Libberton: “Yes, I do, absolutely. In fact, I think they should be conducted in all mother and baby homes. We’ve been there, to the plot, several times, and we recently spoke to a young man, there was a man, sorry, in his younger days, he was a gardener there. Now, he said that, years ago, him and I think maybe his father, or some other chap, they’d gone to clean the angels’ plot as they call it now. And he went in there and they started to dig the place and they said that they came across bones, you know, not very far down, three or four inches down in the ground.”
“And so, they didn’t know what to do about it, at that time. And I think they didn’t say anything at that time because I think that they wouldn’t have been believed.”
Listen back in full here
Pics: Mark Stedman/Photocall and Adoption Rights Alliance