Tag Archives: Tuam Mother and Baby Home

From top (left to right) Site of the Bon Secours Mother and  Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway; Peter Mulryan, Catherine Corless; Ciaran Tierney

Galway County Council is currently seeking submissions from members of the public regarding what to do with the site of the Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. The deadline for submissions is this Friday, March 16.

Ciaran Tierney writes:

Imagine you are 70 years old.

Throughout your life you have dealt with the stigma of being branded as ‘illegitimate’ and your long quest to find your birth mother had ended in a Magdalene Laundry, where she had lived for over 30 years.

You used to visit her every fortnight, after managing to track her down, although the nuns warned you to pretend that she was your aunt.

They told you they would prevent you from visiting if you told the other inmates the truth about your relationship with your own mother and it used to pain you to see the defeat, the lack of sparkle, in her eyes.

Together with the other inmates, she washed and cleaned the clothes of the great and the good around the city and county.

For years, she never ventured outside the laundry walls even though she was just minutes from the heart of the city.

But you kept the relationship going, and enthused about how her spirit lifted just a little after you married and she met her first grandchild.

You saw flickers of her spirit on occasional weekend visits to the seaside, when the nuns finally started to allow her out of the laundry for a few hours.

She was buried in 1989, in a grave she shared with other women from the laundry.

You hoped that she was resting in peace after a tough life and you got on with your life.

And then, four years ago, your life was turned upside down once again.

Historian Catherine Corless, who has since become a good friend, was on the other end of the phone.

She told you the startling news that you had a little sister nobody had ever told you about.

She was one of the 796 ‘Tuam Babies’, who were making headlines all across the globe.

Catherine’s painstaking research had placed one of the little babies in the tiny townland in your mother’s rural community.

When you asked around, you discovered it was true. Your mother had given birth to a second child before being locked up again for years.

For all you knew, that little girl was buried in that infamous septic tank in Tuam.

But, that’s the thing. You didn’t know.

For all you know now, too, she was adopted by a loving family in the US or the UK, because nobody has any records of your little sis and what became of her after being born in that now notorious Mother and Baby Home.

That’s what happened to Peter Mulryan, a remarkable man whose quest for justice for his little sister goes on.

Now aged 74, he has been stonewalled by the authorities.

He’s concerned that they will mark the site with a memorial, before he ever finds out what happened to her and whether or not she ended up in that terrible place in Tuam.

On Sunday, he spoke movingly about giving a voice to the voiceless and the need to heal the hurt caused to generations of Irish women and their ‘illegitimate’ children.

A year ago, he brought a graveyard to tears when he spoke about his quest for justice, to find out the truth about the sister he never knew he had.

He returned to that graveyard on Mother’s Day, to pay tribute to his mother and all the other mothers who had been locked up in Magdalene Laundries across Ireland.

It is believed there were 10,000 of these women locked up in institutions throughout Ireland right up until the 1980s.

Many, but not all, were single mothers who were taken away from their families to hide their ‘shame’.

And now Peter Mulryan, like the other survivors, is wondering what is going to become of their loved-ones. They believe the Tuam site should be examined and the bodies of the infants exhumed.

They want DNA testing to be carried out on the little ones, but they are concerned now that the Irish authorities will cover up the site and just put in a memorial plaque on the unofficial burial ground.

Galway County Council is currently seeking submissions from members of the public regarding what to do with the site. The deadline for submissions is this Friday, March 16.

Family members like Peter are concerned that the local authority may decide to put a memorial in place at the site of the former septic tank rather than the more costly option of a thorough examination.

The council has listed five options for the site.

I’m still looking for my sister. I want her file, to see what happened to her. The council are only adding more pain and hardship to the families. I would like to ask the officials how they would feel if they had a family member in the septic tank there. That’s what I ask them when I meet them and they just go cold,” he said, following a memorial service for the women of the Magdalene Laundry in Galway on Sunday afternoon.

“Those children could not be baptised. That ground was never consecrated. The authorities won’t tell us that they are sorry or admit that they were wrong.

We never did anything wrong, but they are keeping us down by denying us justice for our loved-ones. If somebody was murdered a hundred years ago they would just go in and analyse what’s there.”

Mr Mulryan said he could not accept the argument that a full forensic examination of the Tuam site would cost too much at this stage.

Speaking beside his own mother’s shared grave, he pointed out that many of the mothers worked for free after being incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries for decades.

“When you think of the money which was made out of these women, slaving for free in these laundries, it’s unbelievable the way they are still treating us,” he said.

Breeda Murphy of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network said the Government should have declared the site a crime scene after Catherine Corless’ research was vindicated this time last year.

Ms Corless also faced hostility or indifference from the authorities when she researched what happened to the babies who died at the Tuam home.

“The people who have family members at the Tuam site want to bring them home and give them a proper burial. There’s nothing dignified in concealing children in a structure which was first built to contain sewage or human waste. You can never get away from that, regardless of the time period or saying that that was how things were done back then,” said Ms Murphy on Sunday.

“The way in which the Magdalene Laundry women are being treated is probably a reflection of how the Mother and Baby home survivors will be treated down the road. So I don’t see justice coming at all. I am totally disillusioned.”

A survivor of the Magdalene Laundry in Galway, Angela Fahy, said families also had to take responsibility for their role in the incarceration of women in the Magdalene Laundries.

She said there were 110 women in the Galway home when she was locked up there at just 14 years of age.

“These women were put there in secret, died there in secret, and buried there in secret,” she said.

“Their neighbours in Forster Street did not even know them. These women washed and cleaned the clothes of this entire province. Many of them never came out of there alive.

“We cannot just put this down to religion. Quite a lot of it comes down to their own families, people who denied their own flesh and blood if they had a child outside of marriage. These women had no voice for so many years, but they have now thanks to events like this.”

A year has passed since confirmation that the bodies of babies who died at the home between 1925 and 1961 were found at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home, which was run by the Bon Secours order of nuns.

Campaigners, who want the babies to be given proper burials in consecrated ground, have been inundated with messages of support from across North America over the past year.

They are insisting that cost should not be the main concern as they seek justice for the 796 ‘Tuam Babies’.

Galway County Council is facilitating a full public consultation process about what to do with the site where the ‘Tuam Babies’ were found, with submissions accepted until this Friday, March 16.

Members of the public can email TuamConsultation@galwaycoco.ie or telephone +353 (0)91 509561 if they have any queries regarding the full public consultation process.

Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway.

For Peter and the families, it’s personal… (Ciaran Tierney)

Rollingnews

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From top: A remembrance ceremony for the mother and babies of Tuam in Salthill, Galway on Sunday evening.; Ciaran Tierney

The Tuam Mother and Baby revelations have given survivors a new voice.

Ciaran Tierney writes:

I met an extraordinary man last night, only he doesn’t really believe he’s so extraordinary.

In recent months, he has found a voice he never realised he had. Now in his 60s, he has learned how to tell his story and speak out against injustice.

He spent much of his childhood in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, a place which is now notorious all over the world.

It took him an awful long time to learn to love and take care of himself.

It’s not easy to care about yourself when you are told you are inferior to others.

When you walk to school in hobnail boots and you are forced to sit apart from the rest of the class.

When you are beaten for the most minor transgressions, not given enough food, and branded with labels like “home baby” and, worse, “illegitimate”, because your mother committed a terrible crime just by bringing you into the world.

It didn’t even matter if your mother was raped, or terrified to reveal the identity of the father. That’s just the way it was in those days.

It’s not easy to let go of that kind of baggage, especially when you live in a rural community.

Oh, look, there’s your man, the “home baby”. The one who was adopted because his mother, shockingly, never got married, or the one who arrived late and didn’t smell too good at school.

It’s the kind of baggage you carry with you well into adulthood, if you ever manage to shake it off at all….

…And, yet, in recent months his life has changed.

He has begun to find his voice. The global headlines generated by the “Tuam Babies” scandal have allowed him to talk about his sense of injustice and even do media interviews for the first time.

He wants justice for the 796 and he wants people to listen. He’s full of praise for Catherine Corless, the historian who first told the world the truth about what happened in that terrible home.

By making it clear that the truth about the “Tuam Babies” was worth fighting for, she made him see the value in his own life.

He says he’s one of the lucky ones, because eventually he was shipped out to a lovely foster home.

His childhood was not all bad, although he can’t say the same for many of his old friends and contemporaries.

In Tuam, he has helped to set up and organise a support group for survivors. They find great comfort from meeting up and talking and healing, and he’s found that he of all people has the gift of being able to express their pain.

He doesn’t want much, he says. Just some recognition that a terrible wrong was done to him and the other children in homes around the country, in the name of the Irish State.

It would help if those in authority would reply to his letters or answer their phones.

For months, since the start of the year, he’s been trying to get the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to come and visit his little group of survivors down in Tuam.

It wouldn’t be a huge burden on the Taoiseach, the Irish Prime Minister, to take a little detour from the road to Castlebar on his way home some weekend.

Just to sit with the survivors and to hear their stories, the stories they were afraid to tell for most of their adult lives.

But when he rings the phone goes dead. Or a faceless official makes a non-committal promise that he or she will get back in touch. But never does.

He knows the abuse, the denigration, the labelling didn’t happen on the current Taoiseach’s watch, but it was done to him and his friends with the collusion of the Irish State.

It wiped out his self-esteem, to the extent that he could not hold his head high in the local pub, and he just wants to sit in a room with a few other survivors and tell the Taoiseach what that was like.

How he didn’t kill himself or drown himself in drink.

He wants some acknowledgment of the pain that he and others went through and the huge transformation he had to go through to be able to stand and talk to a reporter in a Galway park on a Sunday evening.

His friend had a little sister he never knew about, who may or may not have been buried in a septic tank. He’d love the Taoiseach to come to Tuam and just listen to their honest words.

They are not going to be able to turn back time, but it might help the healing process if the most powerful people in the land sat and listened and acknowledged the hurt caused.

He watched a new scandal erupt in Dublin last week, involving nuns who have been awarded a national hospital despite their refusal to pay adequate compensation to the victims of childhood abuse.

He watched the Taoiseach visit the White House last month and give a wonderful lecture about immigration to US President Donald Trump.

And wondered how he could make his way across the Atlantic to Washington, but not sit in his car and take a short trip down to Tuam.

After more than half a century of pain and needless shame, is that asking too much?

Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway

Hey, Enda – is it really such a long way to Tuam? (Ciaran Tierney)

File Photo A preliminary excavation is to take place at the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. The tests were requested by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, whichÊwas establishedÊfollowing allegations about the deaths of 800 babies and the manner in which they were buried in Tuam. The commission says the test excavation will take around five weeks to complete. ItÊsays a sample of ground will be excavated by a team of specialist archaeologists. It is hoped the work will help resolve queries in relation to the burial of babies at the site in question.05/06/2014. Tuam mother and baby home infant deaths. The grounds where the unmarked mass grave containing the remains of nearly 800 infants who died at the Bon Secours mother-and-baby home in Tuam Co Galway from 1925-1961 rests. The site is now part of the Dublin Road housing estate and records show that the former mother and baby home's septic tank was in this location. The names of the children buried here have been confirmed by local historian Catherine Corless' research and she hopes to raise funds to erect a plaque as a memorial to them. Photo: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

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“This is very sad and disturbing news. It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years. Up to now we had rumours. Now we have confirmation that the remains are there, and that they date back to the time of the Mother and Baby Home, which operated in Tuam from 1925 to 1961.”

Katherine Zappone (above centre), Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, this morning.

More as we get it.

Human remains found at Tuam former mother-and-baby home (RTÉ)

Previously: ‘It Seems Quite Probable The Babies Are Buried In The Sewage Tanks’

Reputable History

Meanwhile…
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A response from Terry Prone (top right) to French documentary maker Saskia Weber (left) concerning the Tuam burial site in 2014.

Ms Prone was on RTÉ’s Radio One’s Today with Sean O’ Rourke show as the story broke.

Sean O’Rourke: “I think, Terry Prone, I see something here from the Journal, you were saying previously, or was it quoting the Sisters of Bon Secours, saying they wouldn’t find a mass grave, or anything like that. What’s your response?”

Terry Prone: “No, no, no. This was – first of all, I don’t speak for the Sisters of Bon Secours, my company deals with the Sisters. But what is important about this is, nobody expected the kind of numbers that are being revealed today, clearly there was extensive burial,
I’m fascinated by the Commission’s use of the term in this way, because it makes it sound like there was a disrespectful mass-burial, rather than proper burial, which, I don’t know what to make of that. I think the questions that are going to be asked in the next while are, how many children, and what was the number of children, because this wasn’t a Famine burial, like the local people tend to talk about. This was between the thirties and the sixties, which would be in the time the home operated. How many children and toddlers were there, and is that disproportionate to the amount of children that were dying in the general population at this time. And the other thing [hushed tones] – what did they die of? Was it malnutrition, was it lack of care, what was it that killed the children?”

O’Rourke: “I’m still trying to process this myself. There was a request from documentary makers from France2 to the Sisters of Bon Secours asking for access, and the response from you was that there would be no mass burials to be found on the grounds, only bones where Famine victims were buried. It looks like there’s a bit more to it than that now.”

Prone: “It looks like there’s a whole lot more to it.”

Listen here

Meanwhile…

File Photo . More Bones have been found at the Tuam mother and Baby site End ..05/06/2014. Tuam mother and baby home infant deaths. Local Tuam historian Catherine Corless, pictured beside a grotto in the grounds where the unmarked mass grave containing the remains of nearly 800 infants who died at the Bon Secours mother-and-baby home from 1925-1961 rests. The site is now part of the Dublin Road housing estate and records show that the former mother and baby home's septic tank was in this location. The names of the children buried here have been confirmed by Corless' research and she hopes to raise funds to erect a plaque as a memorial to them. Photo: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Historian Catherine Corless

Oh.

Tuam mother and baby home: the trouble with the septic tank story (Rosita Boland, Irish Times June 7, 2014)

Meanwhile…

“The Survivor Community is not shocked by the latest news that hundreds of bodies of babies and children have been “discovered” at the site of the former Mother and Baby home at Tuam. This is something we have known for many years.

What is shocking is that once again we have to learn of this news via the media. The communications skills of the Minister and the Commission of Inquiry leave a lot to be desired when it comes to informing the Survivor Community of developments.

Tuam must not be seen in isolation. It was the fifth biggest of the 9 so called “Mother and Baby Homes” and it is the tip of the iceberg for deaths which amount to at least 6,000 babies and children across the 9 homes.

There are over 227 confirmed deaths in the notorious Bethany Home in Dublin and recent research has revealed the names of over 200 babies and children buried in the Angel’s Plot at Castlepollard Mother and Baby home ranging from a few hours old to over 2 years.

There were also at least 77 confirmed Stillbirths in Castlepollard above and beyond the 200 registered deaths. There will be hundreds of unregistered Stillbirths discovered in Tuam too above and beyond the 800 registered deaths.

The worst is yet to come as details of the huge behemoths of Saint Patrick’s, Bessboro and Sean Ross Abbey have yet to be revealed but it is likely that the total for these three “homes” alone will be well over 4,000 babies and children buried in shoeboxes and rags.

Our Community is divided about the issue of excavations and exhumations. Many are adamant that all the babies must be exhumed, identified and given proper burials.

Others feel strongly that our former crib mates should be allowed to Rest In Peace. There are no easy answers and some survivors will be horrified no matter what happens. Mutual respect and understanding must guide our community.

The Government, Minister Zappone and the Inquiry must consider living survivors and their needs before any further excavations are pursued behind our backs.

Our community is ageing and has been viciously cut in two by the current official policy of excluding many survivors from the Inquiry.

Survivors need to be heard instead of ignored; consulted instead of insulted; treated with respect instead of learning the latest developments via the media.

May our crib mates in all the Mother and Baby homes and Holding Centers, Rest In Peace.”

Paul Redmond
Chairperson: Coalition of Mother and Baby home Survivors (CMABS)

Rollingnews

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Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday

Last Friday, forensic archaeologists carried out a geophysical survey at the former site of the Tuam mother and baby home in Galway, where it is feared 796 children are buried.

The results of the survey, carried out at the behest of Judge Yvonne Murphy who is overseeing the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, are not yet known.

In yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday, journalist Alison O’Reilly, who originally broke the story about the Tuam mother and baby home, reported a stand-off between the graveyard committee in Tuam and the families of babies who allegedly died there.

The graveyard committee doesn’t want any excavation to take place while the families feel, if they’re ever to find out what happened the children, the site must be excavated.

Further to this…

You may recall a special investigation in June, by Irish Examiner journalist Conall Ó Fátharta, into the Tuam mother and baby home in Galway which was ran by the Bon Secours Order of nuns.

Mr Ó Fátharta discovered that two years before historian Catherine Corless, in 2014, raised fears that nearly 800 infants may have been buried in an unmarked mass grave at the home, in 2012, a HSE West social worker had expressed concerns that up to 1,000 children might have been trafficked to the US from the home in “a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State”.

The social worker came to the conclusion after she examined both the Tuam and Bessborough mother and baby homes while preparing material for the Magdalene laundries inquiry in 2012, led by Martin McAleese. The details were not included in the McAleese report.

Her reports into both of the homes noted the number of deaths recorded at the homes and proposed the possibility that death certificates might have been falsified in order for children to be “brokered into clandestine adoptions”.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reported that the social worker wrote:

This may prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State, because of the very emotive sensitivities around adoption of babies, with or without the will of the mother.”

A concern is that, if there is evidence of trafficking babies, that it must have been facilitated by doctors, social workers etc, and a number of these health professionals may still be working in the system.”

Mr Ó Fátharta reported that, in an internal note from a teleconference in October 2012, with then assistant director of Children and Family Service Phil Garland and then head of the Medical Intelligence Unit Davida De La Harpe, it was recommended that the then Fine Gael Health Minister Dr James Reilly be informed with a view to launching a State inquiry.

In light of the survey beginning on Friday and the information discovered by Mr Ó Fátharta, Philip Boucher Hayes, of RTÉ’s Drivetime, on Friday evening spoke to both Catherine Corless and lawyer Kevin Higgins, who represents some families of former residents of mother and baby homes and who has previously pointed out that Attorney General Máire Whelan has the power to order a coroner to hold inquests into the deaths of any remains exhumed at the Tuam site.

Philip Boucher-Hayes: “Kevin is excavation what your clients want?”

Kevin Higgins: “I think it probably is. The single thing that will bring satisfaction, closure, finally, to all the people affected because you’re not going to know precisely what is happened until there is a proper, forensic examination of the site. And that will only happen by a sensitive and careful and methodical excavation. There really is no other way.”

Boucher-Hayes: “Because there is the possibility for many I presume that their brother, sister, son, daughter, whatever, may have been sold into adoption or, equally, may have been buried in this site – they just don’t know.”

Higgins: “Indeed, that is absolutely true. And you referred earlier to a document which records a conversation and conference, between senior members of the HSE in 2012. That document is particularly damning because it records that the HSE knew exactly what had gone on in Tuam, it records…”

Boucher-Hayes: “It doesn’t record or suggest that they knew anything about the graves..”

Higgins: “Indeed no.”

Boucher-Hayes: “But it does reveal other shocking practices on the part of the nuns.”

Higgins: “It does reveal quite shocking practices. There is no question about that. But of course…”

Boucher-Hayes: “Such as? Can you itemise them for us?”

Higgins: “In what respect, Philip, sorry?”

Boucher-Hayes: “There is suggestion in this document isn’t it, upon examination of the files that were passed to the HSE by the Bon Secour Order that it may be possible, in a number of cases, that the nuns continued to demand a maintenance payment from families when the child was either dead or had gone elsewhere.”

Higgins: “That is absolutely true. One must pay tribute to, in particular, I won’t name the individual, a most conscientious and compassionate social worker in HSE West, who no longer works for the HSE or Tusla or any State body connected with this, who without any funding or direction, or encouragement, undertook a systematic review of the material, passed on by the Bon Secours, and produced the evidence of this, these most distressing and appalling practices by the Bon Secours.”

Boucher-Hayes: “And if I could just, briefly, itemise them. We’re talking about up to 1,000 babies that may have been sold into adoption, as I say, maintenance still being demanded by the nuns even though the child was dead. There was also a concern expressed by these officials in the HSE that this practice of selling babies could only have been facilitated with the knowledge of doctors and social workers and some of whom may still be working now. Now what happened on the basis of this crisis that, they themselves, said was going to be a scandal that would ‘dwarf all others’. What action was taken on foot of it?

Higgins: “Well, remarkable, as it might seem, nothing. And if it were not for the work of Catherine Corless, it is possible that this material, these records would remain lying, gathering dust. The effect of that teleconference was that it was agreed that an early warning memo would be sent upwards to a most senior official within the HSE with a recommendation that it go directly to the minister. The minister, of course, at that time was  Mr James Reilly. I have absolutely no doubt, from my knowledge of the people who participated in that conference, that such a memo did go upwards in the chain of the HSE, to a senior official. But, as we know in recent times, Minister Reilly said he never had sight of it, simply because it was deemed not appropriate to pass this information on to him because the process of research which HSE West was engaged on was specific to the work of the McAleese Inquiry into magdalene homes. And therefore, these appalling practices which were carried on by the Bon Secours in Tuam were deemed redundant to that process and were simply buried.”

Buried, eh?

Readers may recall that, according to figures obtained by The Phoenix, under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year, Fine Gael’s James Reilly paid The Communications Clinic nearly €60,000 between 2012 and 2014  – out of the Oireachtas fund, called the Special Secretarial Allowance (SSA).

In addition, readers may also recall how two weeks after Catherine Corless’ concerns about Tuam were reported in the Irish Mail on Sunday, on May 25, 2014, media queries to the Bon Secours nuns were suddenly fielded by The Communications Clinic.

Finally, readers may recall how, in the summer of 2014, French documentary maker Saskia Weber tried to access members of the Bon Secours Order who ran the Tuam home.

Ms Weber received a letter from Ms Prone in which she wrote, among other things:

If you come here, you’ll find no mass grave, no evidence that children were ever so buried, and a local police force casting their eyes to heaven and saying “Yeah, a few bones were found – but this was an area where Famine victims were buried. So?”

Listen back in full here

Geophysical survey at site of Tuam mother and baby home (RTE)

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Fears over ‘trafficking’ of children to the US (Irish Examiner, Conall Ó Fatharta)

Previously: Reputable History

Power To Exhume

All In The Family

Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

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From top: Former residents of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Peter Mulryan, and PJ Haverty

Last night TV3’s The People’s Debate With Vincent Browne took place in the Galway East constituency.

During the show, historian Catherine Corless introduced two former residents of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Peter Mulryan and PJ Haverty.

Ms Corless said Peter has a sister buried at the home but explained that he doesn’t know where she’s specifically buried.

Both men then spoke.

Peter Mulryan said:

“In the mid-Forties I was born in Tuam, in the home there and my mother was separated from me, just after a year of being there. I was taken out of there after four and a half years in that area which was absolutely shocking. Every child there went through that system, came out with pot bellies and why?

If you starve an animal or a dog, what way do they look? That’s the way we looked. It’s frightening to think we went through the same system and I inquired why this happened. I looked for information from Galway County Council, I looked for information from the church, I’m now asking the State to get heavily involved in this, as Catherine is after saying there, I also have a sister laid somewhere around, I don’t know where. I’m making inquiries, nobody can tell me where that angel lies tonight, nobody. And I will find out, no matter how long it’s going to take, what was done to my sister, laid somewhere and no record.

We have a birth record and we have a death certificate but no one will tell me where she is laying tonight. And this is one of the questions I’m asking of the church and the council and the State: to get me answers because I must find, I must find out where. Because I don’t want her lying in what I was told where she may be but we will find out sooner or later…”

“I was four and a half years there, I was adopted out in not nice conditions whatsoever. [My earliest memories were] isolated. I’m not worried about work but the way I was treated, every day I got up: beaten. I dreaded summers for the simple reason here, I never spoke about this before.

Many would get beaten with a rod or a stick, I was treated with nettles. Nettles put inside my trousers. I hated seeing summers coming because I knew this was going to happen again. I was put into a bag one day, I was told I was going to be put into the bog hole. That was my life story. I could go on for another hour.”

“The [foster] mother was an absolute angel and she would often say, when I was being hammered, ‘you might want him yet, some day’ and it did happen. I did [meet my birth mother] with a struggle. But I did meet her, she was in the home for 35 years. I wanted to take her out. I used to take her out once a month and I was told I was coming too often.

But I wanted to take her to our own home but was denied the chance and she died of a broken heart in that place, where she worked for 35 years in slavery, in a laundry where she worked in a cold yard, frosty mornings and the old-fashioned way of washing clothes and they couldn’t talk to their friends beside them. Nobody knew what was going on within the system.

They couldn’t talk about their life or complain. They were never let out to do shopping, anything. They were just what I call, like myself, nobody. She died there and I didn’t know it in time to visit her either. She died aged 84 and she’d been there 35 years.”

PJ Haverty said:

“I was born in the home in Tuam as well and I spent six and a half years there and I was told that I went to the national school for two years, which I did and we had to go in ten minutes late in the morning and leave ten minutes early in the evening, so as we wouldn’t mix with the kids from outside, in case we’d tell them anything about what went on in the home.

And in the playground we were cornered off in a section so we wouldn’t be allowed to play with the other kids. So, lucky for me, I finished up in a fantastic foster home and I was looked after very well and then my foster mother was very good to me and we decided to go looking for my birth mother because she felt sorry for my birth mother. So after great work, a social worker accidentally left a file opened and my mother’s name and the address was on it, so I worked from there and she was in Brixton in England. And she had married with no family.

So, when I got to meet her then, she told me what had happened in the home. That she was rejected by her own parents because of the Catholic church, being pregnant outside of marriage, and had to be taken to Tuam. And they didn’t have the hundred pounds to pay.If she did, she’d have the baby and be released again straight away.

But she had to stay there for 12 months, to work there as a slave, looking after the babies, cleaning and tidying the place. So when the 12 months was up she was shown the door and told to get out and I was going to be fostered out.

So she went down to the hospital in Tuam and got a job there as a cleaner. So every so often she would make that 10 minutes, 15 minutes walk to the home and knock on the door and ask could I be seen, could she talk to me, ‘could I take him away from there altogether, I want to look after him’ and they said, ‘no’, they closed the door on her face. And she spent about six years doing that. Til eventually I was fostered out then and she decided then, there’s no hope staying here, so she went to England.

And she went to Brixton then and she married there. But had no family. And she told me this story and I thought about Our Lord being crucified but my god these mothers, you know in the homes throughout Ireland, were crucified. And I blame the church, I blame the State and I hope that you don’t delay and get to the bottom of all this and not to drag it out like we’ve all these tribunals going on 20, 15 years.”

Thanks Luke O’Riordan

Previously: Reputable History and Mortal Spin