Disinterring Tuam


From top: Minister for Children Affairs Katherine Zappone; Tuam; Options from the Expert Technical Group

This afternoon.

Following a leak in this morning’s Irish Times, The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has published the Report of the Expert Technical Group (ETG) into the mass grave found at the former Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway.

Minister Zappone said.

“The Report identifies five possible options [see above] for managing the site and appropriately responding to the discovery of infant remains interred at this location.

The Report will now be shared widely and Galway County Council will facilitate a structured consultation process with a strong focus around Tuam.

“I want to ensure that whatever action is taken respects the memory and dignity of those who are buried there and takes account of the concerns and wishes of all who are affected, whether as former residents of thehome, relatives of those who may be buried there, or as local residents who live near the site”

Zappone urges cooperation on future of Tuam site (RTÉ)


43 thoughts on “Disinterring Tuam

  1. Helga.

    I’ve zero respect for Zappone, but I wonder if she leaked this herself. Who ever did, did a good thing.

    1. gorugeen

      Are you serious? The families of those infants get to read this latest update in the newspaper. A good thing?! It’s disrespectful and irresponsible. Plus there was a concrete agreement that the families would be informed FIRST. Whoever leaked it should be sacked.

    2. GiggidyGoo

      I’ve no time for her either. If she thinks inflections at the end of each sentence makes some point for her, she’s mistaken. Enda Kennys water carrier (you see, people don’t forget).
      Has she looked up a map yet to see that she’s not using the shortest (€20k cheaper) way to the Dail.
      I heard her today and she was attempting to close the Tuam enquiry off quickly. Shameful

  2. bisted

    …heard Zappone on radio earlier…she is a totally obnoxious individual…for all her obfuscation the message was clear…I’m going to keep kicking this can until somebody else takes over this role and I’ve retired with my pensions…

      1. dav

        a strong and successful woman can only inspire hatred and jealousy amongst the irish. Just see how we abused women throughout the decades.

        1. Warden of the Snort

          maybe so dav, but the hatred I see for Zappone here is incredibly virulent, and to me (again maybe I am missing something) it seems entirely without any sort of rational foundation

          I hope to be corrected or shown the error in my analysis but am likely to be disappointed.

          1. dav

            no you are entirely correct. I think it’s reflective of the hatred shown to the junior partners of a Collation government. Even though the main partners of such things (ff/fg) cause the most harm to the country and it’s citizens, it’s the junior partner that takes the flack.

          1. bisted

            …FG/Lab were dumped by the electorate at the last election but FG are still in power…this is not what people voted for…they hold power with the contrivance of FF and a motely crew of Independents…including Zappone…hopefully these opportunists will get the message at the next election…

          2. realPolithicks

            “FG are still in power…this is not what people voted for”

            I wish this were the case but unfortunately enough people keep voting for these parasites to keep them in power. FFG received almost 50% of votes between them in the last election, nothing will change in Ireland until people stop voting for the status quo.

    1. Mourning Ireland

      She’s seems the more transparent of the lot actually. Who cares about her sexual identity? Dead children don’t. Journal commenters too.

      Not a fan but she didn’t need a Strategic Communications Unit to BS and PR her views.

      On the subject – let’s see those fuppin nuns prosecuted and see Rosita Boland and Co publicly held to account.

      1. Parp

        “Who cares about her sexual identity?”

        Seeing as you are the only one to have mentioned it, I’m guessing, just you?

  3. Bonkers

    “Commingled remains”, that phrase just sent a shiver down my spine. Those poor children, they never had a chance in life and were literally chucked on top of each other into a septic tank.

    They should spend the 5 million to do everything possible to identify them and then send the bill direct to the nuns. It is an absolute shameful episode by these people who acted as our moral guardians.

      1. bisted

        …in other countries – Kosovo and Cambodia spring to mind – discovery of a mass grave would have generated an international response…there would have been an immediate excavation and examination by specialist forensic teams…instead we get an off-hand response from a PR firm saying nothing to see here…

          1. bisted

            …so church and state and their agencies conspire to protecct the church…they are above the law and can act with impunity…only for a deafening outcry these same nuns would have been gifted with a new hospital and dictated how that hospital was run…

    1. TheRealJane

      The shocking thing (to me, as a human), is that the nuns are so casual about this. It’s an outrage to every human feeling. Why don’t they care? Why do they not offer to have this investigated for their own sakes? I just can’t get into their mentality. Even if they want to deny, why won’t they do the decent thing and hand over every scrap of paper and force any living sister to testify in full even to clear their own names?

      How can they live with the shame and face lovely baby jeebus in a couple of weeks?

        1. TheRealJane

          What should their reaction be? Well, contrition, perhaps? A sincere attempt to assist rather than frustrate investigation? If they don’t accept that this happened under their management, an attempt to demonstrate that they acted properly with due care and attention?

          I don’t get the attitude that they have that it sucks to be those kids, but you can’t pin it on them, so too bad.

          1. Warden of the Snort

            Thanks Jane for engaging.

            I’m not sure they ‘should’ accept liability for something that happened some time ago, in as, Cian, noted, when it was effectively tolerated and in different times.

            Harping on about the liability of the present-day nuns like this – it bangs of witch hunt. And I wouldn’t generally be a nun fan I have to say.

      1. Cian

        As I mentioned below – things were different in the past. Child mortality (under 1 year) in Ireland is currently about 4 per 1,000 live births (one in 250).
        In the 50s it was 66 per 1,000 live births (or one in every 15 born died before they were 1), if you consider the large family sizes most people would have been directly affected.

        It was ‘normal’ to lose an occasional child.

        People today are so insulated from death that is turning into a fetish for some.

        If you add still-births you can increase those figures by about 50%

        1. edalicious

          Cian, infant mortality in the Tuam home was five times the national average at the time. That is absolutely not ‘normal’…

          1. Cian

            Death was more normal then – and mass graves were normal.

            Yes, the rates were higher than normal, and this is wrong (the high death-rate is why it was closed down).

            Unfortunately, many deaths were from highly contagious diseases – so if one child caught it – it would spread to all the others. It was not unusual for overcrowded places (like slums, prisons, and these ‘homes’) to have higher mortality for this reason.

        2. scottser

          you have to factor in the nuns’ attitude to the ‘penitents’ Cian. They were there to ensure those mothers felt every ounce of the pain and humiliation of their ‘sin’. and you know what happened to the healthy children, don’t you?

      2. postmanpat

        Its pretty simple. They are religious zealots. Nuns are victims too. Girls were identified as the non marrying type (if you know what I mean) and were raised by the church to do a job where the end justified the means. They will not allow the church to take a financial hit because of this. The greater good (as they see it) must take precedent. Babies died, sad, whatever, what can you do? Over all the mission was a success. They won. Gods happy , so are they. These old crones are sleeping like …babies. We should all stop wasting time and energy on this now. the Church aren’t paying up , its OVER. We would be better of focusing on lobbying to repeal the blasphemy laws so we can safely and openly mock the church which is THE SAME CHURCH that did these things and continues to do these things in the developing world today. Those kids still have a chance. The Galway babies are gone, nothing can change that now.

      3. realPolithicks

        I’m guessing TheRealJane that the reason the won’t admit any liabilty is because that would open them to the possibility of paying compensation to the victims. It’s well established that when it comes to keeping it’s money the catholic church will move heaven and earth (pun intentional) to hold onto its ill gotten gains.

    2. Cian

      Seriously guys. The past is a different country.

      This was standard for ALL babies that died before they were baptised. (I’m not defending the nuns BTW – different times had different standards)

      Read about the “Angel’s Plot” in Glasnevin Cemetery, and this was for ‘good, Catholic, married women’:
      This Old Plot is the resting place for over fifty thousand infants who were buried there up to the 1970’s. Glasnevin is one of the few Cemeteries that allowed stillborn babies to be buried in concentrated ground. In early times stillborn babies were not allowed in blessed ground, as they were unbaptised. Many babies were buried in the ditches and hedges on the outside of other cemeteries around the country. Often parents buried their babies themselves between dusk and dawn in fear of being caught and yet wanting their baby to buried in Holy Ground.

      Up to 20 years ago, Mothers who delivered their stillborn babies in the Dublin Maternity Hospitals or Dublin Nursing Homes never saw their baby at birth. It was considered to be ‘better’ for them not to. Dads were totally excluded from the experience of childbirth anyway. The Hospital involved would see that the baby was buried in the Old Angels Plot in Glasnevin and for many parents the ‘bill’ for this is the only recognition they had for their baby.


      1. TheRealJane

        None of that prevents the nuns from taking appropriate restorative action to the fullest extent that they can. I find their reluctance to admit that this was A Bad Thing really difficult to understand. OK, it might cost them some money to hold their hands up, but you’d think morality would compel them.

      2. newsjustin

        It’s far from clear, Cian, that these were very young baptised infants. If they lived for any length of time at all they would, one would presume, have been baptised.

        So it’s an illegal/unregulated mass grave of baptised infants rather than a “cillin” type of grave for unbaptised, stillborn babies.

        1. Cian

          I’m not going to defend the nuns. What happened was morally wrong.
          But you are throwing dirt by saying it was illegal / unregulated. Was it illegal? Were the regulations that they were ignoring? My understanding is that they did record and report the deaths.

          It was quite common for hospitals, prisons, barracks, monasteries to have an attached graveyard.

          1. Niamh

            It’s not a graveyard, it’s a septic tank. There’s no evidence it was consecrated and they did not record the burials. They recorded the deaths, but not the burials – this is exactly how the whole thing was found out, because a historian looked into the burials, and found there were recorded deaths, but not recorded burials.

            Yes, mass graves and attached graveyards were the norm, once. Not, I might say, in the 40s/50s/60s, however. Unofficial killeens and boundary plots for unbaptised infants and sometimes suicides were the norm. This entombment in a tank, swaddled without coffins, without record, was not normal, not even for the time. It hasn’t been normal since the Famine.

            I don’t know what your agenda is in trying to suggest that this kind of thing was standard practice when, with any historical honesty, you must realise that it was not. This is not a plague-pit, it’s an unmarked, unrecorded, crypt. If it was normal, why was it not recorded? Why have the nuns not released anything about it?

            Some of the sampled bones from the tank show the children were toddlers, many months old, etc – if you look at the death records, quite a lot are over six months at least. They would have been baptised within days if not hours of birth, due to the mortality rate, and the fact that they were born in a religious institution.

            The death records show the children dying of inanition/malnourishment/’failure to thrive’, all of which are euphenisms for neglect.

            IMO, someone should take a look under the Gloucester Street Laundry before it gets turned into a budget hotel.

  4. Gringo

    The Zapper might build a car park .,She could drive there every morning and get a taxi to work. Tink of de expenses.

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