Meanwhile In Tuam


Last night.

In Tuam, Co Galway…

Where the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone met with residents of Tuam and members of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Survivors group.

Joe Little, of RTE, reports:

“….Ms Zappone told her audience of over 100 people at the private meeting that she is assessing whether to fully excavate the Tuam site or to test all the land for out-of-the-ordinary soil patterns and then excavate those pinpointed areas along with the current memorial Garden and a series of underground chambers.

“Ms Zappone also warned that many urgent legal issues remain to be dealt with.

“Such issues include making sure the Government has the legal authority to exhume the human remains, examine them, carry out successful DNA tests where possible and to reinter them in a place to be agreed.”

Zappone assessing whether to fully excavate Tuam site (RTE)

Pic: Donal O’Keeffe

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72 thoughts on “Meanwhile In Tuam

    1. postmanpat

      Pulls off Zappone mask….GASP!!! “Sister Bernadette! the headmistress!?! ” “and we would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky scientist and there discovery of DNA.”

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    Of course the Government has the legal authority. Those children were dumped there while under the care of the State, with a generous stipend being paid to the nuns for each child held there.

    Enough hand wringing and buck passing. Identify these children and give them the Christian burial the so called Christian nuns denied them.

    1. edalicious


      Unreported bodies buried in unmarked graves in the recent past? How is this any different from any other crime scene?

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Religion. If you’re one of God’s chosen, you get away with it. Rape, murder, embezzlement etc.

      2. rotide

        I would suggest that the lack of an actual proven crime differs it from any other crime scene.

        1. edalicious

          Surely they need to figure out who the bodies are and how they died before they can decide whether there’s been a crime or not. You know, like what normally happens when people find mysterious bodies buried in strange places.

          1. Cian

            rotide is half right.
            These bodies effectively are no different to those in a graveyard. There are death records for the babies. Yes – they are mass graves – which isn’t all that unusual for the time/circumstances.

            Could the state go to Glasnevin and start exhuming a load of graves?

          2. rotide

            They aren’t mysterious bodies though and the place, while maybe being ‘strange’ wasn’t unexplained.

        2. scottser

          a court proves crime rotide. the fact of human remains at the site makes it a crime scene.

          1. Cian

            And there are death certs for 796 children from Tuam.

            Now I don’t know if *all* the corpses have death certs (and I bet you don’t know if all the corpses at Mount Argus do).

            But if there are almost 800 bodies buried there – would you agree it’s not necessarily a crime scene if you find some bodies there?

            Between 2011 and 2013, Catherine Corless,a local historian from Tuam worked tirelessly researching the whereabouts of the children that was in the Tuam Mother & Baby Home. She paid €4 each time to get the publicly available death certificates of 796 children who died at the home.


        3. Frilly Keane

          Ah here Rottie
          If an unmarked grave site isn’t enough
          An entire tank of bodies
          That to all intents remain untraced and unidentified
          Must shurly be in the interests of the DPPs office

          Cheezus t’night
          Would ya just
          For once
          Not be the only cantankerous pr1(k in the village

          You’re coming up on odious now

        4. Papi

          Whenever I have found bodies I must go to the guards who must examine the remains to distinguish between an antique burial and a modern. If the remains are not specifically within a marked grave and I cannot prove they are antique, then the guards cannot release them to me and an investigation has to begin until they can, In this case it seems it was common knowledge where the bodies were buried and no actual investigation took place.

    2. max

      Most were never baptized, so are not entitled to be buried in a Christian graveyard, hopefully they will be able to find living relatives who can pony up to have them buried in glasnevin angel plot or similar. otherwise they will probably end up back in tuam or cremated.

          1. Dr.Fart MD

            yea, imagine a baby getting beaten to death by a nun, the nun throws the baby in a septic tank, and then max comes along, pointing at the baby “that baby has no right to be buried on this hallowed ground. Unworthy. bad baby. bold.”

          2. mildred st meadowlark

            Good to hear :)

            I’d have taken the whole summer off if I was let. Which, obviously, I wasn’t. Hope you’re keeping well me aul flower.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        If you can’t identify them, courtesy of Zappone, how do you know which were baptised or not? Not that that should be the argument by the way.

  2. newsjustin

    Response to max

    I’ve brought this topic up before – I would be very surprised if infants born alive at Tuam were not baptised within a day or two of birth or, if they were in danger of immediate death, baptised immediately by someone present. Whatever the drastic failings of the Tuam home, I don’t think, given the thinking and practices at the time, that those in charge of the home would have tolerated unbaptised infants running around. They would have ensured their baptism, even if they did little else for them. Also, in most cases, the infant’s mothers would have expected and/or wanted them baptised. Prospective adoptive parents would also expect them to be baptised.

    My simple point is, suggesting kids at Tuam were not baptised, doesn’t make any sense. They would have been.

    1. paul

      I’d be surprised if they wasted any holy water on things they were discarding. Because to the people who ran that home, these children clearly were ‘things’.

      1. Nigel

        On the contrary they probably took their role as moral and spiritual guardians seriously. Generously sparing a precious drip of blessed water for the ease of the suffering flesh of a sinful mortal not long for this vale of tears would have satisfied that solemn and profound duty to their satisfaction.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Lots of holy water to go around, no shortage of that. But safe drinking water, milk, bread, eggs, veg, meat etc? There may have been rationing due to wars, but The Bon Secours nuns were paid £1.62 (approximately €110) by the state, per child per week, yet children were dying from malnutrition. I’ll bet no Bon Secours nun ever died from malnutrition!

          1. newsjustin

            As I think I’ve explained previously on here, infants dying from malnutrition in the first half of the 20th century was not unknown and not (in Ireland) anything to do with a lack of food. It was to do with infants being unable to feed or digest food.

      2. newsjustin

        I think you’re wrong Paul. Nigel has it right.

        I think in all likelihood, babies were routinely baptised at Tuam (anyone who says otherwise clearly doesn’t know the first thing about Irish religious practice at the time), those who died due to poor practice, the basic healthcare of the time, and communicable disease being rife in closely packed living conditions, were likely given the basic rites of the church at the time and buried in available and cheap/free ground and makeshift tombs, unmarked and undocumented. I suspect, like the procedural baptism and funeral rites they were given, the unmarked and unofficial burial ground was probably consecrated by a compliant priest with the minimum of ceremony.

        That’s what I think happened. Based on what I suspect was the nuns’ hardwired compulsion for the rites of the church and, as they saw it, saving souls (by baptising them and giving them the basic rites of the church). I suspect that this compulsion informed everything they did.

        It’s a pity the nuns didn’t feel compelled to exercise more mercy, gentleness and determination to help those in their care in a more practical, life-affirming way.

        1. paul

          you missed the tone of my comment but I suppose that is easily done with a heavy agenda to lug around.

  3. rotide

    How exactly does Zappone laying out and investigating a couple of different possiblities and warning about actual practical challenges qualify as ‘backfiring spectacularly’?

    Sometimes you might as well be in /r/TheDonald here.

    1. Frilly Keane

      Oh p1ss off

      You’re not even being reasonable now Rottie

      Evidence of a mass grave site has been found

      It doesn’t matter who found it
      Or on who’s land

      Nor does it matter who da’ rhymes with púc is inconvenienced
      • A full forensic investigation must be completed to confirm it a crime has been committed
      • And to identify the remains

      Everything else is just whataboutary
      And you are leading that drive

      If bodies were found anywhere else in Ireland, from the Dublin Mountains t’ the Dunkettle Roundybout an investigation would have commenced on discovery
      But because this is directly linked to the Catholic Church there is Ministerial effin’ about and PRone management

      Ah go ‘way
      Yer nathin’ but a tool
      And a outdated one at that
      Long past your useful life

      Two babies were found in Kerry in the 80s
      And jaysus the guards mangled themselves over it
      We witnessed the torture of a young grieving mother and her family
      The State Had a tribunal that quiet frankly your behaviour here runs pretty close ta’
      For two Babies

      And here we are still being eff ed around about the Tuam Babies investigation

      1. Cian

        “Evidence of a mass grave site has been found”
        This is like saying that if you discovered bodies in a cemetery you should call the Gardaí.

        God, I’m not one to defend the church, but the nuns did their paperwork. The deaths were ‘officially’ recorded, and the bodies were disposed on their land. Each individual wasn’t’ given a separate marked grave, but that wasn’t usual either.

        Up until the 80s (dead) babies were often tucked in with (unrelated) adult’s coffins. So that they were buried in consecrated ground. Today that seems bonkers – but it used to happen.

        1. Frilly Keane

          We know all this
          So why aren’t the Nuns falling over themselves to prove themselves right?

          2 reasons come ta’mind
          • their records are false, inaccurate, unreliable or incomplete; or all 4
          • they want Someone else to pick up the tab, meaning us the Tax payer, and TBF, totally in keeping with their normal practice – scrounging and doing nathin’ for nathin’

          1. Cian

            Because it isn’t the nun’s responsibility to prove anything to anyone. There is a presumption of innocence in law. If there was a crime committed then it is up to the DPP/Garda to provide sufficient evidence.

            But lets have a thought experiment.
            1. A large-scale investigation is instigated;
            2. all the bodies are exhumed, and assembled
            3. the bodies are examined forensically for evidence of any crime (any evidence that points to a crime – smashed skull – would start an investigation)
            4. the bodies are counted.
            .4.a. the count (by approx. age) matches the number of deaths reported by the nuns – what next?
            .4.b. there are fewer bodies than reported by the nuns – so we’re missing bodies either dig up the rest of the grounds looking for them; or the nuns were adding fake-deaths to the register (selling babies?)
            .4.c. there are more bodies than reported by the nuns – so there are extra bodies! This would suggest a crime and then we need to….
            5. identify the bodies; wow – DNA testing for 100 of babies…. that would identify them. could you imagine – the DNA is shared from both mother and father – so we would get an insight into who the daddies were…. perhaps this is why it won’t ever happen

      2. rotide

        What Cian said.

        Also Frilly, you seem to have completely ignored what my actual comment was in your rush to type gibberish.

        Zappone seems to have outlined a few different approaches to sort out the questions you posed. I’m not sure how that could be construed as backfiring.

      1. rotide

        I’m vaguely aware that English might not be your first language, but Denialing isn’t a word babe.

        1. mildred st meadowlark

          I must say rotide, that really lacked your usual dry humour and panache.

          I’m surprised. And even slightly disappointed.

          1. rotide

            I’m tired and disapointed that a place that used to contain alternate schools of thought and interesting debate has slowly and inexoribly turned into a place akin to the worst reaches of tumblr. Everything is ruled by emotion and there seems to be complete lack of awareness of facts and logic. I really don’t see any difference between what happens here daily and the conditions that led to trump and brexit.

          2. mildred st meadowlark

            That may be a fair point.

            There is definitely an element of hysteria that wasn’t around when I first started reading. That and we’ve no Mercille on a Monday (something I truly miss – it was always chaos but in the best way).

            I can see your point. But tumblr is a whole other headache. Insanely opinionated people and wonderful cat videos.

          3. jusayinlike

            poor little rotide, he’s spent the last 4 years daily taunting bodger, and now claims he’s disappointed..

            get lost contrarion, you slavishly parrot any official line fed to you by government or RTE, I’ve never seen you criticise anything the government does, your opinions are biased and irrelevant.

  4. GiggidyGoo

    Zappone not travelling to the Dail for a few months. Have to get up the mileage expenses. Other than that she’s a ball of hot air

  5. toddy

    Listening to Catherine corless on the radio the other day made me ashamed of being Irish
    That even one member of the government would even argue against exhuming these babies and giving them a decent burial
    Zaponne must go along with all opposing putting right the Irish holocaust
    For a start all opposed to this must be named and shamed
    Not only a grave for each but a plaque listing all the nuns who worked in this disgusting hell hole
    Until this is done I prey to god all that are in power and doing nothing are haunted by the ghosts of those little souls

    This was plain evil beyond shame

  6. phil

    Did you see what Joe Little from RTE did there? 1/2’s the number of people at the meeting, and then mentions some terrible legal problems that he didnt bother to investigate… Classic RTE

  7. Ron

    What is our obsession with electing Americans to politics? Did we not all learn our lesson after the first one?

  8. Airey Naïve

    When is justice going to be done and seen to be done for these women and children who suffered and were not even accorded a decent burial.

    Its time the Bon Secours order were stripped of all assets and sued out of existence, taking their private health care and consultants with them.

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