From top: Blanket ceremony in Tuam, County Galway last Saturday; from left Ciaran Tierney, Alison O’Reilly and Anna Corrigan
Last Saturday, Journalist Ciaran Tirerney attended the Remembrance Day at the site of the mass grave at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway.
From Ciaran’s recent blog entry:
Three hundred women all across the globe, including many in North America, were inspired by a Dublin artist to make a blanket of 796 hand-knitted pieces which they presented to the families and survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home on Saturday.
In an emotional ceremony at the site where up to 796 babies and children are believed to have been buried in an unmarked grave,
Dublin artist Barbara O’Meara unveiled the beautiful white blanket – sewn together in four parts to depict the four provinces of Ireland – to the family members after meeting them for the first time.
The unveiling of the beautiful blanket, knitted by hand following a Facebook campaign, coincided with an inaugural Remembrance Day for the Lost Children of Ireland event at the site of the former home.
…At the ceremony, I was also delighted to meet Anna Corrigan of the Tuam Babies Family Group and author Alison O’Reilly.
Alison and Anna worked together to write ‘My Name is Bridget’, the story of Anna’s mother who had been incarcerated in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.
Anna, who grew up in Dublin, only discovered that she had two older brothers after her mother passed away.
Her two brothers are among the 796 missing children and babies.
The book is a harrowing read, but it also really ‘humanises’ the story of the lost children and also looks at some other case histories from homes across Ireland.
Breeda Murphy of the Tuam Home Survivors Network pointed out that the infant mortality rate at the home was five times that of the population outside; and that 126 of the babies died within the first six months of life.
“Death certificates were not signed by a medical practitioner, but rather a domestic at the home, burials were outside the norm, custom or law. Without coffins. Without a word, a prayer or a gesture of sympathy in a land that is renowned for its funeral services where communities seek comfort in the untimely death of a young person,” she said.
She pointed out that 35,000 women and girls went through Ireland’s Mother and Baby Home system between 1904 to 1996.
This was a national issue, she said, as she pointed out that survivors from institutions all across Ireland had travelled to Tuam for the event.