Tag Archives: Sean Ross Abbey

This morning.

The Irish Daily Star (above) revealed the official death toll at Sean Ross Abbey (top) in Roscrea, County Tipperary.

The abbey was a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970 run by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Journalist Alison O’Reilly, who broke the Tuam story, says a total of 1024 children died at the home with 455 deaths listed as ‘heart failure‘ and  a further 128 children dying from severe malnutrition.

Last week, an Aljazeera investigation claimed a sewage system was built on the site where children are buried.

Last week; Evidence Of A Sewage System In The Angel’s Plot


In the second part of his investigation into Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes,  Aljazeera journalist Laurence Lee looked at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, County Tipperary.

The abbey  was a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970 run by Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Laurence says (from @13:25 )

‘In the mid 1980’s Michael Donovan was working as a gardener in Sean Ross Abbey when he was asked by the Nuns to help landscape an overgrown area of scrub.

Michael said:

“ The tractor drove down this way and turned over the sod and I just noticed lots of small bones”.

That area where Michael found the bones is now a carefully tended burial ground known as the Angel’s plot. But that plot is not all it seems.

Nine years ago the nuns admitted 269 babies died in Sean Ross, a number that could plausibly be buried in this plot but it is now clear that over 1,000 babies died here.

So where are they?

This Photograph (above) was taken in 1974 not long after the Nuns closed the Home, but there is no obvious sign of the Angel’s plot which the nuns now claim was a consecrated graveyard where they buried babies in individual coffins.

However, we’ve established that the area above this hedge (green line) which takes up the top third of the claimed angel’s plot actually contains a pit used by the Nuns for the mass burial of unbaptised babies and stillborns.

Toni Maguire, an archaeologist and anthropologist who specialises in the location and excavation of unmarked graves, says:

“They have no death certificates for these infants and those infants are not included in the 1000 plus babies for Sean Ross Abbey.”

With that area unavailable for the thousand burials, it is even clearer that the remaining area cannot be the true extent for the graveyard.

The most probable scenario is that it in reality extends to a faintly visible pathway (above) on the 1974 picture right up to the walled garden (at left).

And that is a cause of deep concern because of something else we discovered.

This plan produced by Tipperary Town Council was submitted to the Commission. A copy has found its way to us.

It describes a sewage pipe installed in the late 90’s which runs from an inspection hatch directly beside the current Angel’s plot to another inspection hatch at the other end and beyond,

But as we have established that plan is wrong in several important respects.

The inspection hatches are actually situated above  (marked in blue) and between them in a project apparently agreed between the Nuns and the council a sewage system has been constructed on land which may well contain child burials.

Our investigation suggests that the system above includes a settlement tank, an overflow pipe here and a sewage outlet pipe cutting through the probable burial grounds and emptying into another tank constructed within the current angel’s plot.

Disturbingly around the same time the sewage system was installed yet more damage was done to the potential burial grounds when they were planted with fast growing conifers.

Toni Maguire says

“what they’ve done they have not planted the trees over the area where the pipes been laid, the roots obviously damaged the pipes and would do exactly the same thing to any burials that may be included in that land as well.”

In early 2019, the Commission ordered a ground penetrating radar survey of the plot followed by test excavations

They still have not said what they found but we can reveal the survey confirmed existence of a tank within the Angel’s plot.’

Part 1 here

Previously~: Sean Ross Abbey on Broadsheet

Thanks Breeda Murphy

Yesterday.

At the children’s burial ground in Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary – which was a mother and baby home run by the Sacred Heart Sisters from 1930 to 1970.

A geophysical survey is carried out on behalf of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

On Tuesday, the MBHCI stated that the survey would take “approximately one day”.

Previously: ‘Geophysical Survey’ Of Burial Ground At Sean Ross Abbey To Begin Tomorrow

Pics: Eric Clarke

Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary

This afternoon.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation has announced it will carry out a “geophysical survey” of a children’s burial ground at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary – which was a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970.

This will begin tomorrow and is expected to take one day.

[According to Mike Millotte’s Banished Babies, 438 babies were secretly exported from Sean Ross Abbey to the US for adoption.]

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone told RTÉ’s News At One that the MBHCI received “new information from a member of the public in relation to the burial grounds” at Sean Ross before Christmas.

She also confirmed that Cabinet has approved a request from the MBHCI for an extension of a year before publishing its final report.

Survivors, family members and supporters of people who lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway first became aware of this request for an extension via a report in The Irish Times on January 9.

The extension means the final report will be published in February 2020.

Ms Zappone also said the commission has said it will publish an interim report on March 15 “on burials for all of the institutions that they are investigating”.

On News At One, journalist Aine Lawlor asked Ms Zappone about the exclusion of survivors of Bethany Home from the State redress scheme.

Ms Lawlor put to Ms Zappone that any delay in including the Bethany Home survivors “compounds the injustice being done to elderly people at this state, time is not on their side”.

Ms Zappone said:

“Yes, I deeply appreciate those views that are being expressed. I am aware of that. May I say that, in relation to the Bethany Home, of course, I think many are aware, there was a decision made not to extend the original redress scheme to them, subsequent to the Ryan Report.

“That decision is being reviewed by a number of, on a number of occasions, by a previous Governments. My own Government looked at it again and ultimately decided that we needed to wait in order to have the final reports from the Mother and Baby Home Commission.”

Ms Lawlor put it to Ms Zappone that the survivors of Bethany Homes “don’t have a year to play with”.

Ms Zappone said:

“Again, I’m fully aware of that Aine, because I have met many of these people. I aware of the recommendation of the commission. At the same time, they have not provided us with a report in terms of findings of, final findings of abuse or neglect.

“And so we decided that it was not appropriate to deal with redress…but on the basis of that decision, I did move forward and establish a collaborative forum of representative stakeholders across all of the mother and baby homes to see what kind of supports maybe we could provide to former residents in relation, while we are waiting for the final findings of the commission.”

Meanwhile…

Ms Zappone has delivered a fourth interim report from the commission to Cabinet today and it states that the commission’s confidential committee has met with 519 former residents or other people connected to the institutions under investigation.

Meetings were not only held across Ireland but also in Birmingham, Manchester and London, while 26 people are still waiting to be heard – including residents in the US who will speak to the committee via Skype.

The commission is also arranging to have affidavits sworn in some cases.

The fourth report also states that “considerable work remains to be done to cross reference” the information the commission has regarding registers of entry, exit, birth and death.

The report notes that the commission has received “extensive material” from the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs but the commission “only recently received the bulk of this material and further material is in the process of being provided”.

It also states that the commission is “painstakingly analysing” more than 100,000 pages it has received in discovery from the two departments and cross referencing them with records maintained in the institutions.

The first tranche of discovery consisted over more than 12,000 pages in March 2017; more than 54,000 pages in March 2018; 36,000 pages in June 2018, while the commission learned in November 2018 that 277 more relevant files – likely to run to “many thousands of pages” – are also available.

The report also says the commission is “dismayed” by the documentation it has received from the HSE.

It states:

“The Commission acknowledges the efforts made by the HSE staff to find relevant documentation but it is dismayed that so little has been found. It is clear that the HSE does not have any system, much less a proper system, of storing and archiving material.”

It adds:

“It is difficult to understand how relatively recent documentation is not available. For example, the North Western Health Board, and subsequently the HSE, was intensively involved in the running of one of the institutions under investigation – The Castle, Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal. This opened in 1984 and closed in 2006. The HSE has been unable to provide any documentation on its involvement with this institution.”

Listen back to Ms Zappone on RTE Radio One in full here

Thanks Breeda

From top: Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, County Tipperary; Catherine Sheehy (right) with Kevin whom she named William; Kevin Battle today in Portland, Maine, USA

Kevin Battle was a baby when church officials raided his family home in Ireland and plucked him from the arms of his mother, an unmarried 24-year-old who had run away from the convent where she and hundreds of other Irish girls were sent to give birth to secret children.

After raising the boy she named William for more than a year, his mother [Catherine Sheehy] couldn’t bear to give him up, so she grabbed her chubby-cheeked boy and escaped home to her family in County Limerick.

But the nuns had plans for the boy, so they tracked down the mother and child and forcefully reclaimed him.

Within weeks of seizing the baby, the Catholic Church sold him to an Irish couple in New York grieving the death of their own infant.

The price? A $1,000 donation to the church. Records show that the convent, Sean Ross Abbey, secretly exported 438 children like Battle to America.

Yet Battle, a retired South Portland police officer who works as a harbor master and state legislator, grew up knowing none of this.

He’d always known he was adopted. He’d searched for his mother, following the paper trail to Ireland in 1978, but the nuns there told him she was dead…[more at link below]

Maine man learns truth of his past: Nuns stole him as a baby from his mother in Ireland (Penelope Overton, The Portland Press Herald)

Previously: ‘They Wouldn’t Have Been Believed’

Pics via Portland Press Herald

Thanks realPolithicks

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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)

This morning.

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

Names of dead infants at Bessborough and Roscrea were given to the HSE in 2011 (Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner)

Pics: Mark Stedman/Photocall and Adoption Rights Alliance