Tag Archives: Tuam Mother and Baby Home

Tuam, County Galway.

Al Jazeera reporter Laurence Lee talks to Tuam survivors and supporters who are threatening to take the government to court over its ongoing failure to exhume the bodies of hundreds of children – as many as 796 – five years after the existence of a burial pit under the former Mother and Baby home in the town was revealed.

Last week: Misleading Survivors And The Dáil

Thanks Kevin Higgins

At the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway; Dr Geoffrey Shannon’s report on the collection of DNA from the survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home; Dr Shannon

More as we get it.

Zappone to seek Cabinet approval to publish Tuam DNA report (RTE)

Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance and Rollingnews


From his report:

“There is no doubt that in the longer term, it is preferable that the process of collecting and matching DNA samples at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home should be underpinned by a robust statutory mechanism or framework.

“The question of whether the creation of an interim administrative scheme is legally possible is a question of constitutional law: does the executive branch enjoy the power to establish a scheme of this nature?

“The Constitution is silent as to the extent of the executive power. The Executive has been held to have certain inherent powers, some of which are possibly derived from royal prerogative powers.

“For present purposes, the most relevant example of inherent executive power is that the superior courts have recognised that the Executive enjoys an inherent power to establish ex-gratia non-statutory schemes to implement desired policy objectives.

In the case of C.A. and T.A. (a minor) v. Minister for Justice and Equality, Minister for Social Protection, the Attorney General and Ireland, the High Court considered a claim that the system of ‘direct provision’ was unlawful in the absence of enabling legislation.

“In part, it was argued that the establishment of the scheme usurped the power of the Legislature. The State argued that the direct provision scheme was a lawful use of inherent executive power under the Constitution, and in the course of legal argument pointed to a variety of other administrative schemes that existed in diverse fields.

In finding that the establishment of the direct provision scheme was a lawful exercise of executive power, Mac Eochaidh J. made the following helpful comments:

The Constitution does not require that the legislature must establish principles and policies in order for the Government to exercise its executive powers. The Government may exercise executive powers independently of the legislature. In exercising its constitutional executive powers, the Government may not trespass upon the exclusive law making function of the legislature. If the Government establishes a scheme in pursuit of a policy which contains rules and conditions, though the rules may be regarded as a form of ‘laws’, this would not involve the executive usurping the law making function of the legislature within the meaning of Article 15 of the Constitution.

“He further commented that “The mere fact that ‘direct provision’ could have been placed on a legislative footing does not mean that this must happen.”

Mac Eochaidh J. further observed that there were many executive schemes that operated with no statutory basis, and that the legitimacy of these had never been called into question.

“These included the system of primary school education, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. He also noted that the Irish Born Child Scheme had been approved by the Supreme Court in Bode v. Minister for Justice16 as a valid use of inherent executive power.

“The case-law on the executive power, scant though it is, strongly supports the existence of an inherent executive power to establish administrative schemes to achieve a policy end.

“Importantly, it should be noted that some emphasis has been laid on the fact that such schemes are usually ex gratia schemes which confer a benefit on given individuals, rather than make determinations as to the legal rights of individuals.

“In the relevant sense, this would appear to apply to the proposed administrative scheme in the Tuam context.

“This scheme would not make any determination as to the rights and duties of individuals. It would, in a sense confer on them a benefit, i.e. inclusion in the DNA matching scheme.

“Most crucially, the scheme would be entirely voluntary in nature, and also designed to exist only on a short-term or interim basis.

“It seems therefore that an administrative scheme of this nature would likely be constitutionally permissible.”

Dr Shannon’s 98-page report can be read in full here

Possible to collect Tuam DNA samples before legislation – report (RTE)


Breeda Murphy, PRO of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance, said:

“We are particularly pleased to see that Dr. Shannon proposes the opportunity to take DNA samples in a timely fashion via a voluntary administrative scheme. Such biological samples from relatives would then be stored securely until legislation is in place. This is essentially what our members, namely Sana Tansey and Emer Quirke proposed and which Taoiseach Varadkar admitted was a reasonable request.

It is comforting to note that no DNA profiles can be constructed arising out of the samples until legislation is in place and we are assured it is possible to generate DNA from the remains of the lost children. The DNA is being collected for that sole purpose.

The safe storage of DNA is paramount and we are provided with an assurance it will not be available or used for any purpose other than matching. If the possibility is not there to match for any reason, then the DNA will be destroyed. It is valuable data and must be treated as such.

Advises we have received suggest the possibilities of advancing technologies providing new opportunities all the time; only a couple of months ago another victim of 9/11 was identified some eighteen years later.

DNA collection being voluntary, open to the individuals concerned who will provide informed consent. Ownership rights and compliance with GDPR legislation underpin the process – with ownership of their own DNA as recommended by Dr. Shannon remaining the property of the participant who has the authority to withdraw consent and therefore from the process at any stage.

This is a most welcome suggestion. Further the opportunity for the participant to nominate a person in the event that they pass away prior to completion of the process ensures the opportunity for matching continues for a period.

The Minister on speaking to us yesterday mentioned that she would request her Department officials to put in place a voluntary administrative programme.

Our Alliance with two experts working in the field who initially proposed this model hope to contribute in an advisory capacity as we suggested this to the Minister. Also advised and welcome is the recommendation to communicate throughout the process with those most affected.

Finally, we are grateful to Dr. Shannon for this report, which looks favourably on our request to begin the process of banking DNA from concerned family members and survivors without the necessity of awaiting a lengthy legislation process and thank him for the person-centered approach he has undertaken, advocating for those who are the most vulnerable.”


Tuam, County Galway.

Survivors, family members and supporters remember the 796 Tuam Babies whose remains at the site of a former Mother and Baby home  have still to be exhumed.

[Historian] Catherine Corless said the exact location of the buried children was known since the publication of the Fifth Interim Report of the Commission of Mother and Baby Homes in April, and that campaigners had mapped out the burial chambers before the ceremony.

Anyone that walks in here today cannot but be moved by the love and the care that was put into these exhibitions here. People care so much about the babies who were put into the sewage tank, and if only the Government and the Church could show a bit of care, just as the people have here today.

Tuam mother and baby home protest calls for site to be fully exhumed (Irish Times)

From top: Anne Rabbitte; Katherine Zappone and Sr Marie Ryan; Ciaran Tierney

Why bother writing about the struggle for justice of those who were treated so appallingly by the Irish State?

Why not move on?

Why bother going to events organised by the families and survivors of the “Tuam Babies” when many media outlets don’t bother?

Why spend an hour or two with them on a Sunday afternoon when a news editor shrugs and proclaims, “Arragh, sure, didn’t we cover that event last year?”

(Even though they didn’t – as you can remember how few journalists there were among the small number of people who congregated in that lonely graveyard 12 months ago).

One of the most striking aspects of the scandal of the 796 ‘Tuam Babies’ is the widespread belief among survivors and family members that “official Ireland” has no interest in granting them the truth and justice they crave.

And the story of Tuam is replicated for the survivors and children of those who were incarcerated in dozens of other institutions all across the island of Ireland.

In Tuam, business people express regret that the scandal unearthed by local historian Catherine Corless has damaged the image or reputation of the town.

They have made it known to her, via third parties, that they wish she would have left well enough alone.

It’s not good for business, you see, to be the subject of scandalous headlines from San Francisco to Sydney when the economy is in “recovery” and there’s money to be made.

People whisper to Catherine on the street when they talk about “the home”, and she can sense shame, fear, or guilt in their voices when they approach her to applaud her for the research which has made headlines across the globe.

Only for her determination, the story might never have been known.

When it comes to the victims, though, the perception in some quarters is that these people are getting old now and it’s time to move on.

Forget about the fact that the mortality rate in the Tuam Home – where up to 796 babies may or may not be buried in a cesspit – was five times that of the general Irish population or that 126 of the 796 babies died within the first six months of life.

Forget about the fact that 35,000 women and girls were locked up in Mother and Baby Homes between 1904 and 1996 – hardly ancient history – and that those who are still living have never received a proper apology for how they were imprisoned for their “crimes”.

Or that some of them were asked to produce time sheets for the hours they worked in laundries where they were imprisoned and forced to work as slaves, with the collusion of the state, by cruel and judgemental nuns.

Forget about the fact that some older people still know what went on in these institutions, but are too afraid or too ashamed to come forward.

Or that a local councillor in Tuam, Cllr Donagh Killilea, has berated the current Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone TD, for daring to suggest that people with some memory of what happened should come forward with information, even at this late stage.

He’s offended by the idea that anyone in the town might still know why these bodies were discarded or disposed of in such a heartless fashion.

Forget about the fact that the Bon Secours nuns, in their infinite wisdom, hired a prominent PR person and paid her handsomely when the scandal of the “Tuam Babies” first broke in the Irish media.

“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,” wrote Terry Prone, still the Goddess in Chief of “communications” for “official Ireland”.

And still she coaches or grooms our richest and most powerful politicians in terms of how to deal with our media.

And still she hasn’t apologised to the families for the hurt she has caused.

Forget about the fact that the Bon Secours nuns run private hospitals for a handsome profit and have never dealt directly with the families of their victims.

Forget that the pain of the survivors was compounded by a Fianna Fail TD, Anne Rabbitte, when she stated that the estimated €13 million cost of excavating the site of the “Tuam Babies” home could not be justified when it could be spent on the children of today.

It’s a wilful waste of public money that could be spent on the children of today,” Deputy Rabbitte told The Sunday Business Post last weekend.

The FF spokesperson on children, who is running for the European Parliament this month, seemed to have little concept of the anger these remarks would ignite among survivors and family members who are finding it so hard to obtain the truth from “official Ireland”.

For them, the story of the “Tuam Babies” is very much alive.

Bad enough to discover only in your 70s that you had a brother or sister you never heard about, only to find it next to impossible to find out what happened to them.

Forget about the fact that Ms Rabbitte’s party, Fianna Fail, was in power for most of the lifespan of the Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries, when a harsh and judgmental Irish State asked religious orders to imprison and enslave thousands of Ireland’s most vulnerable women.

Let’s just forget that these poor women were locked up with the full knowledge of both the Irish State and their own families.

Or that the fathers of these children could get on with their lives while the mothers spent decades washing the dirty laundry of the elite of Irish society.

Peter Mulryan, Chairman of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, contrasts the reverence of the Bon Secours nuns for their own members, removing their bodies from the Grove private hospital before being re-interred with dignity, with how callously the bodies of up to 796 babies and children were discarded at the home.

They sold the building for €4.1 million in 2001 but, as so many survivors have discovered, religious institutions in Ireland have no interest in compensating victims and their families for the terrible times they put them through.

Mr Mulryan claims the “full horror” of what happened in Tuam has yet to be exposed.

Forget about the fact that survivors and family members, including Peter and Dublin woman Anna Corrigan, have no idea what happened to their siblings.

They still believe, rightly or wrongly, that their brothers and sisters could have been adopted (illegally) by families in the United States and cannot be persuaded otherwise until they have some proof of what happened to these children and babies.

Criminal acts were carried out to their family members and now they feel that there can be no closure to this terrible story until the full truth of what happened to the “Tuam Babies” is revealed to the world.

If the families believe that this can only be achieved through a full Inquest, isn’t it time “official Ireland” gives them the truth and the justice they have been calling out for?

Otherwise, we are compounding a terrible injustice and we are still betraying the dead children of Tuam (and their mothers and surviving family members) in the much more “enlightened” Ireland of 2019.

Compounding the injustice of Tuam (Ciaran Tierney)

The former Mother and baby Home in Tuam, County Galway; Map showing full extent of burial ground by Galway County Council in 1970

The publication this morning of a report into burial arrangements at Mother and baby homes was compiled by a commission of investigation formed after historian Catherine Corless’ revelations at the site of the former Mother and baby Home in Tuam (above).

Concerning Tuam, the commission writes:

Two structures were discovered. The location of the first structure discovered corresponds with the location of what is described as the “Sewage Tank” on the older Ordnance Survey and title maps.

This structure had at some point been deliberately filled with a large deposit of stones, almost to the upper edges…

The second structure discovered proved to be of greater significance. It is a long structure built within the boundaries of the old sewage tank.

It is divided into 20 chambers. Initially, a structure with two lids was discovered. One of the lids was completely intact and the other was partly broken.

These lids were carefully removed and were found to have covered a chamber with a small division between two sections of the chamber.

Human skeletal remains were immediately visible. Further excavations revealed more lids and, when they were removed, more human skeletal remains were found in the chambers underneath.

Samples of the remains were retrieved from within the chambers using customised telescopic equipment from the surface openings.

The Commission did not consider physically entering the individual chambers because the size of the surface access points was very confined, there was a danger that any attempt at physical entry would have compromised the many skeletal remains and entry was, in any event, not considered to be safe.

An archaeologist on the team appointed by the Commission considers that the logical intended use of the first structure discovered (described in the reports as “cesspool” or “sewage tank”) was to receive sewage from the culverts and pipes found coming from the direction of the former Home.

…Without a full excavation it is not possible to conclusively say what was the exact engineering purpose of the structures but the Commission considers that it is very likely that it was sewerage related. This view is corroborated by some of the scientific testing carried out at the request of the Commission and described below.

‘The Commission has established that a total of 973 children from the Children’s Home died either in Glenamaddy [nearby workhouse] in the Tuam Home itself or in a hospital or institution soon after they were transferred there from Tuam.

Of these, 79 children died in Glenamaddy. The Glenamaddy workhouse had its own burial ground so it is likely that the children who died there are buried in that burial ground. However, there is no burial register available for the period in question so this cannot be verified.

The vast majority, 802, died in the Tuam Home itself.

This number includes a significant number of “legitimate” children who are within the Commission’s Terms of Reference because they were not accompanied by a parent and a small number of “legitimate” children who are outside the Commission’s Terms of Reference because they were accompanied by a parent. (The children who were accompanied by a parent are less likely to be buried in the Tuam burial ground and are more likely to have been buried by their parents.)

The details of the deaths of the children were established by the Commission from the records compiled in the Home and from a list provided by the General Register Office (GRO) and already in the public domain.

There are six children whose deaths are recorded in the records compiled within the Home and who are not on the GRO list. The Commission has been unable to find any mention in the Tuam Home records of six children who are included in the GRO list.

When analysing the records, the Commission noted that a significant number of children who were resident in the Tuam Children’s Home were transferred to the Central Hospital, Galway when they became seriously ill.

The Commission checked the Register of Deaths and found that 86 children who had been transferred there died soon after the transfer.

Six other children died soon after leaving the Tuam Home: two children died in the County Home, Castlebar; one died in Crumlin Children’s Hospital; one in St Bridgid’s Industrial School for Girls, Loughrea; one in Clifden District Hospital and one died at home.

The old Galway workhouse became the Galway Central Hospital in the period 1922 – 1924. It was subsequently rebuilt and renamed the Regional Hospital. It is now the Galway University Hospital.

The Commission has found burial records for 50 of the children who died in the Central Hospital, Galway – they are recorded as being buried in Bohermore Cemetery.

Twelve mothers who were resident in the Tuam Home died, the majority from complications of childbirth; some died in the Home itself and some in the Central Hospital, Galway. It is not known who took responsibility for the burial of these mothers.

If the Central Hospital took responsibility for the burials it would be expected that they would be recorded in Bohermore cemetery but the Commission did not find any record of these burials there.’

More as we get it.

Earlier: Mother And Baby And Burials

 RTÉ TV Graphics Department model of the Mother and baby Home in Tuam with sewage tank marked


A Prime Time special by journalist Mark Coughlan on the mass grave at the former Tuam Mother and baby Home.


The bodies of babies from the Tuam institution have lain beneath the ground in what is now a suburban housing development since some time before 1961, when the Mother and Baby Home closed. They are in what has been officially termed a “substructure” in the corner of what is now a playground at the back of the estate.

A Commission of Investigation is looking into why they are buried there and what exactly is this ‘substructure’. But its deadline was recently pushed back by a further year. It is the second such extension. With no clear end in sight, Prime Time has been trying to find out what is known so far about what happened in Tuam.

Prime Time  on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.

Previously: Tuam And DNA


This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks about yesterday’s announcement by the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone that there will be an exhumation and forensic examination of the remains found at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.



Fianna Fail TD Anne Rabbitte also asked Mr Varadkar about the necessary legislation.

They had this exchange:

Anne Rabbitte: “With the announcement yesterday about the mother and baby home with the site in Tuam, it is understood, what you said was bespoke legislation would be required. Now is that amending some of the legislation or is that drafting new legislation?”

“And do you foresee that in the first quarter of next year, fast-tracking that legislation so as it can run in tandem with, sort of, outsourcing the work that needs doing? And also have the legislation running parallel so as that the people who are at the centre of all these, because they’re ageing, so as they don’t have to wait much longer for results. Thank you.”

Leo Varadkar: “It will be new primary legislation which may of course amend some existing legislation. What we want to avoid, of course, for the reasons that the deputy says, we want to avoid a situation where nothing happens until the legislation is passed. So the things that can be done without legislation, we’ll try and do. What requires legislation will obviously have to wait.

“Unfortunately fast-tracking any legislation in the world of new politics is difficult. A lot of legislation is being held up because we don’t have a majority Government. But that is the will of the people.”

Yesterday: Exhumation But No Inquests

This afternoon.

There will be an exhumation and a forensic examination of remains at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway but no inquests to discover the causes of death.

Actions to be taken will include:

A phased approach to the forensic excavation and recovery of the juvenile human remains in so far as this is possible;

The use of systematic on-site ground-truthing and test excavations to effectively locate potential burials;

The forensic analysis of any recovered remains and, where possible, individualisation and identification, and arrangements for respectful reburial and memorialisation and the appropriate conservation of the site.

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD

The Tuam Babies’ Family Group said:

‘This is an exceptionally important decision and will pave the way for all the other mother and baby homes, and the lost children of Ireland.

We want all of the children found, if they are not in the grave, where are they? All of the children must be found and we would like to see a full excavation of the entire site as we believe there are many graves in the area, not just at the site we have all come to know.”

Kevin Higgins, a legal advisor to the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, said:

“The set piece orchestrated today by Katherine Zappone announcing an excavation of the Tuam grave is possibly one of the most cynical and callous acts ever carried out by an Irish Government.

Having maintained for almost two years that Government would make the ‘final decision’ on the Tuam grave -she has repeatedly rebuffed the plain truth that Government did not have the power to make that decision.

Last evening [Monday] Leo Varadkar was asked several times by a representative of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network – what powers Government had to make such a decision and whether they had advice from the Attorney General, that they had such power.

In response he filibusterd and failed to give a direct answer.

Today in her Statement, Minister Zappone explicity acknowledges that it will require new legilsation to allow the Government excavate the site.

For two years the Coroner for North Galway has sat on his hands and declined to convene an inquest into the deaths of 800 children who have no known burial place except a cess-pit.

Two successive Attorneys General have declined to appoint another Coroner on foot of his failure to carry out his statutory duty to convene an Inquest.

Today the Government announces its intention to introduce legislation, effectively giving it the power to by-pass the law in respect of Inquests.

The only purpose of an Inquest is to determine the cause of death.

Neither Government or the Bon Secours Order are disposed to public knowledge of how those children died.

Denied any justice in life, Government now proposes to deny them any justice in death.

What is proposed is an excavation, reburial and as a gesture an attempt at identification for the benefit of survivor families.

A ‘dignified reburial’ means giving the residents of the Dublin Road Estate in Tuam, back the full run of their playground.

There will be no blame, no liability, no accountability, no vindication for the Tuam babies.

In tandem with today’s announcement, the biggest global owners of private hospitals, the Bon Secors nuns, have offered a ‘voluntary contribution’ of €2.5 million towards the cost of excavation.

They must consider it very good value.”

Tuam Home Survivors Network


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly

This afternoon.

In the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.

When posing a question to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about a change in the application process for women who formerly worked in Magdalene laundries seeking compensation and Caranua, Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly referred to the pending decision of the Government on the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site.

She said:

“I sincerely hope that your decision will be for a full excavation, a full exhumation of the site with a view to maximum information being available.”

In regards to Tuam, Mr Varadkar said:

“In relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Minister [Katherine] Zappone will make a statement about that at 3pm and I think it’s fair to say that she’s put an enormous amount of work into studying this matter over the last two years.

“The Cabinet accepted her recommendations today and I’d like to give her the opportunity to outline them in detail at 3pm when she’s able to do so.”

Related: Magdalene laundries victims fear officials want to limit compensation (Ellen Coyne, Times Ireland edition)

Earlier: ‘The Taoiseach Reflected The Need To Respond Now With Action, Rather Than Words’

Yesterday: ‘The Only Acceptable Outcome Is The Immediate Convening Of An Inquest Into The Deaths Of All The Children’



Dublin city centre.

Marchers carrying white boxes repersenting the children who died in the Tuam Mother and baby Home during a silent ‘funeral’ procession from the Garden of Remembrance to the GPO, organised by the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network.

Saturday: Following Peter

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Thanks Kevin and Breeda

This afternoon.

At the silent #WalkWithPeter march from the Garden of Remembrance to the civic plaza on O’Connell Street opposite the GPO.

From top – Peter Mulryan (pic 1 and pic 3); Sheila O’Byrne, who spent time in the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road in Dublin (pic 4); Matilda Kelly, aged 9 ,from Ballinasloe, Co Galway (pic 5) and the boxes carried during the procession laid out outside the GPO (above).

After the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network members and their supporters arrived at the civic plaza, a number of speakers spoke – including Kevin Higgins, who assists the network, Peter Mulryan, and Peter’s daughter Trina Mulryan.

Mr Higgins said the group doesn’t want “any more tea and biscuits” or any more “obfuscation” in relation to identifying the remains found in Tuam.

He said:

“[The Government] has set its face against a full-scale, forensic examination of all of the remains. It has set it’s face against an inquest into the cause of death of each individual child and the reason for that is simple.

“It’s not actually money. They simply do not want the truth to emerge because from those bones will emerge, from those remains, the evidence, even now, of maltreatment, neglect and, in some cases, worse.”

He said it would take a “war of attrition” for the State to carry out inquests into the death of each child buried in Tuam and he called on anyone who hasn’t supported the network’s campaign to consider doing so now.

Peter Mulryan told those present that the network will not stop campaigning until the final child’s remains are taken out of the ground at the Tuam site and identified via DNA analysis.

He finished his address to the crowd, saying: “Give them back to us. Now.”

He said:

More than six years ago, in 2012, Catherine Corless published some research on the ‘Home’ and in spring 2014, four years ago – gave details to Alison O’Reilly of the Daily Mail [Irish Mail on Sunday].

They carried the story on the front page and the world began to ask ‘how could this happen in a staunchly Catholic country at a Home run by Catholic nuns while in receipt of State funds with the oversight of the local authority.

Those of us who are survivors and families – and connected to the ‘Home’ remember where we were when that news broke. We did not know then that it would take more than four years to have the site preserved as a crime scene.

In March of 2017, it was confirmed by Minister Zappone that the tiny human remains discovered dated from the time of the ‘Home’ 1925 to 1961. In other words, the children’s remains like us, were ‘Home Babies’.

Again, we waited patiently for some 18 months for the site to be declared a crime scene – with the appropriate Department of Justice in charge of full and total excavation and recovery of the remains that may include my own sister, Marian Bridget. To date that has not happened.

The children never had a funeral. They were the lost, forgotten babies and children of Tuam until 2014.

The infant mortality rate was five times than that of the population outside. One hundred and twenty six died within the first month 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.

Compared to other Mother and Baby Homes, the death rate of babies at the Tuam home was almost double at a time. Some died within the first moments of birth.

Among the eldest record is that of Kathleen Cloran who was nine and a half years when she died in 1932. On one day, April 30th 1926, four deaths were recorded of measles outbreak which took 25 children from age two months to eight years.

Tuam Home was a workhouse for the poor and then it became a Mother and Baby Home. After having her second child, ten years after my birth, my mother Delia, was taken to the Magdalene Laundry. She never got out alive. She too is buried in a mass grave.

Women with child outside marriage were outcasts, their children, like me, regarded as ‘the children of sin’. With no one to speak for any of us, no words of comfort for children as they lay dying, today we walk in respect and reverence to give the children and the six missing mothers, the funeral they never had.

We demand truth, we demand justice and we demand that our Government change the way they have operated.

We do not know where the fragments of remains that were taken from the chamber are now stored, those belong to our families.

It is not good enough that for 18 months we do not know where they are. It is not good enough that the Taoiseach Varadkar delays a meeting with us – and that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny despite living nearby, never visited the site.

It is not good enough that the Coroner has not replied to us and that the Attorney General continues to ignore our requests to do their job.

We thank those who walk with us today. We are united in a shared grief. We are united in one voice, all survivors of Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland, all family members attached to other groups. We walk for our siblings, for our aunt or uncle, for our cousins, for our family.

We walk for our communities. And we walk in a funeral procession to show Government that if they do not act according to the law of the land, according to human rights protocols that we will continue until the last remaining child in the ground at Tuam is taken out of there.

All 796 children are equal – they are Irish citizens. It is past time that we change the record. Our babies, our children, our families. Give them back to us. Now.

Peter’s daughter Trina said:

My name is Trina Mulryan.

My father is Peter Mulryan who, like many others here today, started the first years of his life treated worse than an animal in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Also like many other survivors of the home, he was then fostered out to an even worse place where he spent his childhood and teenage years.

My Grandmother is Bridget Mulryan who had her child, my father, taken from her while in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and who was incarcerated 10 years later after becoming pregnant again.

Her second pregnancy out of wedlock was such a “crime” that she was incarcerated for the 35 remaining years of her life in a Magdalen Laundry in Galway City to work as a slave in the horrible conditions we are all too well aware of.

Bridget’s second child, my Aunt Marian Bridget, supposedly died 10 months after birth while in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Her death cert was signed by another incarcerated mother who was used by the nuns to sign such documents.

The death was not certified by a doctor. The nuns not wanting their signature on the documents makes it very possible the documents were falsified so that the nuns could sell the babies which is human trafficking. We know this happened elsewhere at the time.

My Aunt Marian Bridget is suspected, according to Catherine Corless’s research, to be currently lying in a sewage tank in Tuam. We do not, however, know this for sure. Because of the strong possibility she was trafficked out of the country, sold by the nuns, – she may very well be alive today.

We, as a nation, rightfully still search for Northern Ireland’s disappeared who went missing not long after the time of the last Tuam baby was dumped in the sewage tank but it has nearly been five years since the story of the Tuam Babies broke in the national and international news and the local coroner has still not sealed the site for investigation.

The Attorney General has also not assigned a different coroner to investigate the site due to the local Coroner’s failure to act. Instead the Tuam Babies “issue” was given to Katherine Zappone to deal with despite her office not having the legal powers to direct a full investigation of the site. You can probably see why the families of the Tuam Babies might see this as a delaying tactic.

My father is now 74 years old. He has been through cancer in the last few years. He wants to know what happened to his sister before he dies. There are also others here today who also need to know about their family members.

My father has been forced to go to the High Court many times and has spent thousands of euro in legal fees to try and get information from the Statutory Agency Tusla. After many journeys from Ballinasloe to the High Court over a number of years, an agreement was registered with the High Court whereby Tusla would provide the records they have on his sister before October 2017.

Tusla did not uphold their side of the agreement and gave neither records nor assistance. My father has to now go back to the grueling process of the legal system because Tusla, the Statutory Agency, lied. What way is this to treat an elderly man just trying to find out what happened to his sister? Has his life not been hard enough as it is?

We welcomed Leo Vardkar’s speech to the Pope where he spoke of the importance of actions instead of words in relation to the wrongs of the state and the church in our dark history.

Unfortunately though, my father has only had words from the State in relation to his sister.

Katherine Zappone told us in Tuam a few months ago of the legal difficulties she has to overcome to do a full forensic excavation and DNA testing of the Tuam Babies but the law is already in place to do this its just she does not have the legal power to direct it to happen.

I ask the government to take action now and direct the Attorney General (through the Minister for Justice if necessary) to appoint a coroner to investigate the site fully as such a coroner already has the legal power to investigate the site.

I understand of course maybe the government just want to delay this the same way as the Catholic Church have delayed and continues to delay using the tactic of “words” without any action but I hope this is not the case.


Peter Mulryan, of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network (third right), at a march through Tuam, Co Galway during the papal visit


At 2pm.

At the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Members and supporters of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network will gather to remember the 796 children who resided in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

The State issued 796 death certificates for these children but burial records exist only for two, while there are also no burial records for six single mothers who are recorded as having died at the home.

The network, led by survivor Peter Mulryan, will hold a bagpiper-led funeral cortege to honour the children and mothers who were never accorded the same – and they ask that anyone who wishes to take part bring a white shoe box with them to represent a small coffin.

The network originally notified An Garda Siochana, in writing on Tuesday, that they planned to walk from the Garden of Remembrance, down to O’Connell, Street, over O’Connell Bridge, down D’Olier Street, around College Green, up Nassau Street and up Kildare Street to Leinster House.

However, a garda from Store Street Garda Station told the network on Thursday that they could not walk this route.

Instead the network was offered an alternative route which would see the group turn left up Eden Quay – at the top of O’Connell Street – down Custom House Quay before eventually going up Westland Row and ending up at Merrion Square.

However, this route adds about two miles onto the march and those taking part – many in their 70s – would find this difficult.

Kevin Higgins, who assists the network, contacted Department of Justice on Thursday and pointed out the age and infirmity of some of the survivors of the Tuam home and suggested that a short period of traffic management by An Garda Siochana would allow the survivors and their supporters to take the shorter, desired route.

Mr Higgins also pointed out to the Department of Justice that it is responsible for the coroners’ service but that neither the local coroner in Tuam, Galway, or the Attorney General has convened an inquest into the death of a single child at the Tuam home.

He also reminded the department that Dublin city centre was effectively closed down to accommodate Pope Francis in August.

Mr Higgins was told by the department, on Thursday, that the matter would be referred to the appropriate Garda Division and that the department would revert to him.

And then…

At close of business yesterday, at 5pm, Mr Higgins received an email from the Department of Justice saying it had nothing to do with the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and he could not interfere.

As a result, the network has decided to walk from the Garden of Remembrance to the civic plaza in front of the GPO on O’Connell Street where a number of speakers will address supporters.

Funeral Cortege For The Children Of Tuam (Tuam Home Survivors Network)

Previously: Walk With Peter

Our Worst Fears


Pics: Rollingnews and Tuam Home Survivors’ Network