Ireland mass graves: Nuns have no records from former home for unmarried mothers

The Sisters of Bon Secours said they were deeply saddened by reports of the burial of almost 800 infants

Nuns in charge of an institute for single mothers where hundreds of babies were buried in a septic tank have said they no longer hold records from the home.

The Mother and Baby Home in Tuam was one of 10 similar homes across Ireland believed to hold the remains of another 3,200 babies and infants.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has called for the religious orders which ran these institutes to release full details of all the people they took in.

But the Sisters of Bon Secours, which operated the institute in Tuam, Co Galway, said it handed its records to the state after it closed.

They added in a statement that they were shocked and deeply saddened by reports of the burial of 798 dead infants from 1925 to 1961.

“In 1961 the home was closed. All records were returned to the local authority, and would now be within the Health Service Executive, Co Galway,” the order said.

The nuns said they are committed to engaging with Catherine Corless, the historian who identified the extent of the burials, and the Tuam graveyard committee, which is seeking a permanent memorial at the site.

The order also said it welcomes the Government review of records of what happened in Tuam.

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway
Amid growing national and international disgust at the details from the town, the Archbishop said the practice of the mass burials was sickening.

“The Gospel message is that authentic faith is measured by how we treat children who represent Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Every effort should be made, by all parties who were involved in setting up, running and overseeing these homes, to ensure the mothers and children who were sent there have an accurate account as possible of their own life stories.”

All that remains of the site in the town is a grassy area on the edge of a housing estate near where the home stood and where the concrete septic tank is understood to lie.

Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan said the alleged practice in Tuam is almost almost too graphic and horrible to believe.

“It is fully recognised by me and my Government colleagues that we need to establish the truth,” he said.

The Government review of mother and baby homes will not be restricted to Tuam and includes officials in departments of children, justice, health, education and environment.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that the most appropriate action is taken to ensure that the concerns in regards to these deeply tragic and disturbing past events can be addressed,” Mr Flanagan said.

The minister also said mother and baby homes were not unique to Ireland, nor was the manner in which the country dealt with its most vulnerable citizens entirely unique.

He said the practice in the 20th century reflects a brutally, unforgiving response by society, religious and state institutions and, in many cases, families to young women and children when they were in most need and most vulnerable.

Other mother and baby homes with little angel's plots include three run by the Sacred Heart Sisters at Sean Ross Abbey, Tipperary - where the story of Philomena Lee began - Bessborough, Co Cork, and Castlepollard, Co Westmeath.

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary
The records of the deaths - even if the birth had not been registered - were kept in ledgers under the 1934 Maternity Act and are now held by the state in private record offices in Galway, Waterford, Cork and Donegal.

About 35,000 single women are believed to have spent time in one of 10 homes for pregnant women.

Another home where the scandal of unmarked graves was uncovered is the Protestant Bethany Home in Dublin, which was found to have had 222 infants die before being secretly buried.

They have since been re-interred and a memorial placed on the new plot in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross.

A spokesman for the Bethany Survivors Group said: “It is imperative that the Government takes action to face up to this shocking episode in the history of the State.

”The issue is gathering a momentum and becoming unstoppable.

“Bethany Home Survivors support the current inquiry call and renew the demand for redress and compensation, for survivors of all so-called mother and baby homes.”

The mother and baby homes were excluded from a redress scheme in 2005.

Archbishop Martin said he hopes a full bodied inquiry will be set up to examine all aspects of life in the homes and also how adoptions were organised.

He said the story of the homes was not one from another time or era but the personal story of hundreds of men and women alive today, living in Ireland and abroad.

Archbishop Martin said he had ordered an audit of diocesan files connected to mother and baby homes several months ago.

Hundreds of documents have been collated and will be made given to any public inquiry that is set up but no information of mass graves has emerged.

PA

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition