The house of tears: Secret tapes of woman who spent years at controversial Irish home for unmarried mothers reveals there WAS an unmarked mass grave for up to 800 children

January 1, 2016 Comments Off on The house of tears: Secret tapes of woman who spent years at controversial Irish home for unmarried mothers reveals there WAS an unmarked mass grave for up to 800 children

The house of tears: Secret tapes of woman who spent years at controversial Irish home for unmarried mothers reveals there WAS an unmarked mass grave for up to 800 children

Some 796 children died at a single Irish care home between 1925 and 1961
It was feared children’s bodies were buried in a mass grave at the site
A worker at the home in Galway made a taped interview before her death
That interview confirms the existence of a mass grave at the site in Tuam

By Alison O’reilly For The Irish Mail On Sunday

27 December 2015

A shocking recording from a woman who worked in an Irish home for unmarried mothers where almost 800 children died confirms there is an unmarked grave on the grounds of the infamous institution.

Julia Devaney entered St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County  Galway when she was nine years old and spent 36 years there until it closed in 1961. She worked as a domestic servant for the Bon Secours nuns.

Mrs Devaney gave a stark account of the home in a recorded interview with a former employer who ran a shop in Tuam some time in the 1980s. However, the tapes only resurfaced earlier this year.

From the 1920s, unmarried pregnant women in Ireland were routinely sent to institutions to have their babies, many of whom were sent to America for adoption.

Local historian Catherine Corless, who researched the names of the 796 children who died in the home from 1925 to 1961, has spent a number of months transcribing Ms Devaney’s interview.

Today, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal how Mrs Devaney said that children would ‘die like flies’ in the home. Mrs Devaney said: ‘Scores of children died under a year and whooping cough was epidemic. Sure they had a little graveyard of their own up there. It’s still there, it’s walled in now….

The MoS has published extensive extracts from her interview that reveal she believed the children were ‘never cared for’. Ms Devaney, who never had any children of her own, constantly refers to the orphans in the home and how it was apparent to her that they meant nothing to the nuns.

She said it was a ‘horrid place’, which was ‘cold, sad and loveless’: ‘It was not like a home, they’d be better off with a drunken father at home. It was an awful lonely old hole. Not natural, unnatural.

‘The children had a language all their own, they didn’t talk right at all, nobody to teach them, nobody to care. When the children came home from school they got their dinner and then their hair was fine-combed for nits and fleas….

The Magdalene Laundries

The Magdalene Laundries were institutions, generally run by Catholic religious organisations that operated for more than 200 years from the 18th century to the late 20th Century. In Ireland the first was founded in Dublin in 1765 and the last closed in 1996. They were established to house unmarried mothers. An estimated 30,000 women were confined in these institutions in Ireland.

Julia describes them – along with mental institutions – as the ultimate punishment for women in the homes.

‘None of the mothers would kick up, because if they did, then they knew they would be put into the Magdalene, they’d be punished. It’s a place you wouldn’t want to make too much talk about your child, it’s a place you’d want to be very careful of what you’d say or you would pay for it. … If children came back from being fostered out, and if they were a bit slow, they would be sent into the Magdalene Laundry as well….

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3374922/The-house-tears-Secret-tapes-woman-spent-years-controversial-Irish-home-unmarried-mothers-reveals-unmarked-mass-grave-children.html

Mass grave at Galway home not the only one, 800 babies ‘in septic tank’

June 7, 2014 Comments Off on Mass grave at Galway home not the only one, 800 babies ‘in septic tank’

Mass grave at Galway home not the only one, says Irish leader Kenny 
Sheila Langan June 06,2014

The mass grave of 796 children at a former home for unwed mothers and children in Tuam, Co. Galway is likely not the only one of its kind in Ireland, Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said.

A government investigation launched in wake of the shocking discovery will focus on all of the former so-called ‘mother and baby homes’ in Ireland, it was announced yesterday.

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan is organizing a group of senior officials who will advise the government on the scope of investigation required and the best course of action at the end of the month.

Speaking from the US, where he is currently on a trade mission, Kenny said that Flanagan and his committee would determine “whether this is an isolated [incident] or whether there are others around the country that need to be looked at” and to “decide what is the best thing to do in the interests of dealing with another element of our country’s past.”….

Many other homes for unwed mothers, their “illegitimate” children and other orphans operated in Ireland throughout the 1900s. There was Bessborough in Co. Cork, Sean Ross in Tipperary (where Philomena Lee had her son), and Castlepollard in Westmeath – all run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The mortality rates at these homes were far higher than the national average, the Irish Examiner recently reported, ranging from 30% – 50% between 1930 and 1945.

There were Protestant mother and baby homes too, such as the Bethany Home in Dublin, where a similar scandal took place. Between 1922 and 1949, close to 220 children died and were buried in an unmarked grave at Dublin’s Mount Jerome Cemetery. They were memorialized in 2010…..
http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Mass-grave-at-Tuam-Childrens-Home-not-the-only-one-says-Kenny.html

Ireland shock over 800 babies ‘in septic tank’
Friday 06 June 2014
Ireland has been rocked this week as another horrific scandal linked to the Catholic church emerges in Galway, where a mass grave with the bodies of 800 children was uncovered.

….This week it was revealed that the site contained the remains of hundreds of children who died in the care of Bon Secours nuns between 1925 and 1961 and was not a famine grave as originally claims in the 70s.

The babies are believed to have been secretly buried at the home for unwed mothers, dubbed “fallen women”, which had an extraordinarily high infant mortality rates – with children dying of TB, pneumonia, measles and gastorenteritis.

A report from the institution in 1944 revealed emaciated childen, mothers suffering with mental health issues and overcrowding.

The Bon Secours sisters, a Roman Catholic organisation, began providing healthcare in Ireland in the 19th century and is now the country’s largest private healthcare provider.

The sisters said they were shocked and saddened by the reports, they ran 10 similar homes across Ireland and three of the others are believed to have plots with the remains of 3,200 babies and infants….

The case follows a series of scandals over abuse at institutions entrusted to the Catholic church in Ireland.

The Artane Industrial school case revealed how Christian brothers systematically neglected and abused orphans and boys from single parent families put into “state care” for decades.

Magdalen asylums, known as Magdalene laundries, ran in Ireland until 1996 with as many as 30,000 “fallen women” incarcerated, stripped of their identities and forced to carry out forced labour.

Women were locked up in abusive laundries for being sexually active outside marriage, having “illegitimate children” and some simply to safeguard their “moral purity”….

It found the entire system had treated children as prisoners and slaves, ignoring their rights and noted that some religious officials had encouraged ritual beatings – while protecting their own with a culture of secrecy.
http://www.channel4.com/news/bon-secour-galway-catholic-church-ireland-septic-tank

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