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Tuam June 4, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Religion.

As requested on another thread, it’s entirely appropriate to consider the revelations as regards Tuam and that:

…796 babies died in a mother and baby home in Tuam from 1925 to 1961 and were possibly buried in a septic tank has put renewed focus on such homes.


Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Charles Flanagan described the latest revelations as “deeply disturbing and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been.”

But, of course, it’s not a matter of the past, but of the present in so many different and important ways.


1. Gearóid - June 4, 2014

Contemporaneous press cuttings on the home predominantly from the Connacht Tribune, the one from 23/01/1937 is especially upsetting. https://storify.com/Limerick1914/children-s-home-in-tuam-1920s-1960s


ejh - June 4, 2014

That’s this one.


2. sonofstan - June 4, 2014

a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been.

As Richard points out here, that ‘dark past’ may just as well be now, with 350,000 children living in poverty. Dealing with the past can be just as much an excuse not to deal with the present. ‘Wasn’t it terrible back then’ a way of not acknowledging how terrible it might be for children right now spending their entire childhood in direct provision fr’instance.



ejh - June 4, 2014

Dealing with the past can be just as much an excuse not to deal with the present

It can also be a way of not dealing with the past either. Saying “wasn’t it terrible back then”, or “things were different, it was a different time”, all which may well be true to an extent, don’t absolve us from getting establish what did happen, the full extent of it, which you absolutely have to do when dealing with grim historical events. And then (and to my mind, only then) can you properly discuss whether things were different, values were different and times have changed.

This is of course an issue where I live, but that’s a different matter and one I’ll leave on one side for now. But I wanted to echo what Emer O’Toole wrote:

Tell us where the rest of the bodies are. There were homes throughout Ireland, outrageous child mortality rates in each. Were the Tuam Bon Secours sisters an anomalous, rebellious sect? Or were church practices much the same the country over? If so, how many died in each of these homes? What are their names? Where are their graves?


Mick Hall - June 5, 2014


I agree, Emer wrote a powerful piece in the Guardian, Mark Twain said “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool, I feel he is mistaken here it was when the first wicked and deceitful piece of shit met the first fool.


Gewerkschaftler - June 5, 2014

Hm… It’s a bit of a leap of generalisation from the as yet unpunished crimes of the Catholic church in Ireland and elsewhere to religion in general.

But a popular one, by all accounts.


3. benmadigan - June 4, 2014
4. shea - June 5, 2014

a garda press statement read out on drive time this evening said that this is a famine grave, The dept and Flanagan are dismissing that yeah?


Séamas Ó Sionnaigh (An Sionnach Fionn) - June 5, 2014

If it did turn out to be a mass burial from the Great Famine it is almost as shameful that nothing exists to mark it but local memory. The off-hand Garda response, sure it’s only a Famine grave, is a dreadful indictment of official Irish attitudes to our own history. However the evidence seems to back a much later date.


Dr.Nightdub - June 5, 2014

Did they even have septic tanks at the time of the Famine?


Logan - June 5, 2014

They didnt, but the burial area was then a cesspit…as it was until the 1930’s, well into the time of the Bon Secours tenure.


5. CL - June 5, 2014

“The articles show that the Home was very much a matter of both public and governmental knowledge. And the way in which they discuss the Home’s occupants (or “inmates” as they are more often referred to) makes clear the totally normalized disdain with which all the “illegitimate children” and “fallen women” were held.”


Brian Hanley - June 5, 2014

It’s times like this I get nostalgic about some of the excesses of the anarchists in Spain in 1936


1MayBloc - June 5, 2014

+ 1


6. irishelectionliterature - June 5, 2014

Piece on another Mother and Baby home in Cork
“Dr Deeny had travelled to the Sacred Heart institution when he noticed that in the previous years, 100 out of the 180 babies born there had died.”


7. Joe - June 5, 2014

Over the next ten years we will be celebrating 1916 and the foundation of the state. Maybe let’s not get too jingoistic about it all.


8. Brian Hanley - June 5, 2014

It’s interesting to contrast the 1867 Fenian proclamation, which explicitly demands separation of church and state, and the 1916 version, which doesn’t. Maybe we could look at the ideologies that motivated rebels in different eras as well.


hardcorefornerds - June 5, 2014

Wow, I’d never seen that before. Knew about the 1867 Rising but that’s not a document that sees the light of day much.


Gewerkschaftler - June 5, 2014



The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and
to us it must be restored.

Generalise soil to economy and look at the contemporary landscape…


Garibaldy - June 5, 2014

The 1867 IRB proclamation is here for anyone who hasn’t seen it



9. Gearóid - June 5, 2014

‘It reminds one of the claims put forward by Hitler and Stalin. These enemies of Christ claimed power over the bodies of their subjects and they exercised that power in their clinics and concentration camps’

Bishop Michael Browne of Galway, speaking about Dr. Noel Browne’s Mother and Child scheme.


10. CL - June 5, 2014

There has to be a criminal investigation.

“Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme earlier today, Geoff Knuper, who works in major crime in Ireland and the UK as well cases of The Disappeared, said cause of death could be determined despite the passing of more than four decades.

“It’s clearly very disturbing,” he said.

“I think in the first instance this should, or could, be a matter for the Garda Siochana, the coroner and of course the State Pathologist would play a key role in any such investigation.”-


steve white - June 5, 2014

cause of death is listed, care while live is question


11. sonofstan - June 5, 2014

One thing occurs to me – were mothers notified of the death of their children? Or are there women, now perhaps in their 60s/70s wondering if the children they gave birth to in Tuam and left there, thinking/ hoping they’d be adopted, ended up in a septic tank?


Gewerkschaftler - June 5, 2014

I think the practice was that once you gave up a child for adoption, it was considered that you’d foregone all rights to news of her/him and to contact as well.

Look at all stories of mothers trying to trace the children they’d be forced to give up.

As a parent it makes my feel more than a little queesy just to write that.


sonofstan - June 5, 2014

I’ve more than an academic interest in this; I’m adopted and was born in such a home – not Tuam, though. My birth mother was told I’d been adopted but that was all. My point is that many women may not even have been told this much.


WorldbyStorm - June 5, 2014

That seems very like sos.


irishelectionliterature - June 5, 2014

I’m adopted also and these recent revelations (and even the film ‘Philomena’) has in a strange way given me pangs of guilt.
Was the story I’ve been told and accepted my whole life true?
Was I really ‘given up’ or were there more sinister forces at work.
What if I hadn’t been well, or been born with a disability would I have been tossed dead into an unmarked pit ?


sonofstan - June 6, 2014

I’ve had exactly those thoughts. And I couldn’t face ‘Philomena’ – I think survivors guilt is a perfectly understandable reaction here.


CL - June 5, 2014

That’s another reason why there needs to be a detailed, forensic inquiry into the suspicious death of each of these human beings.


12. benmadigan - June 5, 2014

with regards to the fenian movement eurofree3.wordpress.com recently did a 3 part series exploring the fenians and their legacy. The fenian proclamation is included – hope you enjoy





13. CL - June 6, 2014

-According to new research, death rates at homes in Bessborough in Cork, Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary, and Castlepollard in Westmeath ranged between 30% and 50% between 1930 and 1945.

The Adoption Rights Alliance say children in mother-and-baby homes often died of “entirely preventable ailments” and, at worst, from “infanticide and/or neglect” as children of unmarried mothers were regarded as “sub-human”. –


CL - June 6, 2014

-“Many other children were subjected to vaccine trials without the consent of their mothers…..

In 1974, then justice minister Paddy Cooney clearly outlined a forced adoption policy stating that “adoption is better for the illegitimate baby than to be cared for by its mother…

A full, entirely independent inquiry into the operation of all mother-and-baby homes, the deaths which occurred there and the scale of illegal and forced adoptions is needed.”


14. CL - June 7, 2014

“Women who gave birth at the notorious Bessborough mother-and-baby home in Cork were not allowed pain relief during labour or stitches after birth, and when they developed abscesses from breast-feeding they were denied penicillin.

One nun who ran the labour ward in 1951 also forbid any “moaning or screaming” during childbirth. Girls in poverty, who could not afford to make donations to the Sacred Heart order, had to spend another three years after their babies were born cleaning and working on the lands around the Cork city home to ‘make amends’ for their pregnancy.

Such work often included cutting the home’s “immaculate lawns” on their hands and knees — with a pair of scissors.

Before they left the home, their three-year-olds, with whom they would have established a strong emotional bond, were removed from them and fostered, put up for adoption, or sent to an orphanage — often with only hours’ notice. ”


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