Tuesday 21 February 2017

Call for memorial at unmarked graves of babies

Edel Kennedy

Published 22/05/2010 | 05:00

FORMER residents of a Protestant children's home have called for a permanent memorial at the unmarked graves of 40 forgotten babies.

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The infants from the Bethany Home in Rathgar, south Dublin, were buried in barren ground at a nearby cemetery in the mid-1930s.

Their graves, at the Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold's Cross, were discovered 75 years later after research carried out recently by academic Niall Meehan.

Survivors of Bethany -- which closed in 1972 -- are now campaigning for a monument to remember the babies, who had an average age of three to six months.

They also plan to set up a support group for former residents.

The Bethany Home was described as a combined maternity home, children's home and place of detention for women convicted of petty theft, prostitution, infanticide and "birth concealment".

Patrick Anderson-McQuoid (62) was brought to Bethany soon after he was born in 1947.

He said a memorial would finally give recognition to the children who passed through it.

"It was part of the culture at that time and it's taken all this time to show itself -- it's better later than never," he said.

Mr Meehan located the graves, most of which are situated in two adjoining plots, with the help of a cemetery employee after consulting documents from the home.

Prejudice

The Griffith College Dublin lecturer backed calls for Bethany survivors to have access to the State's redress scheme for similar institutions.

"It was social prejudice facilitated and promoted by the State that they were sent into these homes, so they do deserve redress," he said.

"These graves tell us that so-called illegitimate children were of no importance in Irish society at that time."

Irish Independent

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