Wednesday 23 August 2017

'I had no idea my simple research on Tuam Mother and Baby Home would finish up as a major scandal'

  • 'Significant quantities' of human remains discovered
  • Fears Tuam mass grave may extend beneath local houses
  • No apology from nuns yet
  • Catherine Corless began research into home

A child's toy doll was tied to the gates of Leinster House on the day the inquest was ordered. Photo: PA. Inset: Catherine Corless and her husband Aidan reading a copy of the report from the commission of investigation. Photo: Andy Newman
A child's toy doll was tied to the gates of Leinster House on the day the inquest was ordered. Photo: PA. Inset: Catherine Corless and her husband Aidan reading a copy of the report from the commission of investigation. Photo: Andy Newman
Catherine Corless and her husband Aidan reading a copy of the report from the commission of investigation yesterday morning at their home in Brownsgrove just outside Tuam. Photo: Andy Newman
A child's toy doll was tied to the gates of Leinster House on the day the inquest was ordered. Photo: PA

Catherine Corless

When I started out on my research into the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, for the local 'Historical Journal', I had envisaged that this was to be just a simple story outlining the history of the home and perhaps getting a story or two on those who were born there.

I had no idea at the time what a storm would emerge as a result of my research into this home.

I revealed my shocking findings locally at first to the religious and those in authority.

But as time went on I became dismayed that there was not much interest in what I was saying.

I had disclosed that I had found the deaths of 798 babies and young children in the Tuam home during the years of its existence - 1925-1961 - and worse, I could not find any details of where they were buried. No one seemed to know.

The only piece of concern and empathy came from a few residents who lived in the new estate that was built on the home grounds, near the burial area, who, in 1974 took it upon themselves to care for this area, after the boys found skeletons in the tank.

Catherine Corless and her husband Aidan reading a copy of the report from the commission of investigation yesterday morning at their home in Brownsgrove just outside Tuam. Photo: Andy Newman
Catherine Corless and her husband Aidan reading a copy of the report from the commission of investigation yesterday morning at their home in Brownsgrove just outside Tuam. Photo: Andy Newman

The authorities at the time saw fit to cover the whole area with rubble and dismiss the boys' finding as insignificant.

I feel it was thanks to the media in 2014 that exposed my research in the Tuam home, that yesterday the revelation happened.

A child's toy doll was tied to the gates of Leinster House on the day the inquest was ordered. Photo: PA
A child's toy doll was tied to the gates of Leinster House on the day the inquest was ordered. Photo: PA

I received a phone call from the Children's Minister Katherine Zappone telling me of her upcoming announcement that the commission had outlined the shocking revelation - the discovery of many little skeletons of babies and young children buried together in a mass grave which was once a septic tank.

There are so many survivors today of the Tuam home who have family buried there and are very happy with the announcement.

We do not know what will happen next, but today, the world knows that those babies are being recognised as human beings, and that is enough for today.

Irish Independent

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