Monday 1 May 2017

'There's 28 babies on top of him' - Mum whose son died after being sent away without her permission fighting to get his remains back

Temple Street Children's Hospital
Temple Street Children's Hospital
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A mother has spoken out about the heartbreaking experience of losing her baby son - and how it took 34 years to get his death cert.

Kathleen Byrne, who is now 70, went into a maternity ward in Airmount Hospital in Waterford to have her second baby in 1966.

She went into labour while going to the bathroom and her baby fell down the toilet.

From then on, she claimed the nurses and a Sister Barbara in the hospital "took over everything".

A week went by and Kathleen was told her son had "taken a turn" - the nurses sent for a priest and he was christened Patrick.

Nobody would tell her what was wrong with Patrick and he was sent to Dublin for a "minor procedure".

She never saw Patrick again.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One's Liveline, Kathleen told about the day she found out Patrick had died.

"They (the nuns) told me 'The angels and God took your child during the night. He is playing up there and you'll have to forget about him,'" she said.

“How could I forget about him,” she asked.

It took 34 years to get Patrick’s death cert and 50 years to get his files off Temple Street Children's Hospital.  

She says his lungs and heart were incinerated without her consent and his remains are in The Old Holy Angels plot at Glasnevin cemetery.

Reliving the traumatic day she went to get his remains, she said: “I said I am here for baby Patrick Byrne…I nearly passed out. I said I want him back. I was told that it’s impossible to get him back because ‘There’s 28 on top of him and 7 before him,’” she said.

She was told the cemetery would have to get in contact with 28 mothers for her to get Patrick back.

“I want him back. I don't care if there are 100 down there. I have a headstone in my own town for him. They gave me a sod of grass a year ago and I put a headstone up for my child.

“I am going to keep fighting. I need an inquiry and I need to know why they done it and I want my child back…I wanted to be buried with him,” she added.

It transpired that Patrick had heart problems, but Kathleen wants to know why nobody would tell her that.

She says she will keep fighting so that Patrick “will know up there that I'm not forgetting about him”.

“They needn't tell me to shut my mouth and don't tell anyone. How they get away with it, I don't know”.

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