Tuesday 12 December 2017

'I was only 12 when I found the tiny skeletons'

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

The man who discovered the remains of hundreds of babies in a septic tank has recalled the "tiny skeletons" he encountered when he unearthed the grave when he was just 12 years old.

Frannie Hopkins was playing with a friend at the site in Tuam, Co Galway, back in 1975 when the pair noticed that one of the slabs covering an old septic tank had come loose.

"At the time we found a concrete slab over what I described at the time as a tank, I now see it was a tomb," he said.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed that a review of the extent of these mass graves around the country will be carried out, there is extensive evidence that officials knew of the high number of infant deaths in these homes decades ago.

Records show that of 120 babies born in a home in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, in one year, 60 died.

In 1930, 42 babies died in the Tuam home at the centre of the emerging scandal.

Inspectors found that malnutrition was common and certain infections spread quickly.

Years after a young Frannie Hopkins found the skeletons, a local historian's painstaking research into the babies born at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam revealed the scale of the horror.

Irish Independent

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