DETECTIVES have visited the site where almost 800 babies are believed to be buried in a mass grave.
Two officers called to the site in Tuam, Co Galway, yesterday along with Frannie Hopkins (51) who found the mass grave when he was 12.
It is also feared that the bodies of nine women who died in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home may lie near the 796 infants buried in a septic tank in the grounds.
After meeting the detectives, Mr Hopkins went through in detail where he had discovered the bodies.
“They brought me up to the site and I showed them where it was and how we came across it. It was all quite informal and only took about 15 minutes,” he said.
“I told them that they could call on me at any time. We were just two kids who stumbled on what we did, but I’d like to help get some answers.”
The visit by senior detectives followed an announcement by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald that she had ordered a garda report on all the information the force holds on the Tuam home.
Records obtained by historian Catherine Corless, which show that close to 800 babies died at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, also reveal that nine women died over the same time frame. However, she has been unable to ascertain where their graves are.
“We know that nine women died and we’ve traced that at least three of them also had children who died, but the dates of death are not the same. I haven’t been able to track down burial places for these women. There’s no way of knowing where they are buried,” she said.
“Would their families be so bad that they wouldn’t take back their own daughter or relative for burial?”
Local man Martin Ward, who is involved in the committee to erect a plaque in memory of the dead, said he believes the women lie alongside the infants.
“We believe there’s nine women buried there. The records show nine women died and we presume that they are buried there,” he said.
“We don’t want them to be exhumed. We think they should be left to rest in peace and simply consecrate the ground. And we’ll invite the Archbishop to do that.”
As calls for a public inquiry into the deaths at mother and baby homes grow, the group that revealed the full scale of the scandal fear the children who died may become overlooked.
Ms Corless, who discovered that close to 800 children were buried in a septic tank at the home in Tuam, has urged the public to help fund a memorial.
She stressed that the group was not focusing on an inquiry or any criminal investigation. Instead, it wants to ensure that all the children, who range in age from two days to nine years, will be remembered.
“The most important thing is that their lives are acknowledged. We need to mark their little grave and we need help to do that,” she said.
Teresa Kelly, chairperson of the Children’s Home Graveyard Committee, said they hoped to raise €50,000 to cover the cost of a plaque to be erected at the site.
“We’re looking to ensure that we have funds to do everything ourselves,” she said.
Anyone who wants to help fund the project can donate to the Children’s Home Graveyard at St Jarlath’s Credit Union, account 12747355, sort code 903971.