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'Forgotten county homes should be next' - Burton



Former Tánaiste Joan Burton

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton

The Government is expected to come under pressure today to commission an investigation into county homes.

Only four were within the scope of yesterday's report into mother and baby homes.

It noted: "Mother and baby homes were greatly superior to the county homes."

They were successors to the pre-Independence workhouses, and were owned and controlled by local authorities.

Conditions were generally "very poor" in the county homes where, until the 1960s, many unmarried mothers and their children were resident, the report said.

"Women in county homes have been largely forgotten," it stated.

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton said: "The county homes were obviously everywhere and are an absolute State responsibility, even if the local prelate or bishop called the shots.

"They were the former workhouses, were run by the local authorities and had an appalling death rate.

"I want an investigation into all county homes, some of which appear to have mass graves and burials in unconsecrated ground, sometimes farmers' fields."

The institutions, where around 25,000 were accommodated, admitted women with special needs, mental health problems, venereal disease or a criminal conviction.

They also took in children, sometimes with an intellectual disability or autism, who were given up by married families.

The care given to these children was "grossly inadequate", the report says and some of the descriptions given about the four sampled are "extremely distressing".


In the mid-1920s most had no sanitation, perhaps no running water, and heating by an open fire.

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Unmarried mothers were allocated the worst accommodation because they were not seen as "deserving".

The diet was described as 'meagre'.

In the 1920s one medical officer had to beg for an improved diet to enable mothers to breastfeed their babies.


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