Report on Tuam Mother and Baby Home says that people “must have known”

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The fifth interim report on the Tuam Mother and Baby Home has been released, saying that the burial ground may extend beyond the memorial garden and it was likely known about decades ago.

The Tuam Mother and Baby Home is one of six institutions being investigated by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.

The Tuam Home was a former workhouse which was owned by the local council, and operated by the Bon Secours Sisters until its closure in 1961.

The Commission found that of the 973 children believed to have died under the responsibility of the Tuam home, 79 died at the Glenamaddy workhouse which had its own burial ground.

However the report states that there are no burial records for the period in question so it cannot be verified if they are interred there.

Some also died in a hospital or other medical institution. but the vast majority of the children,it’s estimated 802, died at the Tuam Home itself.

The report is plain the memorial garden where they were buried was not a recognised burial ground and did not afford these children the dignity of a proper internment.

Twelve mother who were resident at the Mother and Baby Home also died, the majority from complications in childbirth.

One theory that has been spoken about frequently, the possibility that some of the children believed dead may have been ‘sold’ to America, was dismissed by the Commission which said there was “little basis” for the theory.

Mother and Baby Home records

The Commission said that it had difficulties in finding solid information, noting “There is remarkably little official documentation available about many aspects of the Tuam Children’s Home and there is virtually no information about burials”.

As the Mother and Baby Homes was owned by the local council, there was a legal requirement to keep a register of burials, but the Commission notes that “There is no evidence that such a register was compiled”.

Evidence seen by the Commission found that Galway county council was likely aware of the existence of the burial ground by the 1970s.

The fifth interim report noted minutes of council meetings from the 70s which referred to “a memorial site, a children’s Burial Ground, and another Burial Ground” at the Tuam Home.

The council also inspected the burial ground in 1991 after letters were written complaining about its condition.

Evidence was also gathered from numerous local residents in the Tuam area which found that people knew about the buried children at the time as well.

In a response to the findings of an excavation which said that children were interred in a structure meant for sewage, the Bon Secours order said that it was possible the structure was built with human remain in mind.

But the Commission said that it’s design was more in line with something meant for waste, including narrow access points not readily usable by people.

The final conclusions of the report were that the children were likely buried at the Mother and Baby Home between 1937 and 1961.

It also said that the county council must have known as “Council employees would have been in the grounds of the Home quite frequently as they carried out repairs to the building and possibly also maintained the grounds.”

The burial grounds themselves may also extend beyond the area of the current memorial garden.