NUIG challenges claim its Medical School paid for infants’ remains from Tuam Home

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NUI Galway research has challenged a claim in the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes about the use of infants’ remains by the Medical School at the University.

The assertion that the University “paid for 35 infant anatomical subjects” between 1949 and 1964 was made in a section of the fifth interim report of the Commission.

It referred to 86 children from the Tuam Mother and Baby Home at Galway Central Hospital. While fifty burial records were found, there were no records found of the infants who appeared to have been used by the University’s Medical School.

But NUI Galway says that research led by Dr Buckley and Dr Lorraine Grimes has found that these infants who died in the Central Hospital Galway could not have come from the Tuam institution.

The research also claims there were not in fact thirty-five infants, but nine.

NUI Galway has embarked on a project to try to identify these children and develop a memorial to them.

Members of the public have been invited to submit their views as to how the infants can be honoured and memorialised by the University.

Speaking today, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said that like many other State organisations, NUI Galway, or UCG as it was then, was part of a society that did not sufficiently value the lives of some of its most vulnerable citizens.

“As a university community, we are committed to openness, openness with regard to our institutional learning from the past, openness to new, often challenging perspectives and openness to communities which have not found universities, including our university, a welcoming part of their lived experience,” he said.

“By memorialising these men, women and children, we wish to at last honour their legacy and acknowledge their sacrifices.  We invite our community to submit ideas as to how we can embody our value of respect in commemorating this period in our past.”

The researchers also examined transfers from workhouses and a psychiatric institution and their full report will be published in September 2020.

NUI Galway also launched a new podcast series today, focusing on the stories of Mother and Baby Homes’ survivors.

The new podcast, narrated by actor Cillian Murphy, was announced along with a digital exhibition of the Tuam Oral History Project, featuring biographies of some of the survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

At a virtual event for survivors today, the University invited survivors of the institution, their families, advocates and members of the Tuam community to share their memories in an oral history archive, which will provide an independent resource to learn about the history of the institution.