Government-appointed investigators have uncovered a “mass grave” containing the remains of infants and children at a former mother-and-baby home in Tuam, Ireland.
According to The Guardian, the unmarked grave at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, a Catholic facility for unwed mothers, was divided into 20 chambers. The commission leading the inquiry said that “significant quantities of human remains” — most belonging to children between the ages of 35 weeks and three years — were found there.
The Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home took in unmarried pregnant women between 1925 and the early 1960s, according to the BBC. There were dozens of similar organizations in Ireland and Britain; out-of-wedlock pregnancies were highly stigmatized at the time, and many women who came to mother-and-baby homes had been ostracized by their families.
Disturbing allegations about these institutions for “fallen women,” as the young mothers were known, have gradually emerged over the past few decades. Women were reportedly subjected to ritual humiliation at the hands of nuns who ran the facilities, and many were coerced into putting their children up for adoption. Babies who remained at the mother-and-baby-homes were kept apart from their mothers and died frequently. The mortality rates at Castellopard, one of the largest homes in Ireland, may have been as high as 10.7 percent to 16.7 percent.
The inquiry into Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home was launched after a local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, uncovered death certificates for 796 children who had perished at the facility, often of disease, sometimes of malnutrition. But Corless was able to find burial records for only two of those children.
Katherine Zappone, the government’s commissioner for children, said that efforts will be made to consult with the children’s families about proper burials and memorials.
Read the full story at The Guardian.