1. The remains of up to 800 children were found in a septic tank on a site where there once stood a home for unwed mothers and their children in Tuam, Ireland, according to reports.
Local historian Catherine Corless found the death records for the children as she was researching what was simply known as “The Home,” which operated from 1925 to 1961 and has since been destroyed. The grave was discovered by a group of boys who spotted human remains through cracked concrete.
The septic tank is located at the site where The Home once stood, where there is now a playground and a housing development.
2. Unwed mothers were sent to institutions like The Home, run by Catholic nuns, both as a punishment for becoming pregnant out of wedlock and to spare their families the shame of an illegitimate child.
Mothers lost all claims to their children, who were regularly put up for adoption, often to families in the United States. The women in these institutions were made to labor without pay for two to three years to atone for their sins.
3. Infant mortality rates at The Home were staggering, as they were at similar homes for unwed mothers.
“Statistics show a quarter of all babies born outside marriage in the 1930s in Ireland died before their first birthdays,” noted Cahir D’ortery of Irish Central.
The causes of death for the children at The Home included “malnutrition, measles, convulsions, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia,” reported The Irish Mail on Sunday.
4. The Home Babies (as they were called) who survived were often ostracized in Irish society until they were adopted out.
“The nuns telegraphed the message that they were different and that we should keep away from them,” said Corless, the historian. “They didn’t suggest we be nice to them. In fact if you acted up in class some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies.”
5. Plans for a memorial service for the lost children and the erection of a marker at the site of the mass grave are currently underway.
The Catholic Church is scheduled to meet with the nuns who ran The Home, the Bon Secours Sisters, and have formed a committee, which includes Corless, to raise money for “a small commemorative statue and a plaque with the names of the deceased.”