The names, ages, and causes of death of all 796 children who died at St. Mary’s Home, in Tuam, Co. Galway from 1925 to 1960 have been published in full, below.
The list is long, and reading it is a horrifying, heartbreaking experience – though nowhere near as horrifying as the short lives of the children who died, or as heartbreaking as the sheer number of lost little lives.
When she began her research, Catherine Corless, the local historian who set out to uncover the truth about the bones buried at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home, had no idea the number of deaths would be that high.
As she told IrishCentral’s Cahir O’Doherty, she was simply looking for records – something neither the Order of the Bon Secours nuns, who ran the home, nor the Western Health Board, were able to help her with.
“Eventually I had the idea to contact the registry office in Galway. I remembered a law was enacted in 1932 to register every death in the country. My contact said give me a few weeks and I’ll let you know,” she recalled.
“A week later she got back to me and said do you really want all of these deaths? I said I do. She told me I would be charged for each record. Then she asked me did I realize the enormity of the numbers of deaths there?”
The registrar came back with a list of 796 children. “I could not believe it. I was dumbfounded and deeply upset,” said Corless. “There and then I said this isn’t right.”
Over the weekend, The Sunday World – the same paper whose initial interview with Corless sparked international interest in the case – published the death records of the 796 children who died in the Tuam Home.
The first to die was five-month-old Patrick Derrane, of gastroenteritis on August 22, 1925. The last recorded death at the home was that of Mary Carty, just four and a half months, on January 15, 1960. In the column where her cause of death should be listed, it simply says “fit.” Under “other causes,” it notes that she “was a restless baby.”
Between these two tragic bookends there are 18 recorded cases of “Marasmus,” or severe malnutrition.
Measles ravaged the home in 1936, taking 22 lives, and again in 1947, claiming 18. There were also outbreaks of whooping cough, influenza and gastroenteritis. Many more suffered from epilepsey, fits and convulsions.
Gerrard Connaughton, who died on September 9, 1956 from an upper respiratory infection is noted as “Delicate & difficult from birth. Second twin.” John Anthony Murphy and Mary Crehan, who died of bronchitis within four months of each other in 1950 – 51, are both described as “Congenital Idiots,” just four and a half months old and three months old, respectively.
The youngest to die was premature baby Haugh, at 10 minutes old on March 10, 1946. The oldest was 7-year-old Mary Connolly, an “Idiot” with congenital hydrocephalus who perished after suffering from measles for five days.
The local group campaigning to have the grave site properly marked is seeking to memorialize each of the children believed to be buried there with a plaque listing all of their names.
The full death records appear below: