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Group led by a local historian hopes to raise $7,000 for a small statue and plaque marking the grave of 800 babies in Tuam, Co. Galway. Photo by: Thinkstock

Memorial bid to mark mass grave of 800 babies in Galway

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Group led by a local historian hopes to raise $7,000 for a small statue and plaque marking the grave of 800 babies in Tuam, Co. Galway. Photo by: Thinkstock

A campaign is underway to place a small statue and memorial plaque at the mass grave of 800 babies in Tuam, Co. Galway.

The grave is located beside a former home for unwed mothers and babies, known colloquially as “The Home,” run by the Bon Secours nuns from 1925 – 1961.

The shocking discovery emerged over the weekend after the “Irish Mail on Sunday” published a report. As many as 796 infants and children are believed to have been buried there, with causes of death ranging from measles, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia to malnutrition and convulsions.

Burials usually took place without a coffin, in a plot of land that had once housed “a water tank,” the report also claimed.

Local historian and genealogist Catherine Corless, who uncovered the 796 death records when she was researching the home, told "The Journal" that plans are underway to ensure that the grave will not remain unmarked for much longer.

“A group of us came together late last year, formed a committee, and decided that when we discovered the enormous amount of children in that plot it was time to do something,” she said.

To date the fund committee has secured close to $3,000 from local authorities towards their goal of nearly $7,000, which will cover the costs of a small commemorative statue and a plaque will the names of the deceased.

Corless described the fundraising campaign as slow thus far and expressed surprise that the burial site was not being more widely discussed.

“People don’t seem shocked, I don’t understand,” she said. “If two children were discovered in an unmarked grave, the news would be everywhere. We have almost 800 here.”

Until recently, the grave site had been maintained by a local couple from the housing estate built where the Bon Secours home once stood.

The husband, Padraic, died just over a week ago. For 35 years, he tended the grass and planted flowers.

“Padraic’s wish was that this little graveyard would be remembered with a plaque,” Corless added.

Anyone looking for more information or to donate to the fund can contact Corless via email: catherinecorless@hotmail.com

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