Survivors of Bethany House gathered in a Dublin cemetery to read aloud the names of the 40 babies discovered in an unmarked grave, on barren ground, at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold’s Cross.
Former residents at the Protestant children’s home have also set up a support group for the survivors who lived in the home until it was closed in 1972.
Derek Leinster, a 68-year-old survivor, said that many people have suffered greatly with health problems as a result of neglect while living at the home.
“I’m getting contacts in America, Australia, Canada, Britain and Ireland,” said Leinster. “There’s a lot of people affected by it and it’s all been hidden. Now it’s time to stop the hiding.”
“You can never block it out,” he added. “As a father with four children, to think these children were there without any love or care or attention - anyone who’s human couldn’t fail to be moved.”
During the ceremony Patrick Anderson-McQuoid, who was brought to Bethany House shortly after he was born, read a poem he had written and read aloud the names of the 40 babies who had been buried in two unmarked graves.
He said “The whole purpose was to acknowledge their short time on earth and put their names out in the open. It was very somber standing on the spot but there was a sense of achievement that we had got to this point.”
Bethany House was a detention home for women convicted of petty theft, prostitution, infanticide and birth concealment. It was run by evangelical members of the Church of Ireland, though it was not connect to the Church itself. From 1921 to 1934 it was located in Blackhall Place, Dublin. It then moved to Orwell Road, Rathgar where it was closed in 1972.
In attendance at the ceremony were Senator David Norris and Labour equality spokeswoman, Kathleen Lynch.
“I believe that the Bethany Home should be included within the Irish Government’s redress scheme, as well as the Magdalene Laundry women, so that people who suffered the horrors of abuse in the institution, on the wink and nod of the state, can be afforded the reparations that they deserve, said Lynch. “I also believe that there should be a fitting and appropriate memorial to children who did not survive.”
The graves were discovered by, Griffith College Dublin lecturer, Niall Meehan with help from staff at the cemetery who had access to relevant documents.
Some 75 years after the babies were buried at this site Leinster is asking the government of to help in locating burial sites of the other children who died while living in Bethany House. The babies at Jerome Cemetery were estimated to have an average age of just three to six months.