An Irish researcher wants to learn more about the deaths of ten girls at Mount St. Vincent's orphanage in 1908

Dr. Jennifer Pope is appealing to the public for more information about a tragedy that saw ten children die at a Co Limerick orphanage in 1908.

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The Limerick Leader reports that Dr. Pope, a lecturer at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), is hoping to “piece together the jigsaw puzzle” of the deaths of ten girls at Limerick’s Mount St. Vincent’s orphanage in 1908.

Thought-provoking research being conducted by #MIC lecturer @jsturley_pope on the tragic deaths of 10 girls in Mount St Vincent's orphanage in 1908. Can you help Dr Pope with her research? Do you know anyone who may be descendants of those who died? #LoveIrishResearch @MICRGSO pic.twitter.com/WmTAyFfwLx

— MIC_Limerick (@MICLimerick) July 5, 2019

Hanora Meaney (aged 14) Sarah King (13) Elizabeth Gleeson (14) Lily O’Dea (13) Frances Storey (13) Mary Kelly (13) Mary Quirke (13) Bridget Donoghue (17) Mary Ryan (14) and Jessie Smart (8) all died within a few days of each other at the orphanage in 1908. Their cause of death was recorded as cholera nostra, or food poisoning, which was traced back to a beef stew.

Thousands of people turned out for the funerals of the girls, and Pope Pius X sent a telegram expressing his sympathies to the nuns at the orphanage.

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Dr. Pope told The Limerick Leader: “Back in 1908 we may have thought that children died quite regularly, but even back then, children didn’t generally die of food poisoning. It’d be the same as it happening today. The case received widespread attention and public sympathy.” 

“Some of the historians and local people may have been familiar with the story, but not have realized how significant it was from an epidemiological perspective.”

“What really interested me was the insight it was giving us into children’s lives, and that idea of the voice of the child, and the importance of children’s early lives.”

Dr. Pope is appealing to the public in helping to learn more about the incident and is particularly keen to meet with people who may have been descendants or relatives of those who died. 

“It’s like a big giant jigsaw," Dr. Pope added, "the more I started to look into different aspects, it’s given me new insights that we didn't know before.”

“Even the fact that they were having beef stew unlocks answers, the older students made the stew the day before in a cookery class and ate it the next day for lunch.”

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If you have information regarding the event, please contact Dr. Pope at Jennifer.pope@mic.ul.ie

Ten children at the Mount Saint Vincent orphanage in Co Limerick died in 1908.BuildingsOfIreland.ie