Land adjacent to the Angels’ Plot at Sean Ross Abbey, in Roscrea, County Tipperary,  will be scanned to uncover a possible mass grave.

Plans to scan the land on the grounds of the former Mother and Baby Home at Sean Ross Abbey, in Tipperary, have made significant progress according to We Are Still Here, a survivor's group.

Ireland's governmental Department of Children recently confirmed they would fund the scans of lands located near the "Angels' Plot", a burial site where numerous children who died at the facility were laid to rest. 

Between the 1930s and 1990s, Sean Ross Abbey bore witness to a tragic number of child deaths. The exact number of children who died remains uncertain, but estimates suggest that the figure could be in the hundreds.

The causes of these deaths ranged from illnesses like tuberculosis and malnutrition to neglect and subpar medical care. These vulnerable children, born to unmarried mothers, were often subjected to harsh living conditions that contributed to their frailty. 

The survivors group from Sean Ross Abbey, We Are Still Here, met with representatives of Tipperary County Council and the firm who will be carrying out the scans, Precision Utility Mapping, to discuss the need for the underground scans and how they will be carried out. 

Teresa Collins, who was born at Sean Ross Abbey in 1963, told the Offaly Express,  “It was hugely positive to make this move forward and to host representatives of Tipperary County Council and Precision Utility Mapping at the site where scans for any possible undetected burials will take place in the near future.

“This scan will take place on a parcel of land adjacent to the Angels’ Plot where the Commission of Investigation undertook investigations a number of years ago."

Potential mass graves in Seanrossabbey mother and baby home. Survey carried out by TST Engineers. Unusual 20mtr drainage pipe. Yellow circles of spread anomalies. Small squares of potential mass graves. Blue marks evidence of man-made excavation and anomalies. @BostonGlob

— Rachael Keogh (@rachael_keogh) July 21, 2023

The existence of the Angels' Plot came to light in the 1990s when former residents began to share their stories of the harsh treatment and neglect they suffered. Many believed that their deceased peers were buried in the Angels' Plot, prompting calls for investigations and accountability.

Collins continued “According to the Commission of Investigation, the total number of infant deaths having occurred at Sean Ross Abbey amounted to 1,078. However, it is not feasible to conclude that all burials occurred in the relatively confined space of the Angels’ Plot where the Commission of Investigation carried out some investigative works.

"This necessitates the need for separate scans of a particular area of land adjacent to the Angels’ Plot."

Research indicates that there were at least 18 Mother and Baby Homes operating in Ireland between the 1920s and 1990s. The exact number might vary depending on how one categorizes certain institutions that shared similar functions. Some of the most well-known institutions include Sean Ross Abbey in County Tipperary, Bessborough in County Cork, and Tuam Mother and Baby Home in County Galway.

The child deaths at Sean Ross Abbey were intertwined with allegations of abuse. Many former residents and survivors have come forward with harrowing accounts of emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse perpetuated by nuns and staff members. The survivors recount tales of cruelty, neglect, and mistreatment, further darkening the reputation of the facility and those who were supposed to provide care.

As public awareness grew about the tragedies at Sean Ross Abbey, calls for accountability intensified. The Irish government initiated investigations into the operations of the facility and the actions of the Catholic Church. These investigations shed light on the suffering endured by unwed mothers and their children, revealing the systemic failures and abuses that were allowed to persist for decades.

In recent years, efforts have been made to honor the memory of the children who suffered and died at Sean Ross Abbey. Memorials and commemorations have been established to remember their lives and acknowledge the pain they endured. These efforts also serve as a reminder of the importance of uncovering historical injustices and seeking justice for the victims.