Over 40 unmarked graves have been discovered in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harolds Cross in Dublin.

The graves contain the remains of 40 children who were from the Bethany Home, a protestant residential institution.

The deceased were former residents of the institution that operated in Blackhall Place, Dublin from 1921-34 and in Orwell road, Rathgar, until it closed in 1972.

The institution housed the children of women convicted of petty theft, prostitution, infanticide and birth concealment. 

According to Griffith College Dublin academic, Niall Meehan, the home had at least 19 baby residents a month.
Meehan traced the unnamed children to unmarked graves at the cemetery.

Survivors of Bethany are calling for a monument to be erected in memory of the babies that had an average life span of between three and six months. The group also plans on setting up a support group for former residents of the institution.

Patrick Anderson-McQuoid was raised in Bethany after he was born in 1947. McQuoid believes a memorial would be fitting to remember those that passed through its doors.

"It was part of the culture at that time and it’s taken all this time to show itself - it’s better later than never. It’s an important thing to acknowledge the children who were brought there and let people know where they are.”

Speaking to the Irish Times, McQuoid said a County Down family adopted him after spending several years in the institution. 

"A lot of people tend to block things out, but for me you have to deal with these things because eventually they’ll creep up on you,” he said.

“It was a bit of a shock to hear about the graves but it’s somewhere for the families to go to".

Meehan called on the state to allow the survivors of Bethany survivors to access the States redress scheme.

"It was social prejudice facilitated and promoted by the State that they were sent into these homes, so they do deserve redress,” said Meehan.

 “These graves tell us that so-called illegitimate children were of no importance in Irish society at that time".

“If they died they were buried in common graves and forgotten about and expected to be forgotten about forever.  We’re reversing the stigma and the neglect of decades past.”

A spokesperson for the Church of Ireland said an independent board of trustees ran the home from the protestant community.

"The death of children in the Bethany Home, however caused, was tragic and the wish to raise a memorial to those who died is a very worthwhile one, but it is up to individuals to decide whether or not they wish to contribute,” he said.

“The decision about whether or not to include the Bethany Home in the redress scheme is something for the redress board".

“The Church would have no objection to it being included if the board so decided".
 

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