A second burial ground has been identified at the Tuam, County Galway mother and baby home once run by the Bon Secours order, where 796 Irish infants and children were buried in unmarked graves.
Catherine Corless, the local historian whose research brought to the truth to light, has recently uncovered further evidence that demonstrates the burial site is more extensive than previously thought.
“There had been some questions about how 800 babies could be buried in such a small corner, but this map clearly indicates that the site was much, much larger than that,” Corless told the press this week.
The minutes of a Galway County Council meeting of December 11, 1979 make reference to a proposal to build a children’s playground near to the housing estate which was built after the old mother and baby home was demolished, Corless said.
The motion makes clear reference to a “children’s burial ground” on the site and also to the “sensitive nature of the area.”
The maps from the Galway County Council archive reportedly show the unusual shape of the back gardens attached to the housing estate.
The maps suggest that the gardens were designed to limit their footprints on the nearby burial site, Corless told the press this week.
Corless added that she has recently presented the new evidence to Irish Minister for Children James Reilly, who assured her that witnesses would be compelled to appear before the Government’s commission of inquiry into the mother and babies homes.
A spokesman for Minister Reilly said that the meeting with Corless had been “very informative” and was one of a series of meetings which he has held with groups, individuals and political parties on the issue.
Corless added she has not been contacted by a local politician for an update since the by elections. Her previous research proved that 796 infants died and were buried at the Bon Secours home in Tuam between 1925 and 1961 without a single headstone to record their life and death.
Mari Steed, Committee Director of the Justice for the Magdalenes group told IrishCentral: “We have found enough evidence that there are mass graves in Tuam and now they need to be investigated.
“You don’t put down memorials before you achieve justice,” Steed added, referring to the local commemoration committee’s efforts to mark the site with a memorial. “It’s just a way to give the government and the religious orders an out and close the lid on it.”
“If there is to be any future excavation or they decide to an inquest as part of this investigation the last thing you want to be doing is pouring down more slabs of concrete at risk of destroying the graves.”
Steed continued: “I think the lesson we should be taking away from this is to never allow any religion to so completely take over and run these facilities without any kind of oversight or due diligence.
“Public medical officers went on record saying how awful these places were back in the 1930’s and 40’s yet nothing was done. Why was no one minding the ranch? Vulnerable women and children should never be placed in institutions without oversight.
Speaking of Corless, Steed added: “Here is this woman who devoted 20 years of her life and her own money to this research. I do admire her and I think she’s done tremendous work.”