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796 dead at St.Mary’s Mother and Baby Home over 40 years
galway | gender and sexuality | news report Thursday May 29, 2014 11:43 by Andrew
When a child dies a fortnight for 40 years its no accident but process
If you are feeling strong this morning Rabble published a must read article yesterday on the 796 dead children found in a mass grave at the St.Mary’s Mother and Baby Home, Tuam. That's not a misprint, for the 40 years this institution operated at least one child died a fortnight, a death rate that approached 10% of those in the home per year! They ranged from 2 days (Thomas Duffy) to 9 years (Sheila Tuohy) old.
The home operated from 1921 to 1961 and this revelation shows what life was really like, particularly for the poor, in the 'good old days' before feminism, effective contraception and access to abortion. Women with unwanted pregnancies were forced to give birth and the babies were sent to such homes to be killed through neglect unless they were
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A revealing addition to this story, some 3-4 years after this institution was opened the Archbishop of Tuam (the same town) oversaw the burning of library books that had
1. "Complete frankness in words in dealing with sexual matters"
2. "glorification of the unmarried mother"
3. "glorification of physical passion"
A press clipping about this is at https://twitter.com/Limerick1914/status/471966810208997...oto/1
There is a good chance that there are a lot more other mass graves from the other Mother Baby homes around the country. As they say if there is one bad bank then they are probably all bad. In this case we already know all these homes were bad places. Someone on the radio this morning pointed out that the Catholic orders view on this was since these mothers sinned then they had to pay for their sins and no level of punishment was enough. It seems very much a case of extreme fanatical religious doctrine. You could call it the Irish Taliban of its day.
In the same show someone else stated that it was known even years ago that the infant mortality rate was 5 times higher than the national average which would have been quite bad in those days and mention was made of a 1934 dail debate about the homes.
A search of the Dail debates archives from 1934 trawls up some interesting perspective on how long this has been going on.
In this first quote it is covering Committee on Finance. - Children Bill, 1934—Second Stage.
So it seems that there was recognition that children of the poor had a huge death rate and while not clear from this quote, it would have been clear that many of these were been given away or in orphanages. What is even more intriguing is the reference above to 'baby farming'. One can only conclude from this that the poor were basically been paid for babies and these were most likely for adoption.
The second set of quotes are from http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Author...times
The debate is covering Registration of Maternity Homes Bill, 1934—Second Stage and spells out clearly the situation with these maternity homes at the time.
So it looks like efforts were being made to regulate these institutes but there were plenty of conservative forces resisting it and in the centre of it appeared to be the exchange of money. And later a Dr Ward spells out what was going on and yet it appears nothing was ever done to correct it.