UPDATE: 3/4/2017: The Irish Examiner is now reporting that this is only the beginning of the #Tuambabies scandal, as they insist that the church and the leaders of the town of Tuam knew all about the deaths decades ago.
In the Galway, Ireland, town of Tuam, a shocking discovery has been made in the form of a mass grave filled with the bodies of babies and children in a graveyard beside a former home for unwed mothers. The bodies were found in a old sewage system, and the mass grave also includes a number of fetuses. The home in Tuam was run at that location from 1925 to 1961.
Many in Tuam are shocked, but a local historian, Catherine Corless, has been trying to get authorities to look into what was previously a rumor, says the New York Times. After being ignored for years, a state-financed investigation was launched, and the remains of babies, small children, and fetuses were found exactly where the historian said they would be. A report was released via a website that covers the latest news in reference to the excavation in Tuam.
— Barnett's Gotta Go! (@MeckeringBoy) March 4, 2017
Even though the Tuam commission started the investigation on the rumor that there was a mass grave, the agency just released a statement saying they were shocked.
“The commission is shocked by this discovery and is continuing its investigation into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way.”
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The St. Mary’s home in Tuam was run by the Sisters of Bon Secours, a Roman Catholic order, which was private and church-owned and run, but was financed by the Irish government. Testing of the remains of the Tuam babies revealed that most were buried there in the 1950s. Further testing is being conducted over the next few months. Katherine Zappone, the minister for Children and Youth Affairs, says the news is even more horrible, now that the rumors of the Tuam babies has been proven to be true.
“This is very sad and disturbing news. It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years. Up to now we had rumors.”
Historian Catherine Corless said that local Tuam officials and church leaders didn’t want to investigate, she believes, because they didn’t want what many suspected to become a reality. The rumors had been swirling around for decades, but many had their heads in the sand.
“Nobody was listening locally or in authority, from the church or the state. They said, ‘What’s the point?’ And that I shouldn’t view the past from today’s lenses.”
The body count is said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of an alarming 796 bodies found at the Tuam site.
Meanwhile in Ireland: 796 infants and children recorded as having died in Tuam home run by the Bon Secours Sister https://t.co/TCQa62vFcB
— Quentin Fottrell (@Quantanamo) March 4, 2017
The home of what are now being called the Tuam babies took in unwed mothers who came to give birth, says the Guardian. Young women and girls would come to the Tuam home in County Clare to have their babies, and soon after giving birth, mother and child would be separated. The babies would then be cared for by the nuns of St. Mary’s until they could be adopted. After recovering at the Tuam location, the young women would be sent back home, in most cases, having kept their pregnancy a secret.
The nearly 800 bodies range in age from 35 weeks gestation to three-and-a-half years of age. The home in Tuam was just one of more than a dozen such homes that were in Ireland between the 1920s to 1960s. The Tuam home closed in 1961.
The rumors about the Tuam babies started circulating back in the 1970s, when young boys playing in the fields said they found bones, according to Corless.
“Everything pointed to this area being a mass grave.”
Corless said that over time, houses and other buildings were built in and around where the bodies were found in Tuam, and for years, nobody seemed to want to see if it was true.
“They obviously didn’t see the importance. There is an area across the map marked ‘burial ground.’ First, the houses were built, around that area. Finally a playground was built on part of the burial ground itself.”
For all the Yank reporters saying "Too-um." Tuam's pronounced "Chewm."https://t.co/M14F98zF6V
— Christian Wallace (@wormwithdagger) March 4, 2017
According to NPR, despite the information that aged the bodies through carbon dating, there is no cause of death given for the Tuam remains. The remains were all found stuffed in sewage treatment works, but it is unclear whether the various chambers were ever actually used for that purpose.
The rumors that existed around Tuam before the excavation were that there were the remains of several children in a septic tank around the Tuam home for unwed mothers, but nobody expected to find the remains of around 800 babies and children in the system around where the home stood.
The Tuam home was previously surrounded by an eight-foot wall that enclosed the area where the remains were found.
How do you think the babies and children whose remains were found in Tuam actually died?
[Featured Image by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]