“Decent people trying to do decent things” that’s how BBCFoyle radio host Mark Patterson describes Catherine Corless and the volunteers in Tuam trying to have the location of the mass grave of 796 innnocent children marked properly. It’s hard to disagree.
You can hear his interview with Corless here. The interview provides the broad outline of the Tuam babies story.
Also doing sterling work on this is Limerick historian and librarian Liam Hogan who has been combing the archives for any mention of the institution when it was up and running from 1925 to 1961. His chronological storyline is essential reading and a great insight into the mindset that allowed this horror show to operate.
Particularly arresting for me was this newspaper clipping from 1937 where local residents complained about the stench coming from the Home’s sewage system. Is it too big a leap to ask were the residents of Tuam smelling the rotting untreated decomposing corpses of dead children deposited in a septic tank?
Of course, as reported by this RTE investigative journalist, both government and the Gardai are dragging their heels about an investigation. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Since the establishment of the Free State the Gardai’s most important function has been to act as booly dogs for their political and clerical masters and they sure as hell won’t take the initiative without the say so from Dublin. In fact, it seems that no-one wants to open up that septic tank and start to do the forensic work that a proper investigation calls for. And as the focus shifts to other sites similar to Tuam the questions pile up:
- how many other sites like Tuam are there?
- are there mass graves on all those properties?
- there are families trying to establish if they have links to the dead children. Corless speaks of fielding calls asking about the names on the list. Wouldn’t some families want to establish a DNA link and maybe bring their kin home?
- we are speaking of young, perhaps teenage mothers confined there as late as the early nineteen-sixties, then there may well be women alive out there who have babies in that pit. What of those women? What of the fathers?
- Who delivered the babies? Provided rudimentary medical care? Signed birth and death certificates? Buried the bodies? Someone, somewhere knows, has answers. Of course in Ireland, people adhere to “whatever you say, say nothing”. Now is the time for people to speak out.