Monday, June 9, 2014

Footnote to Story About Irish Mass Grave: Story Appears Only to Grow Worse

Another footnote today to previous discussions on this blog: last week, in the thread discussing the story of the mass grave of babies and young children found being a former Catholic home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland, both Marco and Conrad suggested that it was possible that the bodies of these children were treated shockingly callously because they had not been baptized due to the circumstances of their birth. I replied by noting that I had never heard of denying baptism to children because they were illegitimate, and that I doubted this was a factor in the Tuam story.

But according to Antonia Molloy in the Irish Independent today, "Babies born inside the institutions were denied baptism and, if they died from the illness and disease rife in such facilities, also denied a Christian burial." Mary Elizabeth Williams cites Molloy's article at Salon, noting that Michael Dwyer of Cork University has found what appears to be evidence that children in a number of similar Irish care facilities in the 1930s were subjected to illegal drug trials. 

Williams's heart-rending conclusion:

What Ireland is only now beginning to fully investigate and understand is a story involving potentially thousands of children who were almost certainly neglected and mistreated, and whose deaths were addressed as a mere trash disposal issue. It is now believed a total of upward of 4,000 children were similarly disposed of in other homes across the country. It’s a story of untold even higher numbers of children who were unwitting subjects in a vaccine test that further refused to see them as human beings, capable of fear and pain. And an interesting insight into why so many children may have been so casually treated and tossed away was revealed in a recent feature on the scandal in the Independent. Babies born to unwed mothers – and this, let it be noted, would have included mothers who were raped – "were denied baptism and, if they died from the illness and disease rife in such facilities, also denied a Christian burial." In other words, the Catholic institutions that these women and their children were forced to turn to as their only refuge viciously turned their backs on them — treating them, quite literally, as garbage.

And, having cut and pasted that passage, I truly don't know what more to say. It cuts the soul even to read the words.

P.S. I also note that historian Catherine Corless is stating that the story of the mass grave has been sensationalized, and the media have taken her research in the direction of conclusions she herself did not reach when she concluded that many children at the home had not been buried in any local cemeteries.

The photo of the Tuam children's home is from Tuam Historical Society and Catherine Corless, and has recently been published in the Washington Post and elsewhere.

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