Government officials finally discovered the truth about the fates of hundreds of children in Ireland.
Investigators found a mass grave filled with approximately 800 babies and children at a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland. Government-appointed investigators announced the discovery on March 3, offer the first proof of the fate of the missing children. The children ranged from 35 weeks to 3 years old.
The orphanage, Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, created an underground grave site with 20 chambers. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission said the chambers contained “significant quantities of human remains.”
A DNA analysis proved that the orphanage buried most of the children in the 1950s. During that time, women and children overcrowded Ireland orphanages and, as a result, many closed down, including Bon Secours in 1961. Because of rampant child mortality rates, it was common during that time for people to place the dead in unmarked graves. However, investigators said Bon Secours did not document the practice well. Additionally, the community originally used the unmarked grave site for sewage.
The investigation opened in 2014 after Catherine Corless discovered death certificates for almost 800 children who lived at the orphanage. Despite the number of certificates, there was only a burial record for one of the children.
“Everything pointed to this area being a mass grave,” she explained.
Katherine Zappone, the commissioner for children, promised that officials will approach the families of the buried children about providing proper burials. She described the discovery as “sad and disturbing.”
“We will honor their memory,” she said. “And make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately.”
Zappone and other investigators are working to determine the individual behind this method of body disposal. The nuns who were in charge of the orphanage said that they provided local authorities with all of their records in 1961. Accordingly, they said they will openly cooperate with investigators about the situation.
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