(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October. We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past. This post is from June 9, 2014)
Catholic bashing has become the national sport of Ireland. Blaming the Brits for every ill that has ever afflicted Ireland has become passé, and in the former land of saints and scholars the Church is the whipping boy du jour. This of course suits the politicians who lead Ireland, eager to transform it into a carbon copy of every other European state with divorce, contraception and abortion ever available and with atheism as the de facto state religion. Irish leftism, always of the most infantile variety, has eagerly joined in, along with academia and entertainment. The attitude of the Church in Ireland has been, by and large, “Please sir, may I have another!” with most priests and prelates seeming to desire to become a Catholic Lite Church that will not utter a word troubling to their new lords and mistresses, the chattering classes in government and out.
Realizing this, I turned a jaundiced eye to endless stories about nuns supposedly casting the bodies of some 800 children into a septic tank at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, County Galway, between 1925-1961.
Go here to Salon to see a prime example of the Catholic bashing way the story was played.
Besides the anti-Catholic hysteria, the thing that struck me about the stories was the sheer ignorance displayed: ignorance of the death rate of children in Ireland in pre-antibiotic days, ignorance that homes for unwed mothers run by religious orders were often used for caring for kids with mortal illnesses, ignorance as to the difficulties involved in using a septic tank to hold even a small number of bodies, let alone 800.
Well, the truth is starting to come out. Ironically it is from the local historian Catherine Corless, who was cited in all the stories for bringing this to light, but apparently wasn’t listened to very carefully by a media eager to hear what they wished to hear:
What has upset, confused and dismayed her in recent days is the speculative nature of much of the reporting around the story, particularly about what happened to the children after they died. “I never used that word ‘dumped’,” she says again, with distress. “I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own.”
In 2012 Corless published an article entitled “The Home” in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society. By then she had discovered that the 796 children had died while at St Mary’s, although she did not yet have all of their death certificates.
She also discovered that there were no burial records for the children and that they had not been interred in any of the local public cemeteries. In her article she concludes that many of the children were buried in an unofficial graveyard at the rear of the former home. This small grassy space has been attended for decades by local people, who have planted roses and other flowers there, and put up a grotto in one corner. Continue Reading