March 3, 2017
The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation announces a “significant” amount of human remains had been found at the Mother and Baby Home, a closed home for unwed mothers and their children
The Catholic-run Mother and Baby Home operated between 1925 and 1961, taking in unwed mothers and their children. The mothers stayed at the Home for at least a year after childbirth, working without pay in exchange for the various services provided. They were segregated from their children, some of whom were illegally adopted to families in the U.S., usually without consent of their mothers. Other children died from malnutrition or contagious diseases.
On March 3, 2017, in investigation team publicly announced they had found a “significant” amount of human remains on the Home’s premises in underground chambers. Though they did not give a specific number, 796 babies and toddlers were documented to have died while at the Home. The investigation also reported the remains belonged to fetuses as young as 35 weeks through toddlers as old as 3 years.
As news and outrage of the bodies spread, so did exaggerations and half-truths by the media attempting to sensationalize the finding; some reported the bodies of all 796 documented deaths were found in a mass grave in the septic system. Although some of the underground chambers the bodies were found in were at one point used as a septic tank, the investigation could not conclusively prove the remains were put into a working septic system. What is accurate, however, is the fact that numerous children and fetuses were buried by a Catholic-run facility in unmarked graves which is compelling enough without the added emotional headlines along the lines of “800 babies dumped in sewer by nuns.”