Their children were often called the “devil’s spawn.” The Mother and Baby Homes were set up by the government and run by Catholic religious orders. They were part of a system to deal with the perceived shame of “illegitimate” children and the women who bore them.
The luckiest children managed to live through the neglect and abuse. There is widespread suspicion that the children were drugged to keep them docile and many believe that is the reason for the non-existent or at last non-conscious memories of their time in the home. Perhaps that is a blessing, as wrong as it may be ethically.
A mass grave of nearly 800 children tipped the scales from denial to investigation. The Irish government was forced to confirm that “significant remains” ranging in age from 35 fetal weeks to two to three years old, and dating back to the time the home was in operation, had been found in Tuam during a preliminary excavation. The horrendous truth was that it was not just an unmarked grave, the remains were found in an old underground waste-treatment system.
Tuam dates back to the Bronze Age, its name is derived from the Latin term tumulus, meaning burial ground. Chilling.