Academic reveals evidence of 220 unmarked babies' graves

Academic reveals evidence of 220 unmarked babies' graves

Almost 220 unmarked graves for forgotten babies who died in a Protestant children’s home were discovered, it was claimed today.

An academic revealed there was a shocking number of infant deaths at the Bethany Home in Rathgar over a 47-year period after he widened his trawl of cemetery records.

On Monday, former residents of the facility, the Bethany Survivors Group, will call on Government ministers to include them in the redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse.

Lecturer Niall Meehan claimed officials ignored high death rates at the home in the 1930s and instead deflected complaints by turning the issue into a religious squabble.

“The state did little or nothing about reported increases in illness and mortality during the 1935 to 1939 period, though it was brought to the attention of the Dept of Local Government and Public Health by its own inspectors,” he said.

“Government knew the facility was insufficient and did nothing concrete to remedy it.”

Bethany Home was a combined children’s home, maternity home and detention centre for female convicts which closed in 1972.

In May, Mr Meehan discovered 40 unmarked Bethany graves at the Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold’s Cross after consulting documents from the institution and the cemetery. Survivors are campaigning for a monument to remember the babies, who died at an average age of three months to a year.

The Griffith College Dublin lecturer said he since found evidence of another 179 graves for the period 1922 to 1949. More than a third of the total – 86 - died over a five-year period from 1935.

The highest mortality rate was recorded in 1936 when 29 babies were buried.

Mr Meehan said records from Bethany Home also showed there could be another 30 forgotten babies in another graveyard.

“It’s a terrible indictment on Irish society that so many children were destined to be forgotten and not considered important enough to be acknowledged,” he said.

“They were just put in the ground in an unmarked common grave and forgotten about forever.

“Think about these human beings and how terrible it was for their mothers.”

More on this topic

Government accused of ignoring Protestant victims of abuseGovernment accused of ignoring Protestant victims of abuse

Bethany House records available, says Church of Ireland

Bethany survivors demand compensation from GovtBethany survivors demand compensation from Govt


More in this Section

Man, 60s, dies in crash in Co SligoMan, 60s, dies in crash in Co Sligo

PSNI chief meets businessman Kevin Lunney who was abducted and torturedPSNI chief meets businessman Kevin Lunney who was abducted and tortured

Appeal for witnesses to Limerick crash that claimed teen's lifeAppeal for witnesses to Limerick crash that claimed teen's life

RTÉ sells two paintings at Sotheby's auctionRTÉ sells two paintings at Sotheby's auction


Lifestyle

It won’t come as news to mothers-to-be that they are not eating for two, as the old saying goes, but the number of extra calories needed may come as a surprise. And it’s much fewer than you might think.Eating for two: It's quality not quantity of food that matters during pregnancy

No. It is such a small word, yet at times, something many of us find difficult to utter. The inability to say no to work, friends or family can cause so much stress in our lived lives.Learning Points: Just say no, there’s power in that little word

Fiona Kelleher has set some of the works of Múscraí poets Seán Ó Riordáin and Séamus Ó Céilleachair to music, writes Pet O'ConnellPoetry and music combine in reimagining of works of Seán Ó Riordáin and Séamus Ó Céilleachair

I fear I might be getting to that stage with my daughter Joan, who is 8, whereby I am the needy one! I fear I might be getting to that stage with my daughter Joan, who is 8, whereby I am the needy one!Mum's the word: I’m the needy one... I get the kiss off from my own daughter!

More From The Irish Examiner