The historian who revealed the depths of the Tuam Babies scandal tonight received a standing ovation from the Late Late Show audience as she recounted her long pursuit to uncover the truth of what happened at the County Galway Mother and Babies Home, writes Joe Leogue.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that the truth has come out,” Catherine Corless told host Ryan Tubridy.
Ms Corless said her childhood memories of the home inspired her undertaking, and that she wished to find out what happened to those who lived within the institution run by the Sisters of the Bon Secours.
“I had a memory of the home, and I had that little memory in the back of my mind of the little children, the home babies we called them.
“I lived out past that home and it was surrounded by ten foot high walls. I always have that memory of passing that long stretch of wall and wondering what was inside it.
“It was all kind of a secrecy, it was kind of intriguing to know what was behind it,” she said.
Ms Corless said she was surprised at last week’s revelation that ‘significant’ amounts of human remains were found buried under the home - not because of what the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes had found, but the manner in which the find was announced.
“I was really shocked, not at the find because I knew they were there, but because Minister Katherine Zappone came out with a very honest, open statement and she didn’t soften the truth either, she just said it as it was,” Ms Corless said.
“I was surprised at that, I thought it was wonderful.”
She was reluctant to say she felt vindicated by the find, but admitted that she was aware that there were detractors who doubted her claims.
“I knew they were there, I didn’t take much notice of anybody, what was said about me,” she said.
“I think it was mostly online and that kind of thing, I didn’t really bother with it.”
Tubridy also interviewed Anna Corrigan and Peter Mulryn, who both had mothers who were sent to the home.
Mr Mulryan recalled how a priest called to his grandfather’s home to tell him that Mr Mulryan’s mother was “causing a scandal” and that he wanted her to leave the parish.
The priest subsequently brought the woman - who was seven months pregnant - out of the parish to a home in Loughrea by putting her on the crossbar of his bicycle for the 20-mile trip. She would be subsequently moved to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.
Thanks to Ms Corless’ work, Mr Mulryan discovered his mother also gave birth to a girl - a sister he never knew.
She died at nine months old, but he does not know where her remains lie.
“Where is she? Is she there? Where is she tonight?”
“I need to know and I will not rest until I find out,” he said.
Ms Corrigan said her mother said her mother told her she gave birth two boys in the home.
One of her brothers, John, died at 16 months of the measles with the term “congenital idiot” written on his death certificate.
However her other brother William was born in 1950. While he is marked in the home’s register as having died at seven months old, no death certificate has been found for him.
“All I have to rely on is what the nuns are telling me through what’s written in the ledgers.”
Before she died, Ms Corrigan’s mother told a family member that she had a baby adopted.
She wants to find out what happened to William, and to recover what, if any remains of her brothers lie under the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Homes in Tuam.