NUI Galway to compile personal histories of Tuam Mother and Baby Home survivors

The personal histories and experiences of survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home are to be gathered by researchers at NUI Galway.

The project, which will be launched next Thursday, is survivor-led and involves the collecting of oral histories from survivors of the Tuam home, as well as people from the local area or those with an interest in contributing to the project.

The primary researchers are Dr John Cunningham and Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley from NUIG's Department of History. The oral histories will be housed in the James Hardiman Library at the university.

Poet Elaine Feeney will direct creative projects stemming from the recorded histories, which will be inter-generational, multi-disciplinary and involve survivors and contemporary artists.

The creative project will also liaise with local schools and the wider community.

Commenting on the oral history project, Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley stressed that it will be guided by principles of historical justice.

"The role of historians is key to this, but also the importance of the creative aspect and the involvement of students. The archive that will be developed will be important to future generations of scholars, families of survivors and to contribute to the international context," she said.

On the same day as the project launches, NUIG will host members from the Tuam Home Survivors Network exploring the topic of ‘Archiving Personal Histories: The Tuam Mother and Baby Home’.

The event will include a survivor-led workshop involving members of the network and staff and students from the university.

It will be followed by two-panel discussions exploring the issues of collecting and archiving oral histories of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

Speakers will include Catherine Corless, Breeda Murphy, Catríona Crowe, Dr Barry Houlihan, Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, Dr John Cunningham, Professor Caroline McGregor and Dr Caitríona Clear.

Catherine Corless.
Catherine Corless.

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that it has asked special rapporteur on child protection Prof. Geoffrey Shannon to examine if it is possible to begin gathering DNA samples from survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby home within current legislation.

Last October, Prof. Shannon published a report on the human rights issues arising from the discovery of infant remains in Tuam, which found that the State may be party to the “continuing offence” of preventing a lawful and decent burial unless it fully exhumes, sorts, and buries any infant remains found in unmarked plots connected to former mother and baby homes.

A full and forensic excavation of the site is expected to begin later this year.

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