Possible further probe at children’s burial ground at Sean Ross Abbey

A geophysical survey of infant burial grounds takes place at the site of the former Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Further investigations may be carried out into the children’s burial ground at Sean Ross Abbey, depending on the results of the geophysical survey of the site.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission engaged a company to carry out the survey, which began on Wednesday and was completed yesterday.

The survey was ordered following a tip from the member of the public with information regarding the children’s burial ground at the site. This is the only part of the campus that was being surveyed. Two other separate burial grounds, one for nuns and further old burial ground were not examined on this occasion.

A spokesperson for the commission said that “depending on the results [of the survey] further work may be required”.

This latest geophysical survey is the first time that any potential burial site outside of Tuam has been examined. It comes more than three years after the first geophysical survey of the Tuam site.

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, which ran the Sean Ross Abbey and Bessborough institutions, gave death registers it held for the homes to the HSE in 2011. They are now held by Tusla.

In the case of Sean Ross Abbey, the death register lists a total of 269 deaths between 1934 and 1967. However, research by campaigners indicates that as many as 800 children may have died there.

Cardiac failure, prematurity, and general sepsis among the most common causes of death. None of the children recorded survive until their first birthday. A total of nine women are recorded as having died, the youngest at 17 years of age.

In the case of the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home, the register shows that 470 infants and 10 women died at the institution between 1934 and 1953.

A total of 273 deaths came in a six-year period between 1939 and 1944. However, the order reported 353 deaths to State inspectors in this period.

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