‘Definite physical indications’ found at Bessborough of possible shallow graves

A leading archaeologist said there are "definite physical indications" there could be unmarked shallow graves in the grounds of the Bessborough mother and baby home.

Toni Maguire completed a basic examination of the Cork City site yesterday with four women born at the Cork home — two of whom had travelled from the US. A study of General Registration Office and Department of Health records by the Adoption Rights Alliance suggests up to 1,000 mothers and their babies may have died there over several decades.

Toni Maguire said she would “really like to complete full geophysical examinations” on the short avenue that runs from the Bessborough grotto to the formal Little Angels plot.

She said site examinations must be carried out on lands just outside the Bessborough boundary as it could yet be built upon by developers. She said shallow indentations gave a definite indication there could potentially be shallow graves at Bessborough

The group also visited the site outside the boundary of Bessborough, adjacent to the Mahon flyover on Cork’s South Ring Road. Records show this land was once used as a children’s burial ground by the family who previously owned the Bessborough estate.

“Because of the documentary evidence that says the land outside these boundaries was traditionally used as a children’s burial ground, you have to check it out also,” said Ms Maguire.

A full geophysical investigation of Bessborough would require the permission of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. Permission to examine the adjacent lands would have to be sought from the developers who bought it from the order.

CEO of the current Bessborough Centre Thomas Quigley said: “I hope none of this leads to scaremongering. We all have a responsibility to work together; the mother and baby homes, the advocate groups and the Government.”

He said he would welcome an independent investigation as soon as possible.

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