Phil and Paul Walsh lost baby William when he was delivered close to six months into Phil’s pregnancy in December 1971.
“I went to visit the plot and I couldn’t believe what I saw. There were adult graves where the Innocents Plot used to be,” Mrs Walsh told the Limerick Post.
The couple made inquiries and a gravedigger confirmed the bodies of the babies, who were stillborn or who died before birth, had been moved to make way for adult graves and “buried down deep”.
There were no records of how many babies were buried in the plot. After the couple contacted the Limerick Post and it contacted the diocese, Bishop Brendan Leahy began an inquiry which unveiled the extent of the problem.
The diocese confirmed that it had sold the section of the burial grounds. Now a memorial plaque, commissioned by the diocese, has been placed near the location of the plot with the inscription: “This stone is dedicated to all who died before, during and after birth, and to all united in the loss of a child, whether recent or long ago. Loving God, ever caring and gentle, cradle these children in your love”.
It will be unveiled and blessed in conjunction with the official opening of the cemetery extension at Mount St Lawrence.
Mrs Walsh said that it has been an emotional journey but they were glad to have brought the matter to light.
“We’re very pleased that the burial of the children has been recognised at last. It’s very important for all the families involved. We’ll be at the blessing but now that we know the plaque is there, we go and visit,” she said.
The couple was involved with choosing the inscription and the siting of the stone.
Bishop Leahy said: “We’re very thankful to Phil and Paul, who brought a very legitimate concern to our attention. I certainly wasn’t aware of it before.”