Campaign to mark mass grave of 800 infants
A campaign is gathering pace in Ireland to make sure that the deaths of nearly 800 infants between the 1920s-60s are remembered.
The children had been born at a centre for unmarried mothers in Galway. Due to the conditions at the time hundreds of them died of either malnutrition or some kind of disease.
A mass grave that was ‘filled to the brim with bones’ was discovered by two boys who were playing on the site.
The site was known to have been a grave yard for unbaptised babies and famine victims. However, the volume of bodies has come a shock as it was thought only a small number of children were ever buried there.
Catherine Corless is a historian and genealogist who is behind a campaign to raise €5,000 to pay for a plaque and a small statue to commemorate the children.
She found the death records for the 796 children as she was researching the home. There were no other records about them as regards to where they were buried or where their mothers came from.
She told the Irish Journal: ““We can safely assume that they’re all in that plot. A group of us came together late last year, formed a committee, and decided that, when we discovered the enormous amount of children in that plot, it was time to do something.”
The local authorities have donated €2,000 to the campaign but Corless is concerned that the fundraising is going too slowly.
She said: “People aren’t really talking about the discovery, people don’t seem shocked, I don’t understand.
“If two children were discovered in an unmarked grave, the news would be everywhere. We have almost 800 here.”
She added that the children weren’t treated well. They attended the local school but had to leave earlier than the other children and were eventually shipped off to an industrial school when they were around seven years old.