Bodies of 800 children, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers

Guys, what do you think of this? It is disappointing to see that people are attempting to use this anti-Catholic ammo:

In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a two-metre stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed - where a housing development and children’s playground now stands - what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.
Children at “the Home” in Ireland in 1924 (Connaught Tribune, 21st June 1924) Source: @Limerick1914

Children at “the Home” in Ireland in 1924 (Connaught Tribune, 21st June 1924) Source: @Limerick1914 Photo: Supplied

“The bones are still there,” local historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the origins of the mass grave in a batch of never-before-released documents, told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “The children who died in the Home, this was them.”

A campaign is under way to place a statue and memorial plaque near the site where the children were buried in County Galway, according to Irish Central.

The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatised them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home. “When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracised completely,” Ms Corless said. “Families would be afraid of neighbours finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.”

According to documents Ms Corless provided the Irish Mail on Sunday, malnutrition and neglect killed many of the children, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Infant mortality at the Home was staggeringly high.

“If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week, but I’m still trying to figure out how they could [put the bodies in a septic tank],” Ms Corless said. “Couldn’t they have afforded baby coffins?”

Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how, as one local told the Irish Central, they were “usually gone by school age - either adopted or dead”.

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

Ms Corless has a vivid recollection of the Home Babies. “If you acted up in class, some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies,” she said. She said she recalled one instance in which an older schoolgirl wrapped a tiny stone in a bright candy wrapper and gave it to a Home Baby as a gift.

“When the child opened it, she saw she’d been fooled,” Ms Corless told Irish Central. “Of course, I copied her later and I tried to play the joke on another little Home girl. I thought it was funny at the time … Years after, I asked myself what did I do to that poor little girl that never saw a sweet? That has stuck with me all my life. A part of me wants to make up to them.”

She said she first started investigating the Home, which most locals wanted to “forget,” when she started working on a local annual historical journal. She heard there was a little graveyard near what had been the Home, and that piqued her curiosity. How many children were there?

So she requested the records through the local registration house to find out. The attendant “came back a couple of weeks later and said the number was staggering, just hundreds and hundreds, that it was nearly 800 dead children,” Ms Corless said.

Once, in 1995, Ms Corless said in the phone interview, several boys had stumbled across the mass grave, which lay beneath a cracked piece of concrete: “The boys told me it had been filled to the brim with human skulls and bones. They said even to this day they still have nightmares of finding the bodies.”

Locals suspect that the number of bodies in the mass grave, which will likely soon be excavated, may be even higher than 800. “God knows who else is in the grave,” one anonymous source told local media. “It’s been lying there for years, and no one knows the full extent of the total of bodies down there.”

Read more:

I know we see the story and then try to understand exactly what it is saying.

Thats really sickening and sad but two a week dying! there must have been an isolated outbreak of some horrible disease I doubt the nuns themselves were killing them or the mother’s but the septic tank burials why??? Couldn’t they have given these children the dignity of proper burial, so so sad to neglect a child, or to ostracize a child for a parents sin.

I hope they open an investigation and that the church pays for proper burial of the remains whether by cremating or burying them. I mean wouldn’t the church be responsible because it was a catholic convent?

If there are as many babies there as the articles say, it’s shocking and terribly sad. You have to remember that having a baby out of wedlock was considered a terrible thing back then, and the poor girls were treated like pariahs.

I hope a proper investigation is carried out and as others say, that these children are properly buried.

Praying for the repose of the souls of these children.

I think it’s shameful how the children were made fun of by adults (nuns) and children. The stigma was not just the parents…how did anyone, not just the church, ever think this was a “Christian” thing to do? How sinful they all were in their actions toward the children and mothers? They were never given the care and food the others had.
I know the church is not like this today, but it’s sad to see how with all the talk of purity and devotion, they could dump babies and children in septic tanks…what were they thinking? God would like this? What dignity is there in that?
I know our Lord welcomed these souls, maybe over 1000 of them, with open arms.
Sorry, watched a documentary type show about something similar recently and it’s still fresh. So much ignorance at one time.

Have a blessed week everyone. Off to read something more uplifting now.

No matter how anyone tries to explain this, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. As bad as many people try to make our world out to be now compared to how perfect our world used to be–I hope people can finally see and admit that it really isn’t that much worse than it used to be. The problems may be somewhat different but they aren’t really that much worse. This is disgusting and pure evil. I pray these poor forgotten babies are in Mary’s arms and finally know love and peace.

It’s disturbing how the children were described as ‘pot bellied’. I thought that the swelling stomach only occurred with severe malnutrition/starvation.

I feel terrible for the poor children being denied a dignified burial. I always feel mad as well when I read about the punishments for the mothers - how come you never heard about the men being punished? :mad: Especially when I’m certain that some of these pregnancies would have resulted from rape.

May they all rest in peace.

I’d recommend the book, “Do Penance or Perish,” which chronicles both the Catholic and Protestant response to unwed motherhood in the UK.

And I’d say that because the CoE involvement fizzled out, the Catholic institutions are left to be sued…go figure.

The grass is always greener.

There isn’t one time in history where folks didn’t opine for the “good ole’ day”.

I find it hard to wrap my brain around this story- that’s about all I have at this time.

Once again, Ireland is rocked by another shameful scandal erupting from the catholic church. How do I respond to people who ask how the very people who were supposed to have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ could treat small children and babies in such a horrifying manner? Their mothers were seen as ‘fallen’ women and their poor children as unworthy and unwanted. Where was the love, mercy and compassion? Did these nuns receive Communion on a daily basis? Where was God?

‘By their fruits shall ye know them’ said a friend of mine today, So many Irish people I know have fled the church because of the extent of sexual child abuse covered up by the church not just in Ireland but world wide, and because of the scandals from these mother and baby homes.

‘Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me’.

When I read these reports, my faith in God remains firm but I feel less and less inclined to stay in the Catholic church. How can this be the true church of Christ?

As a Lutheran, I’m no stranger to a suffering church - ours is deeply broken.

From a Lutheran standpoint, we are to expect that the church is going to suffer and break our hearts - because the devil attacks it - because the devil can’t stand to have a witness to Christ left standing.

The devil attacks that which can bring us closer to Christ and Him crucified.

I’m not trying to minimize the hurt you feel - it’s true pain to see this happen to the church. If I could, I would council you to remain steadfast in your Catholic faith and remain to proclaim the Gospel with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

When you look at history, you see all sorts of stuff like this. Even the people in the Church aren’t immune from the attitudes and errors of society.

Reminds me of a line from the executioners song (the executioner is listing people who should be executed) in Gilbert & Sullivans Operetta “The Mikado”

“People who praise, in enthusiastic tones, every century but the one they’re in, every country but their own.”

Pray about it.

Christ’s Church is perfect but it is made of people who aren’t.

The Church exists as both human and divine. Temporal and mystical.


I think most people in Ireland feel that it was the church who created the attitudes of the society. Have you any idea how much power and influence the church had in Ireland? No-one would ever have questioned the authority of a priest or religious and they were seen as saintly because they had given their lives to Christ. It was the church in Ireland who demonised unmarried mothers (where were the fathers?) and made it such a shame and disgrace to have an unmarried mother in the family that parents just threw these girls out. And they went straight to these laundries and baby homes where they were treated like slaves, forced to do unpaid work, treated brutally and forced to give up their children; children who were often sold to wealthy American couples if they survived. But in this story it is the detail about their burial site that tells the whole story. These children can’t have been baptised or they would have been buried in consecrated ground. They dumped them in a sewage pit.

And these are the people who were supposed to know and love God and be an example to the rest of us! What is WRONG with the catholic church?All this abuse of women and chidren just breaks my heart. It is so ungodly, let’s face it, they were carrying out Satan’s work and using the name of God, just like the paedophile priests. This frightens me so much! Is there any other group that you would belong to, if you discovered its members were committing these kinds of sins and crimes, wouldn’t you disassociate yourself from it instantly? It’s evil! Someone please explain to me how the catholic church can still claim to be the church of Jesus Christ? I know how I imagine Jesus Christ would deal with these people! I am so upset.

~ Muriel Rukeyser

We set great wreaths of brightness on the graves of the passionate
who required tribute of hot July flowers—
for you, O brittle-hearted, we bring offering
remembering how your wrists were thin and your delicate bones
not yet braced for conquering.

The sharp cries of ghost-boys are keen above the meadows,
and little girls continue graceful and wondering.
Flickering evening on the lakes recalls those young
heirs whose developing years have sunk to earth,
their strength not tested, their praise unsung.

Weave grasses for their childhood—who will never see
love or disaster or take sides against decay
balancing the choices of maturity.
Silent and coffined in silence while we pass
loud in defiance of death, the helpless lie.

Great post. Thank you.

Looking back at these sort of times it seems that many religious missed the main message of the bible. Love comes first, always and discipline second…wasn’t that why Jesus has such a problem with the pharisees?

That’s all well and fine, but it’s the institution of the church which has carried out all these abuses and sought to cover them up. It is indeed the work of the devil, but it is a world-wideabuse so the priests and religious orders of the church must be full of people who are gone to the devil while believing they are holy and preaching to the rest of us! ** What are we supposed to do? Just carry on and pretend everything is fine?

I will always remain steadfast in my faith in Jesus Christ and proclaim the gospel, but once again I am having serious doubts about whether I want to remain in a church where abuses of all kinds have been prolific, and especially the abuse of the most vulnerable ie children. I just don’t get it. It seriously undermines the church’s stance on abortion and contraception, for example- it’s a heinous crime to have an abortion, but it’s ok to have a baby which is then treated like excrement and spends it’s life starving and mistreated? That’s ok, is it? To me it’s equally horrific. I hope there’s a hot place in hell for these people and they’ll probably all be shouting ‘Lord, Lord!’ as they are cast down.

’ I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’ Revelation 18:4 .
I’m really beginning to fear that the catholic church is the false church we should come out of. Some body please explain to me, in the light of all this rampant cruelty, sin and abuse carried out and covered up by the catholic church- why is it still the true church? Has the devil infiltrated the church to such an extent that it is now a byword for hypocrisy? And what are catholics like ourselves supposed to do?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit