Liam Neeson joins fight for Pope to confront truth on his recent visit to Ireland about 800 children dumped in a mass grave by Irish NUNS as star makes film about tragic home for unmarried mothers. As the Pope visits the shrine, crowds of protesters will tell him they want a forensic exhumation of the grisly cemetery nearby and the identification of the tiny remains.
The forced adoption of babies born out of wedlock, the harsh treatment dealt out have been highlighted by, among others, author and television presenter Martin Sixsmith. His investigation into a woman’s 50-year search for her son was depicted in the Oscar-nominated 2013 film Philomena.
The anger shows no sign of subsiding, nor does the growing pressure on the authorities. And now Irish star Liam Neeson is developing a new film about Tuam after the discovery of a horror so barbaric it almost defies belief: ‘significant quantities’ of child remains dumped in a septic tank in the grounds.
They uncovered an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains”, the judge-led mother and baby homes commission said. The commission said analysis of selected remains revealed ages of the deceased ranged from 35 weeks to three years old. It found that the dead had been mostly buried in the 1950s, when the facility was one of more than a dozen in Ireland offering shelter to orphans, unmarried mothers and their children. The Tuam home closed in 1961.
The discovery confirms decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home were interred on the site in unmarked graves, a common practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th-century Ireland.
The Irish government in 2014 formed the commission following the work of a local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, who found death certificates for nearly 800 children who were residents at the facility but burial records for only two.
“Everything pointed to this area being a mass grave,” Corless previously told the Guardian.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Corless requested Galway county council’s records on the home from 1925 to 1961. She was refused. But she was given documents from the 1970s, including an official map of the present-day estate the council built on the site.
“They obviously didn’t see the importance,” said Corless. “There is an area across the map marked ‘burial ground’,” she says. “First, the houses were built, around that area. Finally a playground was built on part of the burial ground itself.”
Ireland is not alone in having a dark chapter of abuse in a past recent enough to affect living generations. In Nova Scotia, the Ideal Maternity Home of East Chester, operating from 1928 to 1945, was far from ideal. The home promised discreet maternity care for unwed mothers (as well as services for married mothers) and placement of children. But according to Butterbox Babies, a 1992 book by Bette L. Cahill, the owners profited from high fees for residents and adoptive parents. There was also a high rate of infant mortality.