Imagine an orphanage where news that the mortality rate for the last year was 19% was good news. That was the mother and baby home in Pelletstown in Dublin in 1930.
While fatalities had undeniably fallen, the fact remained that 66 – or almost one in five – of the 336 children housed in Pelletstown died in the year to March 31st, 1930.
Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925, with a measles epidemic cited as the explanation for the high death rate. The following year, more than a third died. The death rate rose to 42 per cent in 1927 before falling to under 20 per cent in 1930.
Between 1924 and 1930, 662 children died at the institution, an average of over 94 deaths a year. This compares to the 796 deaths recorded in the children’s home inTuam over a 36-year period between 1925 and 1960, an annual average of 22.