The Catholic church’s deep concern for infants

Another entry in Ireland’s squalid, hateful, brutal history – the discovery of a mass grave holding the remains of 796 infants and children in County Galway. Yes that’s right – mass grave, holding 796 infants and children. A crime scene, in short; a massive crime scene; a crime scene reminiscent of the crime scene at Robert Pickton’s pig farm.

According to a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday, a mass grave has been located beside a former home for unmarried mothers and babies in County Galway. The grave is believed to contain the bodies of up to eight hundred babies, buried on the former grounds of the institution known locally as “The Home” in Tuam, north of Galway city, between 1925 and 1961

Run by the Bon Secours nuns, “The Home” housed thousands of unmarried mothers and their “illegitimate” children over those years. 

According to Irish Mail on Sunday the causes of death listed for “as many as 796 children” included “malnutrition, measles, convulsions, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and pneumonia.”

Pause over the corrosive irony of that name – the Bon Secours nuns – the Good Help nuns. The Good Help nuns who took money from the state for “helping” those infants and children, who were so “helped” that they died in large numbers of malnutrition among other things. The Good Help nuns then threw them in a mass grave. That’s some good help all right.

The babies were usually buried without a coffin in a plot that had once housed “a water tank,” the report claims. No memorials were erected, the site was left unmarked and unmourned.

The staggering mortality rate of “The Home” was apparently replicated elsewhere in Ireland.

The Sean Ross Mother and Baby Home, portrayed in the award winning film “Philomena” this year, opened in Roscrea, County Tipperary in 1930. In its first year of operation 60 babies died out of a total of 120, a fifty percent infant mortality rate, more than four times higher than in the general population at the time.

And why? Greed and callous indifference for one, and hateful beliefs for another. The church viewed those children as filthy and degenerate, and treated them according to its sick view of how such people should be treated.

Statistics show a quarter of all babies born outside marriage in the 1930’s in Ireland died before their first birthdays. As observers have remarked elsewhere, these were infant death rates from the 17th century.

In one year alone in the mid 1940’s in the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in County Cork, out of the 180 babies born 100 died.

Given the shockingly high mortality rates, it is hard not to conclude that the destabilizing threat these children represented to Irish society and its conservative religious ethos may have contributed to their untimely demise. 

I wouldn’t even try not to conclude that. I think not concluding that would just defend the mindset behind it and the corrupt theocratic power that made it possible.


  1. says

    The more I see stories like this, the more I see how religion seems primarily about organizing and controlling socialization and political interactions. Claims of good works mean nothing to me if examples like this continue to exist. Examples that show that if you don’t exist in the right way, or do things in the right way, even if the places you are different harm no one, you are trash to them. The only groups that try to affect how we socialize and do political interactions that I trust are ones that treat everyone the same and don’t seem to care about things that make us different and harm no one, or actively try to get other people to also not care about such as a means to end social bullying..

  2. says

    Let me see if I read this correctly:
    1930’s overall infant mortality in Ireland: ~12%
    1930’s infant mortality in Ireland for children of unmarried parents: ~25%
    1930’s infant mortality in Ireland for children in “The Homes”: ~50%
    That’s a horrifically stark illustration of how bad these places were.

  3. Arminius says

    I find it ironic that Christians (specifically Catholics in this case) boisterously shout “human sacrifice” as the prime example of “barbarity and incivility” that their cult “saved” Europe from whenever discussing indigenous European religions- despite evidence thereof being fantastical, second-hand, and/or without context- yet settling into a deafening silence or nagging apologetics whenever indisputable evidence of Christian barbarism at a far greater magnitude from less than a hundred years ago is unearthed.

  4. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    I can’t even muster a LOLsob. It’s sob all the way.

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    “Mother” Teresa, for all the billions of dollars she raised for the suffering poor of Calcutta, provided an inadequate diet and deliberately withheld pain relief medication from patients in agony. “Mother” Teresa’s order’s “home” was really just a place for people to die, anyhow, so who cares?

    She kept the cash and used it to build 500 convents instead O_O

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    @6 – I was just emphasizing how much the Catholic Church’s representatives disdain those they are charged with helping and regard them with contempt, as lower forms of life.

  7. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Just horrendous.

    Which is a mammoth understatement but yegods what else can I say. This is staggeringly awful.

    If anyone of those who ran “The Home” are still alive I hope they can be found and prosecuted and the victims compensated and see as much justice and public exposure of this as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *