Many of us have read, and some have written, of the deadly saga of the so-called ‘Catholic Mother and Baby Homes’ where, for years if not decades, there were constant rumours of illegal virtual sales of healthy children, mainly to America; those children being the illegitimate offspring of single Irish mothers: and also of the almost routine ‘death by natural causes’ of hundreds of those same illegitimate kids. As most of these ‘Homes’ were run by delegates from the Invisible Government of the Irish Republic, namely the Catholic Church and its bishops, nuns and priests; nary a word was ever probed, or examined. Nothing was ever allowed to damage or stain the image of a ‘Caring’ Church, a Church who always stated it listened: but in reality those same ‘ears’ were literally programmed to re-iterate that the ‘Homes’ were run on truly ‘Christian’ ideals, and who: in stark fact, was going to challenge the Invisible Government?
That same ‘Government’ who literally ruled by fear, by duplicity, by a rigid determination that THEIR rules were the right and only ones to follow, that bishops, priests and nuns could do no wrong, because they were Christ’s representatives on the Earth and in Ireland: and that THEY KNEW BEST what was good for the parishioners whose weekly tithes were examined with a smile for the silver and the paper, and a warning frown for the copper.
It was the painstaking research of Catherine Corless, a local historian with no academic affiliation, that led to the establishment of the investigative commission. It was known that a graveyard for children had once been on the grounds of the home, and Corless, as part of an effort to raise money for a proper memorial, began doing intensive research on who, exactly, was buried there. She obtained the death records of 796 children, ranging from newborns to 9-year-olds, who had died of a variety of illnesses at the home. Yet she could find none of the names of those children among the records of those buried in any nearby cemetery. She learned that two boys playing in the area in 1975 reported stumbling across what appeared to be human skeletons in a pit. And using old maps of the homes, she determined that the spot where the boys made their gruesome discovery was also the site where a septic sewage tank had been located when the home was a workhouse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Her theory attracted international publicity in 2014 and then, in equal measure, disbelief. The man who tells his story was ‘fostered’ to a couple who were looking for a healthy boy, not to give him a place where he might grow, learn and enjoy life; but instead to work in the house as an unpaid drudge. His mother escaped from a Magdalene laundry, and fled to England for fear of being arrested, and sent back to the Laundry. She finally met again with her son, and met his wife and her three grandchildren, and had six years of comfort before she died.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Whilst these days I hew to no religion at all, I do accept that if all the words attributed to Christ, inclusive of those printed above; are verbatim, he was surely the wisest and most forgiving of all mankind. But, down the centuries, his thoughts and ideals have been corrupted beyond belief. The very Church which claims to be led by the direct descendant of his most senior disciple is, in itself, a multi-billion-dollar business; and as with all businesses, it wishes to hold on to the physical aspects of its business; the art, the treasure, the property, the enormous piles of cash it controls; and fights bitterly against any attempt to divest itself of any money claimed as compensation for the crimes and sins of its appointees.
The bones which are said to lie, almost in bundles, beneath the green sward pictured in the WaPo story, are the direct result of an Institution which dictated that an illegitimate baby was a mortal sin, and the whole process had to be covered up, with the unfortunate mother declared a sinner: her child was forfeit to the Church who routinely sold the babies and children to the highest bidder, usually American. The young mother, almost without exception uneducated and thence almost always in thrall to the Church, was then sent into servitude at one of the many Magdalene Laundries to ‘serve out her penance and her debt’. The debt? That was for the expense of feeding her during her confinement, and allegedly-medical services during the birth.
The healthy children were adopted, or sold, or both. The lesser children were literally left to fend almost for themselves, and with the amount of bacteria, germs and general filth spread around from open and unclean toilet facilities, no wonder the weaker fell by the wayside, and died ‘from natural causes’: almost 800 of them; dumped like garbage in a disused septic tank; if the research is proven to be true.
Needless to say, the records have long gone: “Sure, and it was a long time ago: and after all is said, they were fallen women, the ‘childer’ were the results of carnal incontinence, and better that they died than lived to make reminders of their mother’s shame!” was maybe the thinking of these ‘Bonne Secours’ nuns; whose motto was ‘Good Help to those in Need”.