Locals 'shocked and horrified' by Tuam discovery

One resident said, "for all I know, I could have two cousins myself in there"

Locals 'shocked and horrified' by Tuam discovery

Image: Henry McKean

Last week, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes confirmed the discovery of a 'significant amount' of children's remains at the site of a former Bon Secours home in Tuam.

The Co Galway home operated between 1925 and 1961. It is believed several hundred children were buried at the site, and the recovered remains are likely to date from the 1950s.

Politicians on all sides of the political divide have condemned the find, while the Archbishop Bishop of Tuam Michael Neary said he was horrified and greatly shocked to learn of the scale of the discovery.

Meanwhile, journalists from Ireland and around the world have descended on Tuam amid international shock and horror over the discovery.

Newstalk Drive reporter Henry McKean visited the Dublin Road Estate in Tuam - built in the 1960s and 70s on the site of the former mother and baby home.

Seamus Ryan says his aunt was in the mother and baby home.

"It's a shock to myself and my relations," he explained. "It was only going on behind the back wall [...] The graveyard is only here out the back.

"For all I know, I could have two cousins myself in there. My own aunt was in there, and them kids were supposed to have been sent to America. But we don't know - we can't track them down.

He added: "We know that there is more bodies under these houses, and under the houses there across the road. And they're saying there's no record of it."

"It's just an absolute disgrace"

Image: Henry McKean

Locals say they are humiliated, upset, shocked and disgusted following the revelations.

Marie Mills' garden backs on to the tarmac where it is believed almost 800 children may have been buried.

She is just coming to term with the news, telling Henry: "It makes me feel terrible to think that there are people out there, and they don't know where their kids are.

"I'm in shock. We had a candlelight vigil there, we all walked down to the town hall... Some of the people that were there spoke, and to hear those speak and cry... it was something shocking.

"To see grown men cry... And they were men that were in there, and knew what it was all about," she added.

Christopher Mannion visited the burial ground to pay his respects. He used to play football above the graveyard.

"I feel guilty for playing for playing here when there were young babies buried here - it's just an absolute disgrace," he recalled. "People have to answer for this.

"I have young kids myself - my youngest baby is 16 months. For them growing up, to see what's happened, it's disgraceful. It would bring you to tears."

He observed: "I'd say there's a lot of lads my age now - I'm in my 40s - probably feeling the same thing. Not knowing... They were playing down here, yet there was bodies underneath."

Henry also spoke to Christopher's 12-year-old son, who said: "I used to play here, and it's just horrifying".

***

Anyone looking for information on the Tuam discovery can contact the Information Line on 01-647-3118 / 01-647-3232. The line is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.

Anyone affected can also directly contact the HSE information line on 1850-241-850.