In 1925, the St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home opened in Ireland to help single women with children who were seen as outcasts from society at the time. The home was open for 36 years until it eventually shut down in 1961. Hundreds of pregnant women and children stayed at the home during that time. All were forced to leave when the closure occurred. Records from the time detail very little about the fate of the children that were there.
That changed when a septic tank on the grounds of the home was recently opened. It contained the bones and remains of nearly 800 children. The remains appear to be of children who were as young as 3 weeks and as old as 13 months. Most appear to have been malnourished at the time of death.
The history of the facility shows that there seemed to have always been problems. Inspections in 1944 noted a number of problems that required attention. Additionally, the home was overcrowded. It housed around 333 women at one point when the entire facility was only capable of holding 243 people.
It is thought that overcrowding and poor conditions might have lead the staff or the mothers themselves to put the children into the septic tank. The babies likely fell victim to starvation, disease or malnutrition first. The 800 remains found might be only the start. There is still more inside the septic tank.
Irish historian Catherine Corless, who is an expert on the area, is currently pressuring the authorities to continue the investigation. She is also pushing hard for a local monument to the children. If the authorities go to the home, then it will be the first investigation there in decades.