Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation
Released April 17, 2019
Summary of Findings
1. The major issues about burials arise in the cases of Bessborough and Tuam. It is not known where the vast majority of the children who died in Bessborough are buried. There is a small burial ground in the grounds of Bessborough. This was opened in 1956 for members of the congregation. It seems to have been assumed by former residents and advocacy groups that this is also where the children who died in Bessborough are buried as there are occasional meetings and commemoration ceremonies held there. The vast majority of children who died in Bessborough are not buried there; it seems that only one child is buried there. More than 900 children died in Bessborough or in hospital after being transferred from Bessborough. Despite very extensive inquiries and searches, the Commission has been able to establish the burial place of only 64 children. The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who owned and ran Bessborough do not know where the other children are buried.
Sacred Heart Homes
2. The burials of children who died in the three Sacred Heart Homes (Bessborough, Castlepollard and Sean Ross) are not recorded at all. More importantly, there is no certainty about where they are buried.
3. The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who owned and ran these institutions provided the Commission with an affidavit about burials generally and specifically about the Castlepollard and Sean Ross child burials but very little evidence was provided to support the statements in it. The affidavit was, in many respects, speculative, inaccurate and misleading.
4. The children who died in Castlepollard are likely to be buried in the burial ground there. However, there is no documentary evidence to confirm this.
5. As already stated, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary do not know where the children who died in Bessborough are buried. The Commission finds this very difficult to comprehend as Bessborough was a mother and baby home for the duration of the period covered by the Commission (1922 – 1998) and the congregation was involved with it for all of this time. The Commission finds it very difficult to understand that no member of the congregation was able to say where the children who died in Bessborough are buried.
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