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The bodies of 800 babies discovered at a former home for un-wed mothers.

There are no gravestones, no plaques and no coffins.

But buried beneath the ground of what is now a housing development in country Ireland, are the bodies of almost 800 babies and small children.

The babies were reportedly buried in a septic tank over a period of 36 years in the grounds of what was once a home for unwed mothers, run by the Bon Secours nuns.

The Tuam home operated between 1925 and 1961. Young women were sent to “The Home” at a time when being pregnant and unmarried was considered an absolute “sin”, even in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape.

None of the women were able to keep their “illegitimate” children. It now appears that while some of the babies who were born at the home were adopted out to families in the United States, countless others were left to die. The small corpses that have been discovered appear to have died from malnutrition and neglect or from diseases like tuberculosis, measles, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia.

Numerous reports have suggested that as many as two babies were dying per week at the Tuam home, which housed hundreds women and children at any one time.

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The extent of this tragedy only recently came to light after a local historian named Catherine Corless started researching the home and found local council records that indicated a high number of babies whose place of death was marked as “Children’s Home, Tuam”.

“When I was doing the research, someone mentioned there was a graveyard there for babies but I found out there was more to it than that,” Corless told the UK’s Daily Mail.

“There was just one child who was buried in a family plot in the graveyard in Tuam. That’s how I am certain there are 796 children in the mass grave. These girls were run out of their family home and never taken back, so why would they take the babies back to bury them, either?” she said.

“If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week, but I’m still trying to figure out how they could [have disposed of the bodies like that]. Couldn’t they have afforded baby coffins?” Corless told The Washington Post.

“Their bones are still there,” she said.

According to a report for The Irish Times, there have recently been calls for “an urgent inquiry, including a Garda investigation, into the circumstances surrounding the unexplained deaths of a large number of children”.

As reported in many articles in the past few days, the story of the Children’s Home is not an isolated one. In fact, many other church-run mother and baby homes in Ireland recorded high infant mortality rates.

This from the Irish Central:

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.

Statistics show a quarter of all babies born outside marriage in the 1930’s in Ireland died before their first birthdays… 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.

A memorial service was held at the Sean Ross Mother and Baby Home site this week for mothers who had lost their children – either to forced adoption or death. Among the attendees was Philomena Lee, whose story was recently portrayed in the Hollywood film Philomena staring Dame Judi Dench.

Lee, whose son Anthony was taken to America and died before she was ever able to meet him, told the Daily Mail that she was shocked at the news from Tuam. “It’s not about getting angry, it’s about doing what’s right and it’s about opening all the files,” Lee said.