Galway Historian Finds 800 Babies in Septic Tank Grave

Hundreds of skeletons were reportedly found inside a septic tank grave next to an area in western Ireland where a “mother-and-baby home’’once stood. The 800 children apparently belonged to some of the thousands of “fallen women’’— unwed mothers– who passed through “The Home’’ in Tuam, near Galway, Ireland, between 1925 and 1961.

The Washington Post reported that more than 50 years after The Home was closed and destroyed, the whereabouts of the hundreds of children emerged from never-before-released Irish documents. Local historian Catherine Corless, who made the discovery, told the Post: “The children who died in The Home, this was them.’’

“If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week,’’ said Corless. It remains a mystery why The Home put the bodies in a septic tank and not coffin graves.


Corless also told the Washington Post that the women of The Home paid with indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy before moving on to work and live elsewhere.

“When daughters became pregnant they were ostracized completely,’’ she said. “It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.’’

The records state many of the children died as a result of malnutrition and neglect, while others died of measles, convulsions, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia. One Tuam local told Irish Central that the Home babies were “usually gone by school age- either adopted or dead.’’

A Galway historian and Tuam native, Corless remembers Home Babies from her own childhood. She says they were often bullied and claims “if you acted up in class, some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies.’’

A local Irish health board report from 1944 called the children of The Home “emaciated’’ and “pot-bellied,’’ with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.’’

In 1995, several boys discovered the mass grave, which was concealed by a cracked slab of concrete. Corless says the children told her it was “filled to the brim’’ with human skeletons and that the kids still have nightmares about their discovery.


The mass grave will likely soon be excavated and while the records account for 796 bodies, mostly of babies and toddlers, locals suspect the true number of bodies in the septic tank will surpass 800.

One anonymous source told the Daily Mail “It’s been lying there for years, and no one knows the full extent of the total of bodies down there.’’

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