Nuns' information ‘inaccurate and misleading' says Mother and Baby Homes Commission
The affidavit given to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation by the nuns who ran the Mother and Baby Home in Castlepollard was “speculative, inaccurate and misleading”.
That's according to the authors of the commission's fifth interim report into the conditions at the mother and baby home in Castlepollard and others around the country.
The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary ran the mother and baby home in Castlepollard from 1935 to 1971, as well as the homes in Bessborough in Cork and Sean Ross in Roscrea.
The commission says that it has been unable to ascertain where the majority of the more than 900 children who died in Bessborough are buried and that the congregation does not know where the remains of these children are.
The report states that the commission has established that around 220 children and eight mothers died in Castlepollard. While their burials were not recorded by the congregation, it is “likely” that they are buried in the graveyard.
The commission also noted that although there was no legal obligation for the congregation to keep a register of the burials in Castlepollard and their other mother and baby homes, there was a canon law requirement to do so.
The congregation was criticised for the affidavit that it provided to the commission.
“The congregation 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,” they say.
Nails pre-date mother and baby home
The commission also say that it is likely that the large number of nails embedded into the wall on the northern side of the graveyard at the home in Castlepollard predate the opening of mother and baby home.
“It had been suggested by some former residents that these were informal grave markers for child burials either as locational markers or markers of the fact of a burial. The archaeologists who examined the burial ground concluded that while this is possible, they are more likely to have been installed as training nails for wall vegetation and pre-date its use as a burial ground. The congregation told the Commission that it believes the nails predate the mother and baby home by about 200 years and so could possibly not be grave markers; the congregation did not cite any evidence for this,” the report says.