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No country for young women: Honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland

magdalene

When I was in first year in secondary school in 1997, a girl in the year above me was pregnant. She was 14. The only people who I ever heard say anything negative about her were a group of older girls who wore their tiny feet “pro-life” pins on their uniforms with pride. They slagged her behind her back, and said she would be a bad mother. They positioned themselves as the morally superior ones who cared for the baby, but not the unmarried mother. They are the remnants of an Ireland, a quasi-clerical fascist state, that we’d like to believe is in the past, but still lingers on.

The news broke last week of a septic tank filled with the remains of 796 children and babies in Galway. The remains were accumulated from the years 1925 to 1961 and a common cause of death was malnutrition and preventable disease. The Bon Secours “Home” had housed thousands of unmarried mothers and their children down through the years. These women had violated the honour of their communities, by bringing shame on their families through “illegitimate” pregnancy and therefore had to be hidden at all costs, and punished for their transgressions. The children died as they lived, discarded like the refuse of society that the Church considered them and the mothers that gave birth to them to be. Most of the children who survived were put to work in industrial schools under the supervision of perverts and sadists.

Thousands of the healthy ones were sold abroad – mostly to the US –  for “adoption.” For the ones who remained, the outlook was poor. Mortality rates of 50% or 60% were common in these homes.  In the case of  the ones that died, either the Church did not feel they were valuable enough to feed and care for, or they actively worked towards their death. The risk they posed to the social order by virtue of the circumstances of their conception and birth was too great to let go unchecked. These children certainly did not die for lack of money or resources on the Church’s part (they had an income from the children they sold), and the fewer children of this kind there were, the less threat there was to the church’s control over society.

If the Church had allowed them to grow up to be functioning adults in Irish society it would have ran the risk of demonstrating that the institution of marriage was not absolutely integral to the moral well-being of a person. Women were not allowed keep their babies because the shame that their existence brought upon the community would be far too great. They were imprisoned within Magdalene Laundries to atone for their sins of honour, and their babies were removed from them as part of their punishment – women who dishonoured the community were deemed to unfit to parent.

Contemporary Ireland feigned shock when stories of the Laundries and residential institutions emerged. Perhaps the shock of those who were too young to be threatened with being put in one for “acting up” was genuine, because the institutions started to close as the years went on. But people in their fifties and sixties now, will remember how the “Home Babies” sometimes came to schools, and were isolated by other (legitimate) children, and then sometimes never came back. While those school-children may not have comprehended fully the extent of what happened, their parents and teachers, and the community of adults surrounding them knew.

Ireland as a whole was complicit in the deaths of these children, and in the honour crimes against the women. They were the “illegitimate babies” born to the “fallen women” who literally disappeared from villages and towns across Ireland in to Magdalene Laundries. Everybody knew, but nobody said, “Honour must be restored. We must keep the family’s good name.”

The women themselves served a dual purpose in the Laundries. They were a warning to others what happened when you violated the rule of the Church, and they were financial assets engaged in hard labour on behalf of the Church. They were not waged workers; they did not receive payment. They could not leave of their own free will, and their families, for the most part, did not come for them; the shame on the family would be too great. Ireland had a structure it used to imprison women for being sexual beings, for being rape victims, for not being the pure idolised incubator for patriarchy, for not having enough feminine integrity, or for being simply too pretty for the local priest’s liking. Ireland has a long tradition of pathologising difference.

People did know what went on in those institutions. Their threat loomed large over the women of Ireland for decades. On rare occasions when people attempted to speak out, they were silenced, because the restoration of honour requires the complicity of the community. Fear of what other people will think of the family is embedded in Irish culture.

The concept of honour means different things in different cultures but a common thread is that it can be broken but restored through punishing those who break it. We are familiar with the hegemonic concepts of “honour killing” and “honour crimes” as a named form of violence against women in cultures other than ours. The papers tell us it is not something that people do in the West. Honour killings, and honour crimes are perpetually drawn along racialised lines and Irish and UK media happily present them within the context of a myth of moral superiority.

Honour crimes are acts of domestic violence, acts of punishment, by other individuals – sometimes family, sometimes authorities – for either real or perceived transgressions against the community code of honour. However, it is only when there is a woman wearing a hijaab or a the woman is a person of colour, or ethnicised, that “honour” is actually named as a motivation for the act of violence.  It is a term that has been exoticised, but it is not the act itself or the location it occurs, but the motivation behind it that is important in defining it.

Women of colour, and Muslim women, are constructed as the “other;” we are told these women are given in marriage at a young age by controlling fathers who pass on the responsibility for controlling them to husbands. “Protection” of women is maintained through a rigid sytem of controlling their sexuality in a framework of honour and shame. When these women transgress the boundaries of acceptable femininity they are abused and shunned by their community. Punishments range from lashing to death, but include physical beatings, kidnappings and imprisonment.

Imprisoning women in the Magdalene Laundries deserves to be named as an honour crime because of a cultural obsession that believed the family’s good name rested upon a woman’s (perceived) sexual activity that either her father or husband or oldest brother was the caretaker of. Her sentence to the Laundry was to restore the family honour.

Recently a friend of mine tweeted when the verdict was returned in the murder trial of Robert Corbet. Corbet was convicted of murdering Aoife Phelan, a woman from Laois he had been seeing, who told him she was pregnant. He hit her, then strangled her, then fearing that she was not actually dead, he put a black bag over her head and fixed it with two cable ties and buried her in a barrel on the family homestead. The next day he got on a plane to New York to meet his ex-girlfriend to attempt to repair their relationship. My friend had outlined the case and on twitter referred to Robert Corbet attempting to have a “dirty weekend away” in New York.

Following this, my friend received unsolicited mail to her facebook account, from a person claiming to be the cousin of Robert Corbet’s ex-girlfriend saying: “….how dare you say a dirty weekend in new york and speak about my cousin who is his ex girlfriend like that . you don’t know what happened when he went over or why he went over you don’t know my cousin so how dare you say that it was a dirty weekend away.”

The point of mentioning this is certainly not to make anything of Corbet’s ex’s character or actions, but his intentions after he killed a woman, as well as the the mentality of the person who sent this mail. That message is a symptom of rural Ireland’s chronic obsession with shame and the keeping of a person’s “good name” at all costs; a stranger made a post on the internet about a man’s probable intentions after murdering a woman, and someone else’s immediate reaction is not to read what she said concerning the murder of a woman, but to attest to the moral purity of her cousin. There is something very wrong with that.

There was something wrong in Listowel when a parish priest gave a character reference for Danny Foley, a man convicted of sexual assault, whose victim was refused service afterwards in bars and shops. When the verdict was returned, fifty people (mostly middle-aged men) formed a queue in the courthouse to shake the hand of Danny Foley. Journalists happily took quotes from locals saying what a shame it was, as this wasn’t his character; he was a good man, from a good family. The victim did not matter. The priest said of her, “Well she has a child you know, and that doesn’t look good.” John B. Keane wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

We have not come so far from the Magdalene Laundries. Robert Corbet initially lied to the guards about where he had buried Aoife Phelan because he “wanted to protect the family home place.” The need to keep the family name intact is embedded in Ireland so much, that there are even other women happy to be complicit with, and benefit from patriarchy. They are the girls in my school who wore their “pro-life” feet pins (one of them is now a doctor I am told). They are the women who shook Danny Foley’s hand. They are the women who condemn other women for doing things that would have landed them in a Magdalene Laundry a few decades earlier. Let nobody question their honour.

Irish culture has had a traditional focus on eradicating troublesome women and their offspring. For years unmarried pregnant women were punished and hidden away in homes. Women who need abortions travel in silence to have them in secret in England, or they have secret home abortions here. Government ministers actively engage in policies that make it more difficult to be a single mother, and to speak out against it is deemed immoral and not of value to the community. A person sending unsolicited emails to a person concerning a third party’s moral purity, and then publicly tweeting in relation to it demonstrates her own value to the community by positioning the importance of women’s role in public morality above that of the murder of an individual woman – a woman who was buried in a barrel to protect the family home.

We are told to be silent and not talk about things. Difference, and naming difference in Ireland is pathologised. Even those who are meant to be the good guys are not exempt from the cultural effect of this. Women when they are abused in activism or online are told not to retaliate. We are called “toxic and hostile” for having the audacity to name misogynist abuse where we see it.  We get death threats for speaking out about abortion. But we are told to “be kind” at all costs. When people abuse victims of domestic violence online, we are told to leave their abusers alone. Women must never appear to be angry. We must be nice to those who abuse us. We must be always nice no matter the cost to us; we must not bring shame upon the community.

This is not so far away from the mentality that locked women up in homes and threw children in septic tanks to be forgotten. It absolutely depended on complicity of wider society. It could not have existed without the collaboration of the whole community; the teachers; the priests; the nuns; the people that ran the undertakers; the local councillors; the people who brought the laundry to the nuns; perhaps your grandmother who cuddled you to sleep at night.

We are told it was a different time, and things are different now.

Youth Defence still sell their pins online. Joan Burton continues her crusade to paint single mothers as lazy and worthless. National newspapers will freely print opinion pieces denigrating them. 796 dead children will get a memorial but no one will be held to account for their deaths. Those who ask for it will be told to be kind. The religious orders who put them in a septic tank will continue unquestioned. Those who put the women in Magdalene Laundries will continue to work for “fallen women”. Women will be denied control over their own bodies. They will die for the want of medical care.

It must be so. To do otherwise, would bring shame on the family. But when we look the other way, and allow the lie that we live in a modern progressive democracy to breathe, we allow our authoritarian Catholic past to continue to cast its shadow.

224 responses »

  1. Furious, righteous and absolutely outstanding essay!

    Reply
    • William White

      Brilliant and brutally honest discription of the reality of life in this Catholic dominated country throughout its entire history. Thanks to the teaching and strictutes of the Catholic Church and to its political apologists it is a history of narrow mindedness, intolerence, misogyny, inhumanity and mind-blowing hypocrisy.

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      • Jane Barclay

        Hear Hear William, you said it all in two sentences. I wish I could be as succinct instead of ranting but my anger and frustration know no bounds.

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    • Thank you for this. But let is get our priorities right. The driving force behind this criminality was the anti women un-democratic Catholic church. But it does not stop there. After the war of independence Irish capitalism who had played no real role in this needed allies. They allied themselves with the Catholic church, the deal was that the Catholic church would get the hospitals, schools and control over so-called morals in return for which the Catholic church would preach that capitalism was the only way. This was the dirty deal that filled this mass grave.

      I cannot for the life of me see how anybody can belong to the Catholic church. In fact as an atheist any church. But even more so I cannot see how people who call themselves republicans can belong to the Catholic church. After British imperialism the Catholic church along with Irish capitalism was the main force dominating and exploiting the Irish people. Yet we see the Gerry Adams and co getting baptized, married and buried by the full time organizers, priests, bishops, cardinals, popes of the anti women pro capitalist Catholic church. Sean Throne

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      • taylor bridges

        good point about government-church alliance and mutual culpability. I too cannot see how anyone steps foot into such a place, I have lost friends over this issue.

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      • William White

        Totally agree John, the Church is one of the main pillars of capitalist society, but in Ireland its influence and control was equal to any muslim country, thanks to the complience of a weak and subservient capitalist class. Remember you from Derry, hope you are well, Willie White, brother of the late Johnny.

        Reply
        • Carola Fischer

          Everywhere where RELIGION and GOVERNMENT collaborate great injustices are possible, even today.

    • An excellent piece about how things can go so badly wrong.

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    • Magdalene Laundries, Industrial Schools, Mother & Baby Homes and so called “orphanages”, 72 institutions across the country processed 250,000 women and children over a 40 odd year period. Ireland’s Holocaust. Call it what it was, as you rightly say the legacy remains in more ways than one. This history will not be taught in our schools to change the mindset that exists still. At least German students hear about theirs regardless of the guilt and shame that goes with it. Well done on a brilliant essay, the only thing you didn’t make clear was the funding of these institutions. A capitation grant was also paid by the government, for example 50 pounds a year in the 30s, which was more than adequate to feed children who were subsequently starved, the money used to swell the church coffers, no Fish on Friday for these catholic children. Shame on a church which doesn’t deserve to call itself Christian and shame on all those who supported it or turned a blind eye – the culpable ignorance of the Irish.

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      • In truth the Roman Catholic cult has nothing to do with Christ consciousness.

        http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/murderers.htm

        The Church, which, with a satanic twist of humour, claimed to be the instrument of ‘Christ’s loving kindness’ , taught a brutalised and impoverished people new meanings to the words pain and suffering…
        For those who dared to be different:
        Incarceration – starvation – psychological torment and terror – laceration – mutilation – strangulation – suffocation – crushing – choking- burning – garrotting – slow and agonizing death.”
        Iron Spider
        The iron would usually be heated to red-hot and then used to slowly rip the breasts from the body. It would be used for such crimes as heresy, adultery, self-induced abortions, blasphemy and other “hideous” crimes. “

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      • Call it what you like, but please don’t call it a Holocaust. This is the Holocaust: http://isurvived.org/Bergen-Belsen_liberation.html

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        • The word holocaust means wholesale sacrifice or destruction (Oxford English Dictionary). There have been and continue to be many examples of mans inhumanity to man.

    • Very honest and true. And righteously angry.

      I recall as a child that we sometimes had a ‘maid’, due to my mother suffering a chronic illness. One I remember came from a ‘home’ for ‘fallen girls’ located nearby, a place I knew little of but about which an eerie, strange atmosphere seemed to cling. In our wild boys’ play, where boundaries meant nothing, we never ventured into its grounds.

      The maid was young, pretty and sweet to me and my brothers. But she didn’t last long — for some small transgression she was sent back to the nuns. Her replacement was not from such a place, but a non-fallen woman from my mother’s home area, and she was not at all sweet, nor kind. She was exactly the sort who would have condemned her predecessor as an immoral wench, and had all the authoritarian, beady-eyed self-righteousness that went with that. I hated her.

      Years later I met a man who had also been ‘taken care of’ by the same nuns. Beaten. Abused. Repressed. He is still in therapy. But at least he is not bones in a septic tank.

      I mention all this just to emphasise my agreement with Stephanie’s contention that “everybody knew”. We didn’t have ‘home babies’ in our school, but that home and others were always mentioned in a hush, or as a threat, or as a means to keep us on the straight and narrow. Us kids didn’t know, not really, but we were afraid, frightened, aware of the Bogeyman — and rightly. The Bogeyman was God’s agent and wore a black cassock or habit, and he/she could get you if he wanted and lock you away.

      We knew something. Not as much as adults, but something. We knew about the Christian brother who liked to fondle the boys, we knew which priest to steer clear of. Our parents, surely, knew much more.

      Ireland is no different to anywhere else. There is no ‘other’. We’ve done it all — child rape, sale of ‘illegitimate’ babies, murder, use of children in medical experiments, child and young adult slave labour, the lot. With the courts, the Gardai, and civil society as whole complicit in it — even the ISPCC, whose agent used to come to take the children away: the ‘cruelty man’. And we will keep doing it while ignorance reigns and the Christian churches have such a grip on social policy, medical and nursing education, schools, and other institutions.

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      • Jane Barclay

        Absolutely right Basil. I am 56 and I can remember well the “naughty girls”, as they were termed from Peacock Lane Laundry, at the back of my Nan’s house in Cork, trudging to mass on a Sunday morning in their white ankle socks and red berets, objects of ridicule or pity. We were all threatened with Bessborough in the 70’s, everyone knew and it was accepted without question. Enda Kenny and Ruairi Quinn have been in government since then and it turns my stomach when I hear him and other people in the media denying any knowledge and pretending it was all before their time, declaring we need an investigation, commissioning reports that go on for decades and dragging out apologies to the victims. I’m younger than those two so I wonder which country these people were brought up in. Such hypocrisy. The Tuam grave is only the tip of the iceberg. We can blame the culture, blame the institutions, blame communities, blame the government but bottom line the blame should rest squarely at the door of the catholic church. The church created the moral culture that allowed these places to exist with their greed for power over a people they sought to control from the cradle to the grave, not just through incarceration of transgressors but through their normal schools which taught to accept rather than question. My son recently graduated 6th year and he was presented with a class photo and a holy candle to wish him luck in his leaving cert. In the envelope there was also a small plastic glow-in-the-dark rosary bead and believe it or not a pair of brown scapulars which were inscribed “he who wears this shall not burn in the eternal flame”. I hadn’t seen those things since the 60s but it shows that this sort of thing is only too alive and well and still trying to influence our children, as of they don’t have enough anxieties. The scapulars ended up in the eternal flame of my wood-burning stove. I was frothing at the mouth. Ireland will never be free until it is free of the catholic church.

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        • William White

          Jane, your anger and frustration at the depths of these crimes and at the sheer hypocrisy of those responsible and those who close their eyes to it, is well justified and is shared by so many others who are not in denial. And you are right, this holocaust, for thats what it is, is the outworking of a culture of sexual repression which is the direct consequence of Catholic doctrine and teaching on humanity, morality and on human sexuality. Throughout its history Christianity, and especially the Catholic variety, has adopted a gravely pessimistic and antagonistic attitude towards the human condition in general and towards human sexuality in particular. Catholic teaching has inspired contempt for the corruptible human body, whilst the soul is invested with all the higher qualities and virtues of a spiritual or supernatural world. All that is spiritual or immortal is pure and righeous, whilst all that is mortal and human has the potential for sin and evil. This obsessive and contemptuous view of human nature and human sexuality is the main driving force for a culture of sexual repression that has dominated Irish society for generations. It is this inhuman doctrine which has lead to a culture which associates women’s sexuality with temptation to sin and all human sexuality with the twin burdens of guilt and shame. It is this that explains the sexual and emotional inadequacies of clergy, christian brothers and nuns who were educated within the narrow confines of this warped philosophy of life. It is this culture that explains the sordid history of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clergy and religious and the high incidences of child sexual abuse within this Catholic country. The reason so many of the older generation of Catholics either cannot or will not look at this is that to do so would undermine everything that they ever believed in and all that they are. Fortunately, we have a younger generation who think for themselves, young women like Stephanie Lord who see through the lies and the hypocrisy and who are not afraid to challange the liers and the hypocrites.

    • Every single word is true here.
      Right down to 2014 with All Irish women deemed feeble minded/mentally ill in family law”
      Leave a DV situation and you get the same reaction with judges ordering female victims home to obey because this is a Catholic country and we women ought to know our place still.
      I had to hear it with my own ears to believe it.
      HSE also support male abusers and even recommend the abused children be given Electric Shock to burn out memories of abuse so they can then be placed with abuser/rapist.
      HSE social workers threaten female victims of DV with locking them up for telling and they do. They also make female victims homeless in order to force victims back- otherwise HSE will have the legal point to snatch the children and warehouse them for profit.
      Then the secret inquisition court will unlawfully extinguish the children’s rights to inherit as punishment for speaking out.
      2014 and how many children are raped in care? How many disappear?
      Frances Fitzgerald former minister for children never once responded.

      I remember the words like yesterday “Jesus Christ, you cannot leave your husband as it will bring shame on the family”
      I left and never saw any “family” after that.
      It was all about what the neighbours would say.
      Still today, no solicitor has the balls to take the case and address the matter, lest he or she be blackballed.
      The RC church holds its Red Mass annually for the judiciary- so why wonder that male rapists walk free.?

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  2. As much as I agree with a lot of what you have written here. I think it is wrong to blame all the people in being complicit here. The control system on Irish people was to blame, the media has a duty to report what goes on in a country, during these times the average working class person was barely surviving.
    I remember some teenage girls that were pregnant in the eighties and the whispers about them, but i remember my mother explaining their situation and the stigma that some people would put on their children and how not to treat people like that. My mother did what she could do in her limited capacity as a housewife, she and others raised openminded people not bigots filled with hate, to the point when a friend of mine who found out his parent was his aunt, he asked if I had known. I replied yes and explained why I never told him, the simple answer was it had made no difference to me.
    Now I and many others have children outside of the constraints of the church and they are healthy, beautiful and well informed people. So when you go on the attack, go take the fight to the same people who keep this system going. The local elections show how the big parties had members out as Independents, where was the media informing then, the bankers, politicians and corrupt business dealings all getting away with.
    Where is our deck of cards showing Irelands most wanted, just over three thousand were killed in 911, look at the war that ensued, how many were abused by this state, the death toll is going up. If you have ever protested, it is there you will see what power the people have to change things and what power is used on those same people by our Garda. You use guilt to make the people complicit in crimes that the church and state committed, backed by the garda force and kept quiet by the media. It is up to the media to inform its readers and to help bring about a more open and tolerant society.

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    • The media “sell” information, they don’t necessarily inform and it is up to each person to stand up for what they feel is right, not just go along with the safety of the crowd and what they are doing.

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      • So right Angie. Irish Meeja like RTE are Government Mouthpieces . Unfortunately Irish people are not good at standing up for what is right. Things have to not only reach boiling point but spill all over the hob before we react.Look to the Brehon Laws before the arrival of the Coloniser ( of minds) St Patrick arrived in 5th Century. Women were equal in status and had rEAL rights. All destroyed under Male dominated Church of Rome which was , itself , locked in a battle with the Eastern Church in Constantinople at the time. It’s all about POWER over some group to the advantage of another.

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        • Yes under Brehon law men and women were equal and we were deemed to have had the most advanced justice system on Earth. We had no prisons, no crime.
          But Roma had to make sure that was destroyed. Our his story is selective as I learned over the years. 1172 and the Pope gave Eire and all her people as slaves to King Henry 11 to keep us under control. Then the church played the role of savior in typical abuser fashion and most people bonded with their abuser- Stockholm Syndrome.

        • Adrian Martyn

          I’m sorry to say that under fenechas (what’s called Brehon Law) women most certainly were NOT equal to men, and were very much second class citizens. I attended a very good lecture on women’s rights under 7th-century Irish law some months ago, and what struck me was just how hemmed in women were – they could do NOTHING without the say-so of a male relative. And believe it or not, the medieval church did try to stand up for Irish women. But something seems to have gone very badly wrong by the 19th-20th centuries, and frankly our republican tradition was so warped by church ‘values’ that neither its mainstream nor dissident lines did anything to help women and children in tough circumstances. Jean McConville, Aine Tyrell, Ann Lovett, the Kerry Babies, these children in Tuam, all suffered because of the same brutal use of power.

    • Siobhan No Shame

      It is not personal to you…I am sure your Mother did a great job.
      YET what is written in the article above is a very honest observation and comment of Irish society as it is now…there is STILL in rural Ireland this obsession with family name etc etc that perpetuates a vicious smallminded mentality…it WAS individual families that sent their daughters to such places after all!! and it IS individual families who witness their young women having to creep off to the UK full of shame for an abortion in 2014.

      I worked with a young woman who in 2007 was thrown out of her family home with nothing but 5 euro in her pocket and her handbag her only posession…she was 17 years old. Years ago she would have been taken to a home/laundry now she was just dumped in the local town to fend for herself. This is NOT rare. It is indeed PEOPLE who keep these attitudes alive.

      Irish people need to wake up from their self pity victim mentality and take responsibility for their thoughts words and deeds…so what if the church tells you a woman is shameful for having sex or that women shouldn’t have the choice to have an abortion? It is YOUR CHOICE not to belive that mysogynistic crap…why is the church dictating state legislation still?

      I cannot understand why so many people still go to church in rural Ireland after all that has been going on…that is what is shocking to me!! They KNEW, they ALL KNEW what was going on whether it was the priest abusing children or young women being locked in homes or fathers abusing daughters or beating wives…they KNEW the same as the guys who opened the gas chamber doors knew the jews were not going to take a shower!!
      We are continuing to give our power away to ‘them’ YET we are what makes up society …BE the society you want to live in, BE the change, BE the inclusive embracing open minded & heart centred society we all want to live in…’THEY’ will not provide it for you it is an inside job.

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      • Bravo!!!! Well said. In the United States we tout so much about women’s rights and freedom and while it is not to the degree as it is in Ireland there is still the atmosphere of shaming and “holier than though” behavior that feeds into the social issues and continued denigration of women.

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      • True.
        Bonded with their abusers is one answer.
        Another is cognitive dissonance – most do not want to believe all this is true. Their minds cannot handle it.
        Yes they all knew and no, but denial is much easier.

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      • I thank God that I wasn’t brought up a Roman Catholic despite having been beaten and abused as a child going to school the middle to late 1950’s in Dublin 4! Now let my explain why. My Roman Catholic grandmother grew up in Westport and got pregnant with my mother when she was very young. I don’t know all the circumstances as my mother refused to talk about it in any detail except to say that it wasn’t a rape. The male involved was either bundled off or ran off to America to escape responsibility!! I love this next bit of the story because to me it represents the courage of one family sticking its fingers up to the oppressors of the people at that time. This was no mean feat as gossip and finger pointing must have been hard on them but fair play to them, they were so brave and upstanding. My grandmothers parents kept my mother and raised her while my grandmother went to Dublin to find work. While in Dublin Nanan meet her future husband and overcame another stigma by marrying outside the Roman Catholic church!! Her husband was an amazing man he insisted on bringing my mother to Dublin and raising her as his own. My mother doted on her dad, and when she talked of her wedding day and of walking down the isle on her dad’s arm her eyes used to mist over. I have precious memories of him and his kindness to me as his first granddaughter. Imagine if none of this had happened to my grandmother like as not, I probably would have been brought up R.C. and suffered the brainwashing propaganda and beatings from nuns and priests or some other form of abuse growing up in that destructive system. My school days in the most were happy and care-free, no bad memories of being terrified of my teachers unlike my poor friends who still talk of the cruelty of the nuns and priests. I’m not trying to be a missionary here giving glowing accounts of the other Catholic church but I really think we had a lucky escape, thank you Nanan!

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    • The people *are* the state. As much as the state might pretend otherwise.

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    • A great article but I agree with Alan and others who say culpability, then as now, is with the church and state who hold the power and control. It gives them a great out to blame everybody. Even if people knew, the dice was loaded.
      I read an interesting sociology case study recounting the experience of a young doctor and his wife and two children returning from completing his education in London in the 50’s to the midlands. Though brought up catholic neither of them attended mass. They had a visit from the local parish priest who mentioned that he did not see them at mass. They replied that no they were not now believers. The priests reply to the doctor was that if he did not see him at mass the following Sunday there would be no one in his surgery on Monday. He needed to make a living in this small rural area and still had debts from education. They attended mass from then out.

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    • “Imprisoning women in the Magdalene Laundries deserves to be named as an honour crime because of a cultural obsession that believed the family’s good name rested upon a woman’s (perceived) sexual activity that either her father or husband or oldest brother was the caretaker of. Her sentence to the Laundry was to restore the family honour.”

      Where did this cultural obsession come from? A similarity between cultures, where women are being treated as chattel today and Ireland of the Magdalene laundries, is the lack of education. It is into this that the catholic church stepped and ran with their agenda of keeping the masses controlled and ignorant, contradictorily to the fact that they had such a major hand in ‘education’, It is a complex story. Read Tom Garvin’s ‘Preventing the Future. Why was Ireland so poor for so long?’ By the way rape was, up to I think the 70’s, a property law and it was only then that the status in law of married women as chattel was changed.

      Excellent piece Stephanie.

      Reply
  3. Very good piece. Funny enough, one of the few people to speak out against the homes was Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary. He set up houses run by older laywomen, so the mothers could take turns childminding and take up jobs. Duff wrote to ministers complaining about social workers ‘shovelling women into these homes’. He named names too. Though by todays standards he was religious to an extreme, I have had to revise my opinion of him.
    Taken together Tuam and Savita have demolished the anti choice position really. Thanks for the ‘honour’ perception,spot on.

    Reply
    • Hi Dara,
      I wasn’t aware of that. It’s interesting because a lot of the women who worked in the Monto would have ended up in homes after the Legion effectively closed it down in the early twenties. Do you have any references for it?
      Thanks for reading,
      Stephanie.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for a powerful piece of writing. It has inspired my anger – and that is no bad thing when stuff like this is concerned.

    Reply
  5. You say you were in first year in 1997 – I was well into my twenties then with a feminist background (both academic and otherwise). I am so impressed by such an incisive and honest essay from one so young. It really gives me hope that our country can move on from the misogyny that is unfortunately still part of our culture today, though perhaps in less obvious ways now than the in the Magdalene days. The mentality still hasn’t fully gone away. Naming it is the first step, and it is great to read such an articulate and passionate piece of writing on the societal forces behind such atrocities as the one that has recently come to light.

    Reply
    • Hi Deirdre,

      Thanks for reading it and your kind words. They are much appreciated.
      I’ll continue to write about this issue anyway. I think the reason this piece has done the rounds is because there’s been a distinct silence from the mainstream Irish media on it, so I’m really pleased that people have taken the time to read it and give some consideration to how this stuff is not confined to the “olden days” as some would like us to believe.

      Stephanie.

      Reply
  6. Please stand for election independently so that we will have someone in our government that we can be proud of and trust.

    Reply
  7. Reblogged this on Against The Grain and commented:
    “The children died as they lived, discarded like the refuse of society that the Church considered them and the mothers that gave birth to them to be. Most of the children who survived were put to work in industrial schools under the supervision of perverts and sadists.”

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Some home truths about Ireland – :( | Survivor's Who Stand Together

  9. Excellent article and you have hit the nail on the head by identifying these crimes as honour crimes. Wringing our hand and blaming the state and/or the church is an exercise in futility and denial. Society as a whole was complicit in this misogynistic culture and the sooner we face up to it the better. I presume you won’t mind me reposting your article on my own blog?

    Reply
  10. Excellent piece. Have you read Daly & Wilson on this? http://tinyurl.com/lu7rsna
    You might find their analysis useful? It explains a large part of why this happens
    @DrRobertKing

    Reply
  11. What can anyone say to it. There is a lot of truth in what you have written. Some of your views harsh. There is of course no honour in any of the behaviour outlined above. As the word Bastard has been legally removed from our language, perhaps in reference to this type of behaviour we could remove the term Honour killings. There is no honour in killing or allowing to let die. It’s hard to stomach that this is my country my people. I was shocked when I heard about the laundries, and yes older people did seem to know of there existence. I don’t believe we can continue to blame the church or the state and not take responsibility ourselves. We are complicit in our ignorance and fear. Relatively speaking , I believe is a new thing in irish culture and tradition, came about after the rising and civil war when the catholic constitution was written. ( this is just my opinion). I have the sense Irishwomen were a part of the heroes before this time, or perhaps it’s just the education I received from my mother. The cases of Savita and others have been waiting to happen for years, I remember reading about Anne Lovette and as an innocent 17 year old at the time, I couldn’t get my head around it. As a father of two in exile now like so many other Irish people, I can barely get my head around it now. We should own our collective shame I feel. It’s time to stop pointing fingers and apportioning blame. Thank you for a piece that is hard , harsh, honest, I will share it out.

    Reply
  12. Reblogged this on milesnagopaleen and commented:
    Excellent article by Stephanie Lord correctly identifying the crimes against unmarried mothers and their children as “honour” crimes.

    Reply
  13. Patrick Stack

    Great article that tells it like it is.
    In the mid-1980s I shaved my head. My father didn’t speak to me for a week because of what the neighbours would say. I ought to be ashamed of myself I was told. A couple of years ago an elderly aunt abused me verbally at the funeral of a relative because I had long hair. She told me I was a “holy show.” I laughed in her face. I’m in my 50s now but this crap still goes on. Control through fear and shame is the game.

    Reply
  14. What a well-written, well-researched article. I hadn’t thought of the link between “honour crimes” and the horror of the Tuam grave, but you are right. I’d like to think things have changed – I think part of the reason that this story isn’t getting mainstream attention in Ireland is because people can’t process it. It’s difficult to believe that this happened – not that people don’t believe it, they just don’t know what to do with it. I would guess that for some it’s too horrific to dwell on, and because it’s “in the past”, they’re avoiding it.
    I really would like to think that things have changed, and that ordinary people today wouldn’t stand by and let something like this happen. But maybe I will be proved wrong by some future horrific discovery. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply
  15. Reblogged this on My Random Ruminations. and commented:
    People forget that Ireland was, and often still is a nasty small-minded, parochial country. And people seem to wilfully ignore that Ireland may say “We treasure our children”, but the truth is completely different.

    As an abuse survivor, I’ve had people tell me to shut up about it. That’s it’s in the past and should be left there. Never mind that it is my past, my present and something I will never escape in my future.

    The people who tell you to shut up are the same ones who will turn around and use that information to destroy you given a chance.

    Yes Ireland, such a beautiful country, until you scratch the surface of that lovely veneer…

    Reply
    • we have read about thes horries yet the church remains silent

      Reply
    • Amanda, as we know as veterans of abuse, its never in the past. Its all in our memory cells. Every cell of our being.
      I found this article explained it all so well.

      http://wellbeingfoundation.com/sexual-abuse.html

      “Sexual abuse: eclipse of the soul
      The trauma of childhood sexual abuse is almost incomprehensible. Here, Michael Corry and Aine Tubridy explain some of the consequences

      I’ve come to realise that sexual assault is an imposed death experience for the victim. That is, the victim experiences her life as having been taken by someone else.
      — Evangeline Kane”

      Reply
  16. You have nailed it femininst ire! Thankyou so much! My grandmother lost my mother to this and Ireland and the self same nun at the st Patrick’s guild which is still an asccredited agency.. Yes you read that right the nuns who did this are allowed to bury it and are still doing it. Ireland still lies to and obstructs us in finding the truth about what happened to my grandmother and my mother

    Reply
    • Hi Fiona,

      Thanks so much for sharing that story. I really hope you and others like you find justice for the people who were so wronged by the religious figures in their lives.

      Stephanie.

      Reply
  17. Time to accept responsibility for what happened and for change and that takes *everyone* please do that and help us.

    Reply
  18. Well written, short & sweet, pulls no punches. It’s time the poisonous presence of catholicism and associated misogyny were eradicated from this country, then we can get some real change here.

    Reply
  19. Catherine Byrne

    Excellent article. All of this is underpinned by the great Irish disease, denial. It lives on in Ireland and causes pain and unnecessary suffering to so many. So many people will read an article like this and express their horror but when an abuser is revealed in their own family they will turn their head and declare it can’t be true. There will be no support for the victim.

    Reply
  20. Reblogged this on Thinking Out Loud and commented:
    Ireland land of saints, scholars – and sadists

    Reply
    • Sadistic psychopaths. Today we have many do gooders- called social workers who suffer from sadistic schadenfreude disease and like the nuns and priests are the new untouchable class. Judges etc dance to their tune and we are right back to the child snatching business with children as the commodity for profit. Also it is all kept hidden in the Inquisition courts and all are gagged from speaking out. Mention Strasbourg like I did and you get threatened with jail.I was invited to Vienna to speak about Ireland and how women are treated. “How we are all seen as mentally women.” Feeble minded” is the exact words trained to judges and social workers in 2014.

      Reply
      • I agree its utterly wrong that we appear to have exchanged one form of abuse for another. So sorry about your treatment but not surprised. The best we can do is refuse to allow the subject to be brushed under yet another carpet.

        Reply
  21. Yes I feel rage because of the silence

    Reply
  22. Perfect article outlining the cancer in Irish society of judgement, cruetly and indifference. We as a people have never punished the abuser just the victim and whatever people say about Ireland being different now only needs to be pointed towards the countless farcical sentences handed out for the crime of rape and abuse or the misogynistic and barbaric discourse propagated on the topic of pro choice

    Reply
  23. What’s ironic is that most of the mother-baby homes and even the Magdalene Laundries were organised by the religious orders as “safer, cleaner” alternatives to the old workhouses. But of course, the evidence (and we’re gathering more as we speak on the other mother-baby homes, particularly the Sacred Heart-run ones) speaks otherwise. They may have appeared externally “clean” and sanitary, but as told in Dr. Reedy’s stunning investigation into Bessboro in Cork, he found infants swaddled in nappies filled with infected, green diarrhea, and severely malnourished. So much for cleanliness.

    I was born in 1960 at the Bessboro mother-baby home in Cork, or actually more precisely, St. Finbarr’s hospital. But for the year, I would be lying in an unmarked grave. My mother suffered from toxcaemia during her latter pregnancy, and was a tiny woman. So I was delivered via caesarean section and luckily survived. Had it been the 1940’s or early 1950’s (save for the brief nine months midwife June Goulding blessedly arrived on scene), I would be part of the staggering mortality rates.

    The “pro-life” crowd are already trying to co-opt the Tuam horror to suit their own agendas, witness the nimwitted Kate Bopp on Twitter. I would argue that these people with tiny feet pins and blathering about the ‘sanctity of life’ only care about the pre-born. The post-born are of no consequence to them or the Church, unless they can make a profit from them. And they did, handsomely, with those of us sent to the US in particular.

    It is long past time to give voice to these dead. It is also long past time to restore the rights of living adopted people and their families to their records, history and identity.

    This poem, written by an American adoptee friend of mine, seems particularly fitting in light of recent revelations: http://www.culchieworks.com/gavi.html

    Reply
  24. Pingback: #800babies, racism, homophobia: the cancer of absolutism « Slugger O'Toole

  25. “Authoritarian Catholic past” is exactly it. Ireland had an honor culture before the Catholics invaded, but women had a greater place in society and weren’t punished for procreating. A man didn’t have to be married to the mother of his child to acknowledge his children, either. This is all down to Catholic culture, not Irish culture. More like Irish culture sullied by Catholic belief.

    And at least in the old days if you dishonored someone you had the option of paying them money or cattle depending on what the offense was. Them abusing you in retaliation was not the only option.

    I was born into a Cajun family and technically I’m Catholic but lately I’ve been wondering about the feasibility of writing to the nearest Church authority and asking for excommunication. It feels like continuing to be considered a member is giving silent approval to their atrocities.

    Reply
    • There used to be an official way of defecting from the Catholic church in Ireland, but it was becoming so popular that the church altered canon law to remove that possibility (google ‘Count Me Out Ireland’ for more of the story).

      Reply
    • Dana, Pope Benny brought in a new “law” that no one can leave the RC cult since about 2010.
      Of course you can still exit it yourself as you do not need permission. Asking permission is giving them power.

      Reply
    • I’m wondering why you feel that you have to ask them for permission to leave the Roman catholic church, did you ask to “join” in the first place? Ask yourself this… Are you afraid of its ” authority” you? and if you are then there is something radically wrong because you shouldn’t be afraid of God,(HIS NAME MEANS GOOD) he represents love and compassion. The roman catholic church seems sort on that as it chokes on the though of paying for the abuse its organisation has caused and condoned. The Roman catholic church seems to me to represent oppression, it has made itself the keeper of its members lives. It tells you what to do in bed, out of bed , seems to be obsessed with sex between men and women and hiding what they are doing to innocent children….how to badly treat women and children…. They are on a campaign in Africa and the third world countries now because numbers are waning in Europe. The are advising against condoms to the African women despite Aids. why don’t they mind their own business….but then that’s what it is… a business…and you pay to be a member…putting your money on the plate on Sunday… its goes into the coffers of the Vatican and its business ventures in oil and so forth…. tax free from all the countries it collects from and what are they giving you in return? DO AS I SAY ..NOT AS I DO!!!! Its all in your head, its what is called BRAINWASHING! Think for yourself and be the keeper of your own conscience. I sure wouldn’t to be part of a club that is so down on women and children WHILE IT PROTECTS PERVERTS AND WRONG DOERS…WHICH IS MAINLY THEMSELVES. It’s so strange that the Roman Catholic church is so bent (pardon the pun) on interfering with peoples sexual lives and relationships. One more thing… do you really need an organisation to tell you the difference between doing what is right and wrong in your everyday life… the answer is simple… NO., because we are all fundamentally good people and want the best for ourselves and our families. I wish and sent you positive thoughts about yourself and others and good luck on your personal journey through this wonderful short life.

      Reply
  26. Unfortunately, the same mentality of maintaining one’s honor (and blaming the victim and her sexuality) at all costs can be found here in the US as well, regardless of religion or family. Whenever a law enforcement agent is caught having raped a prostitute or a child, first there is outrage that anyone would dare make such an accusation, and then there is the unfathomable comment by the police chief or Sheriff that “other than this (piddly little) incident, this was a fine, upstanding cop who has done so much good during his career. It is a shame, really…” by which they mean “it is a shame that the wh0re’ (usually multiple victims) had to make this claim against an otherwise brave and stalwart fellow… and that little three year old girl? Well, she seduced him and forced him to rape her. He was only human, after all…”

    Similar accolades are given to cops who commit domestic violence on their spouses and families… right up to the day when the cop murders all of them and then commits suicide. “Why that cop received “officer of the year” five times in a row! That’s why we never charged him for beating up his wife and kids- because if we had, we would have had to take his gun away and then he couldn’t earn a living as a cop anymore and feed his family! We had no idea that he would end up killing all of them! Other than that violent streak, he was such a good officer!” Appearances are everything.

    http://www.policeprostitutionandpolitics.com/pdfs_all/Truth_about_sex_trafficking/v9_pdf_pages/pg_139_140_steven_lelinski_rape.pdf

    Reply
  27. If everyone who commented on this Brilliant Article would take a stand against what seems to still be happening in Ireland today, you just might make a difference. As a American of Irish decent it is horrific to me that this did go on and some still does today in the “name of the family”..Shame on the Family who did this to their children and the Church for imprisoning these women & children, only to starve and let them die. I commend the writer and hope and yes, even pray, that this will end…

    Reply
  28. unfortunately its not history a woman in a hospital not that very long ago the 90s maybe after a botched op in very poor health had a blood pressure machine (the big heavy one not the new type they use today) trown at her by a nun when the nun found out she was living with a man. i was very impressed with your article

    Reply
  29. Reblogged this on Angel's Ether and commented:
    Fantastic blog post which touches on the recent tragic find in Tuam.

    Reply
  30. 3rd generation Irish American, apparently still haven’t escaped this. It SCREAMS to me of my Grandmother’s lifelong lectures to me. (Still hear them every day)

    “You can’t go out alone with a boy, it’s inappropriate”
    “You can’t sit alone with a boy in (whichever) room, if the neighbors see you, what will they think?”
    “Don’t take your fiance with you on overnight vacations, what will people think?”
    “You’re living with a man before you’re married? Do you know what that looks like?”
    “I am SO glad you’re finally marrying him, it looks so much better”

    …because I really care what people that I do not even KNOW think about me…

    Reply
  31. Toni Maguire

    Your insight is spot on, I have been investigated the issue of marginalised infant burial for years now and we are trying to bring about new legislation and accountability in relation to such sites across Ireland. The personal pain caused to mothers and fathers, along with surviving siblings is unbelievable, but something I deal with every time another despairing mother contacts me to help find information on a baby she lost many years ago.

    Be assured that you are on the right path, I just hope that others will join you sooner rather than later and allow us to get action to protect those who have been disguarded by the very church who should have been their strongest shield.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/406/448/740/save-the-childrens-graveyards-of-ireland-and-all-marginalized-burial-sites/

    Reply
  32. Great article Stephanie, fully agree with everything here. However, I do find myself wondering whether you see Gerry Adams as having been complicit in the perpetuation of this culturally ingrained sense of familial honour when he tried to stop his niece from speaking to the press about her abuse, or when he didn’t report his brother’s confession to the police. I’m not having a go at you for being in SF, although I’m sure it seems that way. I am genuinely just interested in knowing how your thoughts on the Adams abuse case relate to the thoughts expressed in this post (which, again, is great).

    Reply
    • I can’t speak for Stephanie, certainly. And I will say that SF’s Mary Lou McDonald has been one of very few female politicians who have stood steadfastly against the treatment of women in Ireland, particularly by the Church. She was (and is) a staunch supporter of our campaign for justice for Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries survivors, and is now standing with fellow female TDs in calling for an investigation into the Tuam graves and other mother-baby homes. She attended our recent grave memorial service at Sean Ross Abbey, and can be counted on time after time for support. But that’s Mary Lou. As far as Gerry goes, I think his past reaction/inaction with regard to his niece’s abuse is endemic among Irish males of a certain age/generation. Not excusing it one bit. But I do think his initial, knee-jerk reaction (he has since changed tack) was typical of how most would have dealt with it, which is either not at all (non-reporting of abuse/rape) or harshly.

      Reply
      • Adrian Martyn

        You might want to check out her reaction to stories from other survivors of republican sexual abuse. Ms. McDonald stands firmly beside Mr. Adams and defends all. As well she might, seeing she’s VP and SF are doing better and better in elections. You cannot distance her from his actions as she endorses him as President of Sinn Fein. He himself has not changed tack at all, simply managed the PR very well – your words “he has since changed tack” show this. If you want to know how well he handled it, look up Aine Tyrell and see what she had to say: “His niece Aine Dahlstrom has accused the Sinn Fein president of being interested only in his public image, and not her welfare, when he addressed his brother’s abuse.”http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/why-gerry-adams-must-resign-former-hunger-striker-calls-on-sinn-fein-president-to-quit-trust-over-handling-of-aine-abuse-case-29639013.html http://stakeknife.blogspot.ie/2010/01/press-release-from-rape-crisis-sexual.html

        Reply
  33. Thank you!
    Take away their power.
    Please sign and share this http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/call-for-separation-of-church-and-state-in-ireland
    Ensure the truth is spread
    Follow up on the investigation of the guards and don’t let them away with burying this.
    Truly we need an international investigation of this.
    The country is too brainwashed to deal with it.

    Reply
  34. Reblogged this on windyarbour and commented:
    The women themselves served a dual purpose in the Laundries. They were a warning to others what happened when you violated the rule of the Church, and they were financial assets engaged in hard labour on behalf of the Church. They were not waged workers; they did not receive payment. They could not leave of their own free will, and their families, for the most part, did not come for them; the shame on the family would be too great. Ireland had a structure it used to imprison women for being sexual beings, for being rape victims, for not being the pure idolised incubator for patriarchy, for not having enough feminine integrity, or for being simply too pretty for the local priest’s liking. Ireland has a long tradition of pathologising difference.

    People did know what went on in those institutions. Their threat loomed large over the women of Ireland for decades. On rare occasions when people attempted to speak out, they were silenced, because the restoration of honour requires the complicity of the community. Fear of what other people will think of the family is embedded in Irish culture.

    The concept of honour means different things in different cultures but a common thread is that it can be broken but restored through punishing those who break it. We are familiar with the hegemonic concepts of “honour killing” and “honour crimes” as a named form of violence against women in cultures other than ours. The papers tell us it is not something that people do in the West. Honour killings, and honour crimes are perpetually drawn along racialised lines and Irish and UK media happily present them within the context of a myth of moral superiority.

    Reply
    • In fairness to the media, they report on current affairs, and “honour crimes” are now much rarer in “western” society. There is still an acceptance of “honour killing” in other cultures. e.g. A mother and father agreeing that best outcome of a daughter acting “immodestly” is to strangle her. These are crimes occurring in the present day. Today, and in the near future. Failing to see that difference surely doesn’t help prevent it?

      Reply
      • Liam, globalisation and multiculturalism in Western countries mean that unfortunately, honour crimes are becoming more common in the West too, though thankfully they are still rare here. I am thinking of trhe sister who reported her Mother and father for killing her daughter using a plastic bag and now in hiding with a new identity after she helped police bring her entire family to justice. We need to protect and support whistleblowers.

        Reply
        • We should eschew the word “honour” (and note that the crimes usually go all the way to death).

          Murder is murder, no matter what screwed-up pseudo-religious claptrap people try to use to justify.

        • I think you are right – there is no ‘honour’ in ganging up on a woman to murder her – we need to be clear that these are usually crimes against women and that those who commit them lack the most basic decency.

  35. Hello all and thank you to those who are attempting to get awareness or justice. I believed my Great grandmother was in a Laundry (England). I created a book of fiction so that people can understand the impact in the Victorian Times as well as the current times.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  36. abigail garcia

    This story broke my heart the sound of a child crying because there cold or hungry makes me so sad and not to be able to help makes me feel worse and these children cried and cried till they died then thrown away like trash is so horrible I cant even understand how a person could have the heart to see a child suffering dying and not feel anything people say different times well when you look at a child who is sad or is crying or is hurt how can you not feel and try to help to do what ever you can and me I cant do nothing just feel bad for something that happened long ago and not think about how stuff like that still happens today

    Reply
  37. Reblogged this on at least i have a brain and commented:
    not even conceivable….and NOT a pun.
    unforgivable….if proven true.
    shame on you IRELAND

    Reply
  38. Reblogged this on Ruth Jacobs and commented:
    “The news broke last week of a septic tank filled with the remains of 796 children and babies in Galway. The remains were accumulated from the years 1925 to 1961 and a common cause of death was malnutrition and preventable disease. The Bon Secours “Home” had housed thousands of unmarried mothers and their children down through the years… The children died as they lived, discarded like the refuse of society that the Church considered them and the mothers that gave birth to them to be. Most of the children who survived were put to work in industrial schools under the supervision of perverts and sadists.
    Thousands of the healthy ones were sold abroad – mostly to the US – for “adoption.” For the ones who remained, the outlook was poor. Mortality rates of 50% or 60% were common in these homes. In the case of the ones that died, either the Church did not feel they were valuable enough to feed and care for, or they actively worked towards their death…
    The women themselves served a dual purpose in the Laundries. They were a warning to others what happened when you violated the rule of the Church, and they were financial assets engaged in hard labour on behalf of the Church. They were not waged workers; they did not receive payment. They could not leave of their own free will…” The Church as human trafficker in the not too distant past.

    Reply
  39. Pingback: Mass unmarked grave in Tuam for 800 babies - Page 133

  40. المسيحية الحقة التي جاء بها السيد المسيح والانجيل الذي انزلة الله علي السيد المسيح بريئة من كل ما ادخلتة جميع الطوائف المسيحية في شريعة الله التي انزلها علي السيد المسيح

    Reply
  41. Bitterly and beautifully written, Thank you for your rage. I am done with politesse. It only serves the systems that abuse women and children all over the globe.

    Reply
  42. Pingback: 267. Dúnmharú 800 leanaí | ancroiait

  43. Thanks for this article which is fearlessly honest!

    Reply
  44. Bravo – thanks for writing!

    Reply
  45. Thanks for this excellent post. Very glad to have found you.

    Reply
  46. patricia cassidy

    I cannot understand why the Catholic Church in Ireland does not allow abortion,BUT they allow illegitimate children,who,born out of love or abuse,and ALWAYS the fault of the women,be then sold on,making a profit for the Church,or even murdered!They need to get their priorities right once and for all.Then again,as with most religions,it is controlled by man,and not by God.God is the scapegoat for these actions.

    Reply
    • Patricia, one reason is that under Law of the Sea/See, all children born through the waters of the mothers are persons and every birth cert bond creates money out of thin air. If the children die or get murdered, they do not care as the money is now on the ledger books. For the RC cult, always follow the money.

      Reply
  47. david o'reilly

    at a recent funeral I was talking to elderly women I had never met who knew my mother who was born in a ‘mother and baby home’ in the 1930’s. a Relative, long gone now, not only got my mother out and reared her it turns out she wasn’t the only girl she fostered as this one lady was also reared by her and remembers sharing a room with my mother. The Relative stood up to the Status Quo when it was unpopular to do so – never went to church and spend a night in jail contesting the right of way to her land that the Church tried to deny her – a case she won in court. There were unsung Heroines in Ireland at this time and we should celebrate women like her.

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      That’s an amazing story, thanks so much for sharing it. There are definitely a lot of unsung heroines like that – I only heard of another story earlier of a woman who stood up to the nuns who tried to take her children from her. That relative must have been a very strong woman and way ahead of her time.

      Stephanie.

      Reply
  48. A fantastic piece of writing. We humans can be selfish beings, the attitude of “what will the neighbours say” still persists and all because of selfishness/pride. Ironically pride is one of those seven deadly sins the Catholic Church preach about. But they also preach about loving thy neighbour!

    Reply
  49. I found your argument interesting, though there were some leaps in logic. The only argument that I took offense at was the generalisations about Muslim women. 4 years ago, before I began to travel in the Arab world, I probably would have seen everything you said as pearls of wisdom. Now, I am beginning to notice an underlying ignorance that is pervasive in Irish society. Some of the most amazing, confident women I have ever met are hijab wearing. Some of the funniest wear niquab.

    What you said about honour killings is spot on – but then you generalised it with

    “Women of colour, and Muslim women, are constructed as the “other;” we are told these women are given in marriage at a young age by controlling fathers who pass on the responsibility for controlling them to husbands. “Protection” of women is maintained through a rigid sytem of controlling their sexuality in a framework of honour and shame. When these women transgress the boundaries of acceptable femininity they are abused and shunned by their community. Punishments range from lashing to death, but include physical beatings, kidnappings and imprisonment.”

    “We are told” suggests that this is an untruth/ or at least not the whole truth and yet you never came back to clarify what you meant with this statement. In the world we live in, we bear a responsibility towards our reader to not perpetuate a lie/ potentially harmful cultural bias. By all means, compare the dead babies, the hidden woment to the horrific cruelties that occur towards women in the Islamic world but please clarify your thoughts. Are all “women of colour” and “Muslim women” at risk from their controlling fathers and abusive husbands? Are all muslim cultures the same? Is this an Islamic ideal that is enacted in these situations? The more questions raised by your essays, the more the reader becomes convinced that to be Muslim is to be a wife beater or a beaten wife. Hence, you are perpetuating a hateful myth that inspires racism in a world/country that you have already stated – tends to hate the “other”ness of anything. (albeit unintentionally)

    My apologies for my rant. It was truly an interesting read.

    Reply
    • Hi K,

      I wasn’t making a generalisation about Muslim women, but outlining the generalisation that white European media presents of them. A friend on twitter articulated an example of this mindset perfectly earlier when he spoke of how “white women in headscarves are regal and trustworthy. Brown women in headscarves are oppressed/backward” – and that’s what I was getting at. It was a statement of how mainstream media views them – not how *I* view them.

      I wasn’t saying that all women of colour or Muslim women come from the same culture or face the same risks; but that there is a spectrum of violent acts within the term “honour crimes.” And to deem the Magdalene imprisonments as an honour crime is to point to the motivation behind the crime, and not to undermine the experiences of women in other cultures that have been on the receiving end of other types honour crimes.

      I don’t believe for a single second that to be Muslim is to be a wife-beater – that’s just racist. It is absolutely *not* what I was stating at all.

      Stephanie.

      Reply
      • traditionalistrevolutionary

        Racism is about race. Muslims are followers of Islam. Get your marxistic terminology right.

        Reply
        • Note to Stephanie Lord: The above commenter is a white supremacist and misogynist who has been spewing racism and misogyny across various blogs.

  50. A very powerful post. I am going to reblog this on my post. It breaks my heart what happened to these women and children. My family has deep roots in Ireland and I am so sad to hear of the conditions that women have to undergo there. I hope I can be of help in spreading the message that work needs to be done there as well as other places in the world to help young girls, women and children of all nationalities. Not just the middle east in obtaining dignity and rights to self determination and freedom from these archaic practices.

    Reply
  51. Reblogged this on Because I can… and commented:
    A very powerful post. This is a story that needs telling as often as possible.

    Reply
  52. Laura Kochon

    Nothing changes unless it is brought out into full view so thank you for this article. If you are pro choice, please consider that many women ‘need’ abortions to restore honor to their family. Hopefully, one day, no one will seek an abortion out of shame if they would otherwise choose to bring their child into this world.

    Reply
  53. Thank you Stephanie for your reply. I assumed as much but I felt that it could be read differently which is why I ranted. lol I enjoy reading your writing from time to time.

    Reply
  54. Thank you so much for a great piece. It gives me such hope for Ireland – which I moved back to from USA almost 20 years ago – to read the comments that follow, and to know that lots of thinking people are talking, blogging and raising their voices. Lots of us were sidelined in some way, thrown out of school or socially punished for even questioning authority (I was in school in 1960’s), and most of us are damaged by being forced to watch the misery of others without opening out mouths to object. Yes, we have been very badly brainwashed, and your work in writing about this is really important. Many people have no words to describe the conditions they put up with, and you have put it so very well. Please continue.

    Reply
  55. Wow. Powerful stuff – like a needed slap in the face. Well written.

    Reply
  56. Even if I were not Irish American, I would still be angered by this. It is against humanity, not matter what culture. THANK YOU for posting this informative article, and I will be passing it on to as many as possible…

    Reply
  57. Very powerful piece of writing with a confronting message – will be sharing.

    Reply
  58. Brutal reality & paradox…..?!

    Reply
  59. I’m struck, not only by your smart and pointed post about this heartbreaking, outrageous discovery – but by so many eloquent, passionate comments.

    Reply
  60. Reblogged this on Senarath Senarathna and commented:
    No Country for Young Women: Honour Crimes and Infanticide in Ireland

    Reply
  61. This makes me glad my ancestors fled Ireland. I came from a strongly matriarchal family. And I’m glad for it.

    Reply
  62. Excellent article, but shocking. I recently saw the movie Philomena with Judy Dench on the same theme. It is horrifying to recognize this level of misogyny in a western culture. Shame on the Catholic church.

    Reply
  63. You hit this on the head. I have many friends who are female who live in Saudi Arabia and Jordan for example, and it is a nightmare. Al Jazeera was fuming when the officials of that country to be patient.

    I also hate the characterizations of women as sluts, whores and so forth. I comment on it when other men bring that up.

    In movies we have women in tight shorts who are very young and sexy who are raped and murdered, their bodies disposed of like tomorrow’s garbage. Then we have Hollywood making commercials about abuse and all the while are part of the problem.

    And lastly, we have officials engaging in misogynism doing strip searches of innocent women and girls. Let’ not forget the men making edicts against witchcraft and masturbating to the thoughts of torturing women or worse.

    Your examples is beyond sad and frustrating that this still goes on. Charlie Sheen’s objectification of women is appalling and the excuse: Charlie is just being Charlie Sheen. He has tiger blood.

    Reply
  64. Perhaps if the church educated rather than preach then some women would not find themselves in the position.
    It’s an awful indictment on a society that allows such treatment and actions to have ever taken place.

    Reply
  65. Very frank and honest piece. I applaud the openness in which this issue is discussed and abhor the cover-ups by such institutions. My heart hurts and I am angry at the sadness and injustice of it all.

    Reply
  66. Great piece. I wish I could have been so coldly, righteously angry when I wrote about this.

    Reply
  67. Agree on all points, except for the one regarding the cousin. By saying the woman had a “dirty weekend away” with a man who had just killed his girlfriend, it’s implied that the woman was both complicit and callous. I’m not Irish and not a puritan by any means, but if a stranger tweeted something like this about one of my friends, I’d be irritated too. I think it’s a stretch to think that the cousin being upset was only about her cousin’s moral purity. Despite the fact that she wrote in about the “dirty weekend away” it hardly means she doesn’t care that a woman was murdered. This piece was wonderful, but I think you’re picking on a person who really doesn’t deserve it (and publishing her private correspondence as a way to further insult her, which seems needlessly harsh).

    Reply
  68. Reblogged this on La Vivo Jojo and commented:
    Random reading at night can make the next day alright…#uplate

    Reply
  69. Thanks for sharing. Awesome pics, important history.

    Reply
  70. Reblogged this on Your Extra Child and commented:
    Amazing post about our past, our present and our treatment of women within a “moral” framework.

    Reply
  71. Love your blog! <3
    Do you want to follow me back on http://www.gossipgirlnetherlands.wordpress.com .
    THAT WOULD BE AWESOME! I will give you a shoutout if you follow me!:)
    XOXO Gossip girl

    Reply
  72. Kimberly McMullan

    A good essay, and I agree with most of it. However, I do not think it is fair to say that anyone who is “pro-life” (anti-choice) is anti-woman. I happen to be pro choice;however, I do acknowledge that there is a legitimate case to be made against abortion. In fact, I myself am very against it (I just don’t think I can make that decision for others). We on the pro-choice side need to stop pretending that it isn’t babies being aborted. It is human life, and I think it is understandable that a person can be a feminist and pro-life.

    Reply
    • There is no “legitimate case to be made against abortion.” Your concern trolling is precisely what allows forced-birthers to pass misogynist laws.

      Reply
  73. Very powerful Stephanie. Well done
    Mike

    Reply
  74. A well written, honest, and righteous article that deserves the attention of any person with even the slightest interest in the justice and equality of any given society. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  75. Seems like Ireland has gone from Societal and Church Crimes against Illegitimate Babies to State Sanctioned Abortion which is Legalized Torture and Murder of Unborn Babies. You are fooling yourself, if you think your country is now well and progressed past your past. Abortion is MURDER. Trafficking is evil too. I will pray for Ireland, and all countries. Glad my Irish and Scottish Relatives got out of Ireland in the 1800’s during the Potato Famine.

    Reply
  76. It’s always terrible to hear about unspeakable crimes perpetrated by people who call themselves Christians. Christ is a God of mercy who highly values human life. I pray Jesus will forgive all of us on judgment day.

    Reply
  77. Thank you for calling out the sexist, patriarchal heritage of our own history. As you say in your article, it is easy to point out such things in the “other,” but more difficult to recognize the fault in oneself.

    A well-researched, well-written, and passionate article.

    Reply
  78. Pingback: The Catholic honor killings » Pharyngula

  79. Brilliantly done. “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” Ghandi. Ireland (my home country) has been proud for too many years that there’s no abortions there. Yet this alternative is hardly something for us to be proud of. I don’t think there’s been any evolution from these times. Where are the ‘fallen’ men? Where is the shared responsibility? Nothing but blame, judgement and shame.

    Reply
  80. http://janiemcqueen.com/forget-the-slammer-just-send-her-to-the-madhouse-human-rights-breaches-in-irish-family-law/

    “They determined that women had intelligence which was less evolved than that of men, and in particular, poor women.”—

    An Irish trainee judge discussing the lens through which modern Irish family judges are groomed to view mothers.Some of the scariest reports come not from some outwardly female-hostile countries, but from Ireland, of all lovely places. Ireland–that beautiful, emerald green, bucolic country torn by a long history of dissent between Catholics and Protestants. Yet, we presume the lyrical “Celtic Woman” of international stage and PBS concert, a land of lovely, strong modern women prettily swishing and sashaying in pastel flouncy skirts, singing and playing instruments, represents an oasis where said woman’s basic human rights are secure ever after.”

    Reply
  81. Wow. I had no idea this went on in Ireland. Thanks for posting this and opening up my eyes to the unfairness and injustice that goes on against women.

    Reply
  82. A brilliantly written piece that is not afraid to be blunt and to the point as in fact is needed. All Irish families have somewhere in their not so distant path a moment when honour had to be defended. My aunt is a baby born out of a secret pregnancy only to discover her birth family long after her biological mother had died. My own grandmother was aware of the child to the extent that her baby, my mother, born not long after was named after the child that would, it was thought, never make it into the strong bond of our family. Luckily they were wrong. Our story is no different from the very many sad Irish stories out there.

    Reply
  83. Interesting that you are a feminist but you don’t mention the men in this whole story. Who got these women pregnant in the first place? Probably noth the Catholic church. And who abandonded the women and their children? Definetely not the catholic church. But I guess this is not on your current agenda.

    if you are a feminist, I demand a balanced view of Irish society at the time. Becuase it seems like the whole problem resides in the church. And the mention of “crimes of honour” is absolutely insulting when referring to this case. You make it seem like the nuns killed those children. Where do you have proof of that? Where was the Irish government? Where was society? Today there are thousands of children living in poverty around the world.But again, this is not on your agenda.

    The day you show me one good deed you have done for an abandonded child or pregnant woman who needed help, I will agree that you are a true feminist and one who speaks the truth. Until then, what you do is simply ideological spreading of hate.

    Reply
    • Why are you making excuses for the people who allowed hundreds of children to die needless deaths and threw their bodies into a septic tank?

      Reply
      • Excuses? I would never excuse anyone for this. But can you please wait until someone is charged and accused of this crime before you jump to conclusions?Wouldn’t you want to first see what is going on. There have still not been a clear number of how many bodies have been found or how they have died. No autopsy has been performed yet. Can you please show me a source that clearly states these facts? Thank you.

        Reply
        • There have still not been a clear number of how many bodies have been found or how they have died.

          Which totally misses the point. They died because they were ill-treated in this home run by supposed holy women. “The [1944 local health board] report described the children as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.” The report noted that 31 children in the “sun room and balcony” were “poor, emaciated and not thriving.” The effects of long term neglect and malnutrition were observed repeatedly.” (quoted here) Catherine Corless has the death records and has cross-checked them with local cemeteries. None of the 796 children who died in the home are there. Maybe they only put some of them in the septic tank and somehow managed to make the rest of the bodies disappear without trace. We don’t need to know whether they are all in the septic tank to know that they were victims of a monstrous injustice, at the hands of the religious order that ran the institution – something you seem desperate to draw attention from.

    • Rather too many points to rebut in a simple reply. To choose just one: “You make it seem like the nuns killed those children. Where do you have proof of that?” The fact that hundreds of children died from malnutrition and its consequences seems fairly conclusive proof that the people who were charged with (and paid for) the care of those children were negligent to a degree that crosses into murder. That those people were nuns makes it even more horrible to some. Sadly, it doesn’t surprise others.

      Reply
    • what do you mean by “You make it seem like the nuns killed these children”? These so called “women of God” were meant to nurture,nourish and protect these little innocents. Instead they sadistically tortured them to death in a most horrific and bestial way. Even the dogs and cats we keep as pets when they die are afforded the dignity of a burial in the family garden. These defenceless little mites were thrown into a tank full of human waste. Great article Stephanie, Knew you in your schooldays, Always knew you would go on to greater things! Keep writing

      Reply
  84. What a terrible loss for this world.

    Reply
  85. An extraordinary piece of writing! Even now, here around me, I cannot describe the horror I have to live with and witness everyday. The patriarchal society wants maids in the form of housewives. A girl pregnant without the seal of ‘marriage’ on her back is just thrown away from society like trash, so many girls hopelessly end up as sex workers to feed the child no one wants to bear the sight of. I have seen so many women forced to give up their jobs to stay at home and look after the house and the children; beaten every now and then like animals. When a girl gets raped and files a case, the medical test a girl goes through in here, itself is a second rape of that girl. Even parents doubt their girl for the rape, no one blames the one who rapes.

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  86. This made me feel so sad and angry and sick all at the same time…

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  87. This post is amazing. Written very well and eye opening. Fantastic. It’s funny how the West differs so drastically from the East. In US women are encouraged to take control their bodies, although the stigmas of “slut” “easy” still exist, it’s becoming more common. Vs. the East which is all about Men controlling women’s bodies.

    Reply
  88. Pingback: No country for young women: Honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland | David JM O'Brien

  89. Pingback: No country for young women: Honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland – BEYOND THE PALE

  90. Does it matter?! I cannot believe the complete ignorance and blindness of the statement “As to my knowledge there have still not been a clear number of how many bodies have been found or how they have died.” OH my God! Isn’t just one body enough! Thrown into a septic tank! There were enough bodies thrown in that septic tank that they don’t know for sure how many are down there. You are an example of why the Church and other types of abusers/murderers get away with this type of thing. There was no way they did not know or were not responsible in some way for this. Plus the historical data of what was able to be recorded about that time and what people saw and put out to the public was horrific. No child legitimate or not deserved that.

    Reply
    • I am not saying that the number is not clear. The fact is simply that not a single body has been uncovered. The bodies are believed to be there but the investigation has not yet begun. Therefore, there is believed to be 800 bodies and the investigation will show whether they are indeed there or in another place. These may be the poor bodies of children who were then put in a mass grave instead of given a prope burial place.This is the tragedy. And the fact that the mortality place of children was so high in this institution. Horrible! But there is no indication that they have been murdered or tortured so please hold your horses. Only an autopsy or eye witnesses can verify this claim. Thank you.

      Reply
      • “there is no indication that they have been murdered or tortured so really leaving them emaciated with flesh hanging off their bones to die at a rate several times the national average is not that bad”.

        You’re disgusting.

        Reply
        • Wendy, you are indeed digusting yourself. How can you quote my words and put your own insulting language inside? I have never said what you claim. It really shows that the only interest you have in this story is to prove that these chidlren have been murdered by these nuns. It is really sad that you are talking of them in such a way. I pray that you come to your senses.

        • I’m not going to continue this conversation with you because it’s making me too angry, but I will say one last thing. For you and the woman whose blog you quoted from, and all the rest of you who are going around making these same non-arguments ever since this story broke, you are doing your precious Church NO favours. You are having precisely the opposite effect of what you are trying to do. Your desperate attempts to shift the blame from the nuns who ran this house of horrors, and to undermine the atrocities they committed against these innocent children, show that “defend the Church at all costs” is still the first instinct and the most important thing to you. If you really want to convince people that things have changed in Catholicism the ONLY way to do it is by acknowledging the crimes committed in your name – I mean genuinely acknowledging and apologising for them, NOT shedding crocodile tears as you attempt to derail and invalidate condemnation of them, NOT making up spurious excuses for why what happened in Tuam and around the country wasn’t as bad as we all know it was.

          “Praying for them”? FUCK your prayers. Those babies needed Catholics to care about them while they were alive.

          That’s all I have to say to you.

  91. So sad May all harmed ladies and babies be safe in the arms of god

    Reply
  92. I will vote for you!

    Reply
  93. Taylor K. Arthur

    Wow. What a beautiful piece. It is heartbreaking to think a pro-life church has been so anti-life so many, many times in history. It takes courage to stand up the way you are. Wow.

    Reply
  94. California Girl

    Excellent essay. Here in Central California, the bible-belt of a mostly liberal state, I’ve often heard people bemoan the high incidence of babies born to unwed mothers and wax nostalgic for the days when there was shame attached to illegitimacy. Idiots. The heartlessness of those religious and others who had the power of life and death over children and young women is so appalling. And you’re right that these homes did what they did with the complicity of the community. I only hope that it’s not too late for criminal charges to be brought against those most responsible who are still around. Back in the 1920s, my grandmother bore two children out of wedlock. My grandfather was still legally married to another woman who wouldn’t divorce him, so he and my grandmother had to pretend to be married. His family knew, though, and my grandmother mother, and aunt had to put up with abuse from his siblings — when they weren’t being ignored. One of my great-aunts, assuming that my grandmother was an unfit mother, offered to take my mother and aunt and raise them as her own. When my grandfather died (after he and my grandmother had been together for 28 years), his sisters still blamed my grandmother for having dragged him into a life of sin. I only mention this because, although my grandfather was born in the U.S., his parents were Irish immigrants and his sisters had a very Irish Catholic mindset. But because there was no collusion between the state and the church, my grandmother didn’t have her children stolen from her and wasn’t forced into years of slave labor and abuse. My heart breaks for the women and children who were so mistreated. The whole story needs to be told so that we never go back. As it happens, a number of “orphans” sold to families in the U.S. ended up on farms here in Central California. I know one of them, and she was finally reunited with her Irish mother, who, not surprisingly, had never wanted to give her up and had dreamed of finding her again. So many lost years. Many women and children who suffered are still alive and deserve some kind of justice.

    Reply
  95. Never thought of these as honour crimes before – a very good point.

    Reply
  96. It makes me realise how lucky my grandad was, he was born to a young, unmarried mother, his father was abusive and I have no doubt that she was repeatedly raped, this was1924, they were both sent away to the country but to family who looked after them both…it could have been so much worse

    Reply
  97. I was horrified to hear what happened to those poor kids. Many home children ever here in Australia also suffered abuse and there was an inquiry into it. However we did not have the Catholic church running the country like you lot did.
    I have a young infant brother who died during birth and he is unnamed despite being buried in a grave. Many women like my mother had their stillborns or children who died at birth placed in mass graves by hospitals so that was pretty common.
    I wonder if the Philippines have currently a similar regime to what Ireland use to have as the Catholic church interferes in the sale of contraceptives to those who need them over there and do little for poor families who have many kids. The church over there interferes in politics. I am Catholic but I am fedup with a church that does nothing about the sex abuse scandals and to be honest puts its oar into people’ reproductive lives. That is not its business.

    Reply
  98. Magnificent essay. Christ himself would not forgive the septic tank. How many Acts of Contrition will this require Father? How long the Penance? Regards.

    Reply
  99. Collective religious psychosis. Competing schizoid realities. Keeping a body count is an almost impossible task. In the years to come the insanity of placebic belief will continue to shock and disgust in equal measure. Thanks for the clarity.

    Reply
  100. What a sad story indeed. I pray for the souls of those children who had to lead such a sad and miserable life. Please be careful about making accusations before we know exactly what happened and why these children were not given a proper burial. And why they died from ilnesses that today can easily be cured.

    Please note:

    “The facts as we have them so far are these: there are records of 797 children dying over a 40 year period at The Home in Toam. Some bodies are known to exist in the site of a former water tank. We know the site was formerly a workhouse for famine victims. It is reasonable to request more evidence, be that forensic or some sort of archeological records in terms of work completed on the site which now contains part of a building site.

    For those concerned with the fate of the deceased, a far more constructive step than venting online would be to donate to the St Jarlath’s Credit Union account set up for the purpose of receiving donations to the memorial fund which is one of the reasons why Catherine Corless broke her story. Incidentally she does not seek to lay the blame at the door of the Catholic Church – her reflections being far more nuanced. ”
    Thank you

    Reply
    • It’s interesting that you quote from that blog site without linking to it. Why? Do you not want people to know that was posted by someone who identifies herself as “Columnist for the Catholic Universe, presenter on Universe Catholic Radio. Speaker for Catholic Voices”?

      Hardly surprising she’d encourage people to donate to a memorial fund instead of pressing for a Garda investigation, is it?

      Reply
      • If you read her article Wendy you will see whe is very much for having an investigation. We cannot do otherwise than demand an investigation.We are mothers! How horrible to think of my child growing up in such a place! But we have the obligation to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions until more information has come up. I can hear that you are angry. Please do whatever feels good to you to cherish the memory of the chidlren. Being nasty to me is not doing these children any good. let us put some money altogether and put up a memorial. let us see what happened. let us find who was responsible-from the state, from the home, the church and society. Let us condemn this act of neglect. let us pray for their souls and that it never happens again.I hear that still today thousands of children are dying in developing countries from malnutrition and neglect. I would love to help.

        Reply
  101. Magnificent piece. Christ himself would not forgive the septic tank.

    How many Acts of Contrition will it take to erase this sin Father? How long the Penance?

    Regards.

    Reply
  102. Well written and timely blog. Agree with everything you wrote. sharing.

    Reply
  103. What a good idea! Lets build another statue, say a few hail marys and move on.

    There are probably three main reasons the children were tossed in the septic tank like human excrement. the first is that is how the nuns thought of them,. Next is secrecy if it were known how many babies and children were dying in that hell there would have been an outcry and the third reason is cost, so many funerals would have been expensive.

    Reply
  104. This was a shameful period… So many lives damaged. And still yet today in other places…

    Reply
  105. Compelling, poignant, thoughtful and full of reason – an outstanding post. Congratulations on freshly pressed.I wrote a post a few days ago about the mass grave in Galway – I dedicated it to the “Christian” who took exception to my pro-choice views, saying he hoped someone I loved was murdered so I could understand abortion then signed off by telling me to go kill some babies.Now following your blog and looking forward to exploring your points of view.

    Reply
  106. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/tuam-mother-and-baby-home-the-trouble-with-the-septic-tank-story-1.1823393

    ‘I never used that word ‘dumped’,” Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words.”
    The story that emerged from her work was reported this week in dramatic headlines around the world.
    “Tell us the truth about the children dumped in Galway’s mass graves” – The Guardian.
    The Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, which was a home from 1930 to 1970. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA WireThis time, the issue of mother and baby homes must be addressed
    “Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – The Washington Post.
    “Nearly 800 dead babies found in septic tank in Ireland” – Al Jazeera.
    “800 skeletons of babies found inside tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – New York Daily News.
    “Almost 800 ‘forgotten’ Irish children dumped in septic tank mass grave at Catholic home” – ABC News, Australia.

    Corless, who lives outside Tuam, has been working for several years on records associated with the former St Mary’s mother-and-baby home in the town. Her research has revealed that 796 children, most of them infants, died between 1925 and 1961, the 36 years that the home, run by Bon Secours, existed.

    Between 2011 and 2013 Corless paid €4 each time to get the children’s publicly available death certificates. She says the total cost was €3,184. “If I didn’t do it, nobody else would have done it. I had them all by last September.”

    The children’s names, ages, places of birth and causes of death were recorded. The average number of deaths over the 36-year period was just over 22 a year. The information recorded on these State- issued certificates has been seen by The Irish Times; the children are marked as having died variously of tuberculosis, convulsions, measles, whooping cough, influenza, bronchitis and meningitis, among other illnesses.

    The deaths of these 796 children are not in doubt. Their numbers are a stark reflection of a period in Ireland when infant mortality in general was very much higher than today, particularly in institutions, where infection spread rapidly. At times during those 36 years the Tuam home housed more than 200 children and 100 mothers, plus those who worked there, according to records Corless has found.

    What has upset, confused and dismayed her in recent days is the speculative nature of much of the reporting around the story, particularly about what happened to the children after they died. “I never used that word ‘dumped’,” she says again, with distress. “I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own.”

    In 2012 Corless published an article entitled “The Home” in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society. By then she had discovered that the 796 children had died while at St Mary’s, although she did not yet have all of their death certificates.
    She also discovered that there were no burial records for the children and that they had not been interred in any of the local public cemeteries. In her article she concludes that many of the children were buried in an unofficial graveyard at the rear of the former home. This small grassy space has been attended for decades by local people, who have planted roses and other flowers there, and put up a grotto in one corner.

    Reply
  107. Pingback: Exhume the #Tuam bodies… | Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

  108. Pingback: Religion and honor, guilt and shame: misygony magnified | Breaking Taboos

  109. Thank you for the hard-hitting and brutal education. I can’t believe at my age I was unaware of the extent of Ireland’s disregard towards women. Well done for posting this.

    Reply
  110. In the long run it does not matter how many “bodies” are in that tank or whether it is a water tank or a septic tank, these poor infants and children were treated with less respect than trash. It is well known that the Catholic Church did not advocate burial of unbaptized children/bastard children in consecrated ground. According to my husband these children were cursed to the “7th generation” per the old testament. There are 796 unaccounted for burials. The recorded deaths are there, but there is no indication they were ever buried. Where did they put them? Not in a consecrated cemetery.

    As #truthfirst has said if you really want to make a difference contribute to the memorial fund. Other ways you can really make a difference is be a voice for change in your society. If you really think this was a horrible as it sounds and such attitudes about unwed mothers and their children still exist today then do something about it, be part of the solution. Vote for representatives that will stand up for sex education, contraception, women’s rights and the rights of children. Be one of the people that goes out and treats these children and their mothers with compassion and understanding.

    Show the Church and those that profess to be Christians what it truly means to be a Christian. Just because you show someone compassion and understanding does not mean you “condone sin”. The sin has already occurred, no one is perfect in the eyes of God, we have all sinned. It is time to get people to understand that true honor is found in the way we treat those that have “sinned”. True honor is in displaying compassion, understanding and love.

    We in the United States are not free from this type of thinking. We are just fortunate to have more avenues to do something about it. We have our own sins to deal with as a nation, so I am not going to judge your country or your Church. This article has been on my mind everyday since I read it. It has made me realize that I want to be part of a solution and I would like to find ways to do that.

    Reply
  111. Ireland is not the only place with these shameful pasts. When my daughter was born in 1968 in Adelaide, there were a couple of young teenaged girls in the hospital that were not “allowed” to keep their babies – by rule of the state of SA and the government of Australia. So what happened to their little ones? Did they all end up in homes that loved them and gave them the life they deserved? Or were they shunted around the orphanage/foster care systems, despite that they were wanted by their broken hearted teenage mothers?

    Reply
  112. Evil comes in many forms. If it represses,controls or degrades your true Spirit that’s usually a good sigh to stay away.. Don’t allow the disguise it hides behind to be your Truth.

    Reply
  113. Reblogged this on DailyHistory.org and commented:
    Stephanie Lord at Feminist Ire recently discussed the horrifying discovery of the bodies of almost 800 babies and children at Catholic home in Galway dumped into a septic tank. Lord compares the treatment of unwed mothers in Ireland to honor killings around the world. It is a fascinating piece that examines the notion of honor in Ireland. Unsurprisingly, Lord’s post has garnered a great deal of attention.

    Reply
  114. socialaction2014

    Reblogged this on Social Action.

    Reply
  115. Pingback: The Winds of Spiritual Change | Spirituality Ireland

  116. Reblogged this on Curious Day Dreaming and commented:
    Completely disgraceful. It makes me ashamed to admit that I come from a country that allowed this to happen. Women are the backbone of our society, without them no one would exist. Yet to punish women for the natural reaction that is lust or to punish them for the crimes committed by men against them, is immoral to say the least.

    Reply
  117. Pingback: “That was then, this is now” | Abortion Rights Campaign Ireland

  118. Very well-told, horrible truths. This basic attitude toward women, though there’s been some improvement, still appears in many places. And among people of varying religions. I’m in the U.S., and over the last two weeks we’ve had the Isla Vista murders, as well as a ridiculous opinion piece on rape, by George Will, in the Washington Post. I’ve been involved in some conversations about it all, and they’ve included shockingly archaic views from a minority of men. Some are amenable to a two-way conversation, and respond well to logic and a lack of name-calling. Others are trolling, and yet others seem to be brainwashed by earlier generations and/or current misogynistic groups. I take breaks from dealing with the subject, but I’m not going to give up on addressing the larger subject. It’s just too important, both now and for the future.

    Reply
  119. Reblogged this on the Goat Rodeo blog and commented:
    While I do not agree with every point made by this author, she certainly brings a more cogent viewpoint to this most recent horrific discovery than has been presented in the press to date.

    Reply
  120. Pingback: ENDNOTE: Magdalene Laundries | Jasper Jottings

  121. Pingback: Except from a diary of (almost) 20 years ago | Manang Bok's House

  122. Pingback: JASPER JOTTINGS Week 24 – 2014 Jun 15 | Jasper Jottings Weekly ... The achievements of my fellow alums ... .... Copyright 2007-2011 F. Reinke All Rights Reserved

  123. Reblogged this on IT'S YOUR LIFE and commented:
    What’s wrong in Ireland is symptomatic of what’s wrong with so much of the world… an over inflated sense of ‘what’s socially acceptable’ promulgated by the deeply entrenched barbs of our religious upbringing. It has disallowed the human condition and the cost has been too many human lives…

    Reply
  124. I really, really like the idea of reframing these terrible crimes as honour crimes. Great post.

    Reply
  125. Reblogged this on dumar3dee's Blog and commented:
    Well thought awt

    Reply
  126. Don’t blame the Catholic Church for the evils which are clearly specific to Irish culture / Irish society. The Catholic Church is present the world over People seem to be quick to lay the blame for Misuse of political or religious power by Irish people on the Catholic Church

    Reply
    • Specific to Ireland??? You really need to read a few newspapers. Child abuse in just about every country in which it operates – or is the $400million+ that the Catholic Church in the USA is paying in compensation necessitated by Irish culture?

      Reply
    • The Catholic is solely to blame. They promote silence of abuse, they promoted this type of abuse by being silent and denying it existed or promoting the social and cultural atmosphere that created it. Where was the compassion, where was the charity, the forgiveness that God and Christ is so famous for? It sure wasn’t being shown by the church and you are correct in the fact that it wasn’t being shown by the people of the Irish community themselves.

      Reply

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