Limerick archivist Jacqui Hayes
FOLLOWING the discovery of a suspected mass grave at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, city archivist Jacqui Hayes says the lack of proper records and documentation makes it almost impossible to know if any similar burial site exists in Limerick.
While there was no mother and baby home of note locally during the last century, young women and girls were, on occasion, sent to places such as the City Home or the County Homes in Newcastle West, Rathkeale and Croom, or the Good Shepherd Magdalene laundry in Pennywell to have their babies.
“A lot of this is shrouded in secrecy because you had families who didn’t tell other family members where a girl was gone, girls just disappeared,” said Ms Hayes, who added that the records from institutions leave a lot to be desired and are often incomplete and fragmented.
While some records do exist relating to the running of the former City Home at Shelbourne Road - now St Camillus hospital - there are no proper records relating to admissions, discharges or births.
“I think we can shine some light on it but the full story of what happened to the woman and their babies from the time they entered these places to the time their children grew up and left State care is very difficult to put together through a lack of records,” said Ms Hayes.
While it is known that some babies who died at the former City Home were buried in an area of Mount St Lawrence Cemetery, which is known as an Angels Plot, there are no detailed records as to how they died, or how many babies were buried there over the years.
“The only deaths not recorded were those of babies born through stillbirth or who weren’t baptised as they generally weren’t registered,” explained Ms Hayes, who works as an archivist for Limerick City and County Council.