It’s unfortunate that the Irish name for Tuam is Tuaim, which means a burial mound (or tumulus).

It’s in the news because a Catholic order of nuns called the Bon Secours Sisters, who were set up as a nursing order, thought it was the right thing to do to dump the bodies of babies in an adapted septic tank on unconsecrated ground. The babies were born from unmarried women, at a Magdeline-style mother and baby home. Although these homes were run by the Church, they were state-funded institutions.

The body count is at least 796, and it occurred between 1925 and 1961. That’s not some ancient history, that’s (just) in my lifetime.

The tomb was discovered in 1975, but local people thought they were the bodies of famine victims. It took a historical researcher until now to uncover the real truth. She found that the infant mortality rate was 4 to 5 times higher than the general population of the time. The children were malnourished and prone to infections.

A priestly spokesperson for the Diocese said that we can’t really judge the past from our point of view, from our lens. That’s a fair bit of revisionist apologism. Is he saying that it was the norm in 20th Century Europe, in a country not at war, to dump children in a pit intended for shit?

I’d offer him as an alternative the words spoken 4 years after the Salem Witch Trials by the jurors who found the women guilty of witchraft:

“We confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand, nor able to withstand, the mysterious delusions of the powers of darkness, and Prince of the Air; but were, for want of knowledge in ourselves, and better information from others, prevailed with to take up with such evidence against the accused, as, on further consideration and better information, we justly fear was insufficient for the touching the lives of any, whereby we fear we have been instrumental, with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves and this people of the Lord the guilt of innocent blood; which sin the Lord saith, in Scripture, he would not pardon, that is, we suppose, in regard of his temporal judgments.”

It is truly puzzling how any group of women could act like this. But, then I remember the expressed view of my parents who felt that many nuns did not join through any sense of vocation, but instead because their marriage opportunities were limited and a ‘nun in the family’ brought honour. My parents were not alone in this view, circa the 1950s and 1960s and especially into the 1970s when it all started to become more open.

To put this in more perspective, the website of the Bon Secours order says: “Since 1824 the Sisters of Bon Secours have brought compassion, healing, and liberation to those they serve.”

And now, instead of donating a few pounds towards a memorial, the satanic-infested Catholic institutions of Ireland could open up their ledgers, and tell the whole truth.