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Calls To Unearth All Remains In Former Roscrea Mother & Baby Home

Thursday, 16 March 2017

FOLLOWING the grim discovery of the remains of almost 800 infants and children from a septic tank at a Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co. Galway, there have been renewed calls to fully investigate a site located at a now closed similar facility in Roscrea.

Sean Ross Abbey, known to people worldwide after the international blockbuster film 'Philomena,' has come under the spotlight amid mounting requests for all the former Mother and Baby Homes in the country to be fully examined.

However, there are fears that fully examining the site and recovering all the remains in unmarked graves in Roscrea may face some complications, after the topography of the site has changed dramatically since the facility closed and building works were carried out nearby.

Last weekend Portroe native, Teresa Collins, who was born in Sean Ross Abbey, returned for the first time in 53 years since she was taken from her mother. In 1963 her family faced the ordeal of being forced to pay £100 to reunite Teresa and her birth-mother.

Ms Collins was accompanied to the site in Sean Ross where children are known to be buried, known as the 'Angels Plot,' by her father, with whom she established contact with only in the last year.

Also accompanying Ms Collins on her visit to Sean Ross was Roscrea based Council worker, Michael Donovan; who, after three decades of silence on the issue, recalled that he 'dug up small bones' at the site and now wants to see it fully examined.

Mr Donovan, a member of the Roscrea Sinn Fein Cumann and local activist, said that when under the employ of the Council working at Sean Ross Abbey, he accidentally unearthed bones which he believes may have been children's bones.

After hearing these reports of small bones being ploughed up in the 1980s in Roscrea, Cllr Martin Browne of Sinn Féin has called for 'exhumation and respectful re-interment of young children buried in a mass grave in Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea.'

'With the discovery of proof that 796 young children and babies had died and were buried unmarked in a septic tank in Tuam, our attention naturally turns to similar homes in our own locality. The Bons Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam was only one such home, that operated in an uncaring Ireland to effectively imprison and stigmatise women who became pregnant without being married,' Cllr Browne said on Monday.

'This went on for four decades, and in many parts of the country. In Roscrea, a similar home was the Sean Ross Abbey. It operated for about the same period of time as the Tuam home. We like to think that bad things only happen in other places, and that the place down the road from us is just fine. It seems that may not be the case in Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea,' Cllr Browne said.

Speaking about Teresa Collins visiting the Angels Plot on Sunday last, Cllr Browne said that after several years of effort and 'despite the efforts of the Nuns in the home, Teresa made successful contact with her father in the last year, and the two of them went to the home together on Sunday.'

'While there, Council worker Mike Donovan revealed that he had worked at the home in the 1980's. When working in what is now the children burial ground, he said that the tractor he was operating ploughed up many bones, small bones, and the job they were engaged in was called off,' Cllr Browne said.

'The whole area is now changed, and this work was carried out by another contractor in the 1990s. The layout of the area in question is now very different to the 1980s. There are two other areas on the grounds where there as yet unsubstantiated suggestions of unrecorded and mass burial of babies and children,' he said.

'Sean Ross Abbey has to be added next to the list of homes for enquiry. An excavation and exhumation process must now be begun - each human so casually buried in unmarked grave should be recorded and treated with respect,' Cllr Browne said.

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