Historian to receive award for research into Tuam mother and baby home

Catherine Corless’s work lead to discovery of remains of hundreds of babies at Co Galway site

Catherine Corless holds a list of the names of missing children from the Tuam home that was run by the Bon Secours nuns.  Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Catherine Corless holds a list of the names of missing children from the Tuam home that was run by the Bon Secours nuns. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

 

Historian Catherine Corless is to receive an award for investigative research for her work which led to the discovery of the remains of hundreds of babies at the site of the Tuam mother and baby home.

Ms Corless will be presented with the one-off award at the NewsBrands Irish Journalism Awards this Thursday for her investigation into the former institution for unmarried mothers run by the Sisters of Bon Secours.

Her research prompted the launch of a statutory commission of investigation into the burial of infants at the site and brought news of the mass grave at the home to national and international attention.

“The more I delved into the archives and listened to survivors’ accounts of their lives there, I realised this story deserved much more intensive research,” said Ms Corless. “Most of value was to interview the survivors from the Tuam home, and the mothers who gave birth there,” she added.

Ms Corless said she got a true insight into what life was like in the home from an old taped interview of a woman who had lived her whole life there, which the historian described as “heart rendering”. “This was a story that needed exposure and it was catapulted throughout the world through the power of the press,” she said.

Human remains

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes earlier this year announced that “significant” quantities of human remains had been found buried under the Tuam home site.

“This special award is in recognition of Catherine’s vital part in unearthing both the tragedy and the extent of what had happened in the Tuam mother and baby home. Without her work, the press would not have been able to tell the story and it would have remained hidden with the hundreds of innocent souls away from public sight,” said NewsBrands Ireland Chairman Vincent Crowley.

The award ceremony will take place at the Mansion House in Dublin and will present awards to winners across 24 categories.