Mothers who lost babies at the former Bessborough mother and baby home in Cork tied teddy bears and toys to the gates of the building yesterday
as they stated their hope to be included in any inquiry the Government is going to order.
The founder of the Bessborough Mother and Baby Support Group, Helen Murphy, who was born at the home and left when she was seven months old, said yesterday’s vigil at the site was part of a larger campaign.
“We want the truth to be known. We want justice to be done, and we want Bessborough to be included in any form of inquiry the Government is now going to order.
“We founded the Bessborough Mother and Baby Support Group as an outlet for all those whose lives were affected by this place. The purpose of it is to remember the people who were there, and especially the babies who died.
“But also to remember all of the mothers who gave birth there. We want to add our voice to the call for an inquiry into what went on at the mother and baby homes, how many babies died, and where are those babies buried. We want answers.”
John Barrett, who was born at Bessborough in the early 1950s, said he considered those children buried in Bessborough, Tuam, Roscrea and Castlepollard to be his brothers and sisters. “I want their voices to be heard after all these years. I want the truth to be known, and some dignity to be given to them.”
June Goulding, a midwife who worked at Bessborough from 1951, described conditions there in her book The Light in the Window.
She said that women who gave birth at Bessborough were not allowed pain relief during labour or stitches after birth, and when they developed abscesses from breastfeeding they were denied penicillin.
One nun who ran the labour ward in the early 1950s also forbade any “moaning or screaming” during childbirth. Girls who could not afford to make donations to the Sacred Heart order had to spend another three years after their babies were born working around the home to “make amends” for their pregnancy.