What God did my mother offend?

Sally Mulready and Phyllis Morgan, Co-Ordinator of the Irish Women's Survivors Network at the launch of the Magdalene Commission Report
Sally Mulready and Phyllis Morgan, Co-Ordinator of the Irish Women’s Survivors Network at the launch of the Magdalene Commission Report

By staff ready

A CAMPAIGNER for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries has said that the heartrending stories coming out of Tuam remind her of that of her own mother.

Sally Mulready, a Hackney councillor and member of Ireland’s Council of State, told the Irish World that her mother gave birth to two sons in homes in Bessborough and Dublin.

Both infants died within the first few months of their short lives.  One was in fact not buried immediately but was given to Trinity College for the benefit of medical students who held the body in Trinity College lab for two years.

“I called the university, was shown the lab and the actual table the medical students practiced on”, Ms Mulready told the Irish World.

“I was told that the surgeon supervising these studies had the babies registered at a private address in nearby Grafton Street and, when released for burial, the surgeon again signed the body off from a private address. He was at the time a Medical Surgeon teaching medical students at Trinity College.”

Ms Mulready has since been trying to get to the bottom of what happened; more then 400 deceased children were given from mother and baby homes to Trinity, Galway and UCC colleges.  In her mother’s case and very likely in the other cases, there was no consent given for this medical research.

“Despite all the hurt and sorrow felt by women whose babies were left to die and the feelings of  the children of these women, I am very pleased that this information has cone to light”, she said.

Ms Mulready strongly supports an inquiry into the Tuam case and what happened at other mother and baby homes, and said she was grateful that at least deaths are registred due to the courageous and dedicated work of the historian Catherine Corless.

But she argued that it is vital that the new Minister for Children, Charlie Flannagan TD, is given the space and chance to ensure any inquiry is thorough, purposeful and  sensitively carried out.

She said: “It will open many wounds and cause great sadness and distress. In our haste to find out it is really important we are conscious of the feelings of the women affected and their children.

“Many like my mother, who died just a few years ago, will never have spoken of their experiences-and the deaths of their infant children.”

Ms Mulready never spoke to her mother about the death of her two sons. She said she knew it would be too painful for her and “it overrode any wish on my part to find out why they died and why one of the infants was simply given up without consent of my mother.”

Though she welcomes the idea of a head stone commemorating all the Tuam children by name, she said personally, she would prefer to see no religious masses for the dead or any religious connotation included in any proposed service of remembrance.

“The Catholic church in the era of John Charles McQuade imposed a belief on Catholic Ireland and its people that these women were wicked and unworthy of Christ’s mercy.

“They were punished and estimated and Irish society looked on and sadly concurred with this belief. Our mothers were denied the compassion and love of God from His so-called servants on earth. I ask often myself: what God did our mothers offend?”





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