Investigation begins for mass baby grave found in Ireland

The outrage sparked by a mass grave of hundreds of babies at a former Catholic institution for unwed mothers has led Irish officials to call for an investigation and acknowledge a dark history of how it treated single women and their children.

CHRIS BUCKLER, BBC REPORTER: "The bodies of nearly 800 children are thought to be here. They ranged in age from just two days to nine years old when they died, although the church says it has no records of their burial."

​Sky News reports a historian went through death records of the former home in Tuam run by Catholic nuns helping unwed mothers deal with the "shame" of having a baby out of wedlock.

Catherine Corless says she found 796 children were buried in a former concrete septic tank. Two local boys discovered the tank filled with bones in 1975, but up to now, Sky News says it's been assumed they were the remains of people who died during the Irish famine of the 1840s.

The Washington Post points out the women who lived there — prostitutes, unwed mothers and homeless women — were called "fallen women" and made to work in the home's laundry for the Catholic Church with no pay. The home was open from 1925 to 1961.

NPR reports last year, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny apologized to the thousands of women housed in similar homes across Ireland over the decades.

"As a society, for many years we failed you. We forgot you or, if we thought of you at all, we did so in untrue and offensive stereotypes. This is a national shame, for which I again say, I am deeply sorry and offer my full and heartfelt apologies."

TV3 spoke with a former orphan at the home whose mother was sent away when he was only a year old. He says he was often sick while in the care of the church and didn't reunite with his mother until he was 34.

JP RODGERS, LIVED AT CATHOLIC HOME: "It's been a bombshell for me. It's made the hair stand on my neck to think that I could've been just over there in the corner buried in a septic tank. Horrendous when you think about it." (Via TV3)

Since newspaper The Irish Mail published a story on Corless' findings Sunday, Irish officials have been inundated with calls to investigate the Tuam home. Some politicians have vowed to look into other homes around the country and haven't ruled out a criminal investigation.

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