Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Adoption

We didn't get to meet people at the shopping centre this week as the spot we had before was already taken by somebody else. (It doesn't mean we won't be back though-they're very nice at the Tuam shopping Mall and it's too good a spot to just let go ;-) 
Swallows - the bird of freedom
We (Val, Pauline and I) took an amble through the streets of Tuam and ended up at the 'Home Babies Burial Grounds' at the Dublin Road Housing Estate (the Old Bon Secours Mother and Baby home site.) This time we were greeted by flocks of swallows (it was crows the last time) acting exactly as their black feathered friends; swooping but not landing on the ground. Ironic to see swallows (the 'bird of freedom' in such numbers.) Lately, it's been a reminder of the freedom we experience in Ireland, in comparison to only a few decades ago when people were incarcerated for all sorts of reasons, although I wonder if those in direct provision or the homeless feel quite the same way? We spent some time at the grotto (more about this later) but the thing that kept going through my mind was not who or what's buried beneath but those who are left behind. It's a basic human right to visit the burial plot of a loved one. Something happens when we visit the grave of a relative (even if it's generations apart) and to be denied that basic right is inhuman.
Just place yourself in the shoes of a survivor (hobnail boots announcing your arrival everywhere you go, if you happened to be a 'Home Child'.) In that context, imagine for a moment what it must have been like to see your friends disappearing around you on a daily basis - adopted or boarded out. 
Imagine living an entire lifetime not knowing who your real parents were/are? 
Who you are?
What must it be like to see the names of your siblings on a sheet of paper knowing they were labelled illegitimate and that they died starving? Or if their name's are missing...their whereabouts?

Can you imagine not having access to your own medical records?

Imagine being a young mother and wanting to keep your beautiful new baby but being cajoled or brutalised in order to have your child stolen and SOLD. Unthinkable.

Terry Harrison with baby Niall who was forcibly adopted in 1973. Terry never saw her son again.

Imagine being incarcerated for years upon end, tortured daily or given the heavy physical duties of a man (often whilst heavily pregnant) and paid little or nothing for your efforts.

This all happened with the full cooperation of family members, the State and the Religious. They conspired to punish women for their 'moral mishap.' 
As a result, those who have suffered, want and deserve recognition, a sense of justice and an apology in the form of monetary compensation for what they've endured. We've an expectation from the supposed 'powers that be' to do that for them. They owe this recognition to the survivors but it keeps not happening and we keep expecting that some day soon. In this process we give our power away, we do nothing whilst we wait and in the meantime people go to their graves with their stories untold.

We hope for justice but what if that never happens?  
Katherine Zappone (Minister for Children and Youth affairs) announced recently that the aspect of adoption won't be included in the inquiry (this colossal minefield where possibly 36,000 babies were trafficked to the U.S) will not be investigated. No reason given, just that there will be no examination of illegal adoptions by the commission. (Too many were involved at different levels and a vast sum of money exchanged hands. Why would the State want to open this can of worms?)
End of story. 
Or is it?

Perhaps it's the beginning of a new chapter but it's up to us to do something about it.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies -Seamus Ruttledge. Secret Child

Moving lyrics by Seamus Ruttledge.
Song features in the 'Children of shame' documentary.

Tuam Spirit Babies - The people of Tuam speak 'from the heart.'

Here's what the people of Tuam have to say about the Mother and Baby home (Recordings taken Saturday August 13th 2016 - Tuam shopping mall)

I remember walking to school following them, they were dressed in brown clothes.

Shocked and saddened x

All that the survivors need is an apology and an acknowledgment.
Let's hope the commission of Inquiry will do justice to those women and children who suffered at the hands of the State and the Religious - Catherine Corless

Opinion of Babies deserved, respect, justice, answers. Angels deserve to rest in peace. This should not have happened. R.I.P xxx

I think this was a very sad thing that happened. I feel sorry for all the families involved. Wish we could change the situation now but sadly not. Each family will be in my prayers. God Bless.

Let their stories be told.

Shame on those who did bad things to angels.

Disgraceful. Church full of cowboys. Take what they want. The way the treated young girls is awful. They should be treated the same way. Church is a disgrace and think they're wonderful. Why do people go?

Disgraceful. Great that it's been highlighted. 

Baby spirits demand justice. Why not open a local debate at grass roots level?

Still their tortured minds and retrieve their blessed souls.

Let us have the truth about our babies.

So sad that people can be so discriminated, even in this day and age. I think it is time for the real truth to come out.

It was disgraceful. Hope they are in heaven.

They deserve an answer not cover-up.

It's awful, anything that was done to the children esp. the girls is criminal. 

I think the babies should be let be.

The church is a joke and always has been.

Really sorry for girls who found they were pregnant. To be thrown out by fathers and mothers. God love them.

UNSPEAKABLE. Too horrible to be able to verbalise.

A memorial for all the children to show they are not forgotten about.

It's time for all the facts and truth to be published. Remember those lost or you can't move forward.

They had no heart. It was cruel. God sees all.

Should never have happened. Disgusting.

Medical. Legal. Church. All played a roll in those sad times.

It's not good. It needs to be looked into what happened to them.

Dreadful!!!!!! It should never have happened.

Proper burial, identification. so much publicity. Could be 1000's down there.

Let them in peace.

It was a disgrace. Very cruel, emotional torture. Not religious.

I think it's horrifying but not surprising.

A disgraceful treatment of mothers and children that need to be opened up made public and sorted.

I don't know what to say. I do remember the children going to school.

A few people couldn't write but we wrote their comments down for them. 

As you can see from all the above comments the majority of people (bar two) support further investigation. Several people signed their names only.

We're back to Tuam Shopping Mall tomorrow and we'll see what unfolds then.

Here's more comments form the third visit to Tuam Shopping mall.
So many people are asking for A PUBLIC RITUAL.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - At the grotto

Grotto at the old BonSecours Mother and Baby home site

This photo was taken by one of the 'home' survivors recently; clearly marked in the stone of the wall is the face of a child and the head & naked torso of a woman. As we acknowledged in an earlier post, place has memory and sometimes will reveal hidden truths in the very walls.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Children of Shame


This is a five minute extract from a 52-minute documentary by Saskia Weber and Nicolas Glimois which was shown on France 2, a French public channel. It's a powerful and thoroughly researched film which brings all of the aspects surrounding the Tuam mother and Baby home together and deserves an airing on Irish television. 

It has yet to be shown here.

CHILDREN OF SHAME - extract By Java Films

Tuam, a quiet town in the west of Ireland. Tuam, a name that traumatised the whole of Ireland in the spring of 2014, when an unimaginable story was revealed. A hidden mass grave containing the remains of some 800 children was discovered on the former grounds of a home for single mothers, a hell on earth where children died from ill treatment, and were shamefully buried in secret and forgotten. Up until the 1990s, dozens of these detention centres were run by religious orders, but the country is still reluctant to confront the ghosts of its past.
This film traces the journey of unmarried mothers and missing children. We meet John Rogers, one of the tens of thousands of ill-fated children born in ultra-catholic twentieth century Ireland, a child of shame, guilty of having being born out of the sacred born of matrimony. His mother, like many other young women, spent her life paying the price for giving birth to an illegitimate child, who was torn from her arms shortly after birth. This documentary investigates Ireland’s painful recent history to give the ’children of shame’ a voice.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Saturday 27th August

We had such an incredible response during our last visit to Tuam that we've decided to go back. #Tuamspiritbabies — in Tuam.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - The shopping mall cont...

A few people told me to connect with Seamus Ruttledge (a writer and musician based in Tuam) for our Tuam Spirit Babies project but lo and behold, who should waltz through the door of the Tuam shopping mall but the man himself (talk about synchronicity.)‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Songs to have with your tea - A CD by Seamus Ruttledge

Seamus quoted a few lines from his beautiful song 'Orphan Child' and again, tears flowed. I've since had the pleasure of listening to the album and it's the last three songs 'You didn't either' 'Orphan Child' and 'Say it Easy' which really resonate.

Here are the lyrics:(All by Seamus Ruttledge)

You didn't either 
No one stood up
You didn't either

No one said a word
You didn't either

No one told the truth
You didn't either
But you talk like you had
And you act like you cared
And you judge like you knew
Ay-ay-ay-it's true

No one asked why
You didn't either

No one spoke up
You didn't either

No one said stop
You didn't either

Seamus Ruttledge


Orphan Child
Sing orphan child
To the wind and the rain
To a new day dawning
When everything is born again

Sing orphan child
To the wind and the rain
To a new day dawning
When everything is born again
Everything is new again
Everything is new again

Seamus Ruttledge

Say it Easy
If you've nothing to say
Say nothing at all
'Cause them that speak
Don't know
And them that know 
They say nothing at all
Say it easy with love
Say it gently with truth
Say it easy
With love and truth in your heart

Oh Lord I have seen 
Some of yours 
On this earth
They're preaching' and teaching'
With hate and discord
And lies in their hearts

Now an old man is calling'
Is calling' you
From outside your gates
Tellin' you to say it simple
Tellin' you to say it straight

Say it easy with love
Say it gently with truth
Say it easy
With love and truth 
In your heart

Seamus Ruttledge

Tuam Spirit Babies- Tuam Shopping mall cont...

There's so much food for thought from last Saturday's visit to Tuam to dine out for a month. So here's another aspect.
From the heart - Tuam Shopping mall
The invitation was for all the passersby to contribute 'from the heart' and this is what happened. Whilst the majority want to see action and justice for the 800 disappeared children, a few wish that this chapter be closed, that the site be undisturbed and the infants let be. Let rest. One woman shook her finger at me to emphasise the point as she passed by a second time and it is important that we record this point of view also. Whilst this is a valid stance, I just wonder how many survivors hold this opinion also? Up until now, I haven't heard of anybody who has suffered in the 'homes' or as a result of them and wants to 'leave it be' but welcome their response, after all, they are the ones directly affected...‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

A response from Valerie Dunne

We cannot just let things rest. As a country we still don't value all our citizens equally, this can only change with ongoing questioning and examination of our attitudes to those most vulnerable. This should be the same for all fair thinking societies. The tragic lives of so many mothers and babies were greatly ignored, along with all other injustices they must be aired and discussed and acknowledged to help us heal and grow.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies -Tuam Shopping Mall

Tuam shopping mall was an experience beyond anything I could have imagined, it’s taken several days to digest the many beautiful synchronicities and connections and it’s only now that I feel I can write about it.

Val McNamara, Pauline Cunningham and I (it was wonderful to have the support of these two lovely ladies and their beautiful energy helped immensely with the day) set off not really knowing where we’d pitch ourselves but thought we’d try the mall first. It turned out to be a perfect spot and soon found ourselves chatting to passers by about the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home which was once in Tuam. People were very free with their opinions and willingly wrote anonymous statements ‘from the heart’ (we will look at these on their own at a later date as they deserve a post of their own) but what became apparent quite quickly was the level of compassion and tenderness that people feel. More men than women contributed at the start (we were surprised by that) but as the day unfolded, it soon balanced out.

We didn’t expect to meet survivors. We met three, who willingly shared their heart wrenching stories of forced adoption and one account of slavery (hard physical labour for long periods of time for £2.50 a month. She called it slavery and so do we. She wasn’t let out and she was brutally punished.) We were moved to tears. We didn’t expect to meet people with memories of the ‘home children.’ We met several, who again, spoke ‘from the heart’ with so much compassion that it was hard not to be moved. Many older people sat and joined us thoughout the day and literally poured out their feelings and stories of those times. People offered to lend support where they could and many will share their stories on film at a later date. Catherine Corless joined us in the morning and left a moving piece of art (see the babies in the basket below which will be included in our exhibition in November they were quite a talking point on their own.) The theme of the day was forced adoption as most of the stories and opinions arose from it (there's so much to write on this subject alone) but it was such a rich day and one I hope never to forget.

Art by and Catherine Corless below

We’re in the middle of a very dark period in Irish history right now, so much has come out regarding the atrocities in Irish institutions and by all accounts, there is more to discover as new stories break on a daily basis. The government has decided, at this juncture, not to investigate the mammoth aspect of baby trafficking and forced adoption (the implications are too vast and far reaching and too many were involved at all levels) the horror of it is so overwhelming at times, that to find any light in the situation is nigh on impossible. It’s human nature to seek the light, find the up side and hope. We are built that way but we also have the ability to negotiate the dark. Our eyes and instincts can adjust to pitch black if we allow them to and a great power can override us if we let go of the fear and go with the flow. Red butterflies were chosen for their obvious connection to Spirit for this project but also for their transformative energy, red to symbolize both anger and passion but there’s less obvious imagery in the necessary period of time that a caterpillar spends in the darkness of the cocoon. In order for it to emerge fully transformed, it must immerse itself in pitch black and be at one with it. Perhaps that’s what we should do (who knows)maybe that’s where the power lies. 
It’s worth investigating, that's for sure.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Monday, 15 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies- From the heart (Tuam shopping mall)

We spent the entire day (Saturday 13th August) in Tuam shopping mall. It was THE most incredible day on so many levels and we met so many beautiful people. All I'm going to do for the time being, is put these images up in order to give you a taster of the day. There is so much LOVE in Tuam and we were the lucky recipients. Sadie Xx‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Butterfly heart

Pauline Cunningham and Val McNamara

Sadie Cramer

Catherine Corless

Beautiful art created by Catherine Corless 

Contributions from passers by

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - From the Heart

From the Heart - Tuam High Street, Saturday 13th August.

In light of all the atrocities that have happened and continue to be revealed and more importantly the State’s refusal to adequately investigate and properly acknowledge its part in them, can healing ever be brought to this situation?

Given that Tuam has been the focus of so much outcry since the revelations of two years ago, it’s fitting in the context of my research for the Tuam Spirit Babies project, to hear from the people of Tuam - how ultimately do they feel about it?

What are the solutions? Is forgiveness possible?

An invitation is extended to the people of Tuam to partake and respond from the heart.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬