On Thursday June 16th I finally got to visit the site at Tuam with a friend (after two previous failed attempts) - it's quite tricky to find. Naturally, we both found it to be an eerie place; bang in the middle of a council estate with flocks of crows swooping back and forth constantly. The ground was undulating underfoot.
|Flocks of crows|
We both left with a lot more questions than answers:
1. Why has nothing happened to this site in the two years since the discovery?
2. We know there's a judicial inquiry, isn't that usually for the survivors of atrocities?
What about the deceased - what happens to them?
3. Before it's incarnation as a Mother and Baby home in 1925 and despite opposition from town people who wanted to see it used for industrial purposes, the building was previously a workhouse which was occupied by British military during the war of independence and later served as a barracks during the civil war. On April 11th 1923, six members of the Republican forces were executed after the raid on the Headford barracks. Mother Hortense McNamara (she who ran the home from 1925 until 1951) was instrumental in the erection of the plaque which stands aloof from everything else around it. This wall was part of the chapel that existed at one time.The importance of burial and memorial obviously did feature on her radar but it still leaves a lot of other questions unanswered.
Does the preservation of the site mean the actual place where the men were shot or the environs too? The plaque below is erected on a wall just outside the playground which is clearly inside the site in question but rises up awkwardly from the ground and is extremely oddly shaped.
|"This memorial is dedicated to the memory of Mother Hortense McNamara of the Bon Secours sisters who ensured the preservation of this site."|
4. Why won't the gardai treat this as a crime scene?
5. How do the people feel living in the houses surrounding it? What are their experiences?
6. What do the children using this playground think about it also being a possible burial site?
7. Why was the home really closed down?
8. What actually went on here?
9. Will the commission of investigation yield satisfactory results?
And so the list goes on but I'll leave them for another day.
|A mound in any other playground might be seen as normal but does this area cover anything beneath? Cess pits etc... did exist on this site originally. Is this mound covering one of them and any remains below?|
|Deposits leaking from the wall forming a skeleton shape|
|Memorial plaque to six men gunned down in 1923|
|Grotto still being attended to daily|
|Map of the area in question|