Ireland: Grave of over 800 babies found at former shelter for unwed mothers

A grave containing the mortal remains of over 800 babies and children has been discovered at a former Catholic care home in Ireland, said government-appointed investigators on Friday.

Ireland: Grave of over 800 babies found at former shelter for unwed mothers

A grave containing the mortal remains of over 800 babies and children has been discovered at a former Catholic care home in Ireland, said government-appointed investigators on Friday.

The remains of babies, ranging from newborn to three-years-old, have been found in the sewers of a former Church-run home for unmarried mothers.

A report from an inquiry the government ordered in 2014 backed up a historian's claim that up to 800 children may lie in an unmarked grave at the home. It said: "significant quantities of human remains have been discovered in at least 17 of the 20 underground chambers which were examined".

Radiocarbon dating found the remains, which ranged from 35-week-old foetuses to 3-year-olds, dated from between 1925 and 1961, when the home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters.

The inquiry was launched after a local historian said there was evidence of an unmarked graveyard at the home, where records showed almost 800 children died between 1925 and 1961.

The Church ran many of Ireland's social services in the 20th century, including mother-and-baby homes where tens of thousands of unmarried pregnant women, including rape victims, were sent to give birth.

Unmarried mothers and their children were seen as a stain on Ireland's image as a devout Catholic nation. They were also a problem for some of the fathers, particularly powerful figures such as priests and wealthy, married men.