The initial grave site was first discovered nearly forty years ago, but now more chilling details are being revealed surrounding the incident in which an Irish Catholic orphanage was found to have been hiding the dead bodies of roughly 800 children. This represents a rate of at least 1 death every 2 weeks, for decades.
The kids, between the ages of 2 days and 9 years old, were found in a grave located on a site that once housed a septic tank near a County Galway home for unwed mothers. The causes of death for the children vary: sicknesses, diseases, deformities, and premature births. The revelations and uncovered truth about the bodies is thanks to an investigation that was largely spearheaded by local historian Catherine Corless. Local death records indicate that the children died during the time that the property,” The Home,” was being run by the Bon Secours Sisters between the years of 1926 and 1961.
A 1944 health inspection report of The Home revealed that it was largely overcrowded and that many of the children were viewed as “poor, emaciated, and not thriving.” They were also reported to be fragile, pot-bellied, and look as if their flesh was hanging loosely on limbs.
It now turns out that the children were more than likely used in medical experiments and that thousands more children who were also residing in religious-run homes throughout the country were additionally been subjected to covered-up drug trials.
The Daily Mail uncovered medical records that suggest over 2,000 children across several Irish care homes were given diphtheria vaccine from pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome. The vaccines were part of an illegal drug trial that ran from 1930 to 1936. The trials had been carried out before the vaccine was made available for commercial use in the UK. Michael Dwyer, of Cork University’s School of History, found the documents after sifting through tens of thousands of medical journals and files in search of them.
“The fact that no record of these trials can be found in the files relating to the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Municipal Health Reports relating to Cork and Dublin, or the Wellcome Archives in London, suggests that vaccine trials would not have been acceptable to government, municipal authorities, or the general public. However, the fact that reports of these trials were published in the most prestigious medical journals suggests that this type of human experimentation was largely accepted by medical practitioners and facilitated by authorities in charge of children’s residential institutions.” said Dwyer.
Up until 1987, Ireland had no laws regarding medical testing on humans. And this is not the first time that information on these kinds of medical trials have come to light. Previously, the Irish Independent uncovered how children born in the homes were also subjected to a single “four-in-one” vaccine trial without their parents’ permission.
Mari Steed, who was born at the Bessborough home in the ’60s, told the Sunday Independent, “We were used as human guinea pigs.” In another related story, 298 children in 10 different care homes were also revealed to have been involved in medical trials in the 60s and 70s that left roughly 80 children ill after they were accidentallyadministered a vaccine intended for cattle.
The reports for the various incidents provide no evidence that consent was ever sought before experimentation began. Historian Michael Dwyer, who unearthed the documentation regarding the 800 dead bodies in The Home, claims that no records of how many may have died or suffered debilitating side-effects as a result are in existence. The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, has been made aware of the scandal by has consequently ordered ministers to investigate as to whether or not there are more mass baby graves scattered across the country.