The true picture of what happened in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork may be difficult to hear but it needs to come out, the Bishop of Cloyne, William Crean said yesterday.
In an interview with Cork’s Red FM, Dr Crean said the story of what happened at the home should be told.
“This is part of our national story in the 20th century. It is only
unfolding slowly. The truth may be very difficult. But it is best we
have the truth in relation to it,” he said.
In 1922 the Sacred Heart Home in Bessborough, Co Cork, managed by the
Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, was opened.
homes were set up by them in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and Castlepollard,
Co Westmeath, in the 1930s.
Following the discovery of human remains in a mass grave on the
grounds of the mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, there have been
calls for similar investigations to take place in other facilities.
Mother and Baby Homes Commission says there is no decision to carry out
any excavations at Bessborough.
June Goulding, a midwife who worked at Bessborough from 1951, described conditions there in The Light in the Window.
She said women who gave birth at Bessborough were not given pain
relief in labour or stitches after birth, and when they developed
abscesses from breastfeeding they were denied penicillin.
One nun who ran the labour ward in the 1950s also forbade any
“moaning” in childbirth.
Girls who could not afford to make donations to
the Sacred Heart order had to spend another three years after their
babies were born working around the home to “make amends” for their
At Ms Goulding’s first Bessborough birth, she asked someone at the
hospital what painkillers were used in labour.
“Nobody gets any here,
nurse. They just have to suffer,” she was told.
In the wake of the Tuam revelations many women who endured severe
treatment at the hands of nuns in Bessborough have contacted radio
stations to tell their story.