A local historian whose research led to last week’s Tuam babies announcement says she believes there are “many mass graves” at former mother and baby homes throughout Ireland.
Catherine Corless said further remains of infants are likely to be found within the grounds of the Tuam home, and called on investigators to explore other sites.
“I think there are many mass graves around Ireland in the mother and baby homes. Tuam is the little bit worse, the fact that it was a sewage area,” she said.
The so-called “kitchen table historian” said that her interest in the topic began from an early age when “miserable”, raggedly-dressed children from the home attended her school.
She explained on the Late Late Show interview on Friday how she remembered wondering what was inside the home’s 10 foot high walls when passing them as a child, and her curiosity was peaked when local children stumbled across human remains piled up in a tank when the site was cleared in the 1970s.
The conventional knowledge at the time was that the bones belonged to famine victims who lived in a workhouse originally built nearby in the 1840s.
However, she suspected this might not have been the case and asked the Bons Secours sisters who ran the home for burial records as well as Galway County Council.
She eventually obtained the death certificates of almost 800 children who died at the home from a registry office.
Her work ultimately led to an announcement by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission that “significant quantities” of remains had been discovered in structures designed to contain sewage.
Ms Corless said she knew of other children who were buried in individual coffins on the grounds, and that she anticipates other similar finds on sites of mother and baby homes throughout the country.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that the truth has come out. Every scrap of research I had was indicating that those children had to be on the home grounds,” she said.
Ms Corless received a spontaneous and prolonged standing ovation from the in-studio audience at the end of the interview.
She concluded by saying the find in Tuam presents a great chance for the State, Government and religious orders to do the right thing in regards to the treatment of mothers and babies during the 20th Century.