Pictured here is a part of a statue from a memorial stone in Christchurch Cathedral, Central Dublin.
It is a sculpture of a crying child, in this scene peering from a background of inky blackness.
I post today a rather somber image in line with a horrific revelation that has come to the publics attention in Ireland over the past few days.
In a small town called Tuam in Co Galway, there was a refuge for orphaned children of unwed mothers ran by the Bon Secours Sisters called St Mary's home. The nuns ran this home for decades and were paid by the Irish state to keep and assist those who resided there to become upstanding adults in the community.
The home was meant to be a place of safety for those who found themselves in these unfortunate circumstances. Young mothers who had children outside of wedlock were often shunned by the local community, as in the eyes of the church they were an abomination and the church wielded immense power in Ireland at that time. This led to many "refuges" begin set up across the country including the now notorious Magdelene Laundries which were little more than enforced slavery camps for single mothers. Most often these children from outside wedlock were not allowed to be baptized.
This particular refuge was for the children. It operated from 1926 to 1961, during which time Ireland had one of the worse infant mortality rates in Europe.
Previous revelations have already shown that in some such institutions, the nuns would give the children to wealthy American couples who were childless, in return for a "donation" to the establishment. This gave rise to people considering that these places were nothing more than human factories who operated to run a profit built on the tears of children. Those who were not well, or healthy, or well behaved....they were an expense and expenses had to be curtailed.
In 1975, human remains were found in an unmarked grave at this site. Locals believed the remains were those of famine victims, and the site was left untouched.
However, in recent days, further news had shown that the site is a mass grave of the bodies of 796 children who were dumped in a septic tank, unmarked and forgotten about for decades. The ages of these children is showing to be anywhere between 2 days old and 9 years old at time of death.
While religious institutions often held such malicious contempt for the children of unmarried mothers that unmarked graves in orphanages were not uncommon, this horrific find has began to show the scale of horror that went on within some of these places.
At the moment in Ireland, there is abject horror and utter disgust for those who could treat children in this way. Not only an unmarked grave, but a septic tank which was sealed in concrete when its grim use was finished. This is being considered now in Ireland to be one of the most horrific events to have ever occurred here. The full detail of what happened here will likely not be known for some time, but the public are screaming for a full investigation and for those who committed these acts be taken to task.
The church have made statements to say they support the erection of a permanent memorial but that they are not to blame. The state say they are considering what is coming to light and reports will determine their course of action. The police are considering this a crime scene. It is unknown fully how these children died, but first hand reports of victims of these places who survived told of "death rooms" where ill children would be left until they died, and then their bodies committed to this most vile of places. Others told of children rife with disease, starving and malnourished while the religious order claiming to care for them charged the Irish state for the expense of looking after their well being. The state were complicit in helping these places stay open, and by bringing new residents to them. Right now, nobody is accepting anything, but the outcry in Ireland at this most hideous discovery will have to lead to serious questions being asked. Some victims speak of having been threatened with being sent to the death room if they misbehaved, and that everybody knew what that meant.
There is a fear now that this may only be the tip of the iceberg, and that many more mass graves await discovery. Already there are dark whispers of places to be explored in Dublin, Cork, Monaghan, Belfast and more.
It is the subject of conversation all across the country today with people asking questions like, how could you dump a child in such a place, how could you know that a place like this existed and do nothing, how could you live with yourself knowing the utter horror of such a place?
Strangely, this story broke in the New York times. Irish media is remaining strangely quiet on the subject with it being little more than a byline as the 5th or 6th article, but online discussion does not rely on national media and this shows the extent of the revulsion of the public to this discovery.
Of course, a lot of what I write above is indeed dark whispers, evil shadows, second hand accounts and all of that must be verified and reported on and show to be true. no dount that will take years, maybe decades and has been shown in the past, those responsible will be long dead before we can know who was responsible.
What is known as fact is that bodies of almost 800 infants have been found in the most deplorable place imaginable.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".
Critiques | Translate
HimalAnda (10011) 2014-06-05 11:45
Nice picture, with a real sad atmosphere/mood.
lousat (79962) 2014-06-05 11:46
Hi Noel.I saw on television news services dedicated to this terrible news, really amazing what happened to single mothers and their children, the end result of many prejudices and ignorance of the last century, congratulations for the photo that I think is very suitable for the purpose , and thank you for reporting this thing that maybe someone is passing.Have a nice evening,Luciano.
Sonata11 (33426) 2014-06-05 11:50
we can read from the beautiful statue face. It is sooo sad about the poor a little children. How life can be so brutal when reading the information. This is interesting that people CAN'T LEARN - NEVER from any mistake they did.
IT IS SOOOO SAD !!!! Thank you Noel for this picture and the story you sharing with us.
I wish you all the best and have a great day my friend, Barbara
carlo62 (36247) 2014-06-05 14:45
la tua nota mi ha rattristato molto, non capisco come ci si possa comportare in un modo così malvagio. Non avevo letto niente, ero completamente all'oscuro e la cosa mi ha colpito ancora di più.
Trovo la tua foto perfetta per lo scopo, purtroppo.
photoray (12984) 2014-06-05 15:35
Appropriate image of the dark crying child face to accompany your revelation on the horrific incident.
We Americans are certainly not without guilt.
Thousands upon thousands of minorities have not only been discriminated against, but murdered, especially the Native Americans. And our invasion of countries in the name of democracy and capitalism is and ongoing crime. I remember my Latin America history professor saying: "another invasion to restore freedom and install a democratic dictator".
Yes to remain silent is to support evil.
We must never stop trying to stop evil.
Good will conquer if we let it.
jcpix (13724) 2014-06-05 19:08
This story has indeed garnered attention here in the States, I've read a couple of articles featured on the news pages the last few days. There are many things that come to mind, and simply put, there aren't enough words to properly convey the emotions. And so, I highly commend you for bringing this story to further light, and providing a picture that speaks volumes towards this abhorrent and disgraceful act. No one, especially a child, should ever be treated in such a manner.
With quiet dignity, this sculpture expresses many of the heartfelt sentiments and has been wisely chosen to represent the sorrow. A fitting and just image, carefully detailed and presented to honor the little ones. Take good care.
Friendly wishes from overseas,
snunney (87420) 2014-06-06 2:49
A dramatic image that makes a superb accompaniment to the tale of woe you relate. The acts and deeds that are done in the name of religion!
SnapRJW (31623) 2014-06-06 3:24
Hello Noel - I am struck by the massive contrast in human behaviour.
I have just watched the news which is covering the 70th anniversary of D Day where young men gave themselves up for the peace and freedom of so many. Now I have just read your note on the discovery of the mass graves of infants. I am shocked. I was aware of the cruelty meted out to unmarried mothers but had no idea about the extent of the cruelty and heartless attitude towards the infants.
I cannot reconcile this story with the basic tenets of Christianity and wonder how those professing to be good upstanding Christians could commit or even allow such atrocities. This to me draws a parallel with recent Muslim Fundamentalism behaviour. When religion is usurped by power-hungry, angry and judgemental people love and compassion fly out of the window. So much suffering has been promoted in the name of god. How very sad.
I thank you for sharing this and the poignant photo that accompanies a well written note.
timecapturer (49288) 2014-06-06 3:25
WoW! This is one powerful image to accompany your disturbing and unbelievable commentary. The way you have seen and captured this shot is just awesome and I really do admire your insight and skill. The effect is overwhelming as well as being subtly beautiful too. The lack of colour gives it impact and is perhaps a fitting tribute to the horror story that accompanies its motive. Amazing imagery Noel and one of the most touching tribute images I have seen on TE.
Have a great weekend - B.
emka (82718) 2014-06-06 15:47
I have read all your story and I do not know what to say. It is just difficult to believe. I haven't known anyting about it, so I am struck by your sad story. I checked in Google: "Bon Secours respond to a universal need: providing care to all who suffer and give them a reason to live and a reason to hope" . What a hypocrisy! And such crimes in the name of god. At least one thing has changed now- no shame more for the unmarried mothers. How many such stories wait to be revealed?
You found splendid sculpture to illustrate your moving post. It seems that this child is really cryingm and suffering.
And how true is your last phrase.
mirosu (15102) 2014-06-07 0:21
Thanks for the interesting note. Somebody should collect all your TE photos and related notes and publish it, it would be a very interesting book about Ireland and its history.
Excellent monochrome simple statue detail photo in perfect light, very good clarity. The well-chosen tight crop eliminates all unwanted distractions.
Very well done.
Wish you a nice weekend.
rigoletto (34269) 2014-06-07 14:55
what is needed for the triumph of evil? greed, over size ambition and temptation, i could say. how could good men prevent this only with the help of good will and understanding? it is helpless, because good will needs much more time and persistence to survive. evil has much more earthly delight to offer and it is spreading so fast and easily... coming to the latest findings in ireland, even the turkish news told about them. dramatic, yes, but still incomparible to the size and variety of evil we face everyday in turkey, or other non developed places on earth. i have many things to tell about it, but should stop here, only to tell you how much i like the photo.
mjw364 (7512) 2014-06-08 8:54
Powerful and poignant, though not surprising given the history of the so called "good men" of the Irish Catholic church. They themselves were not good men doing nothing but the perpetrators who spent the lives of people with no sin as easily as the loose change of history often does and it is isn't the first time - follow this link:
But you know people will flock to St Paul's square to hear the Pope apologise and the same "good" men will continue to be evil and that's when we good people become the good people who do nothing as you say.
Shame on us all.
trevormoffiet (3112) 2014-06-08 21:53
A fitting image to accompany your note of the horrors of the 'refuge' for orphans. Maybe there is some evil element in the human psyche that results in these institutions always ending up as horror houses for the children who they are supposed to care for. Maybe the people in change have never been parents themselves. Maybe a particular type of person is drawn to an occupation that places them in a position of power over vulnerable 'others'.
In Australia, the Parramatta home for girls (now closed) was recently in the news for the abuse that occurred there up to the 1970s.
"It is estimated that more than 30,000 girls were sent to the Parramatta institution between 1887 and 1974"
Reportedly 129 orphans died at the institution over that time.
Also see my note that goes with the image here.
worldcitizen (7323) 2014-06-20 15:30
This is a haunting photo. I can feel the sad souls of these dead babies and children crying out through this poignant statue. How can people be so cruel?? I didn't see the NY Times article, since I usually read the Daily News these days, but now I have learned about it from you. The good news about people is that they are capable of tremendous kindness; the bad news is that they are also capable of tremendous evil. I want to give a green smiley for your fine work, but this time I will choose "no rating". The smiling face seems so incongruous to the pain these children suffered...
delpeoples (54189) 2014-06-22 1:38
Ciao dear Noel
What a sickening thing this is to read about. Just when we thought that it couldn't get worse than what went on in places like the Magdalene Laundries. And as you say, this is possibly only the tip of the iceberg. Here in Australia we are having an independent commission into child abuse. The findings against the Catholic and Anglican churches, aswell as the Salvation Army, truly have made me wonder the same thing. And question, not my faith, but my religion.
As I read in one articles, "we don't want your prayers, we want an explanation!".
What else is there to say? I'm so glad that you brought this up. Sometimes life isn't pretty, but we can't remain silent just because it isn't. You could post a thousand photos of magnificent mountains and waterfalls. This is equal to all of them. Thank you for sharing.
Have a good Sunday
Miguel82 (25547) 2014-07-28 12:27
Very scary detail of a statue existing in Christchurch cathedral, a crying child, useful photo note, good b&w version, regards
mayjayne (3987) 2015-05-27 4:52
A sad piece of news...and the sadness is aptly reflected in the expression on the face of this statue. I love the way the light falls upon just part of the face, creating a soft glow and making it a rather touching picture.