Catholic Bashing and the Media

I can’t imagine you’ve forgotten that story last week about the 800 babies thrown in the septic tank behind an orphanage in Ireland. If so, you need some work on your humanity, and you need it very badly.

The best treatment of it I have seen was by Geoffrey Sales at AATW, here and here, not least because he has more local knowledge than any of us do. Read his articles and come back.

But perhaps, we got taken in with the media’s penchant to bash Christians in general and Catholics in particular, at least in part.

Yes, there are bodies in and old septic tank which dated since the building had been a workhouse, and had been unused since  1937 but this wasn’t news to anybody local, they refer to it as a crypt, and the boys that discovered it say this:

[Barry] Sweeney was 10 in 1975, and the friend he was with on that day, Frannie Hopkins, was 12. They dropped down from the two-and-a-half-metre boundary wall as usual, into the part of the former grounds that Corless and local people believe is the unofficial burial place for those who died in the home. “We used to be in there playing regular. There was always this slab of concrete there,” he says.*

He further said that he thought there were maybe 20 bodies there, and has no idea where the media decided there 800.

Well I imagine he does now, a local historian, Catherine Corless, published an article entitled “The Home” in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society in 2012. Her research indicates that 796 children died at the home between 1925 and 1961, the 36 years that the home existed. She says

Between 2011 and 2013 Corless paid €4 each time to get the children’s publicly available death certificates. She says the total cost was €3,184. “If I didn’t do it, nobody else would have done it. I had them all by last September.”

The children’s names, ages, places of birth and causes of death were recorded. The average number of deaths over the 36-year period was just over 22 a year. The information recorded on these State- issued certificates has been seen by The Irish Times; the children are marked as having died variously of tuberculosis, convulsions, measles, whooping cough, influenza, bronchitis and meningitis, among other illnesses.

The deaths of these 796 children are not in doubt. Their numbers are a stark reflection of a period in Ireland when infant mortality in general was very much higher than today, particularly in institutions, where infection spread rapidly. At times during those 36 years the Tuam home housed more than 200 children and 100 mothers, plus those who worked there, according to records Corless has found.*

In fact, so far from being dumped and forgotten, a fund raising effort is under way to erect a plaque memorializing the children

Nothing is going to make this a story of the proud humanity of those times, it isn’t. They were harsh times, and they were times in which there was little prosperity in Ireland, and illegitimate birth tainted both mother and child, neither is there apparent open cruelty beyond that which could have been found in nearly any orphanage in Ireland, Great Britain, or the United States. What the records seem to indicate is that there was an informal cemetery on the grounds, little more.

Personally, I think anybody drawing inferences beyond that is simply bashing the Catholic (and by extension all) Church(es)

* The information here was drawn from the Irish Times, their article has much more detail.

Hat tip to Kelley Kruse at The Victory Girls Blog.


Enhanced by Zemanta

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Catholic Bashing and the Media

  1. Amyclae says:

    Thanks for this. Every now and again I need someone to remind me that yes, we can be terrible people to each other, but the economics of mass media companies can always shine the ‘right’ facts until they gleam.


    • NEO says:

      Yep, the first story on something is nearly always wrong, often but not always for pernicious reasons.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.