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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 24 October, 2018
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'Children not claimed by parents will be kept in the institution until they reach school age'

Yesterday Paul Redmond gave an in depth historical look at St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin. Here are some of the local government reports from the time.

Paul Redmond

YESTERDAY PAUL REDMOND gave an in depth historical look at St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin.

Saint Patrick’s was by far the largest of the nine Mother and Baby homes in terms of the numbers who passed through and approximately 9,000 to 12,000 women and girls went through its doors.

It was also a massive ‘holding centre’ in it’s own right for unaccompanied babies and children. It was certified for 149 beds for unmarried mothers and 560 cots/beds for babies and children.

In part two of his investigation, Redmond give us excerpts from Local Government reports from the time, which give an insight into the operations of the mother and baby home over the years.

Local Government Report #2: 1925 to 1927

Pelletstown nurseries

Considerable improvements are being carried out by the commissioners at the Pelletstown Auxiliary Workhouse, which is used exclusively as a nursery. The average number of inmates is 400, consisting of about 120 mothers with children, the remainder being children without mothers. Though the accommodation in this building was extensive it was found to be entirely inadequate for the large number of cases which the Commissioners were obliged to send to it.

In the day nurseries especially space and light were totally insufficient. Two large nurseries with verandahs (sic) are being erected where delicate children can get all the sunshine available. A new laundry is also being provided as well as suitable baths and lavatories.

It is intended in future, if the children are not claimed by parents or relatives, to keep them in this institution until they reach school age, and then to board them out with suitable foster parents.

Local Government Report #5: 1929 to 1930

Unmarried Mothers: The average number of mothers in the institution at Pelletstown, under the control of the authorities of Dublin Union, was 100. During the year 80 girls left for situations, and the reports received regarding them were satisfactory. Twenty girls returned to relatives. The health of the institution was excellent during the year. The death rate fell considerably and was the lowest since the Commissioners took office…

The fall in the death rate is attributed to the improved accommodation, better milk supply, and better nursing.

(Note to original: The total numbers given for the deaths in Pelletstown are 622 children out of 1,993 children over seven years. Please note that these figures cannot be used to give precise Infant Mortality Rates as they refer to the ‘number of children in institution’ as opposed to the number of live births. Nonetheless, the average rate is over 30% for the seven years spiking at 50% in 1925. Babies and children were dying at the rate of almost 2 per week over the seven years.)

Local Government Report #8: 1932 to 1933

During the year the Board proceeded with hospital improvements at the Dublin Workhouse and with the erection of a maternity hospital at Pelletstown Auxiliary. Payments amounting to a total of £8,410 were made from Sweepstake Funds during the year towards the former and £8,300 towards the latter, accommodation for 24 beds, and the plans were approved

Local Government Report #9: 1933 to 1934

Homes for Unmarried Mothers:  The institutions for this class which are provided and administered by poor law authorities are at Pelletstown, Co Dublin, under the control of the Dublin Board of Assistance.

The average number of mothers in Pelletstown during the year was 92. Of these, 58 were placed in employment and 33 returned to relatives.

Local Government Report #8: 1932 to 1933

During the year the Board proceeded with hospital improvements at the Dublin Workhouse and with the erection of a maternity hospital at Pelletstown Auxiliary.

Payments amounting to a total of £8,410 were made from Sweepstake Funds during the year towards the former and £8,300 towards the latter, accommodation for 24 beds, and the plans were approved

New maternity homes are in course of erection at Pelletstown and Bessboro’ and a new children’s home at Sean Ross Abbey Roscrea. The deaths in these institutions maintaining infants are generally caused by an epidemic of some kind, measles, whooping cough, etc, which spreads quickly among the children and wipes out the weaklings.

The nurseries are laid out to accommodate too many children and the provision for isolation is not adequate. In the children’s Home Tuam, an experiment is being made with smaller nurseries and in the new building at Sean Ross Abbey no nursery will accommodate more than thirty children and provision for isolation is being made on a much more generous scale than has been possible heretofore.

Local Government Report #11: 1935 to 1936

Dublin — Plans were approved for a children’s shelter and sanitary annexe at Pelletstown Auxiliary at an estimated cost of £2,700. Plans for a new laundry at this institutions were also approved.

Pelletstown —- There were 145 mothers and 430 children in his home on the 31st March, 1936; 246 mothers were admitted during the year and 223 discharged. Of those discharged, 6 were married, 79 returned to their parents or relations, 89 were sent to situations and two to other homes. Three hundred and seventy-four children were admitted during the year, and 235 discharged.

Local Government Report #14: 1937 to 1938

The numbers of unmarried mothers in poor law institutions on the 31st of  March, 1938, was 832, the number maintained inextern institutions by poor law authorities was 314.

The special institutions provided and maintained by poor law authorities  for unmarried mothers are at Pelletstown, Co. Dublin which is under the control of the Dublin Board of Assistance and at Tuam, Co. Galway under the Galway Board of Health and Public Assistance.

Pelletstown: There were 151 mothers and 451 children in the home on 31 March 1938: 238 mothers were admitted during the year and 256 were discharged . Of those discharged 107 returned to relatives and 77 went to situations. Two hundred and ten children were admitted during the year and 248 discharged.

Local Government Report #15: 1938 to 1939

The number of unmarried mothers in poor law institutions on the 31st March, 1939, was 841, the number maintained inextern institutions by poor law  authorities 315.

The special institutions provided and maintained by poor law authorities for unmarried mothers are at Pelletstown, Co. Dublin, which is under the control of the Dublin Board of Assistance, and at Tuam, Co. Galway, under the Galway Board of Health and Public Assistance.

Pelletstown.– There were 166 mothers and 407 children in this home on the 31st March, 1939; 289 mothers were admitted during the year and 274 discharged. Of those discharged 71 returned to relatives and 86 went to situations. Three hundred and sixty-two children were admitted during the years and 321 discharged.

Local Government Report #16: 1939 to 1940

The number of unmarried mothers in poor law institutions on the 31 March, 1940, was 772, and the number maintained inextern institutions by poor law authorities was 338.
The special institutions provided and maintained by poor law authorities for unmarried mothers at Pelletstown, Co Dublin, which is under control of the Dublin Board of Assistance and at Tuam, Co Galway, under the Galway Board of Health and Public Assistance.

Pelletstown — There were 135 mothers and 353 children in this home on the 31 March, 1940; 243 mothers were admitted during the year and 273 discharged. Of those discharged, 96 returned to relatives and 79 went to situations. Three hundred and fifty-five children were admitted during the year and 335 discharged.

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Paul Redmond

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