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Catherine Corless at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam Órla Ryan
Excavation

Recruitment launched for Director who will oversee excavation of Tuam mother and baby home site

The recovery of remains at the site is expected to begin early next year.

A RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN has been launched to appoint the Director who will lead the intervention at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam.

The Director will run an independent office that will oversee excavation of human remains at the Co Galway site.

The person’s salary is expected to start at €102,567 and may incrementally increase to €126,486 – in line with other Director roles in the public service.

The appointment is on a temporary fixed-term contract for a period of up to 2.5 years.

Legislation that will allow for the excavation of the site in Tuam passed through the Oireachtas earlier this year.

The Institutional Burials Bill means that remains at Tuam can be excavated, and DNA testing can be carried out in a bid to identify who was buried there. The remains will then be reinterred at a more appropriate site.

Tireless research by local historian Catherine Corless uncovered the fact that hundreds of babies and young children were buried at the site.

Her work eventually resulted in the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman yesterday informed survivors and relatives that the role of Director will be advertised from today.

In an email, he wrote: “I am happy to report that the recruitment campaign for a Director to lead the intervention at the site of the former Mother and Baby institution in Tuam will be launched by the Public Appointments Service tomorrow.

“This follows on from a Government Order directing intervention at the site, which was made under the Institutional Burials Act 2022 in October.”

IMG_7245 The grotto at the site in Tuam where the remains were found Órla Ryan Órla Ryan

O’Gorman said he is “hopeful” that a Director will be appointed soon and that “work will start on the intervention early in the new year”.

The minister said he has secured funding of almost €7 million to be spent on intervention at the site in 2023.

The complex process of recovering the remains and trying to identify them could take several years.

Engineering works and the construction of onsite facilities will also be required in advance of excavation of the site.

O’Gorman told survivors and relatives that the first steps in this process will involve the Director engaging “a range of appropriately qualified experts to undertake the excavation, recovery and post-recovery analysis processes”.

The Director will also have to obtain any necessary consents for carrying out relevant work, arrange for the carrying out of remedial works to the land on completion of the recovery of remains, and provide regular updates to relatives of the deceased, other stakeholders and the public

The closing date for applications for the new role is 3pm on Thursday, 15 December, 2022.

Archaeologists who carried out a test excavation at the Tuam site in 2016 and 2017 previously said the measures put in place to protect the site and the remains were “not designed to last longer than six months”.

These temporary measures have now been in place for almost six years.

Redacted Lives

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The third episode in The Journal’s new podcast series about mother and baby homes, Redacted Lives, is out now.

It explores Tuam mother and baby home and features an interview with Catherine Corless.

When she started researching deaths at the former institution 10 years ago, Corless had no idea of the chain of events she would set into motion.

In this episode, Corless recalls: “I had to find out first of all how many [children] died and I got that from the births, deaths and marriages registration office in Galway because they’re public records.

So I got the staggering number of 796 babies, children, that died in the home in Tuam. Babies up to three years or four years old, some of them a bit older, mainly up to one year and then a lot were two to three years old.

“I got the number and I said: ‘Where are all these babies?’ So again I was told: ‘They’re probably in a plot in the main Tuam graveyard’.

“But I said, ‘There’s no plaque or nothing’. And I was getting destroyed then, [people] said: ‘Ah, there are lots of babies buried [in various places] and no plaque or nothing on them. What are you on about?’”

Find out more in episode three, Tuam, here.

Redacted Lives was created by the award-winning team of News Correspondent Órla Ryan, who has written extensively about mother and baby homes, producer Nicky Ryan, from the critically-acclaimed Stardust podcast, and executive producer Sinéad O’Carroll.

New episodes will be released every Thursday. Subscribe to the series wherever you get your podcasts.

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If you passed through a mother and baby home or another institution and want to share your story, you can contact us in confidence by emailing redactedlives@thejournal.ie.

Daragh Brophy and Christine Bohan were production supervisors.

Taz Kelleher is our sound engineer, and design is by Lorcan O’Reilly.

With thanks to Laura Byrne, Susan Daly, Adrian Acosta and Jonathan McCrea.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in these episodes, you can contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123.