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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Niall Carson

Adrienne Corless 'It looks like the consultation facilitators dug deep to find resistance to full excavation'

There was only ever one thing to do: excavate the site and DNA test the remains without delay, writes Adrienne Corless.

LAST FRIDAY, THE Department of Children and Youth Affairs published the report of a consultation process on the courses of action available to the government in relation to the site of the former Mother and Baby Home at Tuam.

At best, this report is, as my mother, Catherine Corless, calls it, “fluff”. It is also a sinister and elaborate exercise in amplifying a line of dissent. The whole idea of this consultation was an insult from the start, and its process and findings are a sham.

Ironically, that word “sham” is slang for a person from Tuam, the very people this report purports to speak for. But it doesn’t. Locals are not so polarised as this report insists.

Facilitators dug deep

It looks like the consultation facilitators dug deep to find resistance to full excavation, which they seemed to think would be from people closest the site.

In the consultation process, the turnout for the local residents closed session seemed not to be enough: they ran a s econd  day. Which had lower turnout. Then they went door to door in Dublin Road estate. Why?

And why were local residents even isolated as a target group? One of them said it should not be up to them at all.

At the “Dialogue with Former Residents and Relatives of Former Residents of Tuam Mother and Baby Home and Supporters” meeting, all 29 in attendance voted for full excavation of the total available area.

A few dissenters

We know there are a few dissenters. Yes, some make themselves plain to my mother, whom she meets with grace; and truth be told, before all this came out in 2014, we feared local criticism would be much worse.

Yet people turned up in droves for the candlelit vigil at the site in 2016.  And in March 2017, a large group of local residents held a gathering at the site with candles and poetry and music and a big bouquet of flowers for Mam, which she laid on the burial area.

My impression is that this report has sought to amplify the few – so that a narrative of dissent, based on a misrepresentative report, be publicised. The process and the report fit an insidious culture of downplaying the blindingly obvious need for immediate full excavation.


My thoughts turn to my fellow archaeologists and their bravery at undertaking a dig like this. I wonder if they had trauma training or decompression support for what they saw. This should absolutely be a factor for when full excavation does go ahead.

I’ve dug human remains myself. It can be weird and disconcerting but you get caught up in the work of the day and get on with it. There’s a moment of pause and respect when it comes time to “lift” them. And it’s always more emotional if it’s a child.

Of course Tuam is very different. Where is the full picture of what my fellow archaeologists actually saw in Tuam?

Why are we having at best a  fluff and at worst a manufactured exercise in amplifying the most offensive “option” as to how to deal with Tuam, which is to suggest that the concealed dead be left there?

Excavate the site

Why downplay in this way a situation where at least ten women, and hundreds of babies and children up to about the age of three mostly, with more up to the age of 9, are missing, either because they are trafficked or because they are dead and concealed in a sewage tank?

There was only ever one thing to do: excavate the site and DNA test the remains without delay.

Adrienne Corless is a blogger, yoga teacher, and archaeologist. She is a mother of three and is the founder of Yoga Bloom, a hub for pregnant women and new mothers in rural Wexford.

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