There are 800 skeletons of small children found in a septic tank in Tuam, Co Galway. This horrific discovery was first made back in the 1960s by two small boys but nothing was done, no investigation made, not even a graveyard instituted. It was left to a local man Padraig to try and create a small memorial and sadly he passed away last week. It was left to local historian Catherine Corless to try and provide a proper and fitting response.
The babies were looked after in a Bon Secours institution, called ironically The Home, from 1920s to the 1960s The babies were all born to unwed mothers; mothers who were thrown out of their family homes to give birth to their bastard children in an institution. If their babies survived they were often forcibly sold into adoption with suitable parents. The death toll of these children was four times the national average. The girls were often forced to work as indentured slaves as a punishment for their crime of having a child out of wedlock.
Some pregnancies would have been as a result of violence and perhaps rape. Some would have been as a result of ignorance of contraception – and the total lack of same in contraceptive-free Ireland, even married women could not easily avail of contraceptives. Some of the woman probably enjoyed it, probably wanted more, and probably wilfully engaged in sex without any due regard to the consequences of getting caught. Dirty girls. They deserved all they got. They should not have had sex outside of marriage – even if they were forced – and they probably had it more than once. It was all their fault.
As for the offspring? They were bastards, and if lucky to survive, would be taken off the dirty girls. They didn’t deserve anything either.
Does that sound familiar? There are 300,000 families in mortgage arrears in this country. There are 27,000 families facing eviction this year. There are more than two suicides every day, many of them from financially inspired reasons. Yet, instead of compassion, we hear the same moralistic tones. They were greedy with debt. They wanted more. They probably had it more than once. They couldn’t control themselves. For God’s sake, could they not control themselves. They could not keep their dirty hands out of the bank account. Could they not behave and not borrow. Disgusting people, greedy people, dirty people, and dirty debt.
So while the banks, as the religious institutions before them, blame those in debt, take their possessions, lock them in perpetual servitude, shame them and cause misery onto the innocents – the babes in the homes – we, as a society, look on. We tut tut. It was all their fault we say. They were dirty, debt people. They should have known better. They enjoyed themselves while we stayed home and were miserly. They were greedy, dirty, debt accumulators. Now let them pay the price. As for the children in those homes, where the parents are now dying of debt every day, where there is misery even onto suicide, we do not need to concern ourselves with those children. They are the children of the dirty debt brigade. They are different from our children. We will let them suffer, the little children, even onto the banks’ profits.
There but for the grace of God go I. And you.
As I said to my bank recently – the short-term reductive thinking that you engage in with me is only going to exacerbate the problem. I wasn’t greedy, I wasn’t naive, I bought a home I could well afford…you assessed me using your rules, you deemed me fit to have a mortgage, you gave me my home. I didn’t expect my husband to leave the marriage, I didn’t expect to be left with a 2 week old baby when he went to live somewhere else and with someone else…I didn’t expect or deserve the shit that happened to me. And now you want me to live in penury, as a form of punishment for that which I had no control over. I told my bank that it wasn’t just me that they were punishing, it was my kids as well – children who’ve lived with my pain and assumed some of it themselves…talk about pushing mental health issues onto another generation. Stress isn’t ‘feeling a little under pressure’ – stress is very real and very dangerous…and now that my bank have finally talked to me and listened (eventually) still does not take away from the fact that everything that I was lobbying for 5 years ago as a solution and that they dismissed as ridiculous is now what they accept…5 years wasted – that’s half my youngest’s life…he has never met his ‘stress-free’ mother…he does not even know that she exists… Maybe from this week on he’ll get to know her just a little…it’s a start…I’m more than ready to take that step…God only knows I need to…if only to start living a little…
I really hope your life improves – and it does sound as though it is finally getting better. Your children deserve a happier mum. In the midst of this troublesome life we do not need cruel authority punishing you for your actions and society judging you in a heart beat. There are always consequences for that which we do – but we do not serve to be punished by a flawed and cruel authority. Keep on going – it will only get better x
powerful writing. I fully support you against those who persecute you
Interesting analogy, I’m not sure the people who chose to stay at home should be described as miserly though. Perhaps they had no money to begin with, and there could be another word used, but nonetheless very good points.
Just as Career Party Politicians pretend “to care” so too do Bankers , or at least they did up to 2008 when everything went “pear – shaped” – then it was a case of “all bets are off” and every Man and Woman for themselves . I remember well the advert strap lines or “sound – bites” such as “Bank of a Lifetime” , “Your Life. Anything is possible. Be with AIB” and RBS’s ” Where people matter” ….you get the idea ….We have been here before although 2008 – 2014 has been the Mother of all Recessions – actually for those adversly affected its a DEPRESSION ! – still ongoing . We need to understand that Banks and Bankers do not care – full stop. The only thing that makes them care are either losing their money OR the LAW ( which is on their side ). We now have a fresh crop of ads for the younger generation to take out loans again – targeting those who do not remember – its a well proven formula and has worked over centuries . As for those of you caught up in the maelstrom – the Banks DO NOT CARE – they just want you to PAY UP and Suffer in Silence as is the Irish way taught to us by quasi clerico-fascist State as one powerful Woman writer described Ireland recently ( post Tuam holocaust ). Fight ! Do not let them walk all over you but you need to unite because singly they pick off “defaulters” one by one !