The Lost Children of Tuam: Reasons Why the Tragedy Occurred

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The Tragic Deaths in Tuam

The first half of the last century witnessed the painful death of hundreds of children who were inhumanely and disrespectfully buried in Tuam. According to O'Reilly, victims of the discovered bodies were children under the care of Bon Secours nuns in a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland (2). Different people have contributed various opinions narrating the causes of the catastrophic tragedy. However, despite the divergent perspectives, it is evident that misinformation, societal discrimination, neglect from the government, and the excessive authority and power wielded by the Catholic Church at the time played a major role.

Misinformation and Societal Discrimination

Misinformation and societal discrimination are some of the profound factors that significantly caused the deaths of many children living in Tuam (O'Dowd 1). During that period, there was an overwhelming belief that sex outside marriage was an excessive shame on not only the women involved but also their children. Consequently, single mothers and their children at the time were hidden at all cost.

The Fear of Shame

In his quotation, Dr. Ella Webb, for instance, proposed that it would have been kinder if the society strangled the children at the time of birth instead of exposing them to shame. In light of the fear of shame, many mothers opted to take their children to the orphanage even in the face of danger (O'Dowd 1). As a result, many children were exposed to a looming death that otherwise would be avoided.

Neglect by the Government and Excessive Authority of the Catholic Church

Barry analyzes that neglect by the government and the excessive authority and power wielded by the Catholic Church at the time expedited the tragedy (1). The author argues that before journalists revealed the incident, the county authorities and the Church were informed about the occurrences. However, none of them took any affirmative action. Perhaps, such orphanages were viewed as a reprieve for the single mothers who would then leave their children (Barry 1). Had the government been concerned about this incident, it would conduct a proper audit and provide a set of conditions for orphanages to operate.


In summary, considering the above analysis, it is evident that misinformation and societal discrimination are the primary factors that caused the death of children in Tuam. Furthermore, neglect by the government and the excessive authority and power wielded by the Catholic Church contributed to the deaths of the Children at Tuam.

Works Cited

Barry, Dan. "The Lost Children of Tuam". The New York Times. Nytimes.Com, 2017, Accessed 19 June 2018.

O'Dowd, Niall. “Tuam Babies: “Kinder To Strangle These Children at Birth”. Irish Central. Irishcentral.Com, 2017, Accessed 19 June 2018.

O'Reilly, Alison. My Name is Bridget: The Untold Story of Bridget Dolan and the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Dublin: Lightning Source Inc, 2018.

August 21, 2023


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