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Hanora Brennan Memorial Fund Launched for memorial to 219 Dead and Forgotten Bethany Home Children, Buried in Shame and in Secret
Bookmark and Share      Created: 2010-10-06 03:30:24   Last updated : 2010-10-06 12:45:53

Memorial Fund Launched for memorial to 219 Dead and Forgotten Bethany Home Children, Buried in Shame and in Secret

The Bethany Survivors Group is appealing for donations to a Memorial Fund for 219 forgotten Bethany Home children buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin. Donations can be made to a Bank of Ireland account: Sort code 906734, a/c no. 63175318.

The Bethany Home was for unmarried mothers, prostitutes and women on remand and convicted of crimes ranging from petty theft to infanticide. It operated a children's home and organised nursing, fostering and adoption of the children of its unmarried residents. Bethany was governed by an evangelical ethos associated mainly with clergy from a Church of Ireland Missionary Society up to the 1960s, and also with other Protestant denominations.

In May 2010 the Secretary of the newly formed Bethany Survivors Group discovered 40 unmarked graves from 1935-36. A moving ceremony was held on May 26 on a patch of bare earth where 33 of the Bethany infants lie together. In September the Secretary, Niall Meehan, Faculty Head in the Journalism & Media Faculty of Griffith College, discovered and announced a total of 219 dead children from the Bethany Home, who died between 1922-49. They also were buried in secret in various parts of Mount Jerome Cemetery. Nearly two thirds died between 1935-44, over a third (86) in one five year period 1935-44. Up to 30 other unidentified children may be buried elsewhere.

In 1939 the state's Deputy Chief Medical Adviser, William S Berry, rationalised these deaths. Instead of finding out why so many children were ill and dead, he reported that 'illegitimate' children were 'delicate'. Berry's only concrete action was to force Bethany to cease 'objectionable' 'proselytising activities', by no longer admitting Roman Catholics. He threatened to cut the home off from access to funding in the 1939 Public Assistance Act. When public funding was achieved in 1948, child mortality declined to a total of five from 1949-63. Deaths that occurred prior to this date resulted from state neglect and from institutional prejudice.

To remember these children is to defy and to repudiate the secrecy and the shame that surrounded their all-to-brief existence. It is to give them the minimum that all expect - a recognition in death that was denied in life. It is also to repudiate the prejudice that occupied institutional minds and governed their actions.

We would be grateful for any support that you may wish to give to this cause. This memorial will help people come to terms with their past, and would help with the healing process.

Donations can be made in any bank to


The Bank Ireland
Sort code 906734, a/c no.  63175318

Please keep bank receipt as a record of your donation - if you can please make contact afterward at the email, web or postal address below.

Derek Linster - -
Chairperson Bethany Survivors Group
TELEPHONE: 0044 1788817311 - 0044 7857682601
42Southey Rd, Rugby, Warrickshire, CV22 6HF, England

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