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Stone unveiled to Bethany children

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The short lives of 222 children who died at the Bethany Mother and Child Home have been recognised with a memorial.

A headstone was yesterday unveiled bearing the names of babies from the home who were buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

The headstone was erected at a new plot in the Dublin cemetery.

Derek Leinster, chairman of the Bethany Survivors group who spent about three years and 10 months in the home as an infant, said the survivors’ quest for redress from the state will not end with the memorial.

He said: “Children were disregarded as nobodies. Someone who could be cast aside. That was not right. And I was one of those children – I was left to die at three years of age.”

The Protestant-run Bethany house for unmarried mothers and their children was in operation from 1921 until 1972, based first in Blackhall Place, Dublin and later moving to Rathgar.

A Church of Ireland service and unveiling of the headstone at Mount Jerome was attended by representatives from all the major Christian churches.

Niall Meehan, whose research helped uncover the extent of the unmarked graves, said the day was about bringing dignity to the deaths of scores of children, a right every person is entitled to.

He said: “The memorial gives recognition to the children that they were denied in their short lives.

“They were destined to be forgotten. It gives them the minimum that everyone gets when they die, their names on a headstone.”

The 6ft memorial stone is Kilkenny limestone with designs carved into it including toys to signify a lost childhood. State funds helped to pay for it.

 

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