Children of the Bethany Home Remembered at Annual Service
The annual Service of Remembrance for the children of the Bethany Home in Dublin took place in Mount Jerome Cemetery on Friday afternoon (June 29). The service saw the unveiling of a new flat memorial stone on which the names of 70 additional Bethany children and one mother who died in childbirth are inscribed.
The new stone has been added to the memorial which was unveiled in April 2014 and which bears the names of 222 children who, researchers discovered, had died in the home. For the first time, the memorial also recognises the mothers of Bethany Home and bears the name of a mother who died in childbirth at the home.
The service, which also remembered children from the Smyly Homes, Miss Carr’s Home, the Magdalen Asylum and Irish Church Missions, was led by Canon David Gillespie. It was attended by members of the Bethany Home Survivors’ Group as well as survivors of other mother and baby homes. Also present was Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and Cllr Cathleen Carney Boud, who represented the Lord Mayor.
During the service Canon Gillespie led prayers for all who continued to suffer the hurts and pains of the past and prayed that they would find the peace that could only come from God.
After the service a lone piper led the congregation to the memorial site where the Deputy Lord Mayor paid tribute to Derek Leinster and all the survivors for their untiring work in campaigning for recognition. She expressed disappointment that the Bethany survivors had not been included in the Mother and Baby Home Redress Scheme.
Deputy McDonald said that no apology could undo the hurt that had been done to women and children under the watchful eye of the State, but that the State was causing additional hurt to survivors who are Protestant. She called on the State to face this hurt and treat every victim the same.
Dr Niall Meehan of Griffith College, who has supported the Bethany Survivors, said mothers came from all parts of the island and were forced to hide their shame. Their children lived in these homes and many died in them, he added. He suggested that without the work of Derek Leinster and John Thompson no one would know about the mothers and babies.
Derek Leinster thanked Niall Meehan and Mary Lou McDonald for their support. Joyce McSharry, another Bethany survivor, said they had been fighting for justice for over 20 years adding that they only wanted what survivors of other homes had received. Paul Redmond who was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home said that the motivation of the State had been to separate survivors. However, he added, they stood by the memorial as a united community.
Proceedings concluded when survivors Joyce McSharry, Noeleen Belton and Mary Lou Hawkins released of doves in memory of those who had died in the mother and baby homes.