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Abandoned Thurles Child Taken In Charge

Back in October 2018 it was reported that the remains of 796 children, buried in an unmarked mass grave at a former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co. Galway, were to be exhumed as part of a major forensic investigation.

The story emerged from research undertaken by Irish amateur historian Mrs Catherine Corless. The latter had decided to write an article about this mother and baby institution, based on her own childhood memories of the said institution; having gained an interest in local history, through her attendance at evening history courses.

A slow news day saw national and international media take up the story, likening same to Rwandan genocide, Ireland’s own Holocaust and the Srebrenica massacre of the mid 1990’s. Leading members of our Irish Parliament, the Irish Senate and the Northern Ireland Parliament, latter despite supposedly being well educated, were unaware of Ireland’s past history and now all spent valuable hours in debate, many strongly condemning Roman Catholic church authorities regarding this issue.

Since then, the current Fine Gael Minister for Children, Ms Katherine Zappone has confirmed that it is the current governments intention to exhume and if possible, to identify remains. The Minister has further ratified the costs of this project at being between €6m and €13m. The Roman Catholic religious congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours have offered “a voluntary contribution” of €2.5m.

Thurles & Dublin Foundling’s Hospital

The Dublin Foundling’s Hospital (today the St. James’s Hospital campus and sometime in the future to become part of the new National Children’s Hospital at a cost in excess of €1.4bn) was first established in the early part of the 18th century (1702), with Dean Jonathan Swift and Arthur Guinness being amongst those who served on the Board of Governors. Its purpose was to prevent the deaths, brought about through neglect; malnourishment; climate exposure and murder, all caused due to severe poverty. The Dublin Foundling’s hospital also had one other aim; to educate and rear the children taken into charge, in the Reformed or Protestant Faith, and thereby to strengthen and promote the Protestant Interest in Ireland.


A foundling refers to an infant child that has been abandoned by one or both parents at birth. Same is brought about usually due to the mother feeling unable to care for her infant, usually for reasons of poverty, or quite often due to pressures both from family and society in general, latter being unable to accept the existence of an infant born “outside the blanket” or outside of wedlock.

You will note from the picture show above of a billet (A billet in today’s language means a ‘ticket’ or a ‘receipt’ in French, but it originally meant a ‘short note’), that a male child “by the hands of Elizabeth Blackall” from the Church of Ireland parish of Thurles, was admitted to the Dublin Foundlings Hospital on July 12th 1791. The Porter’s name is shown as Thomas Annesley.

Note from the billet, shown above, certain of the clothing names no longer in use today.
Biggins – A bonnet tied behind the neck and made of wool or linen.
Clouts – Diapers or nappies.
Flannel – A square of fabric wrapped around a child over the diaper or a long undergarment.
Forehead Clothes – Strip of cloth tied across the forehead to behind the ears for added warmth.
Pilches – Layers of cloth tied around the diaper in an effort to prevent leakage.
Swathes – Strips of cloth, usually of wool, wrapped around an infant’s body for warmth and to put pressure on the navel. Parents will be aware of the term Swaddling.

Foundling hospital’s turning wheel appliance.

A levy, of £5 per year, would have been imposed on the parish from which the child was sent.

A feature of most foundling hospitals was a turning-wheel type mechanism set in a wall near the building’s main entrance. This particular system was so designed as to encourage mothers to bring their unwanted children anonymously to the hospital building, rather than to abandon them on doorsteps or in other out-of-the-way areas.

The hospital’s turning wheel appliance allowed for a basket to be attached, into which an infant could be placed at any time, day or night. A bell was attached to attract the attention of the hospital porter then on duty. The porter would then rotate the wheel mechanism, thus bringing the infant into the building’s interior. Such porters were instructed to take in all infants left in the basket / cradle and not to have any direct conversation with the individuals who had lodged a child.

Child abandonment due to poverty and illegitimacy has always been a problem in the past, and viewed in private by governments as the unacceptable face of unnecessary expense on state coffers. In medieval times babies were often abandoned in church or monastery doorways, in the hope that the religious, of all denominations, would take on the task of providing sustenance. After all, did not Jesus Christ insist, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (Chapter 19 – Verse 14), that Christians should – “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.

Once an infant was taken in charge, it was assumed that a mother gave up all future control. Mothers whose circumstances changed and who tried to contact their child, risked having it ‘exchanged’. This was undertaken by transferring infants to a sister institution in Cork in exchange for any Cork infants, who were also considered by authorities to be in similar danger of being re-contaminated by Papist parents.

Death Rates

In the year 1752, of the 691 children taken in charge by the Dublin Foundling’s Hospital, 365 children were dead by the end of that particular year. In 1757, burial of these children was described as being chucked, naked into a hole, some eight or ten infants at a time.

A report ordered by the Irish House of Commons regarding child mortality over the previous twelve years, ending in June 1796; same would reveal that of the 25,000 admitted more than 17,000 had died. Worse facts would be revealed in the five-year period between 1791 to 1796. Here, of the 5,016 infants sent to the Dublin Foundling’s Hospital infirmary, only one solitary child had survived.

The Select Committee to inquire into the Irish Miscellaneous estimates, published in 1829, recommended that no further financial assistance should now be given to the hospital. It stated the Dublin Foundling’s Hospital had not preserved life or and had failed to educate those placed in their care. Overall it found that the mortality rate amongst the foundlings were almost 4 death to every 5 infants taken in charge, while the total expenditure to the state was £10,000 per year. It was eventually shut down in 1838, by Charles Grant, 1st Baron Glenelg (Lord Glenelg then Irish Secretary) to be later used to accommodate South Co. Dublin Union Workhouse inmates.

The Modern-Day Solution to Ireland’s Unwanted Children
In our modern-day Ireland; supported by numerous politicians, currently both in government and in opposition, we have now found a new solution to this age-old problem. With effect from May 25th 2018, the Irish people to everyone’s shame, voted by 66.4% to 33.6%, to kill all unwanted infants, but this time while still in the womb.

Today, such wilful murder must be seen as an abuse of children once again funded by the Irish state, without the full consent of Irish taxpayers.


County Tipperary 1917-1921 – A History In 80 Documents

(Front L-R): Brigid Malone (Bride) & Dan Breen (Groom). (Back L-R): Sean Hogan (Best Man) & Aine Malone (Bridesmaid).

Mary Guinan Darmody (Tipperary Studies) at Tipperary County Council Library Service, Thurles, reports:-

In 2016, the Tipperary County Council Library Service published ‘County Tipperary in 1916 – a history in 40 documents’.

Now the second part of a projected three-part series, ‘Tipperary 1917-1921 – a history in 80 documents’, again from the ‘Finding Tipperary‘ series of publications, will be launched by Councillor Seamus Hanafin, in ‘The Source’ building, Cathedral Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, on Saturday August 24th next at 3:00pm.

Open Invitation.
An open invitation is extended to anybody with an interest in the history of Tipperary during that dramatic period.

Tipperary 1917-1921

The publication edited by Denis G. Marnane and Mary Guinan Darmody of Tipperary Studies, ‘Tipperary 1917-1921’, looks at events and personalities in the county during the War of Independence and the years leading up to Soloheadbeg. Through a series of documents including witness statements, letters, diary entries and newspaper reports, readers can view these events through the eyes of those present at the time.

The publication has received funding under the Tipperary Commemorations programme. Copies will be available free of charge from branch libraries and Tipperary Studies, to all those with an interest in this period.

A series of accompanying banners will tell the story in a temporary exhibition which will travel round the county in the coming months.

Note: For those of you residing abroad this free publication can be obtained on advance receipt of the cost of postage.

All are welcome to the official launch and for further information, contact Tel: 076 1066123 or Email studies@tipperarycoco.ie


Recognisable Thurles Face Appears In A Window

Pic. Left: Window dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas. Pic. Top Right: Summa Theologiae. Pic. Bottom Right: Archbp. Dr. Thomas Croke.

Ireland’s National Heritage Week 2019 begins August 17th.

Forgetting briefly the everyday religious benefits obtained by Thurles and Tipperary people; not to mention the same religious spiritual advantages enjoyed by hundreds of visiting day-trippers down through the centuries; it remains necessary to continue to reveal the history, relating to the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, latter a truly magnificent edifice, built to the glory of God.

Slightly to the right hand side and to the rear as you face the Cathedral’s interior Tabernacle, can be viewed a stained-glass window, dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), probably born in the castle of Roccasecca in the Province of Frosinone, in the Lazio region of Italy, and who became a Dominican priest and Scriptural Theologian.

The dedicated window portrays the Saint, the son of Landulf of Aquino and his wife Theodora, holding a scroll containing the text of his Summa Theologiae, latter written between 1265 & 1274 and also known as the Summa Theologica or simply the Summa.

Summa Theologiae, Summa Theologica or Summa

The Summa Theologiae is the best-known work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Although never completed, same remains one of the most influential works within Western literature and a compendium of all of the main theological teachings held by the Catholic Church.

Same was intended as an instructional guide, not just for the few literate laity of that period, but also for theology students, including seminarians; to whom are extolled the five arguments required to prove the existence of God, which are known as the “five ways” or “five proofs” (In Latin: quinque viae).

The stained-glass window is the work of the renowned German stained-glass designer and manufacturing company of Franz Mayer, Munich. It is interesting to note that on closer inspection of this stained-glass window, the facial features of the late Archbishop Dr. Thomas William Croke appear; thus, replacing the unknown facial characteristics of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Text on the base of the window asks for prayers for Dr. Thomas Croke (D.Div.), [1824 – 1902], latter former Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and first patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Currently the largest Irish GAA stadium, Croke Park, situated at Jones’ Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 3, in which Tipperary will meet and hopefully defeat old rivals Kilkenny, in the 2019 Senior All Ireland hurling challenge, continues to be named in his honour.


Tipperary Single Mother Brings Lawsuit In Baby Mix-Up

A former Co. Tipperary woman, Ms Helen Maguire, aged 71 and Mrs Christine Skipsey aged 52; women at the centre of a baby mix-up, are now to seek High Court approval to bring a lawsuit against the former Sisters of Charity adoption society, previously known as St. Patrick’s Guild in Temple Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

We understand Ms Maguire, a single mother, had her baby in London in 1966 and back then wished to keep her baby’s birth a secret from her immediate family. Ms Maguire, briefly placed her new born baby for safekeeping with the Sisters of Charity, in order to make a brief return visit home to her family in December of that same year.

Seeking somewhere to leave her daughter for safekeeping for some 6 weeks, she, on the advice of Fr. Michael Cleary (The “Singing Priest”), choose the Roman Catholic adoption society at Blackrock, in Co. Dublin, for that purpose.

Details of this story were first revealed back in June by the online newspaper Independent.ie

DNA tests, later conducted, revealed and confirmed, with 99.9% certainty, that Mrs Skipsey; the baby then returned to Ms Maguire, was indeed not the biological daughter of its mother.

The women are now seeking an apology from the Religious Sisters of Charity, which ran the adoption society in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, together with the Irish State; due to the perceived alleged failure by An Bord Uchtála, latter the former Irish adoption board then appointed by the Government.

Mrs Christine Skipsey now lives in Hertfordshire, north London, with her husband, while it is believed that the biological daughter of Ms Maguire was adopted by a married couple, then residing in Dublin.

Currently, it remains unclear to both women whether this mother / baby mix-up was deliberate or an honest mistake, however their search for the truth is expected to be greatly impeded by the fact that the Religious Sisters who were then involved, are no longer in the land of the living.


Tipperary Landlord Family Member – Face Of New English £50

“This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.” – Alan Turing.

We first wrote about Alan Turing’s Tipperary connection on January 11th, 2017 last. The code-breaker and visionary mathematician, who was convicted under Victorian homophobic laws, will now be the face of Britain’s new £50 note.

The Stoney family were once prominent landlords, here in North Tipperary. His mother Ethel Sara Stoney (1881–1976) was daughter of Edward Waller Stoney (Borrisokane, North Tipperary) and Sarah Crawford (Cartron Abbey, Co. Longford); Protestant Anglo-Irish gentry.

Educated in Dublin at Alexandra School and College; on October 1st 1907 she married Julius Mathison Turing, latter son of Reverend John Robert Turing and Fanny Boyd, in Dublin. Born on June 23rd 1912, Alan Turing would go on to be regarded as one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century.

A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer Alan was to become the founder of modern-day computer science and artificial intelligence; designing a machine at Bletchley Park to break secret Enigma encrypted messages used by the Nazi German war machine to protect sensitive commercial, diplomatic and military communications during World War 2. Thus, Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany, possibly saving the lives of an estimated 2 million people, through his effort in shortening World War II.

In 2013, almost 60 years later, Turing received a posthumous Royal Pardon from Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the “Turing law” grants an automatic pardon to men who died before the law came into force, making it possible for living convicted gay men to seek pardons for offences now no longer on the statute book.

Alas, Turing accidentally or otherwise lost his life in 1954, having been subjected by a British court to chemical castration, thus avoiding a custodial sentence. He is known to have ended his life at the age of 41 years, by eating an apple laced with cyanide.

The character of Alan Turing was played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game, latter a 2014 highly recommended film.