A memorial marking the County Clare Nursery (Mother and Baby Home) has been unveiled at Toler Street, Kilrush, County Clare, by the outgoing Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Mary Howard.
The memorial to the women who gave birth in the Kilrush-based County Nursery, the children who spent their lives there, and the infants who died there, was unveiled on Thursday, 24th June, in the presence of Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling.
Following publication of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in January of this year, Clare County Council apologised for its role in the County Nursery, which was owned and financed by Clare County Council during its decade of operation, 1922-1932.
Clare County Council acknowledged, with profound regret, its role in the failure to meet the care needs of women and children resident in the County Nursery.
The Council committed to supporting local measures as part of follow-up actions, including work in relation to memorialisation. In January, Clare County Council set up a working group to progress the development of an appropriate memorial to those who lived and died in the County Nursery.
Members of the public were invited to have their say on the memorial sculpture and wording as part of a public consultation process. The memorial includes a sculpture of a mother and baby with the inscription, “Inár gcuimhne go deo/Always remember”.
Speaking at the memorial unveiling, the outgoing Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Mary Howard, said: “The Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, and its findings in relation to the County Nursery, made for very distressing reading.
“As the Report made clear, Ireland was a cold and harsh environment for many people during the period of operation of the County Nursery, 1922-1932. This was especially so for women, and even more so for women who gave birth outside of marriage – and their children.
“Clare County Council has apologised for its role in the County Nursery and, today, Clare County Council offers that sincere apology again.
“I believe it is vital that we remember and recognise, in a tangible way, the suffering of both mothers and babies. We dedicate this memorial to the women, children and infants of the County Clare Nursery. As the inscription on the memorial reads: ‘Always remember’. This memorial is an embodiment of our commitment to never forget.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, said: “The unveiling of this memorial signifies our commitment to always remember those who suffered, and those who died, at the County Clare Nursery in Kilrush.
“As part of Clare County Council’s commitment to acknowledging its role in the County Nursery, the organisation is about to commence a process of research which will allow a greater understanding of what happened in Kilrush.
“The Council will partner with the Department of History at the University of Limerick to fund a post-doctoral fellowship. This fellowship will focus on the identification of key research goals in the historiography of the treatment of women in the public health context in County Clare during the early 20th century.
“Clare County Council also reasserts its commitment to work on the identification of documents and records that pertain to the management of the County Nursery.
“In particular, the Council is examining the archival record and other sources to identify the burial locations of the young children who passed away in this facility. This work is ongoing and further updates will be made when information becomes available.”
Mr Dowling thanked the members of the working group, and all those who helped to make the memorial a reality.
A memorial plaque will be erected to mark the site of the original County Clare Nursery (Mother and Baby Home) on the Cooraclare Road, Kilrush.