May 17, 2019
Filumena Quinn decided to speak up about her experience following the controversy that arose around a recent report carried out by the Commission of Inquiry into mother and baby homes.
The commission found evidence that 900 children died at Bessborough while only 64 burial records existed with one grave site, the Irish Sun reported.
"I remember hearing a baby died when I was in that home, but I have no idea what happened to the child's remains: the cover-ups, the missing children and the forced adoptions. The whole thing is vile," Quinn told the Commission of Inquiry.
Her parents sent her to Bessborough after she had “shamed” the family in getting pregnant by an electrician in Galway at 17.
Once at the Mother-and-baby home, Quinn got on the wrong side of the nuns because she refused to go to mass. She got put in charge of cleaning the church and washing nappies, work she believed to be the cause of her son’s premature birth in 1972.
The 65-year-old recounted the night she went into labor, the night she thought she would die. "The nuns refused to wake the midwife up out of her bed. It was midnight, and I thought I was going to die with the pain,” she said according to the Irish Sun.
Filumena Quinn. | Source: Facebook/Remembering The Tuam Babies
Hours went past while the nuns gave her nothing for the pain and did nothing to help while she kept bleeding. I really believed I was going to die. I believed my baby was going to die," Quinn added.
Quinn’s son then got adopted, but when she searched for him later in life, she learned that he sadly passed away after his remains got found washed up on a beach in June 2004.
"I was too late when I went looking for him. It's like a hole you can never fill... this country has a lot to answer for," she said.
After she gave birth, Quinn said the horror continued. She recalled how the nuns at the homes gave large doses of Phenobarbitone, a sedative, to women who had given birth whether they asked for it or not.
The sedatives, normally used to induce sleep and help relax patients, were dished out without medical supervision. She told of how “euphoric” the sedatives made her feel and how she often walked into walls because she was “drowsy.”
When Quinn left the home, she went through a hard time from the sudden withdrawal she experienced.
"I know now part of it was because I wasn't weaned off the tablets, they just stopped abruptly, and it was hard to deal with physically and mentally along with the loss of my son, who was adopted, Quinn elaborated.
This is the first public claim against Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Order, who ran Bessborough along with two other mother-and-baby homes in Ireland, Castlepollard in Co Westmeath, and Sean Ross Abbey in Co Tipperary.
It is a Roman Catholic religious institute Father Coudrin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie officially established in France on Christmas Eve in 1800. The order reached Ireland in 1948 and the UK in 1956.
In December last year, two Roman Catholic nuns also made news when they allegedly stole $500K for gambling purposes from a Catholic school.