Sewage Babies


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Sewage Babies


Put on our Sunday best for Mass.

Let on we haven’t heard

about dead babies in Tuam.

Eight hundred infants,

bunkered in human filth.

Bones tossed like old coins,

dump of dead currency.


To those who defend

servants of God and state:

‘They did the best

with what they had.’

What have we?


Garrison church.

Proud, complicit government.

Blessed well of



Frannie Hopkins standing on the #tuambabies grave he discovered while playing in 1975 via Philip Boucher-Hayes on Twitter ?@boucherhayes

Frannie Hopkins standing on the Tuam Babies grave he discovered while playing in 1975 via Philip Boucher-Hayes on Twitter @boucherhayes

Deborah Watkins is a painter and a writer who also worked for many years making decorative ceramics. She grew up in Dublin and studied craft design at the National College of Art and Design. Deborah moved to Connemara in 1991 where she now lives with her three young daughters and her husband Gavin Lavelle, who is also an artist. They run the family business together in Clifden – The Lavelle Art Gallery ( which showcases painting and sculpture by local and nationally renowned artists.

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2 Responses

  1. Barry

    June 5, 2014 9:07 am

    Nice poem, full of the feelings that all of us must have, or should have. However, since the authorities’ reaction so far, is an interdepartmental committee, I doubt if everyone feels disgusted and anxious to get at the truth.

    Apparently there was, at some time, “disquiet” in Government Departments – about the death rates in these institutions, but not about the role, supervision and activities of them?

    • Debbie

      June 5, 2014 11:43 am

      Thanks Barry. Yes it seems that while there is now growing pressure for a garda enquiry, action is taken only when public pressure forces the issue. I am concerned about what this says about us as a society. I am concerned too about the disconnect between the living church and events such as this in recent church history. I do not understand why people do not seek answers from their church at a local/national level and beyond. If this conversation is not started – between the people and their church – then the past can never be absolved. Not asking for the truth is saying that this is not important and that we do not care.