Artistic community reacts to the final Mother and Baby Homes Report

Niamh Quinlan

This October will mark 29 years since Sinéad O’Connor’s appearance on Saturday Night Live in which she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II. This followed her acapella rendition of “War” by Bob Marley, where she altered the lyrics to specifically mention child abuse.

Over the last three decades, more and more of the atrocities committed in the name of the Catholic Church have been revealed, and Sinéad’s outburst began to seem more and more reasonable. Last week, the final report of the “Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation” was published.

Its main finding: 57,000 children were born into these homes and 9,000 died in them, over the time period examined. That’s approximately one in seven children.

Since then, members of the artistic community have spoken out again the horror that went on in the homes.

“My heart breaks today at the Mother and Baby Homes report. Until we hold these institutions to account, how could we ever hope for victims to begin to heal from trauma of that magnitude,” Hozier said on Twitter.

Hozier has previously shared his views on his opposition to the idea of ‘sin’ following his debut song “Take me to Church.”

Speaking about the Catholic Church he said “it’s an organisation which teaches people to be ashamed of their bodily needs. I find that quite disgusting and the Church should be challenged.”

Comedian, author and musician, Blindboy Boatclub also took to Twitter to express his condolences for victims: “My heart is broken for all of those impacted by the cruelty of the mother and baby homes and what we’re reading today.”

Irish-turned-Anglo comedian Dara Ó Briain also spoke out about the issue, referring to the Irish Examiner frontpage which listed the names of the children who died in the Bessborough home, he called it “a desperate stain on our history.”

Dame Judi Dench said about Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s apology to victims and survivors: “I suppose it goes a little way to the heart-rending pain of all those mothers who never knew what happened to their children, and have spent their whole lives, not knowing.”

The Dame portrayed Philomena Lee in the film ‘Philomena’ about a woman’s 50-year-long search for her son, who was taken from her in the Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby home.

Poet Eleanor Hooker shared ‘Six Ways to Wash Your Hands (Ayliffe, 1978): for the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation’, by Donegal poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin.

The poem “Laundry” by Mary Coll, first published in the Irish Times in 2017, also made the rounds again on social media following the publication of the report.

Fiona Gordon from Kildare created a book of art, exploring the themes of maternal separation and adoption. It’s based on her interpretation from her mother experience as an adoptee from the Sean Ross Abbey Home.

The magnitude of this tragedy will forever remain in the minds and in the art of the Irish people, as it should.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Getty Images