Did my baby sister die, was she trafficked or buried in a cesspit?

Peter Mulryan and his wife Kathleen from Ballinasloe at the 'Flowers for Magdalens' memorial at Bohermore Cemetery on Sunday. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

A Galway man who himself spent his formative years in the St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home fears he may never know what happened to his infant sister, who was born in the same Tuam facility – and disappeared without a trace over sixty years ago.

Peter Mulryan from Derrymullen, Ballinasloe, said he was being denied access by authorities to records and files relating to his sister, Marian Bridget Mulryan. She is believed to be among the 796 children recorded having died at the home between 1925 and 1961 – now the subject of a major inquiry and media attention that has traversed the globe.

In an emotional graveside address in Bohermore Cemetery on Sunday, during the Flowers for Magdalen’s memorial event in memory of the women who once lived and worked in the Magdalen Laundry in Galway, Mr Mulryan shared his fears that he may never know what happened to his sister.

The 73-year-old recalled how his mother Delia spent over 30 years in the Magdalen Laundry, and how – after starting out life in the Tuam residence – he was fostered out to “not a nice home” at the age of four and a half.

He became teary when he remembered being “beaten” and “tortured by nettles”.

Addressing his long running battle to get information about the fate of his baby sister, who died in February 1955, Mr Mulryan said: “. . . My sister also was supposedly buried in this so-called grave septic tank in Tuam. She was only nine months old when she died. I have a birth record, death certificate and what she died from – supposed to be from convulsions.

“I don’t know and I will ever know. At the moment, I’m looking for a file and I’m being refused it. I was refused even to . . . they didn’t want to give me the information because she was dead.”

Mr Mulryan indicated that the Flowers for Magdalen Memorial event has helped to give relief and bring some closure.

“My mother was going around like this,” he said, with his head looking to the ground, indicating a head hung in shame. “I was going around like this,” he said, again gesturing his head was bowed to the ground.

Then, lifting his head skyward, he added: “But now we can look up at the stars.”

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.