TUAM, Ireland — In 1975, Frannie Hopkins and Barry Sweeney were playing in an apple orchard just off the Dublin Road where the old St. Mary’s mothers and babies home used to be.
Frannie Hopkins, 12, jumped from a wall and whatever he landed on made a funny noise. Barry Sweeney, 10, followed suit and the hollow they felt made them curious.
They pulled back some weeds and found a concrete slab, pulled back the slab, and to their utter amazement saw a collection of skulls and bones.
“I’d say there were a dozen sets of bones,” Frannie Hopkins told me, standing on the spot. “It was a concrete chamber, a crypt or a tomb or a tank.”
For reasons both complicated and not entirely surprising, it is only now that the macabre discovery two boys made 39 years ago has become yet another exercise in Ireland’s ongoing, agonizing confrontation with its uncomfortable past.
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