Remains of famine victims removed from Tuam site
The skeletal remains of over ten victims of the Great Famine are to be removed from the Tuam site where they were discovered over the weekend.
Workers for Coffey Construction stumbled upon the remains while carrying out work on a public water project near Tuam and initial investigations by archaeologists have revealed that the remains most likely date back to the Great Famine.
Speaking to the Galway Independent this week, Finn Delaney of Eachtra Archaeological projects said the discovery was made close to the boundary wall, where a workhouse had been located in the 1840s.
Mr Delaney said he has worked closely with local historian Tony Claffey in recent days and discovered old documents that depict the owners of the workhouse stating that they were not happy that a graveyard was located so close to their site.
This suggests that the area where the bodies were discovered was a burial ground in the early 1800s and the graveyard was subsequently moved across the road to where the existing Victorian burial ground is located.
Archaeologists were initially surprised that the bodies were buried in a north-south direction, since bodies are laid in an east-west direction in most Christian burials.
However, Mr Delaney said that they have now attributed this to the large volume of bodies that were being buried during that period.
“These bodies were buried around the time of the Great Famine and, due to the large volume, the same traditions weren’t really being observed. Instead, more attention would have been being paid to accommodating the boundaries of the site etc.,” he explained.
A small site of five by six metres has now being cordoned off and four archaeologists are working on excavating and removing the remains.
“A full archaeological analysis will be undertaken in due course and, as they become archaeological objects, it will be up to the National Museum to decide what to do with them,” added Mr Delaney.