Thank you to Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD who researched some information for me on St John's Industrial School Birr - I have started following up on the information Marcella has sent to me.
I got a call from a Sister Peggy - (I missed her last name and when I asked her for it she said "Peggy will do". She asked what was my interest etc. I spoke to her respectfully and conveyed to her my interest in Clonoghill Cemetary as it is where I have a brother buried for 50 years - I chatted to her about LSA Sisters - Little Sisters of the Assumption where I had been Secretary for a while - she knew them well and said they were great workers amongst the poor in Limerick and Dublin - then I told her about the information I had received from Marcella and that Offaly County Council have offered to contribute to a New Cross once the Sisters of Mercy give their permission - I told her that I felt it important that the girls have their names and ages written on the new cross. Sr Peggy was ringing from Naas Order??
I had been expecting a call from Tullamore or Birr but it does not matter once I get the information.
I told her I had passed that grave for nearly 50 years and had not noticed it until news was coming out on mass graves throughout Ireland. She seemed to ignore what I was saying but carried on "we have no records of much about that "plot" I reminded her that SOM had bought 4 plots in 1876 and closed the industrial school in 1963 (information received from Marcella)
Sr Peggy said there were in total 3 deaths from St John's in 1890's - one was buried in a family plot and she is not sure about the other two - "It was the famine era you know, we had very few deaths, children die every day, have you heard about the refugee deaths - children die all the time and all we can do is pray, we pray all the time for children all over the world" - The Ryan Report mentioned St John's Industrial School etc. I have not read the Ryan Report, maybe we all should. Sr Peggy kept mentioning the Famine era but did give me a Plot Number 417 where she said someone is buried - she is not sure how many and does not have a name. She doesn't have any ages of the children who died. It is strange that in almost 70 years of that Industrial School named St John's in Birr, Co Offaly there were "no deaths". I told her about the toys around the cross and Sr Peggy said that she had heard of the toys but does not know who left them there.
Now we have two dead girls - one buried in The Family Plot and one in 417. Sr Peggy went on to state that there were no further deaths in St John's Industrial School since 1890's and that there were only 3-4 in total. I Thanked her and said my goodbyes.
I have passed this Plot No. 417 on to Offaly County Council worker who has confirmed that he will look it up for me.
The Picture here below is the grave I am talking about - not too far inside the Gates of Clonoghill Cemetary Birr Co Offaly.
Does anyone know of any girls who were injured or who suffered in St John's Industrial School, Birr, Co Offaly.
Thank you again to Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD who helped me in this search.