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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Little Dolls of Love: Project looking for 796 dolls to remember the babies lost at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home


by Sarah Finnan
11th May 2021

Jeena Paradies / Unsplash

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Wanting to ensure that the victims of the Mother and Baby home in Tuam are never forgotten, four Irish women have come together to organise Little Dolls of Love – an initiative that will help to honour their memory.

Headed up by Amanda Larkin, Denise Gormley, Gráinne de Barra and Valerie Jennings, the women are looking to source 796 baby dolls, which they will use to serve as a visual representation of the babies that died in Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Asking the public for their help, organisers have put a call out for old children’s dolls that can be used for the project, telling Ryan Tubridy that they are “definitely on a mission”. 

Speaking to the RTÉ radio host on his morning breakfast show yesterday, Amanda explained a little more behind the idea. “We’re doing a Little Doll of Love. We are looking to collect 796 dolls and what we want to do is, we want to do an image that represents the 796 babies that are missing in Tuam believed to be in the septic tank.”

Giving further details on the image that the women want to create using the dolls, Amanda said that they have chosen a location in Castlebar, Co Mayo, later adding that the plan is to lay the dolls out as simply as possible. “We have a location selected in Mayo and we just want to lay the dolls out very, very simply – just 796 – just to show the image of the amount of babies we’re talking about… They didn’t get a voice so we’re going to give each one of those, you know, their own voice, their own image, their own way to be recognised.”

Asked whether there is a particular type of doll that the women are looking for, Amanda confirmed that organisers are hoping for ones that are “baby-sized”, Baby Born dolls in particular. Already with 350 dolls collected, each one comes with its own personal story with several of that number being donated by Catherine Corless.

Sharing why has been so heavily involved in the project, Amanda revealed that her own family has been very personally affected by what happened at the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. Her mother Carmel was born at the Home in 1949 and spent five and a half years there before she was boarded out to Mayo. Only learning who her biological mother was 18 months ago, the trauma of the situation still weighs heavily on them. 

Shy of about 400 dolls, collection points have been set up in the west of Ireland and you can find out more information on how to contribute to the project over on the Little Dolls of Love Facebook page here

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