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796 pairs of textiled baby boots will be displayed at the Courthouse Gallery Ennistymon as part of a nationwide series of cultural exhibitions for National Heritage Week.

Since April, local lace and crochet worker Mary Brosnan has been hard at work, she has been assembled pairs of baby boots in an attempt to gather 796 pairs, to honour the babies of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, where excavations are set to commence in September.

As an offering of acknowledgment and solidarity with these babies and their respective families, Mary conceived a community art project titled, Closely Knit.With the number of Mother and Baby Home burial sites rising over the past few years, and increasingly resurfaced into public awareness, she has felt called to coordinate a project to recognise the loss all of the mothers have endured and the collective pain we hold for them in our psyches.

Through word of mouth and social media, she made a call out to people across the island to contribute pairs of baby boots. The boots are stitched in various mediums, some knitted, some crocheted and some felted.

“I have chosen the form of the Celtic Triskele as a way of showcasing the boots, to represent many of the triads that are a part of our indigenous culture: past, present and future; father, mother and child, birth, death and rebirth, for example. Although these babies’ lives were brief, it is important that they are acknowledged,” Mary explained.

She added, “The trojan work of Catherine Corless in demanding justice for survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes, inspired me to bring my dream to fruition. The ‘Closely Knit’ project is a culmination of many hands, weaving together the work of many women. Together with all of the individual women, as well as groups, who answered the call and submitted boots for the project, it has become possible – I want to extend deep gratitude to every pair of hands that made a pair of boots. It’s a great privilege to display them for Heritage Week”.

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