Oscar-winning actor Liam Neeson has revealed that he is collaborating with Catherine Corless on a new film about the Tuam babies scandal after he was "filled with horror" after first hearing the story.
The controversy sparked international shock and outrage in 2014 when an unmarked mass grave of almost 800 children, who died between 1925 and 1961, was uncovered at a former Catholic Church-run home in Tuam, Co Galway.
The grave was discovered in the former grounds of one of Ireland's mother-and-baby homes run by the Bon Secours order of nuns after an investigation by researcher and campaigner Catherine Corless.
Speaking on Friday night's Late Late Show, Ballymena-born Neeson said that the new film is only a year away from going into production and explained why he was moved to make it.
"Hopefully, maybe in a years time, we'll start production on this, to tell this story and show it to the world"— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) October 15, 2021
Liam Neeson speaks about his work with Catherine Corless to tell the story of the Tuam babies to the world.#LateLate pic.twitter.com/Nb69HLeoeV
"A friend of mine, Amy Hynes, she's my walking partner in New York, three years ago, she sent this article by Dan Barry a New York Times journalist and said 'Liam, have you read this?'
"And then I read this article by Dan about Catherine and the discovery of the babies underground, 796 babies, who are, of course, still there in septic tanks.
"I read this, and I couldn't find the words. I'm Irish and I was brought up a Catholic and a very strong Catholic and I was filled with emotion. I was filled with horror, and I was filled with embarrassment.
He added, "For the first time in my life, and I've made some 93/94 films, I never felt this way before. I was lying on my bed, I shot up straight and I thought I'm going to do something about this. Whatever celebrity status I have in the film world, I'm going to do something.
"I called my producer friend Jules Daly, she works with Ridley Scott, and I said 'I'm going to send you this article, I want you to read it, we're going to produce a film about this, we have to. Don't ask me where the motivation is coming from, we have to do it.'
"She read it and said, 'yeah, I'm on board.' We approached Rose Garnett, the Head of BBC Films, we got this extortionary writer.
69-year-old Neeson, who is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, said that he was filming in Belfast at the time and visited Catherine Corless in Galway.
"I visited Catherine and her lovely husband, Aidan, three years ago. I spent a few hours, and I was just struck by the humility by this ordinary and extraordinary woman and her husband.
"She filled me in on this extraordinary story. So, we're going to do this film, we have a wonderful writer on board, and I told Catherine to be patient with us as the film process can take a long time, for example, Schindler's List took 10 years to get together until we got a script.
"This Tuam babies film will not take 10 years, it's three years already but we're very near completion. Hopefully maybe in a year's time, we will start production on this to tell the story to the world."
Host Ryan Tubridy remarked to Neeson that the Tuam babies' story "has got right under your skin?"
"Absolutely," Neeson said. "I know the Government has published 3,000 pages which is all well and good. But the bones of these 796 babies are still in these chambers, these septic chambers, under the ground.
"All Catherine wants and all we want is for the dignity to be shown to the babies, to be identified and to be buried and getting that dignity - that's it."
Neeson also spoke about the death of his mother on Friday night’s show.
"She passed away, she was 94, she had a good innings," he said. "She passed away last June, which was kinda weird, as in was in the middle of a pandemic and it was strange for me and my sons in Upstate New York to be watching this funeral ceremony on a screen. Very bizarre.
"I still haven't got my head around it. I think about her every day."