New Magdalene research presents complex picture

Irish Times

Jacinta Prunty

Recent research in Dublin, Caen, Angers and Rome, has put into the public domain new information on the Magdalene laundries of St Mary’s High Park and Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin, both run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

Some of the findings expand on facts already well-known from the McAleese inquiry into the role of the state vis à vis these institutions, such as the presence of former industrial school girls in Magdalene laundries. But others might give the reader pause for thought, and beyond these case studies alone.

Short-stay and emergency accommodation was in fact the principal role played by these particular homes, as revealed by analysis of the registers of entrances and exits. Some homeless women entered multiple times, others returned to spend their final months in the infirmary.

The 1957 figures for St Mary’s, High Park are typical: of the 32 women admitted that year, 15 left within one month, five within three months, seven within one year, and two more within two years (three other women simply “left”, no date of departure).

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