Having just finished watching TG4’s Documentary The Magdalene Laundries – The Forgotten Maggies, I was, needless to say, even more ashamed to be Irish than I ever thought was possible.
For those of you who weren’t watching, it chronicled the lives of survivors of these institutions and the suffering that they lived through. We now live in a country where we can say that our ancestors allowed religious institutions to take their family members away – lock them away for life, merely because they had a baby out of wedlock. Or even worse, were “insane”, which was just an excuse to get a child off the streets.
Many institutions even claimed that they were getting jobs in these institutions. Would you work in a job where you weren’t getting paid? Where you were forced to work long hours, knowing that Nuns of the Roman Catholic Church – Nuns who claim to believe in Jesus’ ways – were earning a small fortune from your labour? Of course you wouldn’t. These women were violated in the worst way possible. Religious people, in their vanity and ignorance, felt that it was their duty to “cleanse” these women of their crimes, of their past. Or maybe even cleanse them of the fact that they were a bastard child, as was often the case.
The last of these institutions was closed in 1996. While everybody lived in happiness – many of them independent of the church – there were still women, suffering in their old age after years of torture and slavery. Many murderers don’t even get life. But these women? They got more than a life sentence for something that isn’t a crime. Having a baby is not a crime.
If you too feel affected by these brave women’s stories, or want to find out more about this documentary, visit: