Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The Magdalene Laundries

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 4, 2009

This humble blog was honored recently by the visits of a woman named Mari Steed.

Mari Steed is a special lady: Her mother was imprisoned for ten years in one of the Magdalene Laundries. Mari was taken from her mother when she was still an infant and sent to America to be adopted by a family on the East Coast.

So what were the Magdalene Laundries? Originally, two centuries ago, they were supposed to provide safe havens and gainful employment for “fallen women” worldwide; however, especially in Ireland, they soon became slave labor camps where any girl or woman could find herself imprisoned for any reason or none:

Thirty thousand in all were locked away in these penal establishments, some for decades, to scrub away the sin of being poor, pregnant, unwanted or for simply being an embarrassment to their families and communities. A few, who had spent their childhoods in orphanages run by the nuns, were put away for being too beautiful, and therefore in the twisted logic of the sisters, too “in danger of sin”.

There were no trials, no inquiries, no nothing. The presumption that you were a sexual being was enough to condemn you. So the victims of abuse were guilty too, and, by bizarre extension, those in danger of corruption by their fathers, brothers, cousins, or just men in general also had to be saved from sin.

Once you were placed on the Register of Penitents your identity was taken away, your name was changed, and you were not allowed to talk to any of the other Magdalene women. “You were broken down and utterly at their mercy,” says Dr Frances Finnegan, author of the definitive account of the Magdalene asylums in Ireland, Do Penance or Perish. “They decided how long you would spend in the convent – a year or your life.”

She tells a story of this process of dehumanisation: “I met a woman who had been brought up in an orphanage and then later stuck into the laundry. One day she was taken into the parlour of the convent and told by a nun that her mother was dead. It turned out that she had worked alongside her mother for more than 20 years in the laundry and the nuns had kept it from them, knowing that her mother had been pining all that time for her child. Generation after generation was condemned in this way. You just cannot imagine how miserable and inhuman these places were. And the really terrible thing was that it was women doing it to other women.”

The truly frightening thing is that the last Magdalene Laundry, High Park in Dublin, wasn’t shut down until 1996. The nuns and priests worked to dehumanize the women so that they would be too ashamed to speak out, and local officials who profited from the women’s slave labor kept quiet about it as well.

8 Responses to “The Magdalene Laundries”

  1. Charles II said

    This is a fascinating story, PW. Good on Mari for introducing us to her site, and good on you for making this post.

  2. maybe it would be next kate winslet film.

  3. Dickeylee said

    Hooray for the Catholics! They’ve done it again.

  4. Mari Steed said

    Phoenix woman, I am the one humbled. You make me blush :-) Seriously, kudos to all of you for spreading the word so that the plight of the Magdalenes won’t be buried like so much of history. The land of ‘saints and scholars’ has much to be ashamed of and to answer to. Like Nazi germany, they will have to face their past and own the misdeeds done ‘in the context of the times’ (goddess how I hate that trite excuse, used over and over again by Catholic prelates, govenment ministers, etc.) And Dickeylee — I had an out and out giggle at your comment. ‘Hooray for Catholics!’ indeed! I now prefer to live by Groucho Marx’s old adage: “I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member”!

    • PHOEBE MULHERN said

      WHAT IS NOT BEING RECOGNISED IS THAT THE CLERGY IS IN LEAGUE WITH THE MEDICAL PROFESSION AND THE POLITICIANS AND THAT THESE PRACTICES OF ABUSE, PSYCHOLOGICAL INTIMIDATION AND ENSLAVEMENT CONTINUES TO THIS DAY UNDER OTHER FORMS. MY MOTHER AND FATHER AND THEIR FAMILIES WERE HARRASSED AND TERRORIZED ALL THEIR LIVES – IN LARGE MEASURE TO GET THEIR PROPERTY AND TO SUBSIDIZED THE “IN-CROWD”- (TO USE MY MOTHER’S TERM) – THEY ARE EASY TO IDENTIFY – LOOK WHO GETS THE JOBS, HOUSING, ETC.
      IT CONTINUES AND DOES NOT STOP AT MURDER AND IS INTERNATI0NAL NOW.
      I AM PRESENTLY AT THE RECEIVING END AND AM BEING EXPERIMENTED AT HUNTINGTON HOSPITAL PASADENA IN ORDER TO RUIN MY HEALTH AND EYESIGHT – THIS IS IN COLLABORATION WITH CATHOLIC CLERGY. AT LEAST THE NAZI DOCTORS WERE EXECUTED!
      MY DAUGHTER HAS BEEN EXPERIMENTED UPON BY DOCTORS AND THE US LEGAL SYSTEM – I GIVE PERMISSION TO ANYONE TO ACCESS THE NEW YORK FAMILY COURT RECORDS FOR ANNA BERTIN.
      I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO SEE MY DAUGHTER FOR 18 YEARS – SHE, TOO, WAS ATTACKED BY DOCTORS, SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND CLASMATES, THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS. MANY PEOPLE KNOW ALL THIS BUT ARE NOT TALKING.
      THE SCOPE OF THIS IS VAST AND IMPLICATES SO MANY LAYERS OF OFFICILDON THAT I CANNOT COVER
      IT ALL HERE.

      I WOULD LIKE TO PUT ON RECORD THAT I HAVE DONE THE FOLLOWING VERY IMPORTANT PROBLEMS IN MATHEMATICS BUT NO ONE WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THIS – ALTHOUGH THREE OF THEM ARE ENTITLED TO
      $1 MILLION PRIZE – MARKED WITH **** AND SEE CLAYMATH INSTITUTE.
      THE RIEMANN IS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT FOR GOVERNMENT ENCRIPTION CODES AND IS PRICELESS –

      1992 – FACTORING COMPOSITES AND IDENTIFYING PRIMES i.e RIEMANN HYPOTHESIS ***

      1998 – SOLVING PERFECT NUMBERS

      1999 – TRISECTING THE ANGLE

      2000 – SQUARING NOT MORE TIME

    • PHOEBE MULHERN said

      CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS

      2000 – SQUARING THE CIRCLE

      2000 – DOUBLING THE CUBE

      2002 – P=NP***

      2004 – DIOPHNTINE SOLUTION

      2008 – BIRCH SWINNERTON-DYER***

      2008 – FINDING ERRORS IN CANROR’S REASONING

      2008 – FINDING ERROR IN GODEL’S STATEMENT

      NO MORE TIME NOW TO COMPLETE – THIS WILL HEVE TO DO FOR A BEGINNING

  5. Stormcrow said

    Nice one.

    It’s a story that ought to be shouted from the housetops. Now there’s an example of religion at work.

    Makes me damned glad I left the Catholic Church in my early teens.

    The story broke some time ago. The first time I learned of it was from Melanie Mattson.

  6. […] On a somewhat better note, the “Sisters of Mercy” are going to pay out nearly $200 million to their victims and their families. (Google “Magdalene Laundries” to see what I’m talking about, or just click here.) […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

 
%d bloggers like this: