Ireland’s Shame



The Magdalene Sisters – Part 1

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 2

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 3

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 4

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 5

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 6

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 7

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 8

The Magdalene Sisters –Part 9

The Magdalene Sisters – Part 10

Courtesy of The Irish Times:

Sir, – The finding of the Inter-Departmental Committee Investigating State Involvement with the Magdalene laundries that there was significant State involvement is to be welcomed and reaffirms the assertion made by Magdalene survivors, advocacy organisations, the Irish Human Rights Commission (2010) and the United Nations Committee against Torture (2011).

That the Government has not, as yet, issued a full formal apology to these women is to say the least, extremely disappointing.

In 2010 and 2011, the National Women’s Council of Ireland wrote to women politicians at local and national level seeking their support for: an apology from the State and the religious orders who ran the Magdalene laundries; a compensation scheme; a statutory pension; and complete access to their records. Our call received cross-party support and many put forward motions passed at local authority level.

This is a key moment for the survivors of the Magdalene laundries. For them, according to the Justice for Magdalenes advocacy group, an apology is a first crucial step in restoring their dignity and sense of citizenship.

It is a key moment too for the Government to go just some way, in setting right the injustices of the past. Justice must be done and a clear and resounding message must emanate from Government that the treatment of these women was a severe violation of their human rights. We urge the Taoiseach, in recognition of the women survivors and in memory of those who died, to acknowledge that the State failed in its duties to protect their rights, to issue a full formal apology to them and ensure that justice is served. – Yours, etc,



National Women’s Council

of Ireland,

Parnell Square East,

Dublin 1.

A chara, – As a man, I am deeply disturbed by the way Enda Kenny squirms in the seat of power, while women who have suffered enormously and so unjustly wait for his apology. Furthermore, is government so male-dominated to this day that Mary Lou Mc Donald has to single-handedly challenge the Taoiseach?

Are there no outraged men in government? This is an utter disgrace, and in any decent society, it should be a resigning matter for the leader. How difficult can it be to own up to a glaring truth?

I am appalled at the Taoiseach’s attempts to go toe to toe with the Sinn Féin TD, as if this particular issue has any relevance to whatever Sinn Féin got up to in the past. We all know that financial circumstances are straitened, but if the Taoiseach believes that by becoming an ostrich, he will save the State coffers, he is showing very poor leadership.

Indeed, how can we hope that a man resorting to schoolboy tactics, in the face of this horror, can spearhead economic recovery and growth? Up until more recent times, I had thought the Coalition offered some hope. I see now my misconception.

The Dáil is an outdated gentlemen’s club, where true grit and principles of fairness and justice are in short supply. I am ashamed, on this day, to be an Irishman. – Is mise,


Chapel Lane, Cashel,

Co Tipperary.

Sir, – I am puzzled by the contradictions in your Editorial: “Case for greater compassion” (February 6th) .

On the one hand I learn that the average age of women in the laundries was 24 and that the average length of time spent there was seven months, yet you complain about the lack of education provided for them.

You accept that the majority of women were “self-referrals” and family referrals, yet you hold the State responsible. You quote from the report that the laundries were “cold, with a rigid and uncompromising regime of physically demanding work”, but this was the pattern of life for most people in Ireland during these years, as I know from experience.

There were two groups of women involved in the laundries – the “inmates” and the sisters who also worked there. The latter have been slandered as brutal, uncaring, slave-driving profiteers by sections of the media, yet the report denies all these allegations.

The unfortunate women who spent time in these institutions were the victims of society – people rejected by parents, families, relatives and neighbours, so it is no wonder they feel aggrieved and angry. Our sympathy for them should not blind us to the fact that these institutions were set up as havens and refuges by well-intentioned people – not the ogres that some would have us believe. – Yours, etc,




Co Galway.

Sir, – One of the saddest things to hear on the Magdalene issue is that many survivors are still afraid to come forward due to the perceived stigma, no doubt a guilt hangover from the regime they were incarcerated within.

Some of their relatives will know their story: so please let these women know that they should consider themselves heroes and survivors. Those who did survive will be remembered in their embracing of the reality that they were not guilty here, this State let them down, we all let them down.

Step forward heroes and accept the apologies and compensation that will be your due. – Yours, etc,


Herbert Road,


Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Sometimes sorry is the hardest word to say, but in this instance it is not only the most important word, but it is the least the victims deserve from this State. – Yours, etc,


Lansdowne Park,


Dublin 16.

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9 Responses to Ireland’s Shame

  1. sleuth says:

    just, wow…

  2. CC ... says:

    I remember watching this movie when it came out … it stayed with me for a while. Horrifying and sad.

  3. Oh, Irishgirl.
    I have no words tonight,
    but I left this at IM late yesterday.
    Joni Mitchell-The Magdalene Laundries


  4. Paula says:

    I was not aware of a movie, but some years back, I saw something about this on the TV program “60 Minutes.” Interesting, and horrible!

  5. MrsGunka says:

    I stayed up til 1 AM watching the videos. I couldn’t watch #5 as I couldn’t remember my darn password! Had trouble going to sleep. I’ve heard stories of these things happening but didn’t know it was Ireland. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened in any country with high number of Catholics. It could be any religion also, too, that is of the Dominionist leaning. I see a tendency of the church running your life in many of the Evangelical churches and Baptists too…..controlling a woman’s body is high priority. The nuns sure have a proclivity to have a mean streak, don’t they! I was in a Catholic hospital when I had polio. I would cry when I saw them coming down the hall with the Sister Kinney hot pack machine! They were cut out for this job!!! Hot, wet wool wrapped around every inch of your body and covered in rubber sheeting till they cooled down, then stretching every muscle in your body till you screamed bloody murder!!! I can still see the grins on their faces as the pain became unbearable! I was only 7 (1946) and was scared out of my mind. I think I would have died if I would have gone to a Parochial school after that. I don’t think there was any exaggeration in this film! What nightmares are made of! Thank you for letting us see this. Yes, it’s Ireland’s shame but think many more countries share the shame.

    • Paula says:

      My husband and his siblings were born in a Catholic hospital. One of his sisters was born in the car on the WAY to the hospital. When they got there, my MIL and the baby were kept in isolation because the birth had not been under hospital conditions. The old nun/nurse insisted on shaving my MIL even though she had just given birth already.

      • MrsGunka says:

        Most hospitals isolate babies that were born “enroute” to the hospital as it was not done under sterile conditions to prevent spread of infections, but shaving her after the fact must have been some kind of fetish (weird) of that sister!!! I never understood the concept of a nurse/nun who worked in OB who had never had a baby. Even we as students didn’t know the real pain of having a baby. Book learning is one thing, but actually giving birth teaches you so much more. A nun will never know what is going on! She is married to Jesus and we haven’t had any immaculate conceptions for an “ion”. It’s like they are all waiting to be chosen and the hands of time keep passing by them. I guess they are little grumpy….

      • irishgirl999 says:

        Wow. I just learned that my aunt was sent to one of these places for a while!

        MrsG….No 5 had scenes of nudity. The nuns were mocking the figures of the girls. It was heartbreaking.

  6. MrsGunka says:

    That is really sad news. I hope she recovered. Is she still alive? Maybe you could write her story. It needs to get out. Guess I didn’t miss anything on #5. Nudity means nothing when you have been a nurse. “Ain’t nothing we haven’t seen….inside and out.” The whole story is heartbreaking to me.

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