These Women Survived Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. They’re Ready to Talk

Source: The New York Times

By Ed O’Loughlin

 

DUBLIN — They are a haunting sight in the aftermath of wars and natural disasters: the notice boards that spring up outside Red Cross tents and hospitals, covered in notes from desperate people searching for loved ones lost in the chaos.

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As 220 survivors of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries convened for a state-sponsored meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, strikingly similar pleas for the lost went up at their hotel.

Orders of Roman Catholic nuns ran the laundries for profit, and women and girls were put to work there, supposedly as a form of penance. The laundries were filled not only with “fallen women” — prostitutes, women who became pregnant out of marriage or as a result of sexual abuse and those who simply failed to conform — but also orphans and deserted or abused children.

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