1. The Last Magdalen Laundry: The Gloucester Street Laundry in Dublin
Until recently, the powerful conservative Catholic Church controlled almost every aspect of life in the Republic of Ireland. Any young woman that found herself pregnant and unmarried had committed the most dire of all sins. Bringing shame, family members often sent their pregnant sisters and daughters to a magdalen home. The Gloucester Street Laundry in Dublin housed around 100 unwed mothers at a time. Forced to repent for her sin, these young women were hidden away inside the walls of a commercial laundry. Nuns provided shelter and meager food allotments while forcing them to work in laundries while they adopted out the bastard children.
The convent owned trucks. Boys and young men drove the trucks to Dublin hotels, picked up soiled linens, and then delivered them to the Gloucester Street Laundry. The nuns made sure that there was not contact between the divers and the “penitents.” Historians believe that over 40% of the inmates at the laundry entered as unwed pregnant young women. Many inmates returned to life in Dublin and beyond, their babies long removed from their care. Others remained institutionalized for the rest of their life. The Gloucester Street Laundry shuttered good on 25 October 1996. At the time of closure the oldest female resident was 79.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:
Stansell, Christine. City of Women: Sex and Class in New York 1789-1860. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
Congregation of the Sisters of Misericorde– Wikipedia.
Magdalene asylum – Wikipedia.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Magdalen Society of Philadelphia Records. Philadelphia’s Library of American History. 2016. Pdf.
Inwood’s Old Magdalen Asylum. My Inwood. July 13, 2013
1947 heatwave caused Catholic school girls to “go wild”. By Pete Ehrmann. OnMilwaukee.com. Jul 21th 2011.
Home of the Good Shepherd (Seattle). Essay. Toby Harris. 29th May 2002. HistoryLink.org
Lasy Days of a Laundry. GARY CULLITON. Sep 25, 1996. The Irish Times.
Mass grave of up to 800 dead babies exposed in County Galway. Cahir O’Doherty. May 26, 2014. Irish Central.
Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries: I hope my birth mother can now rest in peace. Samantha Long. 19 February 2013. The Telegraph.
Donny Brook. Justice for Magdalenes Research.