The Call of the North: A History of the Sisters of Mercy, Down and Connor Diocese, Ireland

Homily by Bishop Noel Treanor to Celebrate Apostolic Work in the Diocese of Down and Connor
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It was a Church of Ireland-run institution, and accepted only Protestant women. It was founded in by Lady Arabella Denny. Ireland's Magdalene laundries were quietly supported by the state, and operated by religious communities for more than two hundred years. On laundries, James Smith asserts that the "Irish variety took on a distinct character". Andrea Parrot and Nina Cummings wrote, "The cost of violence, oppression, and brutalization of women is enormous" and in their struggle to survive, the inmates suffered not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

In the late 18th century, the term "fallen women" primarily referred to prostitutes, but by the end of the 19th century, Magdalene laundries were filled with many different kinds of women, including girls who were "not prostitutes at all", but either "seduced women" or women who had yet to engage in sexual activity.

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Since they were not paid, Raftery asserted, "it seems clear that these girls were used as a ready source of free labour for these laundry businesses". Finnegan wrote:. The issue of continued demand for prostitutes was barely confronted, so absorbed were moralists with the disgraceful and more visible evidence of supply.

And while acknowledging that poverty, overcrowded slum housing and lack of employment opportunities fuelled the activity…they shirked the wider issues, insisting on individual moral rather than social reform. Finnegan wrote that based on historical records, the religious institutes had motivations other than simply wanting to curtail prostitution; these multiple motivations led to the multiplication of these facilities.

She further asserted that this new definition resulted in even more suffering, "especially among those increasing numbers who were not prostitutes but unmarried mothers — forced to give up their babies as well as their lives". Women were branded as both a mother and a criminal if they happened to have a child out of wedlock.


The Call of the North: A History of the Sisters of Mercy, Down and Connor Diocese, in the Works of Mercy in Down and Connor Diocese and, in later years, in the Connor Mercy communities became members of the Mercy Ireland Union. The Call of the North: A History of the Sisters of Mercy, Down and Connor Diocese, Ireland [Marie Duddy] on *FREE* shipping on The Call of the North and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more.

The choices the women at the time had were very limited. They had no social welfare system; therefore many resorted to prostitution or entered these mother and child homes, also known as Magdalen Laundries. Several religious institutes established even more Irish laundries, reformatories and industrial schools, sometimes all together on the same plot of land, with the aim to "save the souls primarily of women and children". Women and "bastard" children were both "incarcerated for transgressing the narrow moral code of the time" and the same religious congregations managed the orphanages, reformatory schools and laundries.

According to Finnegan and Smith, the asylums became "particularly cruel", "more secretive" in nature and "emphatically more punitive". According to historian Frances Finnegan, in the beginning of these asylums' existence, because many of the women had a background as prostitutes, the women who were called "children" were regarded as "in need of penitence", and until the s were required to address all staff members as "mother" regardless of age. To enforce order and maintain a monastic atmosphere, the inmates were required to observe strict silence for much of the day.

As the phenomenon became more widespread, it extended beyond prostitution to petty criminals, orphans, mentally disabled women and abused girls. A report made by an inter-departmental committee chaired by Senator Martin McAleese found no evidence of unmarried women giving birth in the asylum. Given Ireland's historically conservative sexual values , Magdalen asylums were a generally accepted social institution until well into the second half of the twentieth century. They disappeared with changes in sexual mores [ citation needed ] —or, as Finnegan suggests, as they ceased to be profitable: "Possibly the advent of the washing machine has been as instrumental in closing these laundries as have changing attitudes.

However, this is contradicted by the McAleese Report, which specifically addressed the issue of profit: "A common perception has been that the Laundries were highly profitable. The laundry, while under their management, was operated as a source of funds to support the maintenance of the girls and women together with a contribution to the upkeep of the sisters.

An estimated 30, women were confined in these institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries, [26] about 10, of whom were admitted since Ireland's independence in In Dublin in , the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity had lost money in share dealings on the stock exchange; to cover their losses, they sold part of the land in their convent to a property developer. The Sisters arranged to have the remains cremated and reburied in another mass grave at Glasnevin Cemetery , splitting the cost of the reburial with the developer who had bought the land.

It later transpired that there were 22 more corpses than the sisters had applied for permission to exhume. In all, corpses were exhumed and cremated. Though not initially reported, this eventually triggered a public scandal, bringing unprecedented attention to the secretive institutions. The Channel 4 documentary Sex in a Cold Climate interviewed former inmates of Magdalene Asylums who testified to continued sexual , psychological and physical abuse while being isolated from the outside world for an indefinite amount of time.

Allegations about the conditions in the convents and the treatment of the inmates were made into an award-winning film The Magdalene Sisters , written and directed by Peter Mullan.

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In June , Mary Raftery wrote in The Irish Times that in the early s, some Irish state institutions, such as the army , switched from commercial laundries to "institutional laundries" Magdalene laundries. The documentary's website notes that a group called Magdalene Survivors Together was set up after the release of the documentary, because so many Magdalene women came forward after its airing. The women who appeared in the documentary were the first Magdalene women to meet with Irish government officials.

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They brought national and international attention to the subject. Since , the Irish government has acknowledged that women in the Magdalene laundries were victims of abuse. However, the Irish government has resisted calls for investigation and proposals for compensation; it maintains the laundries were privately run and abuses at the laundries are outside the government's remit.

Having lobbied the government of Ireland for two years for investigation of the history of the Magdalene laundries, advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes presented its case to the United Nations Committee Against Torture , [1] alleging that the conditions within the Magdalene laundries and the exploitation of their labourers amounted to human-rights violations. Following the month inquiry, the committee published [42] [43] [44] its report on 5 February , finding "significant" state collusion in the admission of thousands of women into the institutions.

Survivors were critical that an apology had not been immediately forthcoming. On 19 February , the Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a formal state apology. The Taoiseach also outlined part of the compensation package to be offered to victims of the Magdalene Laundries. He stated:. They described the Irish media coverage of the abuse at the laundries which they claimed not to have participated in , as a "one-sided anti-Catholic forum".

They displayed no remorse for the institutes' past: "Apologize for what? Apologize for providing a service? We provided a free service for the country". They complained that "all the shame of the era is being dumped on the religious orders On hearing the interview, a survivors' group announced to the press that they were "shocked, horrified and enormously upset" by the sisters' portrayal of events. In a detailed commentary by the president of the Catholic League , a U.

There was no slave labor, Unmarried women, especially those who gave birth out-of-wedlock, were likely candidates. Contrary to what has been reported, the laundries were not imposed on these women: they were a realistic response to a growing social problem [prostitution]. In , while the abuse of inmates was still occurring, the English writer Halliday Sutherland was touring Ireland to collect material for his book Irish Journey. When he applied for permission to visit the Galway asylum, Michael Browne , the local bishop, reluctantly granted him access only on condition that he allow his account to be censored by the Mother Superior.

In a monument was erected in Ennis at the site of the former Industrial School and Magdalene laundry in appreciation of the Sisters of Mercy. As recently as , Ennis Municipal Local Council felt confident enough despite the findings of the McAleese and Ryan reports to rename a road which ran through the site of the former Industrial School and Laundry in honour of the Sisters of Mercy.

There are conflicting views to the appropriateness of these gestures in this County Clare town.

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The Magdalene Sisters , a film by Peter Mullan, is centered on four young women incarcerated in a Dublin Magdalen Laundry from to Verkoop door bol. In winkelwagen Op verlanglijstje. Direct beschikbaar.

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