Friday 28 July 2017

Bitter truth is that 50 years ago most Irish people approved of the laundries

A memorial plaque to victims of the Magdalene Laundries in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
A memorial plaque to victims of the Magdalene Laundries in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

If you were to take a poll among Irish people today about the treatment – and mistreatment – of the women in the Magdalene Laundries, it is likely that you would find an overwhelming sense of compassion, pity, sorrow, and regret for the way these women suffered.

However, if you were to take a poll among our parents and grandparents, 50 or 60 years ago, say, you would probably find that most Irish people approved of the Magdalene Laundries, and imagined that they were doing a fine job.

A schoolfriend of mine whose parents had a hotel recalled that the main reaction to the Magdalene laundry service was that the linen came back so immaculately clean, efficiently washed and ironed, and on time. A wonderful service!

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