Thursday 24 January 2019

WATCH: Magdalene Laundry survivors call for statue to be erected on O'Connell Street for 'future generations'

Rachel Farrell

Survivors of Magdalene Laundries have called on the state to erect a statue on O'Connell Street for "future generations" to hear their stories.

Hundreds of women who survived Magdalene Laundries were welcomed to Dublin yesterday for a two-day event organised by voluntary group Dublin Honours Magdalenes.

For the first time, survivors of the Magdalene Laundries from Ireland, the UK and further abroad gathered in Arás an Uachtaráin and Mansion House for a special gathering. 

Some of the survivors say they would like to see a statue put up on Dublin's O'Connell Street, as well as a plaque in every town that had a Magdalene Laundry.

One woman, who was taken from a hospital in Longford, explains how they were forced to eat scraps from the nuns' dinners.

"In Galway we had to light the fire at 6 o'clock every morning and we had to have the water ready for the nuns' breakfast and tea. We got no food, we cleaned the nuns' tables away and when they finished their food we'd take it and put it in a bag and throw it out where it's supposed to go. 

"Then it'd be brought out to the farm to give to the pigs, but I didn't give it to the pigs, I took it out and gave it to all the other girls and myself."

Another survivor tells of her time in a Magdalene Laundry in Cork, where her mother was advised to give her up so "life would be a bit easier" for her.

"My mother came up at 7 o'clock and she told the nun, 'I want to take her out', and the mother superior said, 'no you can't pick her out, her father signed her in'. 

"Mum started crying and the nun said 'Mrs. Doyle, you can come back tomorrow and see her'. Of course tomorrow, when mum arrived up at the convent, I was gone to Cork."

On Tuesday, the President of Ireland apologised to women who were forced to work in Magdalene Laundries after they were "failed" by the state.

At an afternoon gathering in Arás an Uachtaráin, Michael D Higgins said stories of "forced labour and injustice" had left a "deep stain" on society.

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