Friday 19 January 2018

Laundries survivor still seeks answers

Elaine Furlong

Magaret Cowman at her home in Chambersland, New Ross
Magaret Cowman at her home in Chambersland, New Ross

ALTHOUGH HAPPY that the House of Mercy in Wexford's Summerhill has been included in a financial redress scheme for survivors of laundries, Margaret Cowman says many questions still remain unanswered.

Margaret Cowman (née Cullen), a native of Ballywilliam but now living in New Ross, spent over four years in the now demolished House of Mercy in the 1950s.

She had campaigned for survivors of the House of Mercy to be included in a national compensation scheme. Last week she received some justice, however she is still searching for answers.

'I want to know why I was placed there. All I what to know is why,' said Margaret, who is also annoyed that the Summerhill institution is still being referred to as a training centre.

'I received no training. The only training for me was scrubbing floors and polishing and sorting out foul laundry, putting sheets in the dryer and putting them through the colander for ironing, washing dirty laundry in the sink or working in the sorting room,' she said.

'The religious orders were deceptive from beginning to end,' Margaret added.

Following the publication of the Quirke report last week it emerged that survivors from Summerhill in Wexford Town will receive financial redress.

'The former residents of the House of Mercy, Summerhill, will finally receive justice after being included in the financial redress for survivors of laundries,' said Minister Paul Kehoe.

'I know that this will come as a relief to many women in Wexford who I have met in relation to Summer Hill since February. I have been in constant contact with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD to ensure that Summerhill was included in the final redress,' added the Government Chief Whip.

Cash payments will be made, ranging from €11,500 for those who spent three months or less in a covered institution to €100,000 for those who were there for 10 years or more.

Margaret has now contacted the Mercy Congregational Archives to obtain information about her stay in the Summerhill institution.

Wexford People

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