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NUI Galway

The National University of Ireland Galway is a public research university located in the city of Galway, Ireland.

How the other half live – Aubrey Plaza, Meghann Fahy, Theo James and Will Sharpe in season 2 of ‘The White Lotus’. Picture by Fabio Lovino/HBO Gallery

Patricia Burke Brogan was awarded the freedom of Galway with Ena McEntee, who helped women escape the laundry there. Picture by Andrew Downes

Obituary: Patricia Burke Brogan, playwright who used her experiences as a novice nun to expose the plight of women in the Magdalene Laundries

Playwright, poet and artist Patricia Burke Brogan, who has died in her 90s, played a crucial role in exposing the hidden reality of the Magdalene Laundries. Her successful 1992 play, Eclipsed, was based on her experience as a novice in the order of the Sisters of Mercy. She worked in the 1960s at a Magdalene Laundry with women who were mainly viewed as having breached the rules of an ultra-conservative Ireland that was dominated by a traditionalist Catholic Church at the time. The Magdalene institutions started out initially in the 18th century as Protestant asylums for “fallen women” who had given birth to children without being married. They existed on both sides of the Irish Sea in the 19th century, but survived much longer in Ireland where they were taken over by the Catholic Church and turned into laundries for the clergy and for commercial clients, with the women working for no payment. Many of them were unmarried mothers who were removed from their babies and placed in the institutions, mostly with the approval of their own families, who were terrified of the “scandal”. In some cases, they were put away simply on the basis that they might become engaged in sex outside marriage. Elements of the Irish state system colluded in the process, and the final laundry was not closed until 1996. A total of 11,000 women had worked in them since the foundation of the State in 1922. Motivated by concern for the poor and underprivileged, Patricia became a novice and was sent for a short time at the age of 21 to the Magdalene Laundry on Galway’s Forster Street, which closed in 1984. The building was demolished in 1991. A burial ground for the Magdalene women is located on the grounds.

Louise Crowley Gallery

Living in digs, where students pay to rent a bedroom in a family home, help the homeowner earn tax-free income while easing the housing crisis

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