The horrific history of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries



Written by by Lauren Paxman, CNN New York

The horror of the Magdalene Laundries is well documented. It’s a subject that haunts an entire generation of Irish women and girls — and we don’t hesitate to revisit it.

The orphanage-turned-rehabilitation center was a wholesale sweep for ill-clad, oppressed Irish women. It was government run, government sanctioned, and government funded. As a number of the inmates lived to tell the story, it’s obviously a controversial subject that it’s always powerful to hear someone speak from the heart, truthfully and without apology.

The girls and women were placed into the laundry system early in the 20th century, often violently, and out of sheer desperation to relieve the heavy burdens of class inequality and/or poverty.

I visited Lidl University to explore the entire history of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, meet the survivors, and talk to researchers.

We live in a society that was fairly opposed to the existence of the Magdalene Laundries and it’s important to remind the public about the vast inequality they represent.

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