Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tribute: Magdalen Female Penitent Asylums

From the blog "Over Thy Dead Body":
On a boulevard separated by a roadway from surrounding graves lies a memorial erected to the memory of those woman and girls once held at the Magdalen Penitent Asylum of Lower Mecklenburgh Street, Dublin. Some have claimed the stone stands over a mass grave; however, the Catholic order of the Sisters of Charity, who were once charged with the responsibility of operating some of the Catholic Magdalen Asylums in Ireland, vehemently deny this assertion, saying it is only a memorial.

The Magdalen Female Penitent Asylums have a notorious history. In the mid 19th century these institutions were founded all over Europe principally for the detention of prostitutes undergoing reform. In Ireland separate asylums were operated by both the Church of Ireland and the Catholic church. In these women-only 'homes' inmates were 'strongly discouraged' from leaving, in fact many of them were forcibly confined, and were sometimes detained for life. They were forced to work without pay in the laundries which adjoined the residences, thus the asylums are often referred to as the 'Magdalen Laundries'.

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