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A Dublin Magdalene Laundry : Donnybrook and Church-State Power in Ireland

Mark Coen, Katherine O’Donnell, Maeve O’Rourke
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Bloomsbury Academic)
Published: February 23, 2023
ISBN: 9781350279049
288 pages
Country of publication: United Kingdom


Towards the end of the 20th century, the decades of abuse and neglect endured by those held within Ireland’s comprehensive carceral network was finally exposed. Now, the treatment women endured at these orphanages, industrial schools, psychiatric hospitals, Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries draws increasing investigation and critical attention. Bringing together contributions from leading experts in human rights law and modern Irish history, this book offers a wide-ranging, comprehensive and all-island exploration of the Magdalene Asylums through a close study of the Donnybrook Laundry in Dublin.
To date, the Justice for Magdalenes Research organisation has recorded the names of 314 women and girls who died at the Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry. By focusing on this one institution, its establishment, organization, and the lives and experiences of the women held there, the book offers a detailed examination which further reveals the insidious framework surrounding the Irish state’s wider carceral system. This analysis includes the privatisation and commodification of public welfare, reproductive injustice, class prejudice and the role of oral testimony in reconstructing history. In doing so, the authors uncover truths missing from the state’s own investigations and shed new light on how these brutal institutions came to have such a powerful presence in Irish society, and the significance of their continued impact on modern Ireland.

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