Magdalene Laundry ledger

A shocking indictment of Official Ireland

This exercise book contains a list of clients for the Magdalene Laundry run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at High Park in Drumcondra. The list includes familiar names such as Buswell’s Hotel, CIÉ and Bank of Ireland as well as the Department of Justice and even Áras an Uachtaráin.

Steven O’Riordan, who made a film about the Magdalene Laundries, says, “This ledger proves that the state was complicit in [a form of] slave labour that operated in Ireland until as recently as 1996.” The last Magdalene Laundry to be closed was in Seán MacDermott Street.

Maureen Taylor was an inmate at High Park for four years in the 1960s. The following testimony is from a letter to the current Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD:

“After 14 years in an industrial school my mother found out where I was and when I was 16 years of age in November 1963 she took me to England. After nine months here it wasn’t suitable for me as my stepfather didn’t want me and he beat me a lot. My mother got in touch with the nun in Mallow and she told my mother she would bring me back to Mallow and get me into a training centre as I was still 16. This is where my life from hell started. I arrived in Dublin airport and was met by two guards. They brought me to a very large building with bars on the building. It was the Magdalene Laundry in High Park, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. A nun opened the door and brought me to a room, she made me take off all my clothes and stood there naked and she cut my hair. She also told me I would never again be known as Mary and called me Monica, after a saint. I went to bed in a big dormitory, there was about 40 people there. I was woken at six o’clock the next morning and had to kneel down by my bed to pray. Then seven o’clock mass and after that it was breakfast of bread and tea, and during breakfast one of the older women read a Holy Bible. There wasn’t any talking allowed, it was very hard work then in the laundry from nine o’clock to six o’clock five days a week. It catered for colleges, hotels, private homes and hospitals. There was no wages. A nun sat in the laundry room at all times and you never spoke, just prayed. I committed no crime, locked up for four years, no rights. Even prisoners have rights.”

With thanks to Steven O’Riordan