Press Release

SIPTU hosts symposium of Magdalene Laundries oral history project

Date Released: 27 September 2013

A symposium outlining the key outcomes of a research project based largely on the testimonies of survivors of the Magdalene Laundries will be held in Liberty Hall, Dublin, on Saturday, 28th September, from 1.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

‘Magdalene Institutions: recording an Oral and Archival History’ is a Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project funded by the Irish Research Council and conducted at UCD Women’s Studies centre.

Principle Investigator, Dr. Katherine O’Donnell, said: “We have conducted 79 interviews with 91 people in total.  The archive contains over 5,000 pages of materials which include comprehensive detail of state interaction with the Magdalene Laundries, laundry account books for the Limerick Magdalene, which seem to detail extensive commercial activity, electoral rolls which provide a register of the women held in the laundries, which has been an unexplored resource to date and most valuable in terms of the lack of access to the records held by the religious sisters.  

She added: “The collection also includes personal collections of papers from interviewees. An important outcome of the project is the educational module, which includes an educational video put together by the British charity TrueTube and lesson plans designed for 16-year-old students. We are also very pleased that academics in the Waterford Institute of Technology are going to continue the Oral History Project as we believe it will prove to be a national treasure.”

Irene, a Magdalene Laundry survivor and interviewee, said she felt empowered after participating in the project.

“It has helped me to speak out rather than hide.  Giving my story to the project was a great start to the way I am today. This time last year I could not have done the campaign work I am doing now,” Irene said.

SIPTU Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Ethel Buckley said: “SIPTU is proud to be co-hosting this event with the National Women’s Council of Ireland. The story of the Magdalene survivors is one of gross exploitation. These women’s suffering was not remote from wider Irish society but was endured due to the collusion of the State, Religious Orders and commercial interests. Ensuring that these working class women’s stories are heard and they receive just compensation for years of unpaid labour is a key concern of our union.”


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