The Magdalene Laundries were institutions in place across Ireland and many other countries that were a place for “fallen women,” deemed unfit to live on their down due to mental illness, incompetence, hysteria and for many women, pregnancy outside of wedlock. From the 1750’s women were held captive in these facilities and forced in labor until the last location closed in 1996. Further recent investigations into the laundries revealed instances of abuse and some found mass graves of the children born to these unwed mothers. How could such atrocities have been happening right under the nose of modern feminist movements? Where was the shift in ideology on the freedom of the unwed woman succeeding is society? I would like to propose a paper delving deep into the research of the Magdalene Laundries and their intersection with Irish feminism.
After studying dome timelines of women’s empowerment in initiatives in Ireland throughout the 1900’s, running the timelines consecutively throughout the paper to gives the reader a since of comparison and contrast of the what we think of as progressive in the U.S. versus Ireland. It also will be helpful to explain a lot of the different acts played out the demonstrate the movement towards women’s independence but also to talk about the alternative side, i.e. the Catholic church, in Ireland who was still keeping women in these houses. This is especially important because now women are a very powerful force in Ireland and as we have seen in many pieces of literature and nonfictional pieces about women’s empowerment and the foundation to a lot of male centered movments.
A historical approach, even before the beginning of the women’s rights movement started in 1965, would give a perspective of where some of this ideology about women came from. I have researched timelines of the women’s movement and read accounts f women who have lived to tell the tales of abuse from the laundries but I think it is important to cite De Valera’s Constitution as a profound voice in the role of oppressing women. His opinion about women’s roles in the home halted any progress around getting the women from the laundries back into society and not stigmatized about their “fallen” status.
Literature, as we have learned in this class, reflects on and shines a light on the point of view of the marginalized and the forgotten that people. I would like the just Juno And The Paycocks and The King of Spain’s Daughter to examine the roles of “Independent Women” in Irish History as well as The Beauty Queen of Leenane to further investigate and draw parallels to mental health stigmas in that time frame.
Females, as we have seen in Michael Collins and many other performances in this class have been the backbone of Ireland. They are the embodiment of the “behind every good man” saying and I think it would only be fair to pay homage to their work to free themselves from oppressive roles and become women of society no matter what their marital status. I would like this to be used as my thank you to them for the impact their struggles have made to help future generations live freely in Ireland, and more specifically, close the Magdalene Laundries.
Daly, Susan. “A life unlived: 35 years of slavery in a Magdalene Laundry.” TheJournal.ie. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
Deevy, Teresa. Three plays; Katie Roche, The king of Spain’s daughter, The wild goose. London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1940. Print.
Faughnan, Sean A. De Valera’s constitution: the drafting of the Irish constitution of 1937. Dublin: U College Dublin, 1988. Print.
“The Beauty Queen of Leenane.” The Beauty Queen Of Leenane(1996): n. pag. Web
O’Casey, Sean, and Patricia Robinson. Jordan. Juno and the paycock. Los Angeles, CA: D’Arts Publishing, 2011. Print.