Courage of Magdalene laundries author praised by Sabina Higgins

Former nun Patricia Burke Brogan showed courage in making a ‘principled stand’

Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D Higgins, with Patricia Burke Brogan at the launch of her book Memoir with Grykes and Turloughs. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D Higgins, with Patricia Burke Brogan at the launch of her book Memoir with Grykes and Turloughs. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 01:00

The “repression, authoritarianism” and “social impoverishment” of a society which led to the Magdalene laundries is one that “makes one shiver with revulsion”, Sabina Higgins said in Galway last night.

The courage shown by former nun Patricia Burke Brogan in making a “principled stand” against the “dreadful denial of freedom and of human dignity” to the Magdalene laundry women required a “steely strong commitment” to value judgments, Ms Higgins said.

Ms Higgins was marking publication of Ms Burke Brogan’s autobiography, Memoir with Grykes and Turloughs, at the Galway Education Centre.

Ms Burke Brogan’s play, Eclipsed, first staged in 1992 after several rejections, exposed a “complicity and conspiracy of silence”, Ms Higgins recalled.

Reluctant society

The play “brought to conscious recognition in a reluctant society the travesty of justice that had taken place”, she noted.

The play has since been performed worldwide and has been translated into many languages, Ms Higgins said.

In his foreword to Ms Burke Brogan’s book, President Michael D Higgins has noted that her play “changed everything”.

He wrote that its faithfulness to the characters represented and the hidden stories told “could almost not have had another author”. Memoirs with Grykes and Turloughs by Patricia Burke Brogan is published by Wordsonthestreet.