Memorial unveiled dedicated to all incarcerated in Magdalene laundries

Monument erected in the capital has been situated at the Little Museum of Dublin

The Journey Stone acknowledges the passage of those incarcerated in Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and other residential institutions. Pictured is Rosie McKinney (Tuam survivor). Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

A monument dedicated to those who were incarcerated in Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and other residential institutions, has been installed at the Little Museum of Dublin at St Stephen’s Green.

Maureen O’Sullivan of the Journey of the Magdalenes group unveiled the Journey Stone on Friday, which she said was designed to “unite survivors of institutions as we journey together for the greater good”.

The tall standing stone is inscribed with a message stating that it is “a reminder of the journey suffered by the many women and girls who were incarcerated in the Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and other such institutions. That passage is marked by this Journey Stone, and we are asked to recall those dark times and acknowledge the great courage integrity and dignity of the women who suffered on this trail. We look now to the potential of the light that lies ahead.”

Ms O’Sullivan who was sent to a laundry as a child, after suffering sexual abuse, said she believed the stone was a fitting memorial to all groups of survivors and was more appropriate than turning the old Magdalene laundry on Dublin’s Sean McDermott Street into a memorial centre.

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Dublin city councillors earlier this month approved plans to turn the Sean McDermott Street building, the last laundry to close in 1996, into a national memorial and research centre.

Institutional trauma

The National Centre for Research and Remembrance will be developed by the Office of Public Works which will hold records related to institutional trauma. There will also be a museum and exhibition space, the development of which will be led by the National Museum of Ireland. The wider site will include social housing expected to house about 50 senior citizens and local community facilities as well as an educational and early-learning facility.

“I think it’s a bit inappropriate because the survivors have had nothing to do with this and haven’t had input into this decision,” said Ms O’Sullivan. She added she would rather her records were housed in the National Archives.

Speaking at the unveiling of the stone, Independent Cllr Mannix Flynn — a former industrial school resident and abuse survivor — said the stone was an “invitation to the public to share in the journey of survivors” and to witness the “grace and dignity” of the women involved.

“It is important to say that we would be opposed to any State memorial or commemoration without our full and informed consent. We would ask that the State defer developing any such monstrosity that they are planning for Sean McDermott Street.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times