Friday 21 June 2019

Former Magdalene laundry to be a 'site of conscience'

The site of a former Magdalene laundry in Dublin's inner city is to be turned into a "site of conscience" within the next five years.

Magdalene Laundries were workhouses run by the Roman Catholic Church for so-called 'fallen women', unmarried mothers and orphans. They are rightly considered a cruel and dark stain on Ireland's history – one that must never be repeated, nor forgotten.

From Google Maps
The former Gloucester Street laundry
So an attempt last year to sell and demolish the building on Sean McDermott (previously Gloucester) Street to make way for a new Japanese-owned hotel found itself blocked last year by Dublin City councillors. A campaign, led by survivors of the laundries, argued that the building, the last such laundry to close* in Ireland and still owned by the state, should be retained to recognise the social, cultural and personal history experienced by many Dublin residents.

The laundry's Site of Conscience status recognises that the building is a historic site where initiatives on-site aim to connect past struggles to today's movements for human rights, and was confirmed as part of the Dublin City Agreement between Fianna Fail, Labour, Green Party and Social Democrats, which was signed earlier this week. It reads: 'We will develop a multipurpose Site of Conscience at the location of the former Magdalene laundry on Sean McDermott Street that will seek to honour and commemorate the victims and survivors of Ireland's Institutional past.'

*in 1996