Unremembered in life and death
Funeral and burial practices in Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries
in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries
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The year 2016 in Ireland marked both the centenary of the Easter Rising and the twentieth anniversary of the closure of the last Magdalen Laundry. For the thousands of women and girls who spent time within the walls of these infamous institutions, the universal principles of the 1916 Proclamation resonated very hollow.

In 2003, investigative journalist Mary Raftery, who had carried out ground-breaking research into residential institutions, published an article in The Irish Times exposing what is possibly one of the greatest scandals regarding the operation of Magdalen Laundries: the discrepancy between the names, death certificates, and burial places of former residents of the High Park Magdalen Laundry. This chapter investigates the existence and disappearance of bodies which, albeit of paramount importance to an understanding of Ireland’s architecture of containment, was brushed aside by the McAleese Report. It shows how the manipulation of identities and the failure to match graves with names further emphasises the abuse suffered by the women locked up in Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries. It also demonstrates that no full process of transitional justice, historicisation, and memorialisation is possible without excavating the truth and giving a proper burial to the victims.

Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries

Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state


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