There are no reliable figures for the numbers of women sent to the Magdalene Laundry in Galway as the McAleese Report reveals blank or missing records, but strong hints it was one of the few in the State operating on an economic surplus.
This is the view of Independent city
councillor Catherine Connolly, who was reacting to the publication on
Tuesday of the McAleese Report into the running of the notorious
Magdalene Laundries in the Republic of Ireland.
The report confirmed significant State
involvement with the 10 laundries with more than 26 per cent of the
10,012 women and girls who spent time there being referred by the
courts, the Garda, or the health authorities.
Cllr Connolly also pointed out that this
figure excludes the two Magdalen Laundries operated by the Sisters of
Mercy in Galway and Dun Laoghaire.
There are no records for the Dun
Laoghaire laundry, while for Galway only partial records survive -
including one soft-back notebook which covers only 1944 to 1959 but with
November 1949 to June 1954 left blank.
As a result Galway is dealt with separately
on a number of occasions in the 1,000 page McAleese Report because of
the lack of records.
The report does say the Galway laundry had a
capacity for 110 residents, but it is not possible to determine the
overall number of entries from 1922 until its closure in 1984 due to the
However, what figures there are reveal the
route of entry for 120 residents, showing 32.5 per cent came from the
Mother and Baby Home in Tuam; 16.7 per cent came from the Mater
Dei/Legion of Mary in Limerick; 26 per cent from convents and clergy;
and 10 per cent from family referral.
The report also uses other sources of
information to try TO supplement the sparse records such as the National
Census Figures for 1901 and 1911; the Galway Diocesan Financial
Accounts; photos; and information recorded as ‘local memories’. From
these sources the figure of 571 emerges but again this covers only eight
years from 1922 to 1984.
The McAleese Report also looked at the
financial viability of the laundries and pointed out how they were run
on a break even or subsistence basis. However the surviving figures for
Galway show it operated on a surplus for the majority of the 24 years
for which accounts are available.
While eight of the other laundries show
Government funding from one source or another, the Galway laundry fails
to document or retain any documentation in relation to same.
In the Dáil on Tuesday, An Taoiseach Enda
Kenny stopped short of giving an apology to the women who were placed in
the laundries, something Cllr Connolly called “shameful”.
“The report needs further analysis and
consideration,” she said, “but at this point a frank and humble apology
from the Government is an absolute must as a first step in the healing