Add to EJ Playlist The Good Shepherd Convent Asylum - Cork
Built in 1881, the Good Shepherd Convent was the site of an orphanage and a Magdalene laundry until the late 1970s.
Three main buildings - a home, convent, and orphanage - have been in a derelict condition since a serious fire in 2003.
The laundry building was among a number of buildings that were destroyed in that fire.
Magdalen Asylums grew out of the "rescue movement" in Britain and Ireland the 19th century, which had as its formal goal the rehabilitation of women who had worked as prostitutes. It has been estimated that around 30,000 women were admitted during the 150-year history of these institutions, often against their will. The last Magdalen Asylum in Ireland closed on September 25, 1996. In Ireland, the institutions were named for Mary Magdalene, a character in the Bible who repented her sins and became one of Jesus' closest followers.
In receiving patients no discrimination is made in regard to religion, colour, or nationality. After their convalescence, those who desire to remain in the home are placed under a special sister and are known as "Daughters of St. Margaret". They follow a certain rule of life but contract no religious obligations. Should they desire to remain in the convent, after a period of probation, they are allowed to become Magdalens and eventually make the vows of the Magdalen order.
Inmates were required until the 1970s to address all regardless of age, as "mother", and were called "children". As one priest wrote in 1931: "It may be only a white-veiled novice with no vows as yet; and it may be an old white-haired penitent giving back to God but the dregs of a life spent in sin. It matters not. In the Home of the Good Shepherd the one is ever the 'Mother' while the other is always the 'Child'."
To enforce order and maintain a monastic atmosphere, the inmates were required to observe strict silence for much of the day. "The Rule of Silence was a major feature of the women's lives and continues well into the second half of the twentieth century. Corporal punishment was not uncommon.
As the phenomenon became more widespread, it extended beyond prostitution, to unmarried mothers, developmentally challenged women and abused girls. Even young girls who were considered too promiscuous and flirtatious were sometimes sent to an Asylum. This paralleled the practice in State Run asylums in Britain and Ireland in the same period, where many people with "social dysfunction" were committed to asylums.
The women were typically admitted to these institutions at the request of family members or priests. Without a family member on the outside who would vouch for them, some penitents would stay in the asylums for the rest of their lives, many of them taking religious vows.