LAUNDRY at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is not a play. It’s an experience.

You walk through the old building on Sean McDermott Street…

…greeted by girls there, talking to them, looking into rooms, catching glimpses of lives, fragments of conversations and being part of the different stories – all true stories too – that are on display for you.

I was alerted to Laundry via ShameOfIreland at twitter.

Performing The Story Of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries (Part 1) You may Like to Comment?

I was visibly shaken on reading Ann Brien’s chilling account of the Laundry experience. She delivered it in such a vivid manner that it projected strongly in me the fear she felt at the time, as well as the experiences of Valerie, an ex-Goldenbridge inmate, which immediately came to the fore. As I had visited Valerie at the laundry as a teenager.

For a moment nothing happens. The three of us exchange relaxed quizzical glances, the last time we would make eye contact for the duration of the performance. Suddenly the small grid in the hall door is pulled open from where a pair of angry eyes peer out, flitting backwards and forwards across our faces. Then comes the sound of bolts being roughly dragged open. Once inside, the three of us are immediately separated.

The first woman is ushered into the tiny annex to the left of the first small hallway (see top image). The other lady to the opposite annex. A steel bucket half full of disinfectant is thrust into my hands and I’m told to remain where I am. From this moment onwards I’m completely drawn into the nightmarish scenario, reality and performance periodically blurring into one. I am genuinely scared, I had not expected this. Screams from the left annex make me jump sky high and through the door’s top plate glass pane I can see the outlines of two people struggling with each other. One voice male, the other female. Surely the woman who has just entered isn’t been attacked? I’m frozen to the spot but then reality checks in and tells me this is part of the storyline….for a while anyway.


2 thoughts on “Laundry

  1. you should have been there in reality ..the baths had skum on took me a couple of hours to scrub the end bath with vim before i could safely use it ..then all the other women wanted the clean one ..i was pregnant and put in the high park laundry under false pretences i was heading for dunboyne mother and baby home but the social worker mrs mc evilley hated me and pretended the driver was tired and i be only there for one night and continue my journey tomorrow ..well tomorrow came and went and i was marched to the laundry to work where i did for 5 months then as mysteriously i was told pack i had 10 min and i was off to my original destination 5 months later ….thats the good catholic church and their lied ..kidnapped to work as a slave .

  2. @Mary Creighton Wong. I was really lucky not to have been sent to a Magdalen laundry after my incarceration period in Goldenbridge industrial *school* was finished. As a lot of inmates (like myself) who were on the lower echelons of the Goldenbridge ladder, invariably, did go to them at the behest of the religious. They felt very embittered about their slave-labouring activities in the laundries – which they thought would had ended when they left the institution.

    Yeah, I can just visualise the baths – they must have been like the deep Victorian ones that we had in GB. The photographs make a big statement about the body and cleanliness and all the *dirty sinner penitents must be scrubbed clean and pure.

    High Park got a lot of coverage in the Irish news. The way the remains of the penitents were treated by the religious/developer in the pursuit of Celtic Tiger monetary gains sickens me to the core. I have commented on it before. I personally know survivors of High Park.

    I was reading some comments @ regarding Dunboyne >

    The audacity of the social worker to have deceived you in that despicable manner. The religious; social workers, gardai; *cruelty men* some parents, and the judiciary all colluded in putting us behind bars.

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