Today the Irish Government on behalf of her People issued an apology to the women enslaved in Magdelene Laundries since the 1930's Now they have a chance of being recognized as people , girls . women who were used as chatles , lived in penury , were subjected to humiliation and de-personification and the vilest punishments for trivial offenses at the hands of Nuns - In the Name of God.
These are too painful to recount .
But consider the following :
The plot where they were buried was sold to a developer , the bodies were exhumed . There were more bodies than they had accounted for on their books . One body was headless. Another had a plaster cast still on for a fractured arm. They were buried as they died , some curled up like animals in hibernation.Some had their hands tied behind their backs
Yet ! No coroner came to investigate the additional corpses. No investigation of the headless corpse . Who were these remains . Who lived in these bodies . What were their names .No DNA testing was carried out .
None of this mattered because today's apology is as vacuous as it is cynical . It is a ruse to silence these women for good- Pay the 30 shillings - Close the mindset of the debtors yard , the beatings ,the enforced wearing of soiled underwear on their heads , for wetting the bed , broken bits of a cup hung from their necks as punishment for breaking the cup.
I too benefited from the misfortune , the odious torture which these girls/ women were subjected to
I plead innocence like everyone else.
I was employed by the nuns in the South West, where , by some arrangement which the Nuns of St Catherine's had with the laundry , we had our white coats cleaned initially , then whole bags of washing done for a pittance.
I suspect that we suspected there was something very wrong going on . I recall the look of mute terror on the face of the petrified country girl who took our bags , gave us tags
and when we collected them we paid some small ' consideration' for their services , to a flirtatious nun with an angelic , voice and a face like Audry Hepurn in the Nun's Story.- She was considered demonic and a tyrant behind the barred -in community.
Yet no conviction . No investigation of the deaths or the barbarity - the inhumane treatment , which was little better that Belsen .
Many years passed before I actually got round to finding out a little more about the laundry . Eventually with the help of an aunt who was also a member of the clergy I began collecting clues , anything to help me find out what actually went on.
I have since then retrieved the name of that petrified girl, and arranged to meet her . It was a very clandestine affair . She is happily married now , against all the adversity.
When I finally tracked her down , she was shocked and terrified that I would betray her 'shame ' to her children , as she had never told them anything about her ordeal- Imagine - she still thought of her own 'shame ' - it was persecution and torture to the extent that the UN have demanded answers from our Government - but all M thought of was her own legacy of shame
She told her husband some . But he also came from a very disturbed and abusive childhood , and he too miraculously came out the other end , and went through the compensation process.
I gave no inkling that I knew anything about her past. We pretended she had worked in the hospital ,and she brought me to meet her family . She has , in private moments told me some horrific stories about the Laundry in Tralee .
We keep in touch by email.
She goes to an internet cafe to write her emails under a pseudonym although there is a computer at home .
I wrote this for her over a period , but did nothing with it regarding publication ,but I sent it to Margret ( not her real name ) earlier this week.
She wrote to thank me and asked if she could pass in on to the few other survivors she knew .
I dont know if it brought her one Iota of solace , but for what its worth , and it's not much - as it doesn't rhyme or even have a rhythmic pace or even cadence to it .
If it is of any use to you ,please accept it on my behalf , although it will always be for Margret - accept it as a plea for expiation.
Submitted:Feb 19, 2013
Harlot whore of the Bible
She shed her tears on His feet and dried them
With her lover's locks
And she shared her name with His mother
Peak capped -penguin figures
Preside over the slaving women,
Each magpied ghostly face turned to withered prune
Raging at the nubile beauty of a new recruit
Lustfully at her
Custodian of the devout sister -her virtue
Rattles down the satanic robes
A heart grown wretched
Wicked and wizen
Devoted to an alabaster figure
Hanging from a wooden cross
The girl grown flighty on the village square
With boys from the boarding school
Coming home from football training
The gimlet eyed cannon didn't like the look of it
So when it was reported
She was seen dishevelled
Rising from the meadow
With a farmhand
That was it for her
She went without a mother's tear
Nor a father's backward glance
Into that satanic laundry
Her glorious raven locks
Hacked away with a vile revenge
To de-feminise her all the more
Two of her inmate friends die
She lays them out
Before the burial
Fifty bodies in unmarked graves
And more unaccountable bodies
are retrieved by the undertakers
When they sell this plot of shame
A plot lconverted to a a car park
No murder scene investigation
No DNA recovered
One body with a plaster cast on a broken limb
And one without a head .
The State Pathologist is not required
They were brides of the Nazarine carpenter
Sold - to the only bidder
Without a dowry
Not even thirty pieces of silver
''To Keep Paradise -Put up a parking lot -''- Joni Mitchell
Today the State said -'Sorry'
A week after the evasions , calculations :
How many pieces of Silver would it take
To silence them ,finally
In full payment for services received
Yet no Judas went to the stony field
And hung himself in shame.
No Nun to blame , No vicar , doctor , judge or parent
No one is named
When the Magdelenes were claimed ,
incarcerated , in these labour camps
Beaten , whipped , demeaned and maimed .
Tonight she says ,in a voice which is:
Soft as the voice of an Angel
Breathing a message unheard
With a Whispering hope ,
Oh ! how gentle thy voice
In its sorrow : rejoice
I laid two of them
And I'll cry no more after 40 years
14 years , washing without pay
Washing ironing sheets , shirts
Linen for the church, the army
The judges , the doctors and the gentry
I'll cry no more
Soft with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting words
Oh ! How gentle Thy Voice.
In it's Sorrow rejoice .
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