‘A Woman Was Trying To Escape’

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 The former ‘Gloucester Street’ Magdalene Laundry, Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1

In the Dublin Inquirer.

Cónal Thomas writes:

Leaving Mullet’s Bar on Amiens Street one night in the late 1970s, Betty and Tony Dunleavy strolled home to their small flat. It was shortly after 12:30am.

Rounding the corner of Buckingham Street onto Sean McDermott Street, the young couple passed the looming red-brick structure on their left, the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, behind which the Magdalene laundry stood.

“On our way home, we’d always pass the convent,” says the now 69-year-old Tony, sat at the small kitchen table in his house on Champion’s Avenue, recalling the night that he and his late wife heard a cry in the dark.

Caught in the barbed wire wrapped around the convent’s front gate, a woman was trying to escape. As the couple passed by, she called for help.

The Dunleavys answered.

READ IN FULL: How one young couple helped women escape from the last Magdalene laundry (Cónal Thomas, The Dublin Inquirer)

Previously: The Last Laundry

15 thoughts on “‘A Woman Was Trying To Escape’

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Unbelievable that all this was happening in the 70s and 80s. Not 1870s and 80s. The Dunleavys were good people.

  2. Anomanomanom

    But sure she was obviously a slut, no good to society and deserved to be locked up. What type of women had a baby without being married. If she was raped of course it was her fault, I mean how dare she be around any males and alone. …… This was the thinking in this poo hole country even in the 70/80s

  3. Junkface

    My Dad grew up around there and recalls as a young boy, girls in that building throwing bedsheets tied together out of the window and asking him to help, particularly in summer months it would happen a lot. That would have been the mid 50’s or so though. He was too young to really understand what was going on. It was a different world.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      have heard similar stories from my grandfather. tenements around north city would generally have left the front door open. he said you’d often find young girls who had managed to escape hiding (sometimes asleep) in the stairwells. whenever there was an escape, there would be literally gangs of nuns scouring the area looking for the girl. for the most part, people were too afraid to get involved.

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    Catholic concentration camps run with the collusion of Official Ireland. I’m sure there were lots of decent people like the Dunleavys who quietly helped those who escaped. It’s very reminiscent of the Underground Railway for escaped slaves in the US.

    1. david

      As a jew all I can say there was a Nuremberg trial where many Nazis answered for their crimes ,many collaborators also answered for their part, many escaped ,but always had to look behind their backs.
      Unfortunately Ireland that is the state has systematically blocked any attempt to make the culprits and collaborators in Ireland’s Auschwitz institutions to account.
      The only difference is that in Ireland they did not dispose of the victims by gas then oven.
      They worked these victims till death
      They Used their children as labour and sold the others .
      They buried the ones who died in the institutions in unmarked graves.
      They were all but selling the teeth hair and any organs.
      They also used them for medical experiments by using them to test new vaccines.
      And today seven women have died awaiting redress as our tea shock offers scholarships paid by our taxpayer to American Indians.
      When will this country face up to its holocaust of its vulnerable and give these people the justice they must have.
      When will our president demand from government or is he afraid his many pensions might be taken off himo

  5. some old queen

    If I may make a point which will not sit well, but anyways. This was the imprisonment of women BY women. The nun’s were every bit just as sadistic as the brothers, in some cases worst. Although the wider context was fallen women of course, men had no part to play it appears.

    I used to live in Hybraseal in Kilmainham and it was fascinating to hear the history of the place. It used to be a convent and there was a strict hierarchy. Ground level was sitting / meeting areas, above was important nuns and attic was apprentices. Basement was cooks and scrubber nuns.

    The whole system was oppressive and very authoritarian. No wonder Ian Paisley had such a hatred of ROI. Now the DUP are behaving the same way but that’s another story.

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        I’m a woman and I most definitely have a cloven hoof or two, which is absolutely proof.

    1. some old queen

      Spelling mistake: ‘Hybreasal’ sorry. I lost my virginity to quite a number of experiences while living there. Good times. Believe what you want but it is mad to think that a group of people who never had sex let alone families were in such control of a country.


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