Magdalene survivor Mary Cavner (O’Sullivan) has been awarded a five-figure settlement after she was forced to do unpaid work at the Good Shepherd Convent (top) for nearly six years.

The mother of five spent years trying to convince the State she worked at the Good Shepherd Convent in Co Cork, from the age of 11 after her dad’s death.

The Government formally apologised to all of the women confined to the Laundries in 2013 and set up a redress scheme for the victims.

But Mary, who now lives in England, was denied compensation after the Irish authorities claimed she was at St Finbarr’s Industrial School which was not listed as part of this scheme [see below].

The Ombudsman ruled Mary is eligible for the redress scheme and awarded her the cash.

Magdalene Laundry survivor awarded five-figure settlement for years of unpaid work (The Irish Mirror)


“They held me there and worked me until I was nearly 18. We weren’t allowed to talk or associate with anybody else which affected me throughout my life.

“To then be told that I was lying was devastating. I had never mentioned what happened to me to my husband or my children, so it took all of my courage to admit what I had been through and then they called me a liar.

“My experience in the laundry left me unable to communicate properly. I have had really low points as they have made me live this again and to be accused of not telling the truth made me feel rejected.

“I am speaking out as I want to tell all of the women who went through this but don’t have a voice to stand up and fight.

“This was never about getting compensation as whatever money they had given me it wouldn’t give me my lost childhood back.

“This was about holding those who made me stay in that laundry and work throughout my childhood to account.”

Mary Cavner (O’Sullivan)

Magdalene survivor awarded settlement for unpaid work (RTÉ)

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12 thoughts on “Paying Mary

  1. The Old Boy

    Five figures sounds rather derisory in the general scheme of compensation in Ireland. I understand that in cases such as these the recognition of wrongdoing is more important than money, but that really is pathetic.

    1. postmanpat

      well…Maybe the RCC can match the amount too? Boom Tisshhh . I’m here all week. tip your waitresses!

  2. eoin

    Not sure why the precise figure isn’t shown above. The BBC reports

    “She was initially told she was ineligible for compensation but will now receive €76,000 (£69,500).”

    It doesn’t mention legal costs, which I’d guess might be in the tens of thousands.

    The average paid out to 772 former Magdalene inmates is around €40,000.

    1. phil

      Must not embarrass the church , or encourage other victims to claim, we are lucky the bishop allowed RTE to report on the story at all … They probably only reported the story because the the irishmirror did …

  3. V

    Five Figures
    Even at the top end

    That’s pathetic
    And an insult to decency and integrity
    They’ll have paid their legal teams to defend this case at least three times that

    Fair play to Mary and her family
    I know the award is worth much more that it’s cash value to them

    But Jesus Christ t’ Night
    Less than a 100k !?!!
    Nóirín O’Sullivan’s pension is more than that

    Here’ Mr Higgins
    Lemme at them !!!!
    Jesus Christ t’ Night

  4. Bebe

    Mary deserves so much more by way of redress – the dismissal of her testimony in favor of the Religious order is just criminal and still today survivors are continuously denied justice and access to state services to support in latter years as they are regarded as ‘residents’ of mother and baby homes for instance. This subject is close to my heart and I feel for Mary and all the other Mary’s who never sought justice because of the stigma and shame associated. Like I said it’s criminal !

    I hope Mary and her family enjoy some peace in her latter years knowing at least she took a stand on behalf of self and others and won. ❤️

  5. The Dude

    My suggestion:

    A referendum to:

    1) Overturn the Woods arrangement where the state pays victims abused by RC institution members

    2) Seizure of all RC lands by the Irish state, with no financial payment, so that these properties can be used to pay for the above never-ending mess, and used for other necessary purposes..

    This shide has been going on far too long.

    1. V

      They profited from Criminal behaviour

      Send CAB in

      Charitable Works?
      Another disguise
      Send in Revenue

      There is nothing stopping us
      And hasn’t been for years
      Only lazy cowardly politicans terrified they’ll lose a few schools

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