Protect me, I am the Donnybrook laundry

 

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Side laundry room, Donnybrook

 

Structure as witness

Deep in the heartland of Donnybrook, hidden in a crescent, surrounded by apartments, houses and leafy trees there sits, intact, a building which embodied part of our cruel social history.  Known locally as the laundry or Donnybrook laundry, but more widely known in sub-cultures and State reports as the Magdalene laundry of the Sisters of Charity.

 

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Site for sale.  Our only completely intact Magdalene Laundry.

It is for sale now as in investment property at Donnybrook crescent. No mention in the brochure of its former use and its past.  No mention of the many women who toiled there, scrubbing shirts, washing socks, endless ironing, endless starching, endless washing; no let up, just let down.  No mention of the clients that came from the affluent families in the surrounding areas, nor that Áras an Úachtaráin was a client too.  The basket that carried the laundry – pressed, starched, immaculate spotless – now lies discarded with a pile of others, rotting and abandoned.

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Áras an Uachtaráin laundry box, Donnybrook Laundry

What would the nuns think of such disrespect, of such irreverance for such an important basket.  Back in the day these baskets were sacred. Revenue.  Handle with care.  These baskets, these boxes for laundry were very important. The people who worked, the women, the young girls, were never as important as these baskets.

Memory is something that fights an eternal battle with the passage of time and forgetfulness.  Time is a great healer for those who can heal and those who are offered healing.  There is no healing here. Time stands still like a festering wound in a well-to-do suburb as somebody attempts to erase a grave and mortal wrong. The McAleese report, the Justice for the Magdalenes, the hundreds of women still alive and their families should know of this place.  Should be present here to witness what can only be witnessed by them.  So that they can understand what’s lost, what cannot be given.  What was taken from them for generations.

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Granite staircase leading from laundry room to upstairs dormitory

The world and its mother should be brought through these doors to see for themselves, to feel for themselves what it was like, that this actually happened.  That this place exists.  All around it the religious lands are being sold for development.  Somebody somewhere pocketed the money for profit.  The laundry is and its history is othered , cut off by walls, sliced away from the well-manicured, well -kept, well-preserved and well-managed convent that remains on the site in the heart of Donnybrook, respected, revered.

This is private property  now and people use the local dry cleaners or their Zanussi washing machine or a launderette in town.  The sound of hand scrubbed collars if you listen you can still hear it. The vast drums of the washing machines , the slushing of the water, the mangle of the manglers, the rinsing of the dirty laundry.  Nobody in Donnybrook wore dirty clothes in those days, they all turned up spic and span spotless, scrubbed by ‘sinners’.

The chimney stack of the laundry is a defiant hand of a female inmate.  Screaming out ‘we were here’, ‘we were treated badly’, ‘you wronged us’, ‘you took all from us’.  The tall mast of RTE broadcasting strange half-truths to the Nation doesn’t hear this.  The world passes by here unbeknownst. The presence of presence is something all of us should never miss.  Our bones give us a sense of place, a sense of now.  Like Caesar, like Brutus, like Marc Antony the good is in the bone, the memory is in the marrow, living.

The Magdalene laundry is still intact and this State and its people need to ensure it stays intact and all the paraphernalia there within, the ledgers, the industrial machines, the woven baskets, the statues, the cupboards, the stairways, the furniture, the windows the atmosphere remain intact.  This place should not be turned into an artificial artefact.  This is the real thing. If ever there was to be a monument, a memorial, a gesture, an acknowledgment – this is it.  This is a place of anger and atonement.  A place of rage and fury.  A place of loss and maybe a place to be found.

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Baskets and suitcases once precious, now discarded

Thousands upon thousands of women and young girls suffered in the Magdalene Laundry system.  Thousands of children suffered in the Industrial school system, they were by and large the children of the poor.  The children that this State regarded as surplus to need and that the Catholic Church and the religious congregations enslaved, exploited and abused as their sexual playthings.

The uniqueness of this site and this location is that its not separated from the surrounding community in their fine Victorian redbrick houses.  Not separated entirely from their history.  The Sisters of Charity have an obligation to preserve this building as a testament to their own past and as some sort of atonement to the many women who feel gravely wronged.  It is also important to preserve it as an educational centre to inform future generations of just what way we treated those who were not strong.

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Upstairs dormitory, Magdalene laundry, Donnybrook

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Discarded statues, Donnybrook Magdalene laundry

All across the country from the Good Shepherds in Limerick to the wood turning college in Letterfrack, Connemara they are trying to erase this landscape, this memory by turning these sites into Art Colleges, hostels, homeless accommodation etc None of them have yet to be made or let be what they are – sites of anguish, sites of suffering, which form a vital part of our social, political and religious history.

With all we know about what happened to individuals in this country, with all we know about this State and the Irish Catholic Church and its congregations, with the continuous ongoing injustice to the Magdalene women and the Mother and Baby home (women and children) it would be an absolute disgrace and a further insult and injury if this site was not preserved, exactly as it is.  In many ways, this site in my view, is as important as any of the battle sites of 1916 that are getting so much attention.  Indeed, the men and women of 1916 laid down their lives for the women of the Magdalene laundries and the children of the institutions.

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Interior laundry room, Donnybrook

People of Donnybrook, people of Dublin lets do the right thing here and own our past.  All of it.  Let’s not try smooth it out with a bit of cash, a bit of compensation or an inappropriate architectural monument. We have the real thing and all its uncomfortability for us all. It is high time we stopped running from it. Stand still and face it.

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Hand wash garment sinks

These institutions and their memories are among us, were always among us, but we have chosen to deny them, to make them invisible, to make them secret to shove them into a past, into a history.  But they are not done with us yet. Time to embrace our own unpalatable truth.

Kate O’Connell TD, Jim O Callaghan TD, Eoghan Murphy TD, Eamon Ryan TD make this your first task.

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Sisters of Charity, Donnybrook.  Founder, Mary Aikenhead.  Purveyor’s of Magdalene Laundry services.

 

Please sign the petition and pass it on Protect Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry Petition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poster Removal by DCC

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Beware Dublin City Council are removing posters that they deem in breach of protocol. They are failing to inform the candidates or their crews that they are doing this which is leading to great confusion on the ground.

For those who are missing posters check with DCC litter management and retrieve your posters.  The posters for the Dublin Bay South candidates are being stored in Rathmines.

And again we are not being informed about this. The state of the city with the guts ripped out of it from the Luas construction, delapidated buildings and boarded up flats and here are DCC using staff resources to pull down election posters.  The breath taking arrogance of this that they can go around willy nilly.  I’m surprised they haven’t franchised it out to Greyhound.

Its unfair on the major effort that is being made by all the candidates and their crews in atrocious weather conditions to try and create a public platform for themselves in this forthcoming election.  Especially for Independent candidates who are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with  main parties and the financial resources they have not to mention the monopolized media coverage that they get.

I don’t want to see any poster causing a hazard or danger to anybody and if I got the opportunity I’d ban them outright and create a different system.  I did put a motion to ask for the banning of posters after the Giro Italia but it didn’t get passed with fellow councillors so we are left, for now,  with the present situation. And I agree, it is a visual pollutant and its over the top.

But Independents don’t have any other choice in the matter right now as well as that its a very expensive process to print posters, cable ties, ladders, insurance etc.

No candidate goes out there to litter. No candidate goes out there to cause obstruction or hindrance or danger when postering. But if I was to stick a big banner across one of the buildings in Dublin advertising Lucozade there would be nobody for DCC trying to tear it down. There would be the usual hocus pocus letter writing, weeks would go by before the offending massive banner was taken down. Yet, when it comes to us and our posters, they become ultra efficient in taking them down and not even bothering to inform us that we can get them back.

I’m on my way up to Rathmines now to get my posters back.  I do wish the Council would have told me without me having to go through this unnecessary rigmarole.

 

Voting Register Closes Feb 9th 5pm

Are you registered to vote?

 SUPPLEMENTARY REGISTER CLOSES ON TUESDAY 9TH FEB AT 5PM (Dublin City Council)

Dublin City Council is asking voters to check immediately if they are registered to vote on the Register of Electors, so that they can be sure of having their say and vote in the forthcoming general election.

 The Register of Electors 2016-2017 was published on the 1st February 2016 and is on display at Dublin City Council offices, Garda Stations, Libraries, Post Offices and online at www.checktheregister.ie . If you are aged 18 or over, check that your name, address and details are correct on the Register.

Mr. Vincent Norton, Executive Manager, Dublin City Council says, “I would strongly advise people to make sure they are registered now to avoid disappointment as past experience has shown that many eligible people lost their chance to vote by simply not checking the register. I would encourage all who are eligible to vote to check the website immediately and to register with your local authority, to be included on the

Supplementary Register.  Postal applications must be received by 5pm Friday, 5thFebruary 2016 and the Supplementary Register will close on Tuesday 9th February 2016, 5pm deadline”.

 To be eligible to vote in this election one must be an Irish citizen or a British citizen resident in Ireland.

 Forms are available to download directly from the Dublin City Council website

www.dublincity.ie/YourCouncil/VotingandElections  or you can contact the Franchise Section Tel 222 5010.