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File photo Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Sign of the times

Newspaper ad from 1838 lays bare how society viewed those in Magdalene Laundries

In announcing a “charity sermon,” it speaks of “numberless unhappy females whom it has reclaimed from vice by religious and moral instructions”.

IN FOUR PARAGRAPHS and a couple of hundred words, the way in which those who found themselves within the Magdalene Laundries (Asylums) were viewed by the outside world has been revealed.

The Limerick1912 Twitter account, a Limerick City Library initiative which describes itself as “a local history project tracking what life was like in Limerick 100 years ago”, today published an image of the excerpt (see below).

In the newspaper ad which promotes an upcoming “charity sermon,” parishioners are urged to give what they can.

The reason? To further enable the “Ladies of the Committee” to help “numberless unhappy females whom it has reclaimed from vice by religious and moral instructions,” who, having been given “food and clothing during the term of their probation,” would be sent back out into the world, “formed to habits of virtue and industry”.

In describing the further treatment of the women as being “blessings to the community,” a failure to provide the necessary funds would leave them “thrown back upon the world, to experience its worst and bitterest evils!”.

Read: A life unlived: 35 years of slavery in a Magdalene Laundry >

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