Unspeakable Times

Irish Laundries Tortured Women And Separated Families, But The Church Denies It

When Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters came out in 2002, it exposed the public to a diabolical truth the Roman Catholic Church had long tried to keep under wraps: the rotten reality of Irish "Magdalene" laundries. Though advertised as charitable safehouses where "fallen women" could find guidance and good cheer (along with employment as laundresses), these institutions were actually rife with cruelty, deprivation, and human rights abuses. As the Oscar-nominated 2013 film Philomena portrays, their destructive legacy went on well into 20th century, long after the western world had supposedly emerged from the fog of religious superstition and ignorance.

Below are just a handful of details from this extraordinarily harrowing time in Irish (and religious) history.