Magdalene Oral History Project

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Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History is a Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project funded by the Irish Research Council which was led by Dr Katherine O’Donnell, Director of the Women’s Studies Centre at University College Dublin.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute towards a better understanding of the Magdalene Laundry system that existed in Ireland through the gathering and study of testimonies from people who are directly or indirectly related to these institutions.

Oral Histories

The archive of this project contains interviews from 80 interviews (91 interviewees) which are broken down as follows:

Former Magdalene girls & women 36*
Other institutions 4
Relatives 16**
Key Informants 16
Activists (excluding those in other categories) 5
Other witness 2
Total interviews 80

*One former Magdalene girl was interviewed twice (initially for a different project)

**Including 3 activists and 1 artist


In August 2012, Justice for Magdalenes (JFM, now JFM Research) made its principal submission, State Involvement in the Magdalene Laundries to the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries (IDC).  The submission consisted of a 145-page document which was supported by 795 pages of survivor testimony and 3,707 pages of archival evidence and legislative documentation. It outlined comprehensive evidence of State complicity in the abuses experienced by girls and women in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries.

JFM Research is now donating this archival material to the Irish Research Council project Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Archival and Oral History, conducted at University College Dublin (UCD) and to the Waterford Memories Project at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). The archive has been digitised by WIT, which will host a copy of the digitised materials and where the original archive will also be stored, while the digitised archive will also be made available at UCD Archives.

JFM Research is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Dr Jennifer Yeager and Kieran Cronin at WIT on this project and we look forward to continued collaboration in the future. We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of WIT and the volunteers who helped to digitise the archive to such a high quality. We thank Jennifer, Kieran and their colleagues for their enthusiasm for this project, which plays vital role in making available a permanent record of the lived experiences of women in girls in the laundries.