Do Penance or Perish: Magdalen Asylums in Ireland

Do Penance or Perish: Magdalen Asylums in Ireland

by Frances Finnegan
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195174607

ISBN-13: 9780195174601

Pub. Date: 02/29/2004

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


Frances Finnegan traces the development of Ireland's Magdalen Asylums--homes that were founded in the mid-nineteenth century for the detention of prostitutes undergoing reform. The inmates of these asylums were discouraged-and many forcibly prevented-from leaving and sometimes were detained for life. Put to work without pay in adjoining laundries, these women were

Overview


Frances Finnegan traces the development of Ireland's Magdalen Asylums--homes that were founded in the mid-nineteenth century for the detention of prostitutes undergoing reform. The inmates of these asylums were discouraged-and many forcibly prevented-from leaving and sometimes were detained for life. Put to work without pay in adjoining laundries, these women were subject to penance, harsh discipline, enforced silence, and prayer. Their hair was cropped, and they were made to wear drab and shapeless clothing. Forbidden to mention their past lives, their children taken away, the inmates themselves were referred to as children and forced to address the nuns as "Mother." As the numbers of prostitutes began to dwindle, the church looked elsewhere for this free labor, targeting other "fallen" women such as unwed mothers and wayward or abused girls. Some were incarcerated simply for being "too beautiful," and therefore in danger of sin. Others were mentally retarded. Most of them were brought to the asylums by their families or priests. Unbelievably, the last of these asylums was closed only in 1996. Drawing on previously unpublished material, Finnegan presents case histories of individual women and their experiences in Magdalen homes, which claimed some 30,000 women in all. She looks at the social consequences of such a system, and ponders how it was able to survive into the late twentieth century, right through the feminist campaign for women's rights. Do Penance or Perish is the first study of this shameful episode in Irish history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195174601
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/29/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
284
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrationsvii
Prefaceix
Introduction1
1"Patented Villains" Rescue Workers and the Penitentiary System6
2"Never Free From Their Espionage" The Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylums20
3The Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylum, Limerick50
4"A Citadel of Piety" The Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylum, Waterford82
5The Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylum, New Ross114
6"Do Penance or Perish" Prostitution, The Contagious Diseases Acts and the Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylum, Cork157
7The Good Shepherd Magdalen Asylum, Cork (part 2)197
Epilogue242
Bibliography245
Index253

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