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07th Feb 2013

Sinead O’Connor Reveals How Her Time In A Magdalene Laundry As A Teenager Affected Her

The singer spent 18 months at the institute. She was sent there to be "rehabilitated".


Singer Sinead O’Connor has revealed how her time in a notorious Magdalene laundry affected her life.

The now 46-year-old was sent to the Sisters of Our Lady Charity laundry in Dublin when she was just 14 years of age because she was labelled a “problem child”.

She told the Irish Sun: “We were girls in there, not women, just children really. And the girls in there cried every day.

“It was a prison. We didn’t see our families, we were locked in, cut off from life, deprived of a normal childhood.

“We were told we were there because we were bad people. Some of the girls had been raped at home and not believed.

“One girl was in because she had a bad hip and her family didn’t know what to do with her.

“It was a great grief to us.”

Sinead said that her 18-month-long experience in High Park, Drumcondra left her so angry that it was part of the reason she tore up the photo of the Pope on live TV.

The mum-of-four said the Church’s “flaccid” apology for the years of imprisonment wasn’t enough.

“They said something like, ‘We’re sorry for the hurt’.

“The word hurt doesn’t cover it. I am disgusted that the State won’t apologise. I’m disgusted at the tone of the Church’s flaccid apology. The Church is getting away with it again.”

Sinead said they were not allowed talk to the older women.

Sinead previously revealed how she had suffered abuse as a child. She explained how she began stealing as a teenager but said her dad thought he was doing the right thing by sending her to be “rehabilitated” at the institute. She claims her father told her he even paid for the privilege of doing so.

“He thought he was doing the right thing. He was convinced into it.

“He paid them to take me. I never told him the truth of how bad it was.

“There was no rehabilitation there and no therapy. Nothing but people telling us we were terrible people. I stopped the stealing all right. I didn’t want to be sent back there. But at what cost?”

Sinead did her third and fourth year of secondary school in High Park and was allowed to leave when she agreed to go to boarding school in Newtown School in Waterford for her final two years. 

“I wouldn’t class myself as being abused while I was there. I came in at the tail end of it.

“But certainly some of the punishments were a little f***ing odd.

“As a punishment, I would be sent up to bed early to go to sleep with the dying old Magdalene ladies. There would be about six of them in the room and me and I was terrified. These women were old and dying and I was scared up there.

“The laundries were gone then, but I did see them in a big room, about 200 square feet full of laundries. And I saw the older women, shuffling along. We were not allowed to talk to them.”


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