Magdeline Laundry Convent building to be renovated

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This autumn, COPE Galway will commence the renovation of the Convent building on Forster Street which was associated with the Magdalene Laundry in Galway, for use as a centre for women and their children who experience domestic violence.

In advance of this, COPE Galway, with the support of John Tierney of Eachtra (community led heritage projects) is carrying out a project to remember, respect and record the lives of the women who lived and worked in the Magdalene Laundry and convent on Forster Street.

COPE Galway CEO, Jacquie Horan says, “This initiative is a way for us at COPE Galway to remember the women who lived and worked in the Magdalene convent and laundry since it was first opened on the Forster Street site in about 1870. As we prepare to renovate the Convent building on Forster Street for its new use as a centre helping women who experience domestic violence, we want to do so in a way that acknowledges its history and in particular remembers the women associated with it”.

The ’Remembering the Forster Street Magdalene Laundry Women’ project will run over 3 months and will focus on researching the biographical details of those women who lived and worked in the laundry from 1870 to 1984.

“The laundry buildings themselves were demolished in 1991 so we aim to gather any historic documents we can find about the laundry – photographs, letter heads, invoices – artefacts that people in the community may have”, said Jacquie Horan.

“If any Galway families have such items and are willing to share them we’d ask them to attend the public information session and we will make arrangements to copy, scan or photograph the objects, documents or photographs.

Also if people have relatives who lived and worked in the laundry we welcome any help we can get in trying to trace their individual life histories”.

Following the information session, John Tierney and the Eachtra Team (the Historic Graves project is one of their best known projects) will record the headstones of the Magdalene women in Forster Street, pursue any available historical and genealogical sources available and try to gather the facts of these women’s lives.

“We are aware some of the women are buried and commemorated in Bohermore cemetery and we would encourage anyone with stories about burials of the women in Bohermore to contact us”, continued Jacquie.

Any families, people or groups who have information should email John Tierney john@eachtra.ie and we will make arrangements to meet and record & share the stories.