Here in Ireland we don’t have to look back too far to see how unkind history has been to us. Specifically, Ireland has never had much tolerance for women who “make mistakes” and the young unwed mother has, and still does, carry shame and disgust for those who still believe that the appearance of piety and perfection is more important than kindness, compassion and comfort.
In previous decades, young girls who became pregnant out of wedlock were shipped off to the infamous Magadalene Laundries, where they would be severely punished for their sins by doing hard manual work. When the child was born, it would be taken from the new mother, without her consent, and sent away to be adopted. Our last Magdalene Laundry closed in 1996, not that long ago. And some us narrowly avoided a fate that women from the previous generation endured.
Alana Daly Mulligan, a spoken word artist from Waterford, has created a tribute to her Great Aunt, in the short film you can view below. She says “My Great Aunt Chrissie” is a poem I wrote back in April about my Great Aunt who died in a mother and baby home during the 1950’s. It discusses how Irish society treated these “fallen women” and likens it to the way we now as a country treat women who are left with no option but to seek abortions in the United Kingdom. This is how I wanted to stand out and scream in the name of the Repeal the 8th movement, to stand up for Irish women who have been oppressed by our government and our incriminating constitution and of course, for the memory of my great aunt Chrissie who deserved so much better in life than the cards she was dealt.”
You can watch it here….