There is no single or simple story of the Magdalen Laundries. (Dr. Martin McAleese)
After completing my dissertation on the 1986 divorce referendum and my Research Master’s Degree on the 1983 abortion referendum under his supervision, I started my PhD with Prof. Paul Brennan back in 2003. My original plan was to carry out my research on the Magdalen Laundries and Paul Brennan was very enthusiastic about the project. He encouraged me to pursue the idea and I launched into a quest for sources.
However, after about two years of intense researching, I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to carry out my initial plan for lack of primary sources. Ireland was under the spell of numerous scandals smearing the reputation of the Catholic Church at the time, and the religious authorities were more reluctant than ever to give access to material and archives.
It was a very frustrating exp...