Student Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)





First Advisor

Dr. Sarah Covington


Throughout history, Ireland is not regarded as a champion in the area of human rights discourse, but in recent years it has found itself present in it. Pre-secularized Ireland violated human and women’s rights in institutions such as the Magdalene Laundries. Within these institutions, girls and women were subjected to various types of abuse (e.g., sexual, physical, emotional, and mental). After their time in the Laundries, they faced a life of silence and shame due to the stigma of being incarcerated in a Laundry. Due to the stigma, survivors were unable to discuss their experiences in the Laundries as they would not have been believed and in turn demonized. In more recent years, Ireland has had to face accusations made by survivors, families, and advocacy groups who are demanding redress and acknowledgment for their time in the Magdalene Laundries. Utilizing multiple government reports from various governmental agencies and oral histories, I argue that the Irish state in the last 20+ years has had to account for its role in the operation of the Magdalene Laundries. Simultaneously providing a new narrative of the Magdalene Laundries in the aspects of human rights, oral histories, government reports, and inquiries.



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