Watch: Magdalene Laundry survivors return to Ireland for special two-day event

Breda Duffy, London and Martha Osmond, Alysbury who were together at the Magdalene home in Limerick during 1968. Picture: Dan Linehan

Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries from Ireland, the UK, the USA and Australia will gather for the first time in Dublin a two-day event this week.

The gathering is being organised by a voluntary group, Dublin Honours Magdalenes (DHM) and begins tomorrow.

The majority of the survivors are now aged between their late 70s to early 90s, and this is the first time they have been invited to come together to share stories, experiences and offer their views on how they would like to be commemorated.

For many of those travelling from abroad this will be their first time to return home to Ireland since they left after their confinement in the Magdalene Laundry.

Survivor Mary McNally arrived at Dublin Airport from London this evening for the event. She entered the laundry at 14 as her family could not afford to send her to secondary school.

She described her three years there as "difficult" but told videographer Dan Linehan she was happy to return for the event.

Mary Cavner from Southampton worked in the Good Shephard Convent in Cork. She told Dan Linehan at Dublin Airport that she had "mixed feelings" about returning to Ireland.

Over 220 survivors of the Magdalene Laundries will be hosted at a special reception at Áras an Uachtaráin by President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina tomorrow.

They will also attend a gala dinner at Dublin's Mansion House, with entertainment provided by Christy Moore, Mary Byrne, Roisin O, Philomena Begley, The Three Tenors Ireland, Eurovision winner Dana Rosemary Scallon, actor Pauline McLynn.

Businesswoman, broadcaster and Dublin Honours Magdalenes Ambassador, Norah Casey, said today that what will be an emotional gathering is the result of many weeks of work in reaching out to survivors and organising their travel to Ireland.

"Over the past several weeks we have spoken to hundreds of women who will attend the event. Each and every one has their own powerful story.

What is especially poignant is the fact many will be returning to Ireland for the first time since they left after their Magdalene Laundry experiences, so it will be a very emotional event for them.

"As the majority of the women are now elderly many will be accompanied by carers or family members. This is an important step towards reparation for women, many who will be sharing their stories for the first time with other survivors."

Digital Desk

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