Mother and baby home project seek oral history volunteers

Magdalene Asylum inmates.
Magdalene Asylum inmates.

A research team examining the history of mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries in the north has made a final appeal for oral history volunteers.

The researchers are preparing a detailed report on the day-to-day operation and practices within the north’s mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries.

The researchers are particularly keen to hear from anyone with knowledge of the now closed laundry at Good Shepherd Convents in Derry, Newry and Belfast and Thorndale House in Belfast, which was run by the Salvation Army.

The project, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, is led by Leanne McCormick, from Ulster University, and Sean O’Connell from Queen’s University Belfast.

Leanne McCormick said: “ We appreciate that it might not be easy for women to come forward to speak about their experiences of these institutions. No one became a resident within them for happy reasons. However, those who have come forward to record an interview have generally welcomed the fact that someone is finally listening to them.”

Sean O’Connell added: “Women were placed in these institutions for a variety of reasons. Some were sent to them by the courts on probation or on remand and may have stayed for very short periods. However, we would welcome their memories of what they saw and experienced in the Good Shepherd laundries or at Thorndale House. They have a valuable perspective on what living and working conditions were like in these institutions.

“We need to record as many accounts as possible in order to offer the richest possible history of the Good Shepherd laundries and of Thorndale House.”

The research teams also wants to hear from anyone who lived close to the laundries, those who were employed by them in some capacity and those who came into contact with them through the course of their employment.

To contact the research team, please email: MBHML@qub.ac.uk, or phone +44 (0)28 9097 3153.