COPE to remember Magdalene women as part of laundry renovation

A special project to remember the Magdalene Laundry women will be undertaken as part of the renovations of the convent building in Forster Street.

Social services agency COPE Galway wants to acknowledge the women who lived there as part of the laundry's change to a centre for people who experience domestic violence.

COPE Galway CEO, Jacquie Horan, says the initiative is a way for COPE Galway to remember the women who lived and worked in the Magdalene convent and laundry since it was first opened on the Forster Street site in about 1870.

COPE plans to commence renovations in autumn, before which, with the support of John Tierney of Eachtra (community led heritage projects ), is carrying out a project to "remember, respect and record the lives of the women who lived and worked in the Magdalene Laundry and convent on Forster Street".

The project, entitled ’Remembering the Forster Street Magdalene Laundry Women’, will run over three months and focus on researching the biographical details of those women who lived and worked in the laundry from 1870 to 1984.

They are inviting anyone with an interest in this project to attend a public information session in the Harbour Hotel this evening Thursday July 6" from 7.30pm to 9pm.

“The laundry buildings were demolished in 1991, so we aim to gather any historic documents we can find about the laundry - photographs, letter heads, invoices – artefacts that people in the community may have,” Ms Horan says. “If any Galway families have such items and are willing to share them, we’d ask them to attend the public information session and we will make arrangements to copy, scan or photograph the objects, documents or photographs. Also if people have relatives who lived and worked in the laundry, we welcome any help we can get in trying to trace their individual life histories.”

Following the information session, John Tierney and the Eachtra Team will record the headstones of the Magdalene women in Forster Street, pursue any available historical and genealogical sources available and try to gather the facts of these women’s lives.

“We are aware some of the women are buried and commemorated in Bohermore cemetery and we would encourage anyone with stories about burials of the women in Bohermore to contact us,” says Ms Horan.

John Tierney will be joined by members of the COPE Galway team at the meeting, and thereafter any families, people or groups who have information can email John Tierney [email protected].

Private contact is also welcome and confidentiality is guaranteed.

The new refuge at Forster Street will provide nine self-contained residential units, staff accommodation, offices, outreach facilities, meeting rooms and a childcare facility.

The deadline for submission of tenders to COPE Galway is August 1. For further information contact Jacquie/John 091 778 750/[email protected]

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