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Heil Mary: Magdalen asylums and moral regulation in Ireland

Heil Mary: Magdalen asylums and moral regulation in Ireland Between the 1830s and 1990s, thousands of Irish women were incarcerated without due process in magdalen asylums for sexual behaviour that violated the Catholic Church’s moral code. The asylums were operated by congregations of nuns that sought to protect society from the contagion of “wayward” women while simultaneously attempting to reform them through a harsh regimen of laundry work and devotional rituals. Some penitents, as the inmates were often called, embraced the institutional life of labour and prayer with such sincerity that they advanced to the nun‐like status of the Sisters Magdalen. Most simply endured lives of drudgery indistinguishable from slavery until either death or release upon the intervention of relatives. The asylum system had no basis in law and its shadowy existence, its ability to avoid scrutiny or regulation, and its survival until very recent times, illustrate in a striking manner the hegemonic power of the Church in Ireland. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

Heil Mary: Magdalen asylums and moral regulation in Ireland

History of Education Review , Volume 35 (2): 15 – Oct 14, 2006

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/08198691200600007
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Between the 1830s and 1990s, thousands of Irish women were incarcerated without due process in magdalen asylums for sexual behaviour that violated the Catholic Church’s moral code. The asylums were operated by congregations of nuns that sought to protect society from the contagion of “wayward” women while simultaneously attempting to reform them through a harsh regimen of laundry work and devotional rituals. Some penitents, as the inmates were often called, embraced the institutional life of labour and prayer with such sincerity that they advanced to the nun‐like status of the Sisters Magdalen. Most simply endured lives of drudgery indistinguishable from slavery until either death or release upon the intervention of relatives. The asylum system had no basis in law and its shadowy existence, its ability to avoid scrutiny or regulation, and its survival until very recent times, illustrate in a striking manner the hegemonic power of the Church in Ireland.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 14, 2006

Keywords: Cinema; Ireland; Catholicism; Religion; Education

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