The Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott St also repaired clothing and made delicate (and expensive) lacework. These activities would have taken place in the sewing room.
“Because I used to do Celtic [lacework]…also…and beads…but the Celtic was…definitely, definitely robbed us. We’d get one seventy-five…pence for the Celtic but they’d get twenty Euro, twenty pound for it in the shops.”
O’Donnell, K., S. Pembroke and C. McGettrick. (2013) “Oral History of Martina Keogh”. Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History. Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project, Irish Research Council, p.31.
It is noted on the 1954 survey by W.H. Byrne & Son Architects [below] as being a ‘Dispatch & Sewing Room’ perhaps indicating that it was the Laundry’s primary dispatch area prior to the construction of the new, dedicated Dispatch Room in 1948.
This room was completely demolished following the 2006 fire.
There is no record of the interior furnishings of equipment from this room, however, the Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry in Dublin still contains an example of a sewing machine which may be similar to that used within Sean MacDermott Street’s Sewing Room.
This can be clearly seen in the video below dated from 2016.
“Well because I didn’t work in the laundries and I worked in the lace department, I would say the working conditions were appalling…They were old, it…it was like Dickensian times. I mean I…I see it now and it’s like a black picture of little old ladies in shawls and…n…being trapped, that…that’s what I see.
[Interviewer] “Hmm. Yeah. Actually one question, in terms of being trapped is, were the doors and windows to the laundry locked?”
“Definitely locked. There was no escape. You know there was no escape and I can tell you I know there was glass on the walls…because I remember having a look at them to see if I could hop over…you couldn’t get over.”
O’Donnell, K., S. Pembroke and C. McGettrick. (2013) “Oral History of Mary”. Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History. Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project, Irish Research Council, pp. 13-14.
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