Architectural References

For any reconstruction project, the availability of architectural sources (plans, elevations, sections, surveys etc.) can be of critical importance.

The Alas of Lost Rooms found the following links useful:


The Irish Architectural Archive

The IAA hosts a variety of drawings of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott St in their W.H. Byrne Collection. These can be viewed by appointment at their reading room on Merion Square, Dublin.

The IAA have very kindly allowed us to present on this website the 1954 survey drawing of the site carried out by W.H. Byrne & Son Architects [below]. This has been an incredibly useful resource as it is the closest architectural reference we have to the dates when the five Magdalene Women whose stories we present [1960s-70s]. As such it was hugely informative in creating the digital reconstruction of the site which forms the basis for the Atlas of Lost Rooms.

Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive

The Dictionary of Irish Architects

Operated by the Irish Architectural Archive [see above] the Dictionary of Irish Architects is a valuable online historic reference to the architects and builders of some of Ireland’s most significant buildings.  Their entries on the former Sean MacDermott St Magdalene Laundry can be found [here] and [here]


Surviving Photographs

Direct photographic evidence of the interiors of the demolished parts of the former Sean MacDermott St Magdalene Laundry is scarce, but a number of postcards dating from the early 20th Century do survive.

Additional postcards do exist, and have been useful in the digital reconstruction of Sean MacDermott St Magdalene Laundry, but unfortunately these cannot be displayed here for copyright reasons.

For those interested, these can be found in Jacinta Prunty’s,  The Monasteries, magdalen asylums and reformatory schools of Our Lady of Charity in Ireland 1853-1973 (2017) on pages 284 285, 287, 296, 298, & 503

Furthermore, photographs of the site from the early 2000s, prior to the large-scale demolitions following the fire in 2006 can be found on pages 18-19 of Shaffrey Associates Architects, Conservation Report: Covent [sic] Lands: Sean MacDermott Street Lower, Dublin, 2007, available [here].

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

The NIAH is a State-run body in Ireland whose mission is to evaluate and record the nation’s architectural heritage.
Two entries on their website relate to the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott St; the Chapel, and the main Convent block facing onto Sean MacDermott St Proper.

Irish Film Archive

The IFI’s Fr Delaney Collection contains the home-made films of Fr Jack Delaney, the parish priest for the north inner-city Dublin area containing the Sean MacDermott St Laundry in the 1930s.

The film entitled ‘Gloucester Street‘ [the previous name for Sean MacDermott St] shows the exterior of the rear of the site facing onto what is now Railway Street at approximately 6min 15secs.

The film ‘Magdalene Laundry‘ is largely filmed within the boundaries of the site and as such is a hugely useful reference for researchers.  It shows areas of the Nun’s Garden, the Chapel, the Residence & the building which would become the Ri Villa Training Centre.

‘Recent’ Surveys

A survey of the site was carried out in September 2000 by Land Surveys, and an interior survey of the buildings on the site was carried out in April 2001 by the Dublin City Corporation.  Both of these surveys are valuable sources of information about the site prior to the fire in 2006 and subsequent loss of many rooms.


2020 Student Projects

In 2020, Masters of Architecture students from Queens’s University Belfast and University College Dublin carried out extensive recording and design exercises within those parts of the site still safe to access.  Examples of their work can be found [here] and [here]

Other Media

Several videos of the site have been posted on YouTube under the accounts, ‘Joanne O’ Riordan’ & ‘Mark Fitzgerald.’  All were posted to the site on 13 March 2017, although their date of recording is unknown