Ri Villa Training Centre

Starting in 1966, the Sisters of Charity at Sean MacDermott St began to partially separate teenagers from the older Magdalenes.  

In 1970, the Ri Villa Training Centre was opened, comprising a ‘Teenage Training Centre’, a ‘Transition Hostel’ and a ‘Casual Unit’ for young girls on remand from the courts system.

This centre was run in parallel to the main Magdalene Laundry, with a greater turnover of individuals, and had different rules for residents – for example, girls were allowed to work outside the Convent’s walls and were paid weekly ‘pocket money’ of 50 pence.

Jacinta Prunty, The Monasteries, Magdalene Asylums and Reformatory Schools of Our Lady of Charity in Ireland 1853-1973, Dublin: Columba Press (2017) pp. 424-426)

Prior to 1970, girls of all ages were treated to the same regimen of control and work as the rest of the Magdalene Women.

“I was brought over to the hostel. They had another section for young offenders, but I…I never committed anything, I wasn’t an offender, but they were next…they were like these two houses here, and they were connected, but they were section…like, one house was for the offenders, and the other was called a hostel, and the reason I stayed there was, the nuns from Kilkenny used to send up money…the money that the State was paying for me for my rent up in the hostel.”

O’Donnell, K., S. Pembroke and C. McGettrick. (2013) “Oral History of Mary May”. Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History.
Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project, Irish Research Council, p. 12.

Of the five women who had experienced Sean MacDermott St Magdalene Laundry interviewed as part of the Magdalene Oral History Project, three individuals [Sarah, Lucy & Mary May] all experienced the Ri Villa Training Centre first hand.

“But then I went in through this door and it was…they called it a training centre for young girls like me. So they were supposed to b…it was supposed to be for young girls who were abused at home and they were there to get help and then beside that house then was the house where pregnant women, unmarried…they used to call them ‘unmarried mothers’ then, there was no such thing as ‘one parent families’ or anything then like. And they were all pregnant. I never actually saw those girls in the laundry while they were pregnant, it wasn’t until afterwards that they used to start working in the laundry after they had their baby.

But nobody ever saw their babies.”

O’Donnell, K., S. Pembroke and C. McGettrick. (2013) “Oral History of Lucy”. Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History.
Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project, Irish 
Research Council, pp.18.
Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive

The 1954 survey by William H. Byrne & Son Architects indicates that this building was used as a vehicle garage and store prior to its conversion into the training hostel.

Source: UCD (2020)

This part of the site still stands as of 2020.

If you have any further information on the Ri Villa Training Centre or its operation, we would love to hear from you.