Longford woman Mary King told her harrowing story on TG4’s ‘The Forgotten Maggies’ which was aired on Wednesday night . In this unique documentary, Ms King told the heartbreaking story of her days in the Magdalene Laundries in Castlepollard during the 1940s.
The documentary which was originally filmed in 2009, has undergone some changes since it was first premiered due to the many legal challenges that it faced, however Mary King, Maureen Taylor (Dublin), Mary Smyth (Dublin), Mary Collins (Cork), Josephine Meade (Cork), Mary Condon (Waterford), Kathleen Legg (Tipperary) and Maureen Sullivan (Carlow) joined together to give a truly honest and heartwrenching account of their time as children under the care of the religious orders in Ireland. Ms King in now in her 80’s and resides in England. “The documentary includes survivor testimonies from seven ‘Magdalene’ women and explores in depth the now infamous High Park Exhumation where 155 Magdalene women were exhumed in 1993,” explained Stephen O’Riordan, documentary maker. “The documentary looks at shedding new light on the how and why innocent girls ended up in these institutions working against their will, some as young as 12. It also challenges the Irish government and questions the State’s role with regard to these institutions.”
The Forgotten Maggies was not only screened throughout Ireland but also had its American Premier at the Cantor Film Centre, New York. It received a standing ovation and was hailed as a “compelling, brave and honest piece of work”. Subsequent to that, the Magdalene women who featured in the original documentary went on to meet officials at the Department of Justice and Law Reform for the first time. This eventually set the ball rolling for everything else that followed in relation to their campaign and their efforts to secure recognition.
“While people feel they know the stories of the Magdalene Laundries, nobody could be prepared for what these women have got to say and tell,” Mr O’Riordan explained. “Each of these women were promised a better education and better employment opportunities. None of these women ever imagined they would be kept as prisoners, against their will, forced into slave labour, while the Religious Orders made a huge profit on the illegal work they carried out, all in the name of Charity.”