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Do Penance or Perish – Magdalen Asylums in Ireland - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Do Penance or Perish: Magdalen Asylums in Ireland

Frances Finnegan


This book traces the development of Ireland's Magdalen Asylums, which are the homes that were founded in the mid-nineteenth century for the detention of prostitutes undergoing reform. The inmates of these asylums were discouraged (and many forcibly prevented) from leaving, and sometimes were detained for life. Put to work without pay in adjoining laundries, these women were subject to penance, harsh discipline, enforced silence, and prayer. As the numbers of prostitutes began to dwindle, the church looked elsewhere for this free labor, targeting other “fallen” women such as unwed mothers and w ... More

Keywords: Ireland, Magdalen Asylums, detention, prostitutes, reform, laundries, penance, discipline, enforced silence, prayer

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2004 Print ISBN-13: 9780195174601
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195174601.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Frances Finnegan, author
Waterford Institute of Technology