The Magdalen laundries were set up in
collaboration between Church and State in Ireland and were still going
until the late 1990's. They were attached to convents and girls were
signed in by their families. Once in there, they could not leave until
their families came to get them out- which in some cases meant a
lifetime of washing and virtual imprisonment.
What was their crime? Pregnancy, in most cases; but some
girls were transferred there from orphanages, some were deemed to be a
threat, or at risk of falling prey to lust.
The play focuses on eight of these 'Maggies', their stories, and their
attempts to leave the laundry. In their dealings with the few men they
encounter within the steamy walls- priests and delivery men, and in
their contact with their relatives, we see them through the eyes of the
Robbed of their lives because of events beyond their control, they were
branded as 'sinners' and locked away to 'wash away the stain'. How do
they cope with the gruelling toil, and the stigma , the abandonment by
their families and the sense of the passing years with no hope of
reprieve? And how did they cope with the agony of losing their babies?
This play is fictional only in the sense that the girls depicted are
not based on actual women known to the author- however, any similarity
to real persons living or dead is regrettable, but all too likely.
The Magdalen Whitewash was one of Valerie Goodwin's
biggest successes having been performed in Dublin and Michigan, USA
'We are very eager to attempt this fascinating
Todd Swanboro, Director, Clintondale High
'I found the work captivating and intense'
Larry Robinson, North Carolina
'The performance came over very well indeed. The emotion
and enthusiasm of your cast...... I'm still having nightmares about
Father O'Connell- ugh! What a character you have invented!'
David Waters of www.playsandmusicals.co.uk
You can buy the script
for The Magdalen Whitewash from