I waited outside the bus station. I was picking up my eldest son. He had spent the night in Dublin attending a Democrats Abroad event - a Super Bowl gathering. He looked pale and tired and lonely as he walked over to the car and being a Niners fan he carried the weight of defeat about himself. I felt sorry for him but I suppose going to bed at the ungodly hour of five a.m. never helped anyone. And he was quick to add that the hotel wasn't exactly the Ritz although the ribs served at the game were pretty good albeit at a price. I was quick to remind him that we lived in Ireland. No happy hours here, I said, salivating for a minute at the flash of a memory I had of a place in Arizona that served up the best chips and salsa in the Southwest and all for free. I must have been dreaming.
With one son on board I drove to pick up another son from his driving lesson. You can learn alot about things sitting in a parking lot in Galway on a Monday night when the rain spits on the windscreen and your tummy rumbles. It all looks very grey. Somewhat depressing, that is if you allow yourself to get depressed. People hurry along desperate for home and the fire and a nice plate of food. Heads are cast down. Young girls dressed in practically nothing look miserable. You turn off the radio because you don't want to hear about the ECB and the IOU'S and who said what and what politician is telling us how things are looking up, that we are on the rebound, that we are moving forward and how unemployment figures have gone down when they have not and if they have it's because everyone is emigrating. Lies and more lies. OFF.
Behind the windscreen you find yourself wishing to be somewhere else. A sunny clime. A blue sea, a cloud free sky. I know you must be reading this and thinking what a silly woman, berating me for being so petty and you would be right. I have nothing to complain about. Nothing really. I am free. I can do what I wish within limits, nobody censors me, dictates me, directs my movement.
But the women of the Magdalene Laundries, the ones who have survived at least, have so much to reveal. Now here is another disgrace to finally seep up through the carpet. You see, dearest reader, tens of thousands of women passed through this system, working like slaves without any wage for years. They even had to relinquish their identity, were given new names. They had to wash laundry in cold water. Use heavy irons for hours on end. They were forbidden friendship. In effect they were prisoners for having committed no crime.
Religious orders ran these 'laundries'; the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Charity.
At least 988 women were buried in laundry plots across this saintly land of Ireland.
A report on the Magdalene Laundries is published tomorrow. It hopes to unravel the extent of the Irish Government's involvement in this travesty. Again, I find that I hang my head in shame. Another scab that will not heal. We're a sad nation when all is said and done. Justice has to be done. The truth must come out. It is never too late. I watch and wait. The rain keeps falling. I can't wait to get home.